The Thoughtful Parent’s Guide to Thinking Through Vaccinations

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Guest Post by Christina

It’s one of the big questions new parents face today, once you’ve gotten past “were you trying to get pregnant?” (which I still can’t believe people ask…) and the less invasive “did you do it all-natural?” “are you going to breast-feed?” and even “are you using cloth-diapers?” The question with a capital Q seems to be are you going to vaccinate?”

The stakes are pretty high, or so both sides claim. Everyone says my child’s life is at risk if I don’t do what they recommend.  What’s a mom to do??  Read, read, and read!! I got books (lots of them) and I looked up their source articles, and then accessed as many of those articles as I could.  I pulled out my old file on  ”diet and disability” from one of my Education classes (back when I had access to all those medical journals through my university library), because I remembered it talked a lot about the humoral immune system and the way that the gut, immune system, and brain/neurological systems were related.  Desiring a balanced view (you won’t learn if you only read people you already agree with), I tried to read articles and books on both “sides” of the issue. I learned a LOT!!

My goal in this post is to bring you along with me as I have wrestled through asking questions about childhood vaccinations.  The thought processes I’ve come to use and the questions I’ve come up with expand beyond just this one issue, and into every medical procedure and practice.

My desire is to serve you and equip you to become the most informed, critically-thinking guardian of your child’s health that you can be! I’ll try to organize all the information I’ve gathered like a house:  first, I’ll lay the “Foundation“– 5 base-level facts that “ground” the whole thing. Then, I’ll present Two Blueprints”– arguments both for and against the American CDC’s vaccine schedule.  As parents, our job is to create a vaccine blueprint that is the best fit for each of our children.  To help with that, I’ll lastly present “My Toolbox”-- 10 questions I have found useful for evaluating each vaccine I come across.

We Are Responsible

While of course I would be thrilled if I “convinced you” of my point of view, I feel like a sucess if you are inspired to research this on your own!! If you start asking questions, digging around, reading studies and books by people smarter than me (doctors, public health specialists, immunologists, naturopaths, etc.), and come to a different conclusion than I have, that’s still great!!!  My goal is to help you learn to think!!

Medical decisions can be so intimidating, especially since we feel so much is at stake– our kids’ health!– but we are not helpless, forced to blindly depend on even a brilliant guide. To a certain extent, we can think things through and come to our own conclusions.  WE are responsible for our children’s health.

Whatever conclusion you come to, if you come to it after critical, intentional thinking and looking from both sides of the issue (and not neglecting prayer for wisdom and trust in God’s sovereignty!), I applaud you!  THAT is the kind of parent we are called to be!

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Image by audiinsperation

The Foundation

Five base-line truths to keep in mind (if you disagree with any of these, I encourage you to go “back to the drawing board” and ask yourself why before you try and go on reading):

  1. God has created our bodies to heal themselves, living in dominion over all creatures (including microscopic ones) yet not living isolated from all creatures. In other words, we don’t “exercise dominion” by killing everything within a 10 mile radius from us.
  2. This world is fallen, and man has a battle to survive in front of him– sickness and pain is a part of that. Neither vaccination nor lack of it is risk-free; both have risks.  Additionally, part of our dominion now includes shaping our environment (one example- agriculture instead of tending an already-planted, perfectly yielding Garden of Eden).
  3. The body is a whole with many sub-systems, but no part is independent from the whole. We can’t treat one aspect (say, the immune system) and expect to see no effects elsewhere (perhaps in the neurological system or in the digestive system).  Our allopathic (Western) medical system is beginning to see that the holistic (Eastern) medical approaches at least have this right.
  4. Vaccines are drugs and should be thought of as such.  They come with their own side-effects, risks, and imperfections, just like any other medicine.  In each vaccine is not only a weakened form of a disease, but “adjuvants”– preservatives and metals that kick-start the immune reaction.  They are developed at great cost by drug companies and are sold by drug salesmen.
  5. Individual families & children have different needs; this doesn’t need to be an “all-or-nothing” debate. While some, such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advocate an “all!!” stance, and many who question the germ theory behind vaccines advocate a “nothing!” stance, the majority of vaccine-questioners fall along a middle-of-the-road spectrum; choosing different vaccines at different paces as is appropriate to their situations or even individual situations in their families.

Two Blueprints

Blueprint A:  in favor of the CDC mass-vaccination schedule:

– Childhood diseases are harmful to the population and need to be avoided, and eventually eliminated.

– Vaccines are a way to stimulate the immune system into fighting diseases by giving the body a weaker version of the real thing. The body produces antibodies which later will be used to fight the full-blown disease, should it ever come around. (Though vaccines are not 100% effective and never technically claim to be, all vaccine-promoting literature implies that they are  100% effective and never mentions future infection as a possibility.)

– Vaccines are in essence a little bit of pain now for big payoff of prevention later.

–Vaccines have rid the West of dangerous diseases, and there would be mass outbreaks if we stopped them.  Everyone is responsible to get vaccinated in order to protect our neighbors.

