With the recent outbreaks in the USA, and now in Canada, I have been a little more concerned with my sons vaccination schedule than usual. I have recently learned that there are a handful of cases in Europe, but nothing to suggest an outbreak so far. I knew that once it was declared an outbreak in California, it would only be a matter of time before it crossed the border and infected other countries, not just Canada.
I’m not about to get into the debate of vaccinate or don’t vaccinate; these are highly dangerous, highly contagious preventable diseases that can result in deadly complications. Vaccinate your damn kids, end of story. There are some kids that simply can’t; immuno-compromised or just too young. My baby girl will fall into the latter category. Munchkin had a persistent tummy ache last month so we took him to the doctor. They checked his records and noticed he didn’t fall in line with the German schedule for vaccination suggestions. I have a few nurse friends and asked around before I decided to change schedules and give him some shots 2 years before Canada recommended them be given. According to the nurses, and their research, any time after 1 year old is safe to vaccinate a child for any of the diseases on the list. If a second dose is required, it is safe to give 6 months after the first dose. We each have different schedules based on population density, availability of the vaccine and chance of said disease coming into contact with your child. MMR is rare in Canada, and therefore not suggested until 4-6 years. Germany gives the second dose between 18-24 months. Since my little man is 3 years old, he is late by German standards. I wasn’t sure what to do, if I should wait; Germans don’t have mandatory vaccinations in order to attend school, something about forced medication goes against a persons rights to make informed decisions. After hearing about cases spreading to Canada, I booked the munchkin in as soon as the dr would see him.
There are a few other vaccinations that they give early, and a few that they give a 4th dose, where Canada only requires 3. Again, more research of my own and a few questions to my nurse friends, an extra dose will not harm my child. In fact, there are a military members that have lost their records from birth and therefore are required to get all of their vaccinations over again. If a man can have a second round of full vaccinations, my 3 year old can have a single extra dose.
Now that my house is fully immune, we will all be protecting baby girl by being her firewall from the outside world. If munchkin is exposed at school, he will not be bringing it into my house and infecting his sister. The toddler group is full of kids that are too young to be inoculated but their family situation is similar to ours; the baby is the only non-immune in the house and therefore the chances of the baby getting it are slim. Since some of these diseases are airborne up to 2 hours, visiting local attractions, vacationing and even going to the mall will be a little scary until the outbreaks are contained or she is old enough for her first round.
I have recently discovered several articles regarding post-exposure treatments. The mom that blasted another family for exposing her 15 day old son to measles, and the dad that has an infant son and immuno-compromised daughter home from Disney land, both discussed their children’s exposure and treatment plan with the public. Essentially, as soon as an exposure is verified, the child is given a special shot that helps boost the immune system for a short period of time. This is only done in extreme cases for those unable to be vaccinated. Because the babies are too young to be vaccinated properly, they will still require their first dose at 1 year and second at 2 (or 4-6 ) years old. Passive immunity still comes into play; various governments giving different ranges of course, but the general idea is that immunities have passed from mom to baby during gestation and it lasts for roughly 6 months, some saying up to 1 year. Others claim that breastfeeding helps prolong that passive immunity for a few months longer. Considering the earliest age is 6 months, I am happy with these stats and will re-look at the situation when baby girl is closer to 6 months old.My final thought on the topic; you do what you think is best, I do what I think is best. When your choices interfere with my choices, that’s when I have a problem.
Christine Leger is the founder of Tapped Out Travellers, a Family Travel Blog About Travel with Kids. We explore travelling on a budget, splurging on bucket-list travel opportunities along the way. Although Canadian, she currently lives in Germany.