I’m so stridently, vocally pro-vaccine that it pains me to write this post.
But there is a teeny tiny part of me that questions whether I should have allowed Rhiannon to receive the tuberculosis vaccination and is not looking forward to Elanor’s appointment in January to receive the BCG vaccination for tuberculosis.
In the pro-vax column, South East Asia account for 1/3 of all tuberculosis infections, according to the WHO. It is an airborne, highly contagious and potentially lethal disease. There is a reason that it is a standard vaccination at birth here. We do plan to travel in the region and I do want the girls to have the best possible protection.
In the con column, while I knew that the vaccination created a permanent scar (not unlike a smallpox vaccination scar), I had no idea that it would still be red and scabby eight weeks out. Recently Rhiannon has also developed swollen lymph nodes in her pelvis on the same side as the vaccination was given. When I showed our pediatrician scar and the lymph node at Rhiannon’s 2 month well baby visit, I was told this was normal. Internet research confirmed that it’s a normal reaction and said that the effects can last weeks or months.
While no one likes a vaccination, it’s one thing to have the a short term reaction (Ellie is currently running a fever, thanks to her MMR/Varicella booster, but that will stop in 72 hours at most) and another to have a long term one. I just wish that the pedi who gave it to Rhiannon had walked me through how this vaccination reaction would be different than what I was used to. As he is Singaporean, he might not have remembered that it’s not a common vaccination in the US and that I wouldn’t know what to expect.
This is where my ounce of ambivalence is coming from on a topic where I am normally not in the least conflicted…I hate seeing my teeny baby STILL dealing with the effects of the vax 2 months out. On the plus side (and why my conflict is a fairly small one–again, see airborne, contagious, lethal) she doesn’t seem affected by it. She isn’t in pain, even when I touch the swollen nodes to clean it during a diaper change. It’s mostly in my head.
In the end, I come down pro-vaccination (again TB is airborne, it’s highly contagious, and it can be lethal) but make sure you talk to your pediatrician/doctor at length about what a normal reaction is and what an abnormal one looks like. Don’t forget to protect yourself as well as your kids. Also worth noting–there were over 1400 cases of Tuberculosis in Singapore last year (2010).