– There is minimal to no danger at all in vaccines, no matter how many are given at once or at what age. They will only prepare the body to fight future disease, and in the rare case that the disease is actually contracted from the shot (in live-virus vaccines), then this isn’t nearly as bad as the disease itself would have been.

–Shots do not have any measured long-term negative effects other than in the rare cases where children react allergically (Guillain-Barre Syndrome, for instance).  These are rare and isolated cases.

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Image by wscullin

Blueprint B: cautionary arguments against the American CDC vaccine schedule, coming from all sorts of aspects:

–Childhood diseases aren’t pleasant, but may not be all that bad, because they trigger the body’s ability to heal. Most childhood diseases confer life-long immunity once overcome.

– The toxic ingredients in vaccines (adjuvants, etc– mercury, formaldehyde, other metals) are a concern, especially since they seem to have a cumulative effect. (Dr. Sears takes this position in his book The Vaccine Book).  Egg, soy, MSG, antibiotics and other common allergens pose special risks for children with those allergies in the family.

Morally questionable vaccine ingredients: The line WI-38 (in the rubella component of the MMR) was begun in lung cells obtained from an aborted baby girl, for instance.

– Children are each different, so a one-size-fits-all approach to vaccination is inappropriate, even potentially deadly. We are first responsible for our own health and our children’s, not the population at large’s.

Hygiene, clean water, and nourishing food have been responsible for the decline in infectious diseases, before and independently from the advent of vaccination campaigns. See an article on this topic.

Over-stimulation of the immature & still-developing immune system of an infant/toddler under 2:  Babies’ immune systems are stuck in a different mode (Th2 mode) than adults’ to keep them from being targeted as an outsider by their mother while in the womb.  During infancy they can switch to the adult Th1 mode if they get a recurrent infection, but they don’t switch to full Th1 until toddler-hood. Vaccines given while the baby is still in Th2 mode cause the Th2 mode to persist longer than it should, leaving them at higher risk of auto-immune diseases (such as food allergies), which in turn are linked with neurological disorders (such as autism). Age is a factor in how a person will react to a vaccine. See Dr. Baylock’s article on this topic.

Long-term effects:  There is a huge increase (quadrupled!) in auto-immune diseases (ADHD, asthma, allergies, ASD (autism-spectrum-disorder), Type 1 diabetes) in Western culture, and we don’t know why. Mandated vaccines on an aggressive schedule (beginning before birth if the mother gets a flu shot while pregnant) is a huge new factor which must be considered as a variable that could have contributed to or even caused this increase. (An auto-immune disorder basically means that a person’s immune system attacks what it shouldn’t; it thinks normal things are invaders and triggers an immune response to fight them.)

Link between childhood disease and future immunity. If you get the real thing, you get full immunity to it, and possibly to other diseases –for instance, women who get childhood mumps have increased immunity to ovarian cancer. (This is due to the correct stimulation of the Th1, or cell-mediated, immune system, which thwarts cancer.)

Conflict of interest: the CDC’s Safety Committee is financially tied to the vaccines which they approve, biasing them in favor of vaccines. They are not objective judges looking out for our child’s health. (Would we trust a clothing retailer to write our clothing budget or give us unbiased opinions on what clothes to buy?)  Similarly, the pharmaceutical industry has a massive political voice, encouraging the federal government to be pro-vaccine.

–The CDC’s vaccination schedule is “too much too soon:” 32 vaccines by age 2. For example, 7 vaccines injected into a 13-lb baby (standard for a 2 month old well-baby visit) is equivalent to 70 vaccines in a 130 lb adult! Chart comparing vaccine schedules from the 80′s and now here.

Hopefully this has provided some food for thought.  The next post in this series will provide the “Toolbox” of questions I’ve developed in order to decide what vaccines our family accepts when, and lastly a post full of books and articles for you to delve into on your own.

What are your thoughts on the decision making process? On the vaccination issue as a whole?

Stephanie’s note: It’s a touchy subject, I know, but I think that Christina has approached it in a very thoughtful way that encourages open dialogue, rather than criticism and condemnation (which was exactly the approach I was hoping for- thanks for a fantastic first post, Christina!). I’m definitely keeping the comments open to thoughts on both sides of the debate, so long as they remain polite and contribute positively to the discussion (translation: I have a delete button and I’m not afraid to use it). I love venues where we can share our ideas even on tough subjects, without cutting one another down.

Top image credit

About Christina

Christina is a doula, a former teacher & choir director, a craftsy mostly-stay-at-home mom to E (4) & W (almost 2), nanny to L (2), foster mama to V (6) & A (3), and wife to Ryan. She is passionate about equipping moms to think critically in order to raise healthy children full of faith, music and imagination.

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Comments

  1. I strongly encourage everyone to follow the advice presented here and do INDIVIDUAL research on each disease and each vaccine, and weigh the benefits and the risks of each. It is very, very important to take this type of balanced approach, and not rely on the “fear” approach — from EITHER side. It is hard to sort through all the data that is out there, but it CAN be done.

