Two kids (and hours of research) later, Tim and I are still undecided.
We've read "The Vaccine Book" (an excellent book, by the way). We've interviewed Dr. Sears on phone and by e-mail. We've scribbled down questions for our pediatrician. We've read blog posts and heard reasons. We've looked at what Dr. Tenpenny has to say and we've considered the stats from the CDC.
Sometimes we'll hear someone tell a story about how their child had the XYZ vaccine and ended up with autism or seizures. And we'll think, "Okay. That's it. No more vaccines. Our kids never get sick. They are breastfeed. They're not in daycare. We barely even give them Tylenol. Why would we inject some unknown chemical into their bodies?"
Then, we'll hear someone tell a story about how their child DIDN'T get ABC vaccine and they ended up with Rotavirus and had to be hospitalized...or we'll see a news story about an outbreak of measles. And we'll think, "We see the merits of vaccines. They've been used for ages. They're well-researched. Doctors and researchers wouldn't knowingly lead us to harm our kids. Let's do this (and I'll cry in the corner)."
The worst part about all of this is that both camps use the most potent weapon when advocating their case - the potential that our child might be harmed. FEAR creeps in, grips our hearts, keeps us up at night, googling about vaccines side effects and the prevalence of diseases.
It's a horrible feeling...being scared into making decisions. We don't want it to be this way. We want to be able to wave our flag with confidence, knowing that we are making the right choice for our kids.
For now, we selectively vaccinate and we delay vaccinations. Most of all, we PRAY. We pray that our kids will be strong and healthy even if we make the "wrong" decision. We pray for peace.
Here is a letter that we'd really love to send to all pediatricians and to the CDC. [clearing throat].
Do you vaccinate your children? Why or why not? What books, blogs, and/or research studies have been most helpful to you in your research?
I do not have children but I would never vaccinate my future child(ren) if I was given a choice. There are too many harmful chemicals in a vaccination that can cause long term learning disabilities, infertility, femininity in boys, high testosterone in girls as well as possible inabilities to have healthy babies of their own in the future. Not to mention autism and many more plethora of issues that have been documented by mothers and brave doctors throughout the world.
From the age of 5-15 I was constantly catching anything and everything at school. I was literally sick at least once a month. At the age of 16 I graduated from high school and was out on my own attending college. I decided then and there to stop having vaccinations. It was a personal choice because they made me so ill and dizzy. I hated how odd it made me feel and the migraines. Since I was 16 and refused to take any vaccinations I can honestly count how many times I've been sick with the flu (2) cold (3). Ive caught no other serious disease or illness. I'm now in my late 20's and it's been more than 10 years since my last vaccination and I feel that I am perfectly healthy.
When H1N1 did it's route I did not catch any sort of illness throughout the entire ordeal. I honestly felt it was more propaganda to see if we will react with mass hysteria and get the latest shot in order to stay alive. I felt that they ended their campaign promptly when the numbers came out showing that less than half of all Americans and Canadians decided to get the shot whereas a great majority opted to ride it out. Funny huh??
You can live your life without vaccinations, it is not a crime, you are not a bad person for having a choice, it's merely peer pressure that forces you to act like the other sheep, be independent and decide what is best for you. Do your research and if possible, hold off for as long as you can from vaccinating your child. Give your baby time to develop naturally and organically. During the 1st five years eating organically and living a pest free, chemical free, green tea oil free, lavendar oil free and plastic free life is KEY to raising a very healthy and immune stable child. YOU WILL ARGUE THAT EATING ORGANIC IS COSTLY----- However I will argue that eating organic you will find that you EAT LESS because the food is MORE FILLING, because it is packed with REAL and UNHARMED NUTRITION and isn't pumped up with water, gels, pest control and horomone boosters to trick your body into thinking it's eating something filling. You will eat less organically, you will create meals more carefully and you will notice a huge difference.
PS: I work in public health. I have immunity to ALL major vaccinated diseases because I take pro-biotic's, vitamins, cleansers and large amounts of vitamin boosters during seasons where I have been known to be sick the most. I am not a RISK to the public. In fact I have the least amount of sick days out of my entire section. I am a healthy person who does NOT take vaccinations and I work in healthcare.
Great post...I just had to add my 50 cents lol.
And also, just want to say I am SO with you on the hating this fear motivating our decisions. I, too, wish i could wave my flag with confidence.
I stumbled across this post and so grateful to God I did. Just to hear that someone else, anyone else, is also CURRENTLY struggling with the issue and CURRENTLY undecided is really so comforting. The vast majority of my group of friends is strongly anti-vax and they all have been fully decided for years now. (The voice of your friends is so much more booming loud than everyone else even if your friends are actually a minority ... ) I felt really judged and questioning my own intuition for daring to disagree with my anti-vax friends! (Most people tell of feeling judged etc. by their in-laws, doctors, etc. for daring to disagree with a pro-vax position!)
Even knowing all my friends had to say about it, when my first was born I just honestly was still undecided, especially since my husband is from overseas and has a different take on the issue, the history point, etc. So, I got the standard recommended round for my little 2, 4, 6 mo. Each time I really felt sick about it but felt like it was the "right" thing to do. She really didn't seem to have any adverse reactions, other than she was unusually sleepy after the 2 mo set and 6 mo set, not the 4 mo for some reason. After that, I did more research, came upon different information and got myself freaked out. Said, no way, never again, no more!!!! Well, she's 3 now and has been absolutely perfectly ridiculously healthy, I mean, not a single ear infection, fevers never last longer than 12 hours, has never had antibiotics in her life kind of healthy, and smart as a whistle to boot. Praise God. She does have eczema but no food sensitivities or anything, and the eczema is most likely a genetic gift from her daddy.
We now have a 10 month old as well. I was not going to get her a single shot. We finally found a pediatrician who I feel really good about, the kind who would listen to and agree with your letter. He's also an ND/ARNP. I asked him about vax, because I've still been only 90% anti, not 110% yet. He surprised me by being moderately pro-certain-vax, as long as they're spaced out, which I didn't expect from a naturopath, and presented some very thought-provoking points I hadn't considered, but all extremely low-pressure. I asked him point-blank, "Isn't vaccination immunity not actually that effective, and therefore the entire herd immunity concept somewhat bunk?" He said that in his own personal experience in his own office, he has hospitalized many unvaccinated children for pertussis and there have been two deaths this year, and that in his own office, yes, many vaccinated children have still gotten pertussis, but have consistently shown milder cases and he has never hospitalized a single vaccinated child for pertussis. Wow, I thought. To make the long story short, I ended up deciding to go ahead and get my then nine-month-old just the DTaP-HIB-IPV, and got the 3 yo. just the DTaP booster she had missed. I felt strangely peaceful and just okay about it.
