This is my best shot at some well-balanced advice on vaccines. I feel strongly that you should only give a vaccine if and when you really feel that the child will benefit from that particular vaccine, and needs it now (rather than later, when their immune system is more mature). I don't think you necessarily do "best" by a child by hitting their very immature little immune system with a germ they will likely never be exposed to. Booster shots, giving another assault on the immune system, just to possibly hit a slightly higher level of immunity, are generally not something I'm in favor of unless there's a specific reason.
I just want to say one thing to the moms of very young infants that haven't been vaccinated:
KEEP BREASTFEEDING AS LONG AS POSSIBLE! You're protecting your baby in the best way possible against any illnesses she might be exposed to right now, and also protecting her longterm health in about a million ways. If you ever need help with breastfeeding, there are lots of great lactation counselors, la leche league, etc. out there who would love to help.
I think that for each vaccine, you need to think hard about the vaccine itself, and the illness you're vaccinating against, and know the following information:
- - How many cases there are in the U.S. each year (how likely will your child be exposed).
- - The effectiveness rate of each vaccine.
- - What the vaccine is made of and whether any ingredients in it have a bad safety record.
- - The chance of side effects from this vaccine.
- - What kind of treatment is available for the disease (e.g. is it deadly, disabling, or just a nuisance you can treat)
- - Whether anyone in your family has ever had a negative vaccine reaction.