    It is also important not to rely on ANY anecdotal evidence. We can all say we know that “one person” who didn’t receive a vaccine and ended up hospitalized or crippled for life because they caught a disease. We have all heard of people who have died or been crippled by having a vaccine, too. THIS IS NOT EVIDENCE. These are merely stories, typically used to scare people. I know it’s hard if it’s someone you know, or worse, your child; but it could be one in a million. Don’t let these stories sway your decision. Look for independent FACTS (from both sides).

    For the record, we did a lot of research — HUNDREDS of hours, actually — and came to the conclusion that we won’t vaccinate, ever. As the evidence mounted, we came up with a picture where the rates of complications of the diseases were extremely minimal and usually caused by poor nutrition; having the diseases could benefit the future immune system; the vaccines have not been well studied nor proven safe, and so on. We decided it was simply better not to go there at all.

    • I assume that after spending “hundreds of hours” researching vaccines you decided that since you can’t come up with evidence beyond your own reasonable doubt, you just shouldn’t vaccinate your children. I would guess I could research “open heart surgery” and come up with a reasonable doubt that it is effective, as with just about anything we choose to do in Western Medicine, because nothing is perfect, there are side effects for some people, but that for the statistical monopoly of people, Western Medicine does far more good than harm.

      Again, it doesn’t matter how much research you do on the subject, if you are looking for problems with vaccinations you’re going to find evidence of them. Without a doubt. The problem is that much of the research demonstrating problems with vaccines also has significant statistical and methodological error, which you can’t possibly understand as someone outside the medical field. So by all means, make whatever choice you feel necessary.

      I do hope, however, that you are denoting the fact that your kids are not vaccinated whenever you sign them up for activities, school, sports leagues, etc. so that other parents can make acceptable decisions as well. Anti-vaccine parents who lie on forms to keep their kids from being left out of activities are despicable.

      • @Eric,
        “Anti-vaccine parents who lie on forms to keep their kids from being left out of activities are despicable.”

        I am not sure how that is even possible? Parents are asked to submit shot records (from their doctors’ office) OR the exemption form, which clearly states the shots they are opting out of.

        The vast array of problems caused by vaccines are easy to see if you simply explore the VAERS database. Not to mention the billions of dollars paid out to families of vaccine-injured children in vaccine court by our own government. It doesn’t take much research to learn that vaccine reactions are more common than not.

  2. Magda Velecky says:

    I wanted to look at the CDC blueprint you posted and comment:
    -childhood diseases are SOMETIMES harmful to the population and need to be avoided IF POSSIBLE – who knows if they can be and should be eliminated?
    -vaccines do not work like the disease because they enter through the blood not the mucuous membranes like most diseases; the body’s reaction is not the same as a reaction to the actual disease; also, anitbodies produced are not the same as ones produced after someone’s been sick
    -prevention of diseases by vaccines has not been proved
    -vaccinating ourselves will not protect our neighbors – herd immunity does not exist (at least not for humans); again, diseases have rapidly diminished/disappeared way before mass vaccination
    -there have been no studies to show that giving more vaccines during a lifetime or multiple vaccines will be harmful or not – there have just been NO studies, period. scary.
    I have looked at article after article, charts, interviews, commentaries, etc. I have had my eyes opened. All the “proof” doctors throw at you is just not there!!! Am I afraid my child will get the flu or polio? Yes, to a degree. But I would rather deal with the disease than the vaccine – it’s just too unpredictable. I’m blessed to have 2 boys, ages 13 mos and 6.5 years who are both unvaccinated.

    • @Magda Velecky, You would rather deal with polio than the vaccine for polio? Are you SERIOUS? Here’s the treatment for polio:

      There is no cure for polio. The focus of modern treatment has been on providing relief of symptoms, speeding recovery and preventing complications. Supportive measures include antibiotics to prevent infections in weakened muscles, analgesics for pain, moderate exercise and a nutritious diet.[55] Treatment of polio often requires long-term rehabilitation, including physical therapy, braces, corrective shoes and, in some cases, orthopedic surgery.[38]
      Portable ventilators may be required to support breathing. Historically, a noninvasive negative-pressure ventilator, more commonly called an iron lung, was used to artificially maintain respiration during an acute polio infection until a person could breathe independently (generally about one to two weeks). Today many polio survivors with permanent respiratory paralysis use modern jacket-type negative-pressure ventilators that are worn over the chest and abdomen.[56]
      Other historical treatments for polio include hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, massage and passive motion exercises, and surgical treatments such as tendon lengthening and nerve grafting.[12] Devices such as rigid braces and body casts—which tended to cause muscle atrophy due to the limited movement of the user—were also touted as effective treatments.[57]

      …or you could just give your child a shot. I’ve yet to see any evidence that vaccines cause developmental problems within a stone’s throw of the issues that polio causes. To wit:

      In the United States, the 1952 polio epidemic became the worst outbreak in the nation’s history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year 3,145 died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis.