Well, when I got home emotional fallout began. (Both children are fine, btw. No reactions. Praise God.) "What was I thinking?" "What have I done?" "I can't believe I did that!" etc. It is a really, really, really hard decision, even when you have good friends, even when you have a good doctor, even when you have a good husband. I found myself feeling unbelievably heavy and guilty, afraid that I've ruined them for life.
Enter this blog post. "Most of all, we PRAY." you said. One of your commenters said, "I have to trust God to protect them, not trust the vaccine to protect them from a disease or trust not getting the vaccine to protect them from a reaction." Thank you, thank you, thank you. Truly, sweet sweet comfort from someone I've never met, but now feel a kinship for.
And here I am, again vowing that I will never again get either child or any future children another single shot. I feel mostly peaceful about this anti-vax position. But still wonder about whether I've got it wrong. I can't say that I won't change my mind, I pray for discretion daily. For now, my main reasons for being not just selective/delayed but anti are, that to me something just feels wrong about the vaccination model, and indeed the entire modern medical model. For example, HIB is actually a very common bacteria which 99% of the time coexists harmlessly with us, dwelling in the lining of our noses, etc. But, sometimes, for some reason, it turns against us and causes meningitis. That fact does not make me want to run out and get the HIB vaccine. It makes me ask, "Why? What were the other factors in those scenarios that cause a usually harmless coexisting bacterium to turn aggressive?" I would rather focus on the OTHER FACTORS of the whole person to prevent the bacteria turning aggressive, than focus on just trying to vaccinate the thing out of existence, or antibiotic the thing out of existence.
That said, thank you for that comfort and perspective of trusting God to keep our preciouses healthy strong and sound even if and when we, being fallible and frail, make the wrong decision sometimes.
Thanks so much for commenting here, Marie. You are clearly an intelligent and loving mother. It's okay to have hesitations and questions. In fact, I think it's very healthy. I completely relate to the part where you wrote: "I can’t say that I won’t change my mind, I pray for discretion daily."
P.S. How fortunate you are to have such pediatrician that is also a naturopath! Sadly, I think that is quite rare.
So my question to all of you who do not vaccinate is... What do you do when schools or the state says you "must" vaccinate?!?! Our 5 year old daughter has a seizure disorder & the literature on the MMR and/or Chickenpox vax say people who have seizure disorders or people who have had family members (my husband) with seizure disorders should not recieve the vaxes or wait. We are an Army family (technically WA residents) living in NC & the NC laws on vaccines are extremely strict. I know in WA I would have many opt-out options. Here in NC that is not the case... We're going to try & get a medical waiver for our daughter. All that said, I do not like the fact that states can supposedly tell you which vaccines you HAVE to give.
I know this was posted a long time ago, but I just had to respond! ;-)
The state cannot tell you what to give your children. By, law you have the freedom to say no. Hopefully you were able to get the exemption for your daughter. We are in the AF (and legal residents of WA too!), and my son has not had any vaccines. We told our pediatrician that we did not want any, she kindly shared her thoughts, and we have not discussed it since. Don't let the Dr. win. ;-) you are responsible for the care of your child, not the medical field. Blessings.
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We no longer vaccinate because our oldest daughter had a reaction at four months. Since that moment I have done hours & hours of research and now know that we are making the correct choice for our family in not vaccinating. I am a numbers person, so when I see the info presented in a way that lets me see real statistics it makes me cringe that we ever vaccinated in the first place.
Toxins are toxins, so selective vaccination was not an answer for us and when I learned about the truth regarding herd immunity I realized that argument was laughable at best. (Info on both of these things are included in my post)
I recently posted a four year since it happened post on our family blog. It also has a lot of resources there and in the comment section of that post. Lots of numbers that make you think...
Please check it out if you have a moment and always feel free to pass this link on as well.
Good luck in your choice for your family.
I also follow Dr. Sears' alternative schedule. Although there are a few things in his book that I don't fully agree with, in general I believe in his logic. I think he looks at health and vaccines from a more holistic perspective encouraging parents to use a healthy diet, vitamins, probiotics and breastfeeding to help support the immune system. I read a recent blog where a parent compared getting vaccines to introducing new foods to babies. I thought it was a good analogy that when we introduce different foods we do it one at a time to monitor for reactions. I believe in the same concept with vaccines. I think it is extremely important for my son to be vaccinated but I choose to just spread them out and focus on the most severe diseases first.
As a side note, I am currently working on my masters thesis on how we communicate about vaccination. As part of my research I have put together a site (that I may eventually take public) that could serve as a one-stop-shop for mothers/families to find "balanced" information from all sides of the vaccine argument, and a place to dialogue with other parents. I would love to get your feedback if you have the time to review it. Please send me an email if you are interested and I will give you access. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated! I really enjoy reading your blog!
Hi Corrine! What a great masters thesis project...a timely topic, to be sure. I'd be very interested to take a look at the site that you have created. Do you plan to make it a public resource for parents in the near future?
I apologize for my tardiness in responding. I just found your reply in my JUNK MAIL!!! OH dear!
Yes, it is my intention to use the site to help collect credible information sources for parents to utilize in their quest for learning more about vaccines and vaccine safety. Despite where I stand on the issue, I want parents to feel empowered to make their own decisions and feel good about it. That is the impetus for my site.
On the research front, I hope that once the site gets some traffic I can post some survey questions to get feedback on parent's perceptions and what works best for them.
Thank you for taking the time to look at my site and give me feedback. Do you have an email address I may enter to give you permission to the site? I am not quite ready to make it public... I would like to get some feedback first. Plus it was a class project and I set it up as if I was a consultant - which I am not - so I will remove those things first.
Thank you so much,
I received the invitation to view your site, but haven't yet had a chance to view it (hopefully soon!). :)
We vaccinate our kids but only the regular vaccines you need to place your children in daycare/school. We didnt do h1n1, nor do we do the others that are of personal choice.
