Saturday, January 23, 2010

Belated Book Review

My lofty goal when I started this blog was to submit a useful, parenting book review every month for the first year of Amari's life. As the weeks go by, however, I'm learning that Carrie is actually the reader on our team - constantly gleaning useful information from various sources - while I am and will probably remain the uninformed writer. Nonetheless, I did actually "read" what I consider the most important parts of:

The Vaccine Book

Author: Dr. Robert W Sears

Initial Reaction: If I had judged this book by its cover, I probably would have said, "Eww. What a strange looking kid." What I found myself wanting to know and what was not included in the book was whether or not this poster child was vaccinated. If he had been, then I might have chosen to decline or concluded that we still haven't developed a weirdo vaccine. If not, then bring on the needles.He also happens to be the face of the Sears web site, so there goes any advertising prospects from the Sear's empire.

Decide for yourself:

I'm guessing the kid is their son, grandchild, or a fully grown man and current author of "The Anti-Vaccine Book." Am I a judgmental asshole? Yes, absolutely. Was it a New Year's resolution to work on this? No it wasn't, so it probably won't change anytime soon.

Why I Chose It: Aside from circumcision, vaccines are one of the earliest and most important decisions we make as parents. Having a girl and being completely opposed to unnecessary, premeditated trauma, this was really my first major choice. I've always liked being an informed decision-maker, or at the very least appear like one, and this book allowed me to do one of those things really well. If I'd been more thorough in my reading, I'm confident I could have accomplished both.

The Main Idea: Dr. Sears presents a detailed description of every vaccine on the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended schedule. In each chapter Dr. Sears begins by describing the disease being immunized against, how common and serious it is and whether it's treatable once contracted. He then goes on to describe how the vaccine is made, its side effects, the ingredients included by various manufacturers, and why any of the contents are considered controversial. Reasons to vaccinate are also included followed by common reasons parents choose not to get a particular vaccine. Dr. Sears then concludes each chapter with travel considerations for each disease, options to consider when choosing not to vaccinate, and finally what his recommendation is.

My Thoughts: As I mentioned, I read through this book quickly. It took me two evenings before bedtime to come up with a plan that I ultimately threw out the window when it came time to vaccinate. What I liked about the book was was that I could quickly learn about the various diseases, their prevalence, and their seriousness. I didn't care about the ingredients too much, because I didn't feel like I had much control over which company supplied my pediatrician with vaccines. I loved reading about why people chose not to vaccinate, but was still confused about why parents who did vaccinate would be upset with parents who did not when school rolls around. Shouldn't their kids be fine? Perhaps vaccines aren't one hundred percent effective.

Initially, I felt like Dr. Sears was just recommending every vaccine - either directly or by saying things like, "Fortunately, this disease is rare. Unfortunately, it's very serious and could kill your child." What would you do with that information? As I continued to read, however, I saw a more judicious side of the author. When it came to the flu vaccine, his exact words in his recommendation were, "So, have your kids get the flu shot if you don't want them to go through a tough week," implying that there really wasn't enough risk to the flu to merit inoculation. I also appreciated learning that chicken pox now has a cure if caught early enough.

Overall Recommendation: Front cover aside, I think this book is definitely worth reading. It's a terrific quick reference for anything you want to know about vaccinations and will be useful whether you do or don't intend to vaccinate. Carrie and I did have Amari vaccinated two weeks ago and have seen no negative consequences of doing so. She had a rough few hours after the visit, but bounced back better than ever the next day. If you're a new parent, check this book out. You can find this book for a couple of dollars at or call me and I'll send you my copy.

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