    • @Magda Velecky, with all respect (really) i dont understand how parents would rather deal with the disease than the vaccine. most of these diseases would kill or cripple your child.
      i really truly believe you do what you believe is best for your child and i really liked this article but i dont understand the logic of taking chances by not vaccinating at all. if you need evidence that vaccines work look simply at polio and measles and rubella. there is a reason they are not as common todya

      • @lindsey, I am sorry my post there was very critical. I regret writing that, i wrote hastily and should not have. im sorry. God convicted me in my heart that all wisdom is his and my opinions are not always right (even though the woman in me wants to believe i always am). I truly appreciated this article and its perspective from both sides!

        • Magda Velecky says:

          Well, I guess I shouldn’t have brought up polio – the wild strain hasn’t been spotted in decades. The few cases that are still out there are from shedding of vaccines.
          Can you post a link where you show how introducing vaccines caused the diseases to almost disappear? I have seen charts that show that some diseases almost disappeared BEFORE vaccination was in use, but not after.

  3. Wonderful approach to this topic. We don’t vaccinate at all and so that is quite a shock to many and I appreciate those that can consider my choice with an open mind.

    Often it’s like Russian Roulette with vaccines and in our family, we learned the hard way when our son was vaccine-injured. Of course after much prayer, research, and both my husband and I being on the same page about it all, we felt it was absolutely best for our family to not vaccinate at all. My children are so healthy, and go to public school just fine with awesome support from school and the doctors we see. We continue to research and be aware of all the pros and cons and how to live naturally and safely.

    I think there are certain stigmas about people like us that don’t vaccinate and I hope that parents that don’t do things like us will extend mercy and understand we are doing what is best for our children just the same as they are.

    Steph

  4. I love that you stated this: “Desiring a balanced view (you won’t learn if you only read people you already agree with), I tried to read articles and books on both “sides” of the issue.”

    I find that to be a problem with some of the all-natural/alternative “mommy blogs” out there – they pass along misinformation because they only present “their side.” I recently decided to stop reading some of them but will keep reading this blog as you seem to have a variety of women writing from different viewpoints. I like that – keep up the great work!

    • @Robin, Thanks, Robin. I’ve actually shied away from this particular topic a lot because it is a tough issue with a lot of differing info on both sides, and I didn’t want to do it an injustice by presenting something that wasn’t at least as balanced as possible (I say “as possible” because any writer is still going to have a hard time separating their own bias from what they write). I was thrilled to have Christina write this article when she approached me with the idea because it wasn’t an all or nothing approach, but rather an encouragement to parents to dig in and look at the issues thoroughly themselves.

  5. Great article! Looking forward to the next “toolbox” article! My first 2 boys, 5 and 3 1/2 were vaccinated (with no problems that I can tell) but now I”m rethinking about vaccinating my youngest, 4 months old. He actually has a checkup tomorrow and I’m HIGHLY considering skipping the vaccines that the nurses will want to administer. Wow, perfect timing for this article!

  6. Thank you for such a balaced approach to this topic. I have a 2 yr old who is fully vaccinated and I struggled inside at each one wondering if I were doing the right thing. I now have an 8 mo. old who is slightly “behind schedule” and a 3rd on the way. I am looking forward to the rest of your posts on this subject as it has been a concern to me for sometime. I am not totally against vaccinations and agree with others on a more delayed schedule. Thank you for your resources and for making me think more critically.

  7. I very much support vaccinations (with an adjustable timeline option based on specific needs and an opting out option–to preserve the liberty and responsibility of parents). Our 4th child died from a horrible disease (Pompe) and if there had been a way to vaccinate against it–we would’ve done it in a heartbeat. Pompe is extremely rare (much more rare than many things we vaccinate for)….but when you are the 1 in a bazillion…you want the vaccine.

    That said…I was prepared to…NOT like this article….and I actually felt is was well-rounded and very reasonable. Just want to thank the author for that!

  8. I’m glad to see that both sides of the argument were written about. Although to be honest, with all the underlinings and much more written about the second blueprint, it wasn’t hard to see which was the favored option.

    Honestly, I’m really thankful for Laundry Lady’s comments. I think many of us are living in fear of the very small risks, and ignoring the very real large risks. Like many parents choosing not to vaccinate for fear of autism. The autism linked to vaccines was recently totally and completely refuted when the medical “proof” that was used for this argument was found to have been 100% falsified. (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article7012267.ece)

    Children and adults die everyday from diseases that have be eradicated. And a lot of times, those who don’t vaccinate are counting on others to vaccinate so that the risk of their children catching one of these viruses or diseases. And if we have any thoughts about our families traveling overseas, we are opening ourselves up to dangers. But really, you don’t even have to travel overseas anymore. With so many immigrants and refugees coming to USA everyday, our children are going to be met with these viruses.

