(Anonymous) Just recently our daughter had her B4 school check. I was told that this was a comprehensive check where I would be able to discuss my concerns. Not that I had any, but we still went. On that day, our daughter wasn’t feeling great at all. She was running a temperature which later that day went up to 39.8 and she also had quite a nasty cough. As we had stopped vaccinating her after her second shot four years ago I wasn’t concerned because I knew that she wouldn’t be receiving any vaccines. In the waiting room we filled in the forms and were soon called into the nurse’s office. On entering I told the nurse that our daughter was quite sick, she just replied “that’s ok”. She talked to her for about 30 seconds, weighed and measured her and told us that she had beautiful teeth. Well… I knew that already.
After a few minutes of what you would call small-talk (during which she commented on our daughter’s cough by the way) she said “just two little pricks and we’re done”. Let me think… there are quite a few things wrong with this picture. We stopped vaccinating our now four year old daughter at 16 weeks of age and opted off the NIR. I had just stated that on the form that I had been given in the waiting room. During the course of this “comprehensive check” we haven’t talked about past reactions (because that would have been an interesting one, much better than small-talk!) or her general health to this day. And, above and beyond all, she is running what you would call an ACUTE FEBRILE RESPIRATORY ILLNESS. Now, back to the MMR data sheet. What can you read under “contraindications”? I am not going to repeat it here. Maybe the nurse wants to check it out.
Furthermore, had we talked about family history and past reactions, I would have told her that in our family we’ve had severe reactions to vaccines, including convulsions and anaphylaxis, which is another risk factor for giving the MMR.
After the initial shock I replied “she is not getting vaccinated, it’s in her file”. Answer “oh sorry I didn’t check”. Well, she should have, because that’s her job. Next question “are you using any other methods to protect your child, like homeopathic vaccination”? Both my husband and I looked at her in disbelief. There it was, the trick question. I explained to her, that while we were using homeopathic remedies in our family when we were sick, we did not believe in homeoprophylaxis, because this would, just as conventional vaccination, be given in the anticipation of the healthy person become diseased or exposed to a certain pathogen.
She rapidly changed tactics to “maybe I can scare them” and started talking about the current measles “outbreak”. Now that completely puzzles me. She knew that the measles were going around and still wanted to jab my snotty, coughing, feverish child with the MMR? However small the chance, but who could have guaranteed that our daughter wasn’t coming down with measles? Lastly I was asked whether I had made an “informed choice”. This is interesting considering that usually all you get to see at a doctor’s practice is a colourful brochure telling you how wonderful “immunisation” is, and this is hardly “informed choice”. None of the parents who sign the consent form are ever asked this question. Of course not, because they “are doing the right thing”.
What worries me the most is the fact that many parents just don’t know how to deal with a situation like this. They expect that the nurses and doctors know what they’re doing and that they are acting in the best interest of their child(ren). Maybe 9 out of 10 times they do know and act in their best interest, or if they make a mistake it fortunately doesn’t have any consequences. But what if the child is the odd one? What would have happened if the nurse had jabbed my child that day with a combination of 7 different pathogens (measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diptheria, polio, pertussis) in a situation where it is clearly contraindicated? Even without that my daughter’s fever went up to almost 40 degrees, which is not considered a “mild” illness anymore, so where would it have gone to if she had had a reaction? Who would have been able to tell whether it was a vaccine reaction or not? How does a sick child’s immune system respond to such an insult? How many of the vaccine reactions that we see are due to such an “error”? Too many questions for my liking.
To me it doesn’t make a difference whether parents decide to vaccinate their children or not, as long as they have done their bit of research, checked both sides of the story, base their decision on that and, most importantly, can happily live with this decision. But I do have a problem with incompetence. It seems to be very important to the medical profession that their vaccination empire remains squeaky clean, so they should do their part and not mess it up, starting by treating people professionally, keeping to their rules and procedures and not jabbing an obviously sick child with live viruses, if anything.
What I would have expected on that day was a proper conversation about our daughter’s health, including all her past reactions to vaccines. I would have expected the nurse to explain to me that, since our daughter was very unwell, there were certain risk factors associated especially with MMR vaccination. I would have expected to be asked to come back another time or at the very least, given a choice (of course, none of this would have been necessary had she read the notes in the first place). But this involves INFORMED consent. It is much easier to get parents to comply if they don’t know the details. Sad, but true.
On a lighter note, just before we were leaving our daughter was allowed to choose a toothbrush with the nurse’s comment “I can give you toothpaste as well, but do you use conventional toothpaste at all?” Easy maths, isn’t it! You don’t vaccinate + you use homeopathic remedies = you don’t use fluoride toothpaste…