San Diego baby dies of whooping cough; record number of whooping cough cases in the area this year due to low vaccination rates. Because infants are too young to be vaccinated, they depend on herd immunity, so even families who do vaccinate can't protect their children when other parents refuse to responsibly vaccinate.
Yep we vaccinate. Without hesitation. But with some common sense/mommy sense...like spreading out some of the vaccines. (Our pediatrician even offered the option to spread them out.)
I come from clinical genetics where we were continually evaluating kids for developmental delays, autism, birth defects, etc. I've read a lot of the literature on vaccines and listened to many presentations but on a population basis I just don't see evidence supporting that vaccines cause autism, etc. I recognize, however, that I am not a mom with a sick child. And I understand how compelling it can be to try to find a reason when something has gone wrong. Especially when everyone tells you that they don't know "why".
I so appreciate hearing your perspective...and am so grateful for your understanding heart. You are a gem, Donita!
I love love love your letter! We read the Vaccine book too, it was the closest form of actual data we could find and we have worked with our pediatrician to create our own delayed/spread out schedule. When I was pregnant and interviewing Pediatricians, this was always my first question - "Will you accommodate an alternative vaccine schedule?" I was amazed how some actually got angry at me for asking!!
Thanks for posting this, I think your letter is really powerful.
What a well thought-out and well-worded post! I remember when I had my first, I felt so pressured to start him on vaccinations but just didn't feel comfortable with it. I ended up switching pediatricians after our first visit. The doctor we switched to was great. Even though he believed in the vaccination schedule, he was more than willing to delay and spread out vaccinations to my comfort level. If he felt like there was a shot that should be pushed to the front of the line based on what he was currently seeing in the hospital, I listened to him. What I really appreciated was having an open and honest dialogue with him. Because of insurance changes, we have a new pediatrician. She has been great about spreading out vaccinations. I am so thankful that I haven't felt pressured since our original doctor. My advice is to find a doctor who will take time to listen and have a conversation with you.
Love the letter too!
Great thoughts. Even greater letter to the doctors. :)
Honestly we haven't struggled all that much with the vaccinations question. We put a lot of trust into our pediatrician and feel comfortable following his recommendations.
The issue we really struggled with was the circumcision. I lost sleep over it, and still, four year later, question our decision. It never comes easy...
Looks like you have a great discussion going here - I'll have to come back when I have a few minutes and read through it! (That's one of the things I love about your blog - the discussion that you cultivate)
We vaccinate - on a delayed schedule and we opt out of a few vaccinations too. I'm very blessed with our pediatrician - who does believe that some vaccinations are "very advisable" and that most vaccinations are "beneficial" but that not all vaccinations are "necessary". She's the same way with antibiotics and other medications - I appreciate the fact that I can take a kid with sniffles in and not necessarily leave with a prescription.
As for the flu vaccine - we never get that one, and we aren't doing the chicken pox vaccine either. Right now I can't remember what else we've opted out of. But I do know that my one year old won't be getting his one-year vaccinations until he's at least 15 months old.
The more I read, the more I find we have in common! We too read the Sears' Vaccine Book several time, taking copious notes. Looked online. Talked to family & friends. I even wrote a huge blog post and never posted because I'M JUST NOT SURE!!! You're right - each side uses the fear tactic. And I am caught in the middle. So, like you, we selectively vaccinate and delay vaccinations. Skip some (Hep B and Flu) and separate them all out as much as possible! As one friend told me "Either way you go, Vaccinate or Don't Vaccinate, you still have to trust God with the results!" So true!
I did vaccinate my son and now we are expecting again and will vaccinate again. We even did the one that everyone says they avoided...chicken pox. My husband has no immunity to chicken pox, he has had it 3 times, 2 as an adult. We have a small army of nieces and nephews that parade in and out of our house, and when we see things like staph infections on their mouths from thumb sucking and mysterious rashes I feel a little better knowing that I am teaching my son to be clean AND protecting him from preventable disease. We did what we were comfortable with, and really that is all I want for anyone.
Wow, coming in late here. I have heard assertions that there was a natural decline in communicable diseases in progress when many of these vaxs were introduced.
My brother had polio and now has post-polio syndrome. I vax my kids for polio.
I have not given them the MMR and as a result they had the measles last year. I am glad. It was mild. Much more mild than roseola(of which there is no vax). And now they have life-long immunity. Do you know how they contracted the measles? From their vax'd brother who came down with it first. Who knows how many people he exposed at work and at school b/c the thought of having the measles never entered his mind b/c he was vax'd. That created a false sense of security.
I do not like fear tactics on either side. Steph, you do such a fair job of presenting these hot topics with grace and gentleness. ((hugs))
@Our Green Nest Do you understand the difference between isolating a virus and producing a vaccine? Even if vaccines were developed using fetal tissue they are not produced using fetal tissue. So when patients receive vaccines they are not "inject[ing] aborted fetal tissue into [their] bodies", as you asserted.
If you object to the way some vaccines were developed, fine. That's your right. I disagree with you, but it is a matter of opinion. However, the question of whether a vaccine contains aborted fetal tissues is a question of fact, not of opinion. And there is no vaccine, not a single one in the entire world, that contains aborted fetal tissue.
This is one of the hardest decisions I've made as a parent. You know that Dr. Bob is our ped. and we are thankful over and over that he is our ped. My son had a vaccine reaction when he was 4 months old. Never again will I be bullied into doing something because someone (even a someone with MD behind their name) tells me to. Fortunately, our sweet boy is perfect, healthy. We delay and selectively vaccinate. And so far, we feel we've made the right decision. Did my son get Rotavirus? yes...Did it stink and did my heart ache for him, knowing I could have possibly prevented it with a vaccine? yes. But he survived...I would support and sign that letter with you Stephanie....
I started Levi off on the regular schedule, but after one set of shots (I think it was 9 months) he wasn't himself for a few days. It scared me. I started reading and researching and decided to just do some of the shots and to space them out. I'd love it if they would "green" the vaccines, but even as is I am not entirely against them. I am however very cautious. Stephan and I have talked a lot about which ones to give this new little one. It won't be very many, but he/she will get a few. And, we aren't for new vaccines. They generally haven't undergone enough testing to make us comfortable, and they are often for diseases that we don't consider to be enough of a threat to warrant vaccination.