    I want to do what is best for my children. I want to be wise in how I proceed with vaccines. I have done research and spoken with many medical professionals. Doctors and nurses go to school for years in order to learn how the body works and they do it because they want to save lives and make them better. I have yet to talk to a doctor or nurse and them tell me not to vaccinate. They are always for it. I think we need to listen to that.

    • @Becky, Becky, I know of many, many doctors and other health professionals who do not advise their patients to vaccine on the CDC’s schedule.

      Last month, the International Medical Council on Vaccination put out a free, 6-page downloadable report signed by over 80 health professionals about vaccines. I would encourage you to take a few minutes to read it.

      http://naturalnews.com/Vaccines_Get_the_Full_Story.html

      I choose not to vaccinate my children not based on the sole “fear of autism” alone. I choose not to based upon the truths I have learned about vaccines.

    • @Becky, I really like your comments! i too like laundry lady’s comment. i am all for parents playing an active role in their child’s health but most parents are not MDs. I do find it interesting when the doctors who go to school for years to help save lives and keep us healthy all recommend vaccines. you will find very few MDs who would advise against them. also many of these diseases that we vaccinate for are not the common cold or flu. they are dangerous and would leave a child crippled, blind, or dead if caught. I truly believe every parent, no matter what their opinion, is doing what they believe is best for their child. I have my opinions but they could be way off.. im only just human. at the end of the day it should be a prayerful decision and no matter what our decision is we should be putting all our trust in our childs life and future in God.

    • @Becky,
      I think my personal position will be transparently obvious by the end of the series; my goal, though, is to present you with the tools to decide for yourself. I didn’t feel as much pressure to back everything up on the “pro-vaccine” side with links et al, because it is the majority position. Every time I’ve taken my daughter to the doctor’s office, similar statements to the ones I mentioned are in the many pamphlets and shot brochures that I receive. So I figure most people are more familiar with the pro-vaccine no-question position. It’s the cautionary approach that makes most people raise their eyebrows and say “come again?”

    • @Becky,
      I want to gently disagree with your comment concerning the universal acceptance of medical professionals of the CDC recommended vaccination schedule.
      Medical professionals DO attend school for many years and are VERY knowledgeable about what they do; however, they are also required to tell certain things to their patients- and one of those things is to follow the CDC recommended vaccination schedule.
      As stated earlier, the current vaccination schedule was developed because of fear of patient compliance, NOT because it is what is best for the children, or herd immunity in general.
      Many, many pediatricians do not follow the CDC recommended guidelines for their OWN children. I can give you personal example on that- my husband is a primary care doctor, and we do not follow the CDC recommended guidelines. In fact, we have given our boys very few vaccinations (2), on a delayed schedule, and only the ones we as a family are personally exposed to. There is a lot of great information (online) on the occurrence rates of vaccination-preventable disease in your specific city/county.

  9. Thanks to both Christina, for writing a wonderful article, and Stephanie, for publishing it.

    This has been a touchy subject and I’ve been on both sides of the fence, primarily, as an earlier commenter noted, due to fear. I have had all of my children vaccinated, but only with the biggies: MMR, Dpt, Hep. B. I’ve avoided flu shots like, well, the flu, as I’m not remotely convinced of their efficacy. I always get wierd looks when I mention that to others, but I don’t care anymore. :)

    hehe…I could go on, but everything else that I would say has already been posted! Thanks, again!

  10. We vaccinated some of our children according to the schedule until our 4th child has sever reactions to his MMR. Since that reaction we have stopped all vaccinations. Our youngest 2 have never been vaccinated. After stopping with the first 5 children, I have noticed that they don’t get sick as often. The younger two are rarely sick and have very strong immune systems. We do make sure they are getting a good diet and also take some multivitamins.

    All that isn’t to say that we are totally against vaccinations. My oldest son is in construction and cut his hand on sheet metal. In the ER he was given the tetanus shot because tetanus is very dangerous and can cause a multitude of problems.

    • @Sheri, Hey Sheri, I just wanted to mention that it’s worth doing a bit more research about tetanus shots. I have learned that tetanus only lives in soil, and cannot survive in an oxygenated environment. Any open wound is not at risk of tetanus, only a deep puncture wound can support it. Also, a separate shot for tetanus does not exist anymore. The shot they likely gave in the ER was the Dtap combo.

      Here is some further reading: http://www.wellwithin1.com/tetanus.htm

      • @Alyssa @ KingdomFirstMom,

        That is correct, Alyssa. With him working on a construction site we weren’t sure what else he had come in contact with since he didn’t go to the ER right away. So we thought it best to get the tetanus. It was the Dtap combo they gave him. After he got hit we did make sure we boosted his immune system and everything has turned out well…except for the large scar running down the palm of his hand! :)

        • @Sheri, as far as I know, there is a tetanus antibody shot called TIG (tetanus immune globulin) can be given– http://www.drugs.com/cons/tetanus-immune-globulin-intramuscular.html- now whether most hospitals stock it in your area or not, I can’t say. It could also be that this was what your son received.

