Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A vaccine rant from someone who experienced a vaccine reaction

For them
I've been thinking and reading a lot about vaccines lately, mostly because Aenea is a whole three weeks old and can't be immunized for most things yet, and there's an epidemic of Pertussis in Wisconsin where we live. I've read many times that "you'd be against vaccines if your child/you had one of the 'rare' reactions!" Well, I was the child that had a reaction, and I'm incredibly thankful for vaccinations.

When I was a baby, I went into anaphylactic shock when I received my first dose of DTP. This was the older, whole-cell form of the vaccine, and reactions were more common (though not really common.) Fortunately, my parents we watching for reactions and I got treated quickly and had no lasting effects. It was scary, but rather than putting me off vaccination, this made me even more grateful it existed, because I was completely unprotected. My schoolmates growing up were all immunized, and they protected me and probably saved my life.

When I was in my 20's I managed to catch the actual disease - I was living in the Bay Area and there was a local outbreak. I don't know if I'm extra sensitive to the Pertussis toxin (which would explain my extreme reaction to the original vaccination), but I got extremely sick, and remained so for three months. Every 10 minutes I would descend into a coughing fit that would leave me unable to breathe, with the standard "whooping" sound when I attempted to do so. Many times the coughing would be so severe I would vomit as a result, and I ended up breaking a rib because of the force. This is the only time I've broken a bone in my life. Even as an adult, this was a terrifying experience, and I was glad to make it through.

With all of this, I'm thrilled that my kids can be vaccinated. I've experienced both a vaccines side effects and the disease a vaccine can prevent, and I'll take the incredibly small chance of a reaction over the horror of the disease.

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