A few weeks ago, the forms arrived home from school requesting permission for our child to be given the 5-year-old booster vaccinations for MMR and the 4-in-1 (Diptheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough, Polio).
We thought long and hard about whether to give our consent or not. Does he *really* need these vaccinations? What exactly is he being protected against? How likely is he to contract one of these diseases? I'm maybe being terribly naive but given that he is a robust, healthy child (hasn't even had a bad cough or cold for the last 18 months at least), my instinct tells me that he will be OK without the need to inject a load of gunk into his body.
But, I'm no doctor and don't have all the facts, so after researching the risks, what exactly is in these vaccines and weighing up the pros and cons we decided to go ahead and have the vaccinations.
The day after the vaccinations, the arm which he'd had the 4-in-1 vaccine in had swollen to twice it's normal size, was stiff and painful, hot to touch and very red. My child is 5. His arms are skinny, pale little limbs. The arm he now had looked like it belonged to a 12 yr old who had been pumping iron at the gym.
We were advised that it would have gone down the following day. Far from it: the swelling spread down the entire arm. The pictures below don't really show how red and swollen the affected arm was, compared to the unaffected arm (where he's had the MMR vaccine), but might give you an idea.
The affected arm is on the left of the screen, the normal arm on the right.
After several worrying days, a trip to the doctor, 90 euros of medical expenses, an antibiotic and an antihistamine, the swelling started to reduce. The arm is finally, now, back to normal. He clearly had a severe reaction to something in the vaccine. We are still not sure exactly what he reacted to.
Of course we want to do everything we can to protect our children from disease and I suppose that is why we are encouraged to give our children these routine vaccinations. How real is the threat of diptheria, polio and some of the other diseases our children are being immunised against in 2011 in Ireland? I'm still not really sure. But we can't help feeling we made the wrong decision in going ahead with the vaccinations and are angry that our perfectly healthy, normal child was made to suffer for something which should be routine and harmless.
What do you think? Do you go ahead with the recommended, routine vaccinations without questioning them, or do you have similar concerns?