          Basically it contains antibodies to fight the infection until your body takes over and makes its own antibodies. It’s relatively universally safe. If you were wanting to go vaccine-free and were concerned about tetanus, I’d make sure call hospitals in my area and make sure they are stocked with it, or that I knew which ones have it, just in case.

  11. Excellent post. I feel fortunate to have learned a tremendous amount before my first child was born so that I could make an educated choice for all of my kids. My youngest (who is 3) just spent time in the hospital because of pneumonia and a stomach virus at the same time (instant dehydration!), and I was asked to explain my choice not to vaccinate by three different nurses. Each one was nice and seemed to genuinely listen, which made the situation less stressful. :) I told them several of the things that Christina has mentioned here along with some other pieces of information I’ve learned over the years. (As an aside, we do vaccinate against tetanus with the first dose given when each child is about three. I never have been able to find a doctor who could locate just a pediatric tetanus vaccine for me, so we’ve had to use a tetanus-diptheria combo instead. Since they were all older, that was a compromise I was willing to make.)

    I learned a couple years ago that polio may actually have been caused by the heavy use of pesticides (especially DDT) and not specifically by a virus as we’ve been led to believe. If you’re curious, these sites look at the issue:

    http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/56729 (sort of a summary)
    http://www.harpub.co.cc/
    http://www.wellwithin1.com/overview.htm

  12. Thank you for such a balanced article. I fully vaccinated my first, and had a lot of stress over it, and plan to do more research before my second comes along!

  13. This is very helpful as I am trying to make a decision about vaccinations before my little Lovebug arrives in June! It’s so confusing! Thank you for the research and article links. I will definitely be reading up on it more. :)

  14. My husband is allergic to the Pertussis vaccine. The only clue when he was a baby was that he was crying funny (due to encephalitis). His mom almost didn’t mention it, and thankfully the doctor who was holding the needle in his hand, immediately retracted it! If he had gotten that second pertussis vaccine he could have suffered severe brain swelling and injury. The new pertussis vaccine has less occurrence of this side effect but it is still something to watch out for if you vaccinate.

    • Oh for more DR’s like that! Thank God that the Dr was alert, observant and wise! I’m so happy for you that you knew about this!!
      I never had a single care about vaccines…until my son almost died with the 2nd DTaP shot (he was allergic to the pertussis, also…and I didn’t know to look for anything with the first and had no idea). It caused severe brain swelling and within two hours of receiving the shot, my happy, healthy, 6-month-old baby could no longer hold his head up, sit up, or utter basic words. He was ahead of schedule on all counts in all those areas before the shot…I have dated video to prove it. After the shot, for a such very long time, he couldn’t do hardly anything except lay around and cry…not a normal baby cry, but a pitiful “I’m in pain!” wail day & night. It was horrific…and anyone else who’s experienced this will agree there is nothing like it. Having no idea what on earth was going on, we were in and out of ERs, and to so many DRs before one finally took me aside, didn’t even give his name for fear of getting in trouble, and admitted that these kinds of reactions happen…more often than people think, too…to vaccines. We saw neurologists and ran test after test, but all we could do was wait for nature to take its course.
      It was weeks before he pronounced a single syllable…it was such huge deal, that almost 10 years later, I remember exactly where I was I was standing…in the bread aisle of the grocery store. I started bawling…a single syllable of baby babble, that was almost background noise a couple months before, was suddenly a small sign of hope for me. We are one of the very blessed, with only a small speech problem to show for it, almost a whole decade later. I am so grateful to God that my son didn’t show up as another statistic labeled away under SIDS, allergic reaction, autism, etc. My whole heart goes out to those who have experienced these things!
      From a thoughtful perspective, this article was so well-written, esp for someone with no personal experience. Thank you. Before something happened to my own child, I would’ve been on the “you’re not getting vaccines, you must be insane” side of the fence. Knowing what I now know, and seeing what I’ve seen, and learning what I’ve learned through years of study, I’m closer to the opposite. I keep it to myself for the most-part, though, because honestly, as a parent, you have to do what you believe is right. I respect that…and I expect the same respect in my decisions with my own children’s health.

    • P.S. Just a word of warning: the new tetanus shots contain pertussis.

  15. @Musings of a Housewife,
    This is where we are too! We just got a notice about a mandatory vaccine before my oldest starts the next school year. This time around I will be doing a lot more research before consenting.

  16. This is a well written post on this subject. Its a really difficult topic!

    One thing that I found when I was doing my research is that at least in Canada, you cannot seem to get vaccines anymore that are seperated like how Dr. Robert Sears suggests as an alternative schedule. There are also more diseases covered in the one shot than the way it was when I was a kid- I believe I got DTP and then MMR from remembering looking at my book that recorded such things. They now group other things with the DTP, at least where I live. I’m really not sure why they seem to think we need more vaccines now than when I was a kid. I guess they think that if they have them they should use them. But it does make it difficult for someone who, for example, would rather do selective vaccination.