We are the same way about "newer" vaccines and/or vaccines for non-life-threatening diseases.
From our research, we do support vaccinations (history is a huge factor in that)...but we also don't want our kids to be "guinea pigs." There are so many medications that end up being recalled or pulled from the market after a decade or two..."Oops! This causes cancer!" or something like that.
According to my research which I believe to be good valid sources, these are the vaccines that were cultured on aborted fetal tissue from two cell lines, WI-38 and MRC-5.
Varivax (chicken pox)
Meruvax II (rubella)
Biavax II (mumps/rubella)
and MMR II (measles/mumps/rubella)
According to what I've read, WI-38 was from a 3 month little aborted girl whose married Swedish parents felt they had too many children already.
MRC-5 is derived from the lung tissue of a 14-week-old baby boy whose 27 year old mom had psychiatric issues.
Specifically with the rubella vaccine, my research said that 27 abortions occurred to isolate the virus and 1 additional one to culture it.
From what I've read WI-38 and MRC-5 will eventually be exhausted (but I haven't read that they have yet) but the pharmaceutical industry already has new ones in the work like the PER.C6 culture. And I'm SURE there are probably others and many in the near future...
I've read that the acceptance or maybe rather the ignorance of this in regards to vaccines has been used by many politicians to get federal support of other fetal cell research and studies. That's not something I can ever support.
@ Our Green Nest and beth yodis, your sources are incorrect; vaccines today are not produced today using tissue or cells from aborted fetuses. Some of them, such as rubella, were isolated from fetal tissue; in records it is not clear whether the fetuses were spontaneously aborted (i.e. miscarried) or medically aborted. Either way, no tissues, cells, or materials from human fetuses are used in the production of vaccines today, and no objective website (e.g. the CDC, FDA, etc.) will say otherwise.
I think it's important to vaccinate. The more people don't, the more the chance of these diseases coming and harming our kids. My kids have never had any symptoms from the vaccination, except maybe a little cranky when they were a baby or slight fever, but that was the worst of it and didn't happen more than once or twice. I don't want to be worried about every time my kids go somewhere or do something (like lick the bathroom floor in a mall...ewwww) that could possibly hurt them. We travel to Mexico every year, usually twice a year and I know they are safe. They have never even had an ear ache! I don't count their health all because of the vaccines, but there is a comfort knowing that they are going to be ok. I trust my doctor. She doesn't push vaccines, but she will tell you what she thinks and give us the option on what to do. I know this is such a touchy subject, but I don't want my kid getting something and then giving it to someone else because they haven't been vaccinated. My oldest is starting Kindergarten today and it fears me to think of what he is going to begin to be in contact with, but knowing he's had all his vaccines and with prayer, I trust God he's going to be fine.
Our girls have both experienced “mild” side effects after vaccinations. High fevers. Vomiting. Shivering (likely from the fever).
I put “mild” in quotation marks because those were hard days and nights. Seeing our otherwise healthy girls go from perfectly active and happy to hot, restless, and throwing up within a few hours of getting vaccines was not easy.
That said, we do still vaccinate (on an alternative schedule). History is a strong motivator. Also, when we look at other countries where there is no access to vaccines and/or where the access is limited, disease rates are much higher.
Stephanie, which vaccines caused this, do you remember? We have been blessed. S has had NO side effects at all. I don't think I would be a happy camper if he did. We are struggling with our two month and 18 month check-up this week. Not sure what to do...
I can't remember for our 3-year-old. For our 1-year-old, the "culprit" had to be either Hep B, DTaP, or Polio (those are the only 3 shots we've given her to-date).
P.S. I think we'll opt out of Hep B for baby #3.
Oh Steph, I can relate...we are in the same boat....no easy decisions here.
We chose not to vaccinate and I catch a whole lot of grief over it. We live in a small town and I think my children are the only ones who have not have vaccinations. When the subject comes up, people talk to me like I'm the worst mother in the world and they always seem so sure that I have signed my children's death warrants. I feel like I've done the right thing and should I ever change my mind, I will do it based on facts, not because other mothers, the school principal or my neighbor's doctor pressured me into it.
Hey! Great post! Have you ever heard of "pro-life" vaccines? I've been reading posts on Bound4Life site and they are saying that vaccines use tissues or cells from aborted babies! Its the first I've ever heard of it... Horrible! You can see for yourself by starting at this link...
I was thinking I was glad I don't have to make those decisions anymore, being that our daughter is 20, but there are so many new vaccines developing for adults! It is definitely a moral dilemma!
Beth, Thank you so much for sending that link. This is a topic that I definitely need to study up on (several of my other readers have also brought this to my attention).
More research - on our part - is clearly in order.
Wehef, some of the live viruses were cultured on aborted fetal tissue and yes can still contain traces of the cell lines of tissue. That's what my research has showed me. But regardless if it still "contains" it or not, I strongly believe aborting/killing a little baby is horrifically wrong whether it occurs now or decades ago.
We do vaccinate. We live in South Africa where children do still die of communicable diseases. Because so many children are NOT vaccinated here, many diseases that we no longer see in the US are commonplace here. Our baby got a TB vaccination in the hospital before he was discharged because TB is so prevalent here. It left a little scar on his arm but it's a small thing to know that he's protected.
Don't take for granted that you live in a country where many childhood diseases are not heard of anymore - they could come back without vaccines.
Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your "international perspective," Kristin. Your comments often make me stop and think about things differently - and I truly appreciate that. In fact, your argument for vaccinating is one of the strongest that I have heard.
From our research, we do support (some) vaccinations. We just don't feel confident when it comes to the number of vaccines that the AAP recommends (and the # that are recommended at a time). For example, it doesn't strike us as being prudent or safe to give a baby 4+ vaccines on one day. Also, we're not sure what to think about some of the "newer" vaccines that are being recommended for non-life-threatening diseases.
@ Our Green Nest - while it is true that some vaccines were developed using small amounts of human embryonic and fetal tissue, in the research phase, no vaccines currently in use are produced using such tissues; in no way does getting a vaccine, any vaccine, involve putting human fetal tissue in your body.
As for the rest of your comment, well, we'll have to agree to disagree, but I encourage you to look at some of the sources I mentioned in my other comments.
