Vaccinating Your Mexican-Born Children in Mexico September 8
The following post is in response to a question from a youngÂ woman from the United States, living in Mexico with her Mexican husband. She wonders if theÂ vaccine that causes a scar onÂ the child’s arm is mandatory.Â Â
Children in Mexico have immunization scars on their arms that look like the ones the boomers have. When I would get together with other moms and toddlers, some of their children would have the recently-made red welt on their arms.Â In contrast, our son was born in Mexico, has a full regimen of shots and does NOT have that scar — ultimately not for cosmetic reasons, but for immunity and health reasons.
I don’t know much about vaccines, but I know that they can be made from live, killed, or modified versions of the disease causing agent. Since I had already grown to deeply distrust IMSS and the national medical system in Mexico due to some bad experiences, I found a private pediatrician in our town that was well-thought of and famous for not giving lots of prescriptions and medicines, especially antibiotics, which tend to be frighteningly overused in Mexico.
You see, seeing that scar on childrens’ arms had gotten me to thinking. Â My parents had that scar, but I didn’t. I wondered if it was because we no longer vaccinated for that in the US. I could imagine three different reasons for discontinuing a particular vaccine. Reason number one might have been that whichever disease it protected against was so uncommon it was considered “eradicated.” Â Reason number two might have been that a new vaccine had been developed. Reason number three might have been that the vaccine was later determined to cause more risk than benefit. The pediatrician I found helped us to make informed decisions about which vaccines were right for our son.
It has been a couple of years since we did our son’s vaccination series and I am not a doctor, nor a medical professional, so double check all of this info for yourself.Â If memory serves, that scar is caused by the tuberculosis vaccine. Our doctor told us that the vaccine does not produce immunity and is only useful to help protect people in high risk situations, such as children who live with a family member who has active tuberculosis. Since no one in our family had tuberculosis, we did not give him that vaccine. Our doctor said that having it can even cause a false positive test for the disease. Â Another vaccine I was worried about was the polio vaccine. I don’t remember as many details about that one, but by conversing with this doctor I felt safe giving the vaccine we gave.Â Not that everything from the US is better, but this doctor administered the same vaccines that are given in the US. This had the added advantage for us, that if we were to return to the US (where no one seems to know one thing about Mexico), the schools would be satisfied with the shots our son had had.
The shots were expensive — hundreds of U.S. dollars, but I never regretted a single cent. An unplanned benefit of taking our son to this pediatrician when he was healthy was that, when our son was ill, we could call our pediatrician at any time day or night and he would help us without making us bring our son in.Â This doctor, like many in Mexico, still serves the parents directly and the relationship with the doctor has been soothing to our nerves. Imagine the difference between heading out to the emergency room at 2:00 am with a baby who is throwing up bile and calling the pediatrician who knows him, getting told over the phone what to buy at the 24 hour pharmacy, and giving it to the child 30 minutes later. Of course, this same sleepy pediatrician didn’t just give us a medicine’s name over the phone and hang up. We talked about the symptoms, then he told us warning signs that might indicate more sever problems, and he followed up.
I was also impressed by his use of lab tests, rather than simple symptoms. One time, this saved our son from being unnecessarily medicated. One time I saw blood in his stool. A friend’s baby had just been diagnosed with amoebas (from blood in his stool) and was taking harsh medicine for it. My doctor ordered lab tests of the stool sample and it turned out to be an extremely acidic stomach. The doctor quickly figured out that I’d recently added Oreos back into my diet! Since I was nursing, the Oreos were effecting my son. That was a simple, safe fix and my son was spared a regimen of harsh medications.
Another friend’s daughter was always on antibiotics for this and that. In contrast, our son never needed them. Our pediatrician always found ways to help him to heal quickly and naturally. He is a standard M.D., not naturopathic, it’s just that he is very smart about how he does things.
When you live in Mexico, see if you can find a pediatrician in your town with a strong reputation. Even if you are “retired in Mexico” and don’t need a pediatrician, I think these anecdotes can give you some ideas of what to look for for yourselves!
*** THIS BLOG POST WAS NOT WRITTEN BY A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. DO NOT MAKE ANY DECISIONS BASED ON THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HERE. FIND A DOCTOR AND ASK HIM/HER FOR GUIDANCE.***