  17. Thanks for a fair look at this. With my first child I looked into vaccinations. It seemed like everything I read (specifically on not vaccinating) used fear. It made me think that if I did vaccinate my children they were going to die. I had trouble finding a balanced resource to read. So my first child was vaccinated according to the cdc schedule and I remember on several occasions freaking out about it.

    When baby number 2 was set to come along I re-looked at this topic, hopefully from a more mature viewpoint (amazing how the first child makes you grow up- no matter how old you are!). I found Dr. Sears’ vaccine book, which is my favorite resource on the topic. It was, sadly, released after my 1st baby otherwise I would have read it then and made different decisions! However, he has a alternate vaccine schedule that we decided to use. I like the book because he presents both sides- as there are good reasons why most vaccines were developed.

    Ultimately, I have to remember that as much as I want to protect my children from everything, I have no control. The Lord may take them at any time, vaccinated or not. He may give me an autistic child, which may or may not be because of vaccines, but I cannot question Him or His ways. Just my personal conclusion on the topic.

  18. I know that at least a portion of the reason for such a heavy vaccination schedule in the first few years is that doctors fear unreliable parents won’t bring their children back to receive later vaccines. The more they can cover in the beginning the better protection the child will have if the parent decides to bail on all future doctors appointments. I’m not necessarily against a delayed or spread out vaccination system, but I do honestly question to wisdom of choosing no to vaccinate at all. I understand the concerns parents have, but I would suggest any research include discussing the real perils of these diseases (I’m talking Measles, Diptheria and Polio, not chicken pox) with someone who remembers them. My mom has childhood friends who were crippled by so called “harmless” childhood diseases that we don’t consider “that bad” when we decide to skip our children’s vaccinations. My grandmother’s brother died as a child of an ear infection that would have been cured today by a simple antibiotic. When my father and sister travel to the third world they are heralded as heroes when they bring childhood DPT and MMR vaccines. These are some of the same vaccines some American parents have easy access to but consider unnecessary. Since we rarely see the true affects of these diseases anymore in our western society, we aren’t really making a fully educated decision. Looking at the stats on paper isn’t the same is meeting a real life person crippled by polio or scarred by measles. That being said I appreciate the attempt to create a well balanced picture here. This is a touchy issue. But as for me, I don’t think there are many vaccines I’ll be opting out of. The potential price is too high for me.

    • @Laundry Lady, “Since we rarely see the true affects of these diseases anymore in our western society, we aren’t really making a fully educated decision.”

      In the US, we have herd immunity. Even if the entire population of homeschooling, organic, whole food’s hippies decided not to immunize we would STILL have herd immunity. I work with children with Autism and I can understand a parents concern about vaccinations when their child seems to be allergic to EVERYTHING. My husband could even have died or been permanently handicapped if he had gotten the scheduled boosters when he was a baby. I think parents in the developed world can afford to take a more individualized approach to their child’s immunizations with out fear because the majority are not opting out.

    • @Laundry Lady, I’d encourage you to read a LOT from MANY resources. I asked questions like these — “What are the true effects and potential complications from these diseases?” — and decided to look at the WHO’s website, primarily, to answer them. What I found was that in a modern society, with good sanitation and nutrition, complications were really only occurring in about 1 in 100,000 people, and were usually related to vitamin A deficiency. It was a very important point for me to discover and weighed heavily in my decision. I would encourage you to thoroughly read the WHO’s disease papers, and not rely on the anecdotal evidence of the “one person” who did suffer problems from a disease. While tragic, individual stories do not present the whole and accurate picture of the disease’s effects.

      • @Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama, Kate that is exactly what I was going to say! :)

        Proper nutrition & sanitation are so vital to preventing diseases, and minimizing their effects when contracted! Vitamins A &D, which are especially found in unprocessed milk and other animal products, are a crucial part of this. If we consider the move towards margarine (as patriotic during WW2), processed meats and pasteurized & processed milk along with ever-increasing urbanization, we can see that many children in our grandparents’ & parents’ generations were probably Vitamin A & D deficient!

    • @Laundry Lady, I really appreciate the thoughtful response. Lots of important things to consider, and I think that there is definitely truth to what you’re saying.

    • @Laundry Lady, I wholeheartedly agree with Laundry Lady. She voiced all of my thoughts much more aptly that I can probably give them. I am vaccinating my 9-month old son as recommended by our trusted pediatrician. To see children die from a preventable disease — or transmit it to someone with an already-compromised immune system — is appalling. Whooping cough and polio are not the same as chicken pox. They aren’t diseases that boost the immune system; they’re killers. We are all entitled to make educated, informed decisions about vaccinations, as Christina (and most everyone here) wisely says. But we are not entitled to our own science. Any educated research needs include hard facts developed as a result of large trials conducted by respected medical and educational institutions, and published in respected medical journals and sources. I’m not saying these sources are never wrong; just that they need to be weighed heavily. I have lost one son (to prematurity), and will not lose another to something I can prevent. This article was written by a pediatrician who has an autistic son, and is in favor of vaccinating: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40951375/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/

