Primum non nocere. This is Latin and means â€œfirst, do no harmâ€. Every physician, and ideally every human being, understands the importance of this idea. It has been particularly emphasized for pregnant women, as any toxic exposure may interfere with the normal development of the baby.
Be prepared for your physician to give the party line recommendations handed down by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about vaccines during your pregnancy. Before the 1970â€™s the flu vaccine was not widely recommended and few obstetricians promoted it for their pregnant patients. Starting in 2006 the CDC recommended that all pregnant women, healthy or not, should get the flu vaccine.
But is there clear scientific evidence that shows vaccination during pregnancy is safe?
When thinking about vaccination, you must consider several factors. They include the likelihood of contracting a disease, the possible consequences of the disease, the reported effectiveness of a vaccine, and the possible short and long term consequences of that vaccine to you and your unborn baby. All of these must be carefully considered to be able to make a good decision.
Influenza, or the flu, is caused by a virus and is a contagious respiratory illness. The flu season peaks in January and February, and can occur as early as October and as late as May. Symptoms include fever, chills, runny rose, cough, muscle aches, fatigue, headache and decreased appetite. Death and disability from the flu is very rare, and usually occur only in high risk groups. Most complications are actually due to bacterial pneumonia, which is treated with antibiotics and not a vaccine. Interestingly, only 20% of illnesses with flu-like symptoms are actually due to influenza viruses, though they still get blamed much of the time.
The flu viruses mutate, or change, every year. This makes it difficult to develop immunity and difficult to develop an effective vaccine. The vaccine manufacturers try to guess what flu viruses are most likely to be a problem in the upcoming season, and often they get it wrong. Even when they get it right, there is not convincing evidence that it does any good to get the flu vaccine. There are many published medical studies that state that significant flu vaccine effectiveness can not be demonstrated.
It is important to know that if you do get the flu vaccine it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop. Also, the only flu vaccine recommended for pregnant women is the inactivated form.
Vaccines contain many ingredients that can be dangerous. The flu strains are grown in chick embryos, and then are inactivated with formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing chemical. They are preserved with thimerosal, which contains mercury. Mercury has been shown to be associated with brain damage and developmental delays in babies where the mother was exposed to high levels of mercury during pregnancy. Flu vaccines also contain other toxic ingredients, such as aluminum, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol, nonoxynol, octoxinol 9 and more.
With this list of ingredients, it is no surprise that the flu vaccine can cause very serious reactions. They include life-threatening allergies to ingredients in the vaccine, encephalitis (brain inflammation), neurological disorders (including Guillain-BarrÃ© syndrome), and thrombocytopenia (blood disorder). Common reactions to the flu vaccine, which begin within 12 hours, include redness and swelling at the injection site, fever, fatigue, painful joints and headache.
Flu vaccines are Category B or C drugs, which means that adequate studies on pregnant women have not been done. It is not known whether these vaccines can cause harm to the fetus when given to a pregnant women.
Just because you are exposed to a virus does not mean that you will get sick. What can you do to protect yourself from serious illnesses? The same things you should already be doing for your health and that of your growing baby. Keep stress levels low, get enough sleep, get regular exercise, avoid environmental toxins, and eat a highly nutritious diet. Also, get plenty of sunshine to allow your body to naturally make the critically important vitamin D. Many researchers believe that the reason the flu is more common in the winter is because there is less sunshine and thus people have lower vitamin D levels. Another very important form of protection is good hygiene, including regular hand washing with a chemical-free soap. Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers do more harm than good, and are not necessary. And if possible, avoid close contact with those that are sick.
If you are pregnant and it is recommended that you get vaccinated, ask to see the science behind this. Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making a decision that day. Do your own research, look at the facts, and see what others are saying. Once you clearly understand the risks and benefits for you and your baby, make your own informed decision. Do not allow yourself to be harassed or intimidated. If your doctor does not support you in this, find another doctor who respects your right to make your own choices.