I wish I had edited my previous post a bit :)...I just wanted to clarify that there CAN be accumulation of ingredients (metals) in our body tissue from vaccinations and that CAN cause many issues. But with a healthy lifestyle, you can assist your body to naturally detox more/faster...or you can do major detoxes with the help of a chiro or naturopath...
Something else I wish I had said is that there have not been any long-term studies done on the safety of vaccines...
Alright, I need to go to bed before I re-read my reply and think I should have edited it/added more! :)
Oh, thank you. I love your request for doctors to stop telling parents to vaccinate because that's what good parents do and leave it at that. To me, the medical community just hasn't answered all the questions or done enough to allay my fears as a parent when it comes to vaccines. You're right -- they pretty much tell you just to do it and point to the low incidence of problems with vaccines. That's not enough. We also vaccinate selectively and delay vaccines. My oldest son got caught up about this time last year so he could enter preschool -- and he has had so many problems this year. I like Dr. Sears' book -- that's cool you got to interview him.
Oh my. We do NOT vax at our house and have no plans to ever do so. We researched it a ton, went to vax seminars, read books (fave is Aviva Jill Romm's), prayed, and so forth and so forth. We feel as Christians that we are to take the best possible care of our bodies and by injecting chemicals, toxins, and just nasty things into our bloodstream, that's not doing that. We strongly believe those things do NOT belong in our bodies! And where do people think these ingredients go? I still have nasty things in my body from all of my childhood vaccinations, which is so gross to think about.
Further, as vegans, I can't get past all of the animal ingredients and all of the cruel animal testing...and of course as Christians, we feel it's very wrong (and disgusting) to inject aborted fetal tissue into our bodies. We trust God and we trust the immune systems He gave us. We do everything we possibly can to boost our immune systems and keep ourselves as strong and healthy as possible, including alot of exercise, sleep, clean water, whole food supplements, all-organic mostly raw vegan diet, a chemical/smoke/toxin-free house, extended breastfeeding for our little 31 month old, etc. etc.
It makes me sad when people don't research it and just do it...or are swayed by what some Dr. tells them to do. If people truly looked at the history of vaccines, they would see that the prevalence of most of the diseases had already started to decline before the vaccines were created...due to cleaner living conditions and water, and better hygiene and diets.
Further, I know people say there are risks with everything. True. BUT with a vaccine, you are injecting those nasty ingredients directly into your bloodstream...that's a big risk that CANNOT be compared to driving a car or crossing the street. Not the same AT ALL. ESPECIALLY when we're talking about a little baby/toddler's developing body!
For people who think vaccines don't cause autism...they may or may not cause it but I certainly think they can trigger it in some kids. I think they may be a cause though, but there are so many things it also could be/is...ultrasounds, pesticide-full food, environmental toxins, and so many other things. I don't understand how anyone can listen to parent after parent who says their child changed immediately after getting vaxed though and say it's just a coincidence.
BUT it's not just autism that we need to be concerned about...how many kids do you know have allergies these days? Or learning disorders? Or whatever else...and just because your child "is fine" or you're fine does not mean you will always be that way. You may never know that the toxic things that were injected into your body when you were little caused this or that once you're an adult or even elderly. Effects of vaccines are not always immediate...they may be years and years down the road and have been in the making the whole time.
I definitely think vaccines should be greened, veganized, cruelty-freed, etc.!!...But would I THEN inject them into my kid's or my bloodstream? No, I really don't think I would.
I absolutely agree with you!!!!! That's exactly my husband and my stance on it. Very well said!
My older son got the Hep B vaccine starting at birth, but very soon after that I realized I really didn't think he (a stay at home baby with very little exposure to other people) needed all these vaccines at such a young age. I was of course particularly freaked out by the MMR vaccine although now I don't think it's the "cause" of autism with that one study being thoroughly disproved. However, that doesn't mean that the cumulative effects of all the other ingredients are good for small children either.
I LOVE The Vaccine Book and we have pretty much followed the spread out schedule. Unfortunately we have traveled and are likely to travel more overseas so we will end up getting almost all vaccines.
And then I wasn't going to do the chicken pox vaccine, but when my mother-in-law came down with shingles and my newborn was susceptible since his older brother hadn't had the chicken pox... well, I can see some benefits to that. Also, to those who say that chicken pox isn't so bad, unfortunately once you've had it, then you are much more likely to get shingles as an older person (50+) and it can be extremely painful and last a long time. That would be my reasoning to get the chicken pox vaccine although not at a super young age. I did go ahead and let my 3 year old get it at his check up.
My baby now hasn't had any vaccines (at 4 months) although I may start some of them at 6 months since we will be using the YMCA child care soon. I'll definitely be selective and he seriously doesn't need the Hep B vaccine now! Honestly, why are we giving babies vaccines for blood borne diseases???
Also to those who are concerned about schools requiring certain vaccines... many states offer options for religious or philosophical reasons that you don't have to vaccinate if you provide a letter. I know there is a website somewhere that you can find what the options are for your state. In Washington we have lots of opt-out options!
I totally agree with your letter though, spot on!
I'm not crazy about how vaccines are produced, and how inexact the science in creating the vaccines really is. But it's the vaccination schedule that I really disagree with. We've also immunized our kids much more slowly than we were told, and they haven't received every shot.
When we go to the pediatrician for a check-up, I say, "You can do one shot today, maybe two, but that's it." Then he says, "I see lots of cases of this particular disease from un-vaccinated patients. There are people around with this disease. It can kill babies." Then I say, "Okay. That's the one shot we'll get today." So far it's working out for us.
I can't stand the thought of a tiny little twelve-pound baby getting four of five (or more) immunizations all at one time. This is totally unscientific of me, but it just seems like too much for one teeny body, one brand-new immune system, to handle simultaneously. I say give kids a little while to build their own immune system, giving the shots that are really necessary earlier, and then give them the rest that are required before they go to school.
@ Amy Chicken pox? I don’t remember that being life threatening or even very harmful as a kid. Over 1% of healthy individuals who get chicken pox develop serious complications, normally pneumonia, encephalitis, or liver disease, and less commonly necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease). Over 10% of pregnant women who get chicken pox get pneumonia; infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects. Immunocompromised people who get chicken pox have very high rates of complications, and frequently die. Even healthy people die of it; before the introduction of the vaccine, every year about 10,000 people were hospitalized for chicken pox complications, just in the U.S., and about 100 people died every year, again, just in the U.S. So yes, chicken pox is life-threatening, especially to those who are pregnant, immunocompromised, too young to get immunized, or otherwise dependent on herd immunity. It's life-threatening and very harmful indeed.
