**HUGE DISCLAIMER – totally not medical advice here. This is just our experience on our vaccination journey, plus a few personal reflections regarding health and living in Patagonia.
Today we took our youngest – after almost a year here – to get some shots. She is “behind”, and needed a few.
And I say “needed” because, whether you are pro or anti-vaccination, or somewhere in between, bringing your First World kids (or yourself) to the Third World can make you see the whole issue in a brand new light.
All in all, Argentina is somewhat safer than other Latin American countries as far as diseases are concerned. I get much sicker in Andean countries like Ecuador than I ever do here in Argentina. The improved sanitation and temperate, not tropical, climate helps tremendously. Argentina also has a very aggressive national vaccination program, which has helped keep infectious diseases perhaps more at bay than in other Latin countries.
[I won’t get into the whole “Do vaccines cause Autism” debate” here – but one thing we have noticed is that there are very few children with autism here. Why this is, I do not know. And I’m not going to go there either, I’ll leave that debate for the more informed.]
At one of our gazillion trips to the hospital recently, I spotted the Vaccination Schedule posted on the wall in hall.
[For Argentina’s Vaccine Schedule in English click HERE]
While waiting, I snapped a photo of the calendar and studied the schedule. I noticed that Argentina includes TB shots for newborns. I asked about this, and the answer I got from the vaccination clinic was this: TB had been eradicated in Patagonia, but the influx of people from “the North” (Salta, Bolivia, northern Argentina) where perhaps there are “pockets” of unvaccinated populations which can lead to possible outbreaks, infected persons have brought cases as they have travelled to Patagonia. Now, as a preventative measure, mandatory TB shots are given to babies born in Argentina. Also, I was told by the nurse who administered our shots today, when an infected person is found, an attempt is made to vaccinate the entire family and surrounding social circles of the infected person against TB.
I also noticed Yellow Fever on the schedule at 12 months. But when I went to the local vaccination clinic, it was missing from the schedule. I am deducing – because I am slighty informed about Yellow Fever (had the shot in Rio before I headed to the Amazon way back when) – that Patagonia is not considered a “risk area” because Yellow Fever is a tropical disease, and we live in temperate Argentina.
Hep B is also given to newborns in the hospital within the first 12 hours of life. A booster is given at 11 years.
Hep A is given as a single dose at 12 months. I see the “need” for it in that I have met people half my age (that is, 20 year olds) who have had Hep A as children living here in the city. Vaccination has helped Hep A outbreaks here in Patagonia tremendously, as it is not nearly as common as 20 years ago.
The Polio vaccination is still given here (as of this writing) in oral form. As a mother, I was very happy about this. For me, today, it meant I could give my child the oral Polio drops (painless) and a shot (painful) at the same time, not having to worry too much about excessive yucky chemicals, heavy metals, and preservatives overload.
MMR is given here at 12 months, then not again until 5-6 years old upon entering school. I like that. It shows me that perhaps at least Argentina believes that immunization against MMR is acquired with only two shots, not the whopping four they prick babies with in the US – three of which are before the age of one year old. Interesting.
Because we do missions to remote areas here in Patagonia and work in very poor and high-risk areas, I have come to the very personal conclusion that the risks of shots far outweigh the risk of contracting any of these diseases. Personally, I just got tired of seeing the inside of the hospital. It’s pushed me over the edge. And these were just treatable viruses and infections we’ve had. I can’t and don’t want to imagine anything more serious.
TB shot? Yeah, prick me.
Hep A, sure.
Polio drops? Bring it on.
I have changed my tune for sure. In the States, after really studying the issue and seeing how over-vaccinated our kids are these days – I was not anti-vaccination, just a delayed vaccination minimalist.
Here, well, that’s another story. Bring it on. Give me a shot before you give me TB. But that’s just me. Anyone coming to Patagonia – or heading to a third World country – needs to study this issue for themselves. Educate yourself, read, talk to doctors and nurses, talk to people who live there or who have been there, then make your decision.
As my dad always says, “It’s your health, the most valuable thing you have!”