On the other hand, the chicken pox vaccine is proven to be far, far safer than chicken pox, as well as highly effective, decreasing the incidence of chicken pox and attendant hospitalizations and deaths. Studies show it can be used to prevent shingles as well.
We delayed as long as we could and seperated the vacines out. The reason we did go that route was that my brother came down with whopping caugh when he was a few weeks old. He survived, but he and the family are still dealing with the consequences of his health today.
The other question is does autism run in your family?
@MJ, 17 - That's false: Gardasil is not known to increase the risk of cancer in those who were already infected with one of the four strains of HPV against which it provides protection, nor does it lead to an increase in precancerous lesions in those patients. Either of those would qualify as a serious side effect. However, according to both the FDA and the CDC, Gardasil has only minor side effects, such as soreness at the injection site. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/STDFact-HPV-vaccine-young-women.htm
If you read the full VRBPAC Background document, and not the single cherry-picked paragraph from page 13, you see that overall there is no increased risk seen in precancerous lesions.
You are such a good mom.
And, I seriously think we are soul connected, because I was JUST about to blog about this today, and then I was busy and out of the house, and didn't.
I've been putting off talking about it, because I used to be unsure like you, and then I used to not agree with the way vaccines were made, and wanted more to be done about that (green our vaccine idea) and wanted to delay. But now I am very much anti-vaccine, and confident in that decision (both my husband and I), after tons of research. Neither one of my kids have had any vaccines. So, I'm a little scared to blog about it, because I don't have a very PC opinion.
Maybe I'll be chicken and close comments :)
I love your letter- that is awesome!
SOOOO.... I got up the courage and blogged about it
Just skimmed and bookmarked it. My first impression is that you are well-researched and have tons of knowledge to offer on the topic.
We don't vaccinate at all. Our daughter is 19 months old today and stand by our decision. It is so hard sometimes though. We now live in the same area as our family and my Mom is so very concerned that Lily isn't vaccinated because the local media is been talking a lot about the whooping cough outbreak. It really bothers me that you never hear anything in the media about why vaccines might not be a good thing or about the side effects except for the two seconds they might talk about autism.
we have researched a lot online and read the book Vaccination Is Not Immunization http://www.immunitionltd.com/books-and-cds.html. We have actually given copies of the book to many family members. We are always on the lookout for more info on the subject.
We do vaccinate. I struggled a lot with it. I read and researched. (Sabrina had her first few rounds while in Guatemala as a baby - I had no say in that.) I was on the fence - terrified of doing the wrong thing. Eventually, I sat down with our pediatrician, who I like and respect a great deal. What he said made sense. I trust him so I went with his advice. If I had had a strong feeling one way or the other, I wouldn't have been swayed but I was on the fence and he made sense.
We vaccinate, using the Dr. Sears alternative schedule as a guideline. There are some we haven't done (Hep A, chicken pox) and I probably would have delayed the MMR but we traveled internationally recently and I felt she should be protected.
The problem I have with "the debate" is that both sides mis-state the other's position to make it seem foolish or naive. No, vaccines don't CAUSE autism, per se. Some kids would be autistic whether or not they were vaccinated. But I do believe some kids are more vulnerable. For whatever reason their immune systems can't handle the chemical onslaught. Just like gluten isn't toxic for most kids, but it is very toxic to some. That's where the research should go: identifying who the vulnerable kids are before they are injured.
Great point, Tobster! I started reading a book several years ago that was very distinctly anti-vaccine. The author made some excellent and thought-provoking points, but her argument lost so much strength when she curtly dismissed the "other side's" arguments.
I believe that there are valid points and good people on both sides of this topic. The best debates start by acknowledging that fact.
Excellent clarification. Thank you! I agree entirely. We are fortunate that my kids do not seem to be vulnerable. However, my 4-y/o is due for 4 shots at her next visit, and I am unsure how I want to proceed.
We delayed and will delay vaccines. We did opt out of the chicken pox vaccine and instead of having my daughter get the flu/h1n1 shot, my husband and I got it. My daughter will start preschool in the fall so we may have her get the flu shot at that point.
Another excellent post on a very hot-button issue. It's such a personal decision, but one that should be researched as much as possible. My biggest issue is that often doctors do not give full disclosure about the issues, or do not think there is any 'other side'. at least, this has been my experience. I have chosen not to vaccinate right now and if I do decide to do it in the future, it will be for a select group of vaccinations (not the Chicken Pox for crying out loud!) and we will definitely do some if we travel abroad (as we plan to do soon).
Thank you for your kind words (and for sharing your perspective), Soni.
I am MUCH more willing to get a vaccine if a doctor is upfront and honest with me about potential side effects, while also presenting a strong case.
It's so disheartening when doctors give quick answers that imply that all vaccines are good and good parents get them (and that is all).
My daughter has most of her vaccinations done, but there is one that I can't bring myself to do. You're so right about the fear. I go back and forth on this too. Prayer is the best way to feel assurance that what you are doing is right and that's what my husband and I try to rely on as well. But even with prayer, my own doubts creep in and it's hard to know what answer I am getting! Love the letter to all pediatricians!
we delay and select which ones we want our children to have at a certain time.
That said, my father, and both aunts were not vaccinated against polio and they all got it. My aunt is paralyzed and in a wheelchair and my dad has had numerous surgeries on his legs. So with that in mind we know that stuff can happen even if everyone else is vaccinated. So we do vaccinate but on our own schedule. And now with some breathing issues with my oldest, she has to get certain vaccines to prevent the bad from going to worst.
It is a touch decision, but having three relatives in California get polio, we vaccinate.
I've decided not to vaccinate. Our oldest (who is now 6) had all her shots up until 18 months when she got a nasty rash after a round of vaccinations. My next (he's 3 now) had one set of shots at 2 months. My baby who's one hasn't had any. I feel I can take responsibility if they do catch something that could have been prevented by vaccinations, but I don't think I would be able to forgive the vaccine makers, doctors and everyone else who contributed to my child receiving a vaccine if something negative happened to my child because of a vaccine. I believe in avoiding temptations when possible and the bitterness and anger that I fear would enter me if something did go wrong for my children is a temptation I want to avoid.
We are still asking the same questions. We have delayed them so far, we have a strong family history of reactions to vaccines and that makes it even more worrisome. But we would like to take our children overseas at some point and know that they will need the protection.
I have come to realize that most importantly my faith needs to be in God to protect my children not in the vaccine to protect them from a disease or not giving the vaccine to protect them a reaction.
We did like you. We were selective with our vaccinations and ended up delayed b/c we never gave more than 1 at a time.
We have vaccinated both of our children but only when they are in a healthy state. To date they are on schedule.
I agree with the commenter who said the biggest reason is history itself. However, "back then" vaccinations were not made by billion dollar pharma companies and they weren't stuffed with perservatives so they could be kept on the shelves for extended periods of time. I have a harm time with those facts. Those types of things need to be regulated more.
In the end my biggest pull for vaccinating is this: Whenever I DON'T vaccinate my child there is always a real, proven risk, no matter how slim, he/she will get XYZ disease. Whenever I DO vaccinate my child there is only a theorized risk that he/she will have negative side effects.
Thank you for commenting, Jenny. I value your opinion immensely.
I agree that history is a huge motivator. Vaccines have helped to eradicate so many diseases and I am so grateful for the researchers and scientists who have helped to save lives by creating vaccinations.
That said, I would disagree that the side effects of vaccines are purely theoretical. Even our pediatrician (who is hugely pro-vaccine) gives us a long list of potential side effects whenever we go in for shots. Example: His DTaP vaccine handout lists "fever" and "vomiting" as "possible mild side effects" and "seizures" as a "moderate side effect" that is "uncommon" (1 in 14,000). The risks may indeed be very rare, but...they are still there.
Let me know if you have further thoughts on this topic! The comments on this post have given me much to think about.
You are absolutely right! I guess I should have clarified. I was refering to more long-lasting or even permanent side effects such as the huge autism debate.
Side note: Have you seen the John Adams mini-series? If not, it's worth it to watch the whole thing on DVD. There is one scene where Mrs. Adams must decide on whether or not to vaccinate her children for smallpox during the Revolutionary War. Did you know that war is what spawned the invention of vaccines? Anyway, she decides to go ahead and vaccinate herself and all of her children. In the end one of her daughters ends up being completely infected with Small Pox due to the vaccine while the others are healthy and immune. I just can't help but think how agonizing that must have been for her!
We vaccinate. My Uncle had polio and I know what these deseases can do, it really is not worth it. My girls are very healthy and I want to keep them that way. Everything has a risk but to me the diseases the vaccines prevent are more dangerous than the vaccine could be.
We vaccinate simply because I feel like we have to do all that we can in order for the Lord to do the rest. We aren't guaranteed they won't get sick with the vaccination, nor are we guaranteed that they will get sick without. I do have a number of friends that feel VERY strongly about not vaccinating. I just don't think I could live with myself if my daughter died because I made the choice not to vaccinate. Sure, chicken pox is typically not deadly but it is still a very vivid memory to me and not a pleasant one. It has been 32 years since I had the chicken pox.
Also- Gardisil is known to increase cervical cancer by 44% if the person being vaccinated has already been exposed to the HPV virus- they've known that since the beginning, but most doctors don't know-
We vaccinated using a delayed schedule for the first year, but we have a religious objection to the MMR combo shot- it contains cells from aborted fetuses. I don't have a problem with most other vaccinations, but I just can't go there...
Thanks for your comment, MJ. I was unaware of this and will have to research the link between aborted fetuses and vaccines more thoroughly.
I work with autistic children and adults on a daily basis and some have been vaccinated while others have not been. All parents seem to have different views. I personally would want to vaccinate my children (don't have any yet) just because there is something out there that I know could help protect my child from an infectious disease. I don't think vaccines cause autism just because I know of children that weren't vaccinated and are still on the spectrum. I also worry what if my child was extremely healthy and I didn't vaccinated them and they did come into contact with a child that was also not vaccinated and has a weak immune system.
I have vaccinated my son. He is on the autism spectrum. I do not believe that the vaccines caused it. We vaccinate children to stop the spread of diseases. When people stop vaccinating their children, and rather rely on herd immunity to protect them, diseases come back. We have had outbreaks of measles. I do not want to see polio make a resurgance. Vaccinating for H1N1 is one of the most important things you can do. This flu hits the young and the healthy. It has not gone away.
ok...i know i don't have babies yet...but i think about theses things already. I really hope more research is done by the time i've got kiddos.
And yes...we're camping...no hotels!
We have vaccinated both our boys, and both healthy, however I have stressed with the fact if there were another child what to do So scary and so deep of a topic.. I would love to hear more insights.. You are brave for posting this, but I have liked the comments so far. I would like to hear more on the delaying vaccinations and spacing them over time!
The single best blog on the topic is Respectful Insolence, although he's aimed at a more scientific audience. He does not mince words, but he can point you to absolutely every single resource. http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/
I would suggest starting with this post: http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/04/the_vaccine_war.php
And also this linked post: http://photoninthedarkness.com/?p=187
The science is indisputable on this point; there is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism, and vaccinating is far, far safer than not vaccinating, both for your children and for the rest society, by increasing herd immunity.
I might also reconsider your assessment of Dr. Sears' book as "excellent"; in it he pushes ideas proven to be false. The American Academy of Pediatrics and a good article on this: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/123/1/e164.pdf The AAP, The CDC, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend strongly against following the advice given in Sears' book.
Thank you for your comments, Wehaf. I plan to study these topics more thoroughly in the coming months and will check out the links that you provided.
Quick Aside - I take issue with many of the "talking points" in the above-linked Pediatrics article (but then again, I have been known to disagree with the AAP in the past). ;)
I have vaccinated both of my children without hesitation. I have never resreached it. I honestly figured if it worked for me and my husband it should work for our children. I did however do everything I could not to vaccinate for Chicken Pox. Because I think children should jsut get them and get it over with. But I was unsuccessful when my oldest started school last year. :(
OY. I read somewhere that "vaccination" is one of those things to never blog about. LOL!
I have a lot of faith that vaccinations work. I have a very personal experience in my extended family (that I won't share for fear of being called a fear monger) of NOT vaccinating and the consequences thereof. Also another extended family member who ended up with horrible issues related to someone who was not vaccinated infecting someone who was (my family member is the one who was). It's all very personal and the bottom line me me and my children....that's too many in one family so we vaccinate. Everyone else is free to make their own choices and I won't judge.
My favorite topics are the ones that people say not to discuss (religion, politics, parenting, etc.)! ;)
I truly believe that one of the most effective ways to learn and develop as a person is to discuss hard topics openly, to debate with passion, and - perhaps most importantly - to LISTEN with grace, gentleness, and humility. The topic of childhood vaccinations is no exception. Judging from your comment, I'm sure you agree with those sentiments.
I do vaccinate my children, and my biggest push is history itself. The fact that thousands of children died from diseases that we now can prevent is a strong motivator for me. While I realize that there are risks involved in vaccinations, they are usually extremely rare (but of course, they are the stories that are used to tell us not to vaccinate). The thing is, there are risks in hopping in the car to drive across town, risks in simply going for a walk down the street. I find that I do the best I can to protect my children and then make the decisions that I feel are best for them, and hope that a loving Heavenly Father will guide me where I do not know.
History IS a strong motivator. It's one of the biggest reasons that we haven't given up vaccines altogether. After all, where would our country and our world be today if everyone chose not to get vaccines?
We do vaccinate and we do so on schedule, but only after we experienced the same process you are experiencing now. Our chiro was adamantly opposed while our ped was adamantly in favor. We trust both of these medical professionals with our babies lives!
So how did we decide? We did the same as you. We questioned current practices, researched the living daylights out of the issue, agonized for months over the right course of action, made our best educated decision with our hearts and minds, and took our solution to the Lord for confirmation. Our decision was confirmed VERY quickly and the response was VERY loud and clear! I have NEVER since questioned our decision about the issue. I am at total peace with it.
Good luck to all of you parents with this - it is HARD to decide. My heart goes out to you and praises you for at least THINKING about the decision vs. just doing whatever a doc tells you to do!
Yes, we do vaccinate. But, Like you, we are selective and we delay.
I've done tons of research, and I do see the need for some of the vax. I truly do. Others, I don't see the need for.
For example chicken pox. It is a fact that immunity from HAVING the chicken pox is in fact greater than that of the vax. A lot of kids who get the vax, still end up with chicken pox. The chicken pox vax is only good through childhood, which is the best time to get the chicken pox if you are going to get them. So, why then, should I inject it into my babies?
Thanks for sharing this! What a balanced view! I really started thinking about not vaccinating when I was pregnant and I talked with my chiropractor (a friend, not just a physician). I think that the hardest thing that I went through when I decided to at the very least delay my dear little daughter's vaccines was the terrible awful lecture given to me by my pediatrician. It was very fear-inducing. However, I was convicted that I was doing what was right for my daughter and my husband was with me so I stood firm. How can it be right to pump all those chemicals into a tiny baby when they tell you not to use baby wipes and to limit your baby's exposure to the world when they are first born?
I've never felt totally peace either way. So we compromised and went in the middle. We delay the shots now (with Zane and now with Dash) and catch them up with what they need when they are 2 1/2 to 3 years old.
My first born had all the shots on schedule and we had all sorts of problems with him... he was nearly on the autism scale (missed it by a few points), had years of therapies and so forth. He is fine now, but I can't help but wonder if the shots added to his problems.
I'm not convinced they created the problems on their own but I do believe vaccines, when being injected into a child with less than perfect health to begin with, can create the perfect storm.
It isn't easy being a parent!
We do not vaccinate... Like yours, our kids are have great immunity (rarely sick), are not in daycare (I homeschool), and eat a healthy diet. So far, the risks of the vaccines have outweighed the benefits. That constant weighing may shift in the other direction though as they get older (for certain shots). I do not want those chemicals in my children's bodies! However, I'm willing to weigh out the benefits/risks based on our current situation. I will NEVER make a decision to vaccinate or not out of FEAR. No decision should be made based on that. The main book I've read is Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide.. How to make safe, sensible decisions about the risks, benefits, and alternatives.. by Aviva Jill Romm. Great book! Another factor that helped our decision was me teaching preschool special needs for a number of years. Many parents of the children I taught (not just the autistic ones) thought their child's illness/disorder was due to vaccine injury. That was before I had children and it really made me think! I discussed this with my professors while getting my masters in special education and they all felt that vaccines caused many issues based on their own reading/studies. It's a tough issue!
We don't vaccinate. We started to with our oldest but in our hearts it never felt right. Since then, I have skipped all vaxes but one. Most of the time I am fine with it, but every once in awhile I fear that we did something wrong by not vaccinating our girls. However, like you, we just pray that God would keep the girls safe no matter our decision.
Our family is going through the same things you are. It's crazy how similar your family is to mine! We have researched and prayed A LOT, even before our son was born (he's 20 months old now). We also have been blessed with amazing health and I nursed him until he weaned himself. We try to eat healthy diets and we are homebodies, so we are not always out exposed to germs. My son does attend a day care, but it's in a home and there's currently only one other child.
Here's what we've decided works for our family: We said No to any and all vaccines before 18 months. Starting at 18 months, we are following Dr. Sear's schedule of selective vaccines and we are spreading them out, so our son only gets one shot per month. We will not vaccinate against the chicken pox or the flu (H1N1 or otherwise). There may be some others that we choose not to take as well. So far, our son has had 2 shots (Dtap and Hib) and he's been okay.
Also, I encourage people to check their school's policy on vaccines. Most have an opt-out clause. Don't let the schools make this important decision for you!
Thanks for writing on this topic Stephanie! It's very timely as school is starting up and flu season will be here before we know it!
Another thing we have in common. :) We're selective, and we delay. I'm still not sure what vaccines our 3yo has had...
Any vaccine that isn't "required" by schools... we opt out.
The big bad flu vaccine that everyone was stressing about last year? We opted out.
Vaccines definitely serve a purpose. I'm happy some of them are available, I just don't understand why we're trying to prevent SO MANY illnesses. Chicken pox? I don't remember that being life threatening or even very harmful as a kid.
We opt out of the flu vaccine every year as well. Tim actually decided to go ahead and get it about 3 years ago because it was free and available at his workplace...and it was the one year he got the flu!