      • @AC,
        I wanted to add one comment here.
        I too have lived with the older generation (we lived in a retirement community for almost 3 years) and heard a lot of terrible personal stories about diseases that are mostly not heard of today in the US.
        HOWEVER, there are still incidences of these diseases, and most of those incidences are CAUSED by the vaccinations that were meant to prevent them.
        Looking at the research will reveal this (the only recorded cases of polio occurring in the US in the last 30 years have been caused by vaccinations), as well as speaking with individuals.
        My best friend contracted measles when she was an infant, due to the MMR vaccination. She almost didn’t survive, and she is now permanently deaf.
        I just wanted to remind you that there are horror stories on both sides of the vaccination issue.

        • @Jennifer, Thanks for posting this Jennifer. My mom’s generation survived the horrors of polio – a time when you didn’t know if your child would be struck down or not and no amount of ‘alternative’ methods would prevent it from happening.
          Thankfully, we live in a time when diseases are preventable because people take precautions like vaccinations. As long as the majority of children are vaccinated we shouldn’t see another horror like polio.

    • @Laundry Lady, After traveling in Africa and seeing so many people crippled by polio, it is harder for me to automatically write off ALL vaccinations. I do want to make thoughtful decisions, different for each child, if necessary. But when you see what exists in countries where people aren’t vaccinated from certain diseases… anyways, I am ever thankful for discussions such as these and access to the internet (!) which can be a wonderful help in making this type of challenging decision.

    • Susan Kramer says:

      @Laundry Lady, My mother in law had polio as a child. Despite functioning well in her teens, young adult life, and through her mid life, now she’s 60 and has developed health problems stemming from the polio (I think some doctors referred to it as Secondary Polio something or other – yes it has a more technical name) but they just mean they don’t really know why it’s happening because most doctors are too young to remember polio outbreaks. There is no treatment that has worked. She can no longer live the normal life she had because of the pain and discomfort. Sparing my children from something so awful because of amazing advances in medicine was a no brainer for me and my family. I do appreciate the way the article was put, but for my family vaccinations were vital.

  19. Kristen in MO says:

    What things should we be on the lookout for in our children for those of us who learned about the dangers of vaccinations after our children had already had them?

    • @Kristen in MO, That is a REALLY good question! I think the first step would be to keep bolstering their immune systems naturally; cod liver oil, fresh seasonal fruits & veggies with the full array of vitamins & minerals, bone broth, etc. I would also be very careful about their metal toxic load– there are several metal cleanses that can be done to flush the body of them (see http://www.generationrescue.org/ for more on this). I believe cilantro is helpful in pulling excess mercury from our systems, but would need to do further research to check that. A period of time on the GAPS diet for the whole family would be a great idea; just to reset everyone’s internal systems and kind of give a clean(er) slate.

      Also be on the watch for any auto-immune symptoms, and be ready to intervene naturally via diet, naturopathic herbs and additive-free food. You are probably already doing a lot of those things anyway! :)

  20. I really like the way Christina approached this extremely touchy subject. As a mom who was almost dead-set on vaccinations because (as Musings of a Housewife said,) it was the “right thing to do,” and now has 3 almost-fully vaccinated children, I wish I had known then what I know now. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose ;) But in all seriousness, it never occurred to me to do research. I received vaccinations as a child and I am fine, so my kids need them, too, right? To protect them!

    I no longer think that way. I have been researching myself, and in the future, will use much more caution with vaccinations.

    I can honestly say I am not 100 percent against vaccinations yet (further research on my part is needed), but at this point, I definitely am for delayed vaccinations, as well as, using a different schedule of vaccinations (more like what the schedule looked like in the 80s).

    Thanks, Christina, for a very thoughtful, well-written, and informative post highlighting both sides. I can’t wait for the next post!

    -Amy

  21. @Musings of a Housewife, This describes me to a T! :)

  22. I’m really happy that you’re doing this series. My 10 year old son had all of the recommended vaccines when he was younger. I knew NOTHING about possible dangers at that point. His doctor is now pushing for him to be vaccinated again. I have many hesitations at this point and have been searching for the right thing to do. The one thing that I have found is that vaccinations are mandatory in my state. There are exceptions for medical reasons – which are supposed to be about impossible to get – and religious exemptions. But, supposedly there are difficulties in that approach as well. I haven’t sought either one at this point because I’m still trying to decide the right thing for my son at this time. It does bother me, though, that the state can come in with that type of authority over the health and medical decisions of my family. Any thoughts or information on how to ‘not’ get the vaccinations during your series would be well appreciated. :0)

  23. Great post!!

    The only thing I would suggest is also shoring up by suggesting people request/demand the vaccine packets IF they are going to vaccinate, and go home for a week to ruminate whether the risks outweigh the benefits. And also to research the fetal-cell line vaccines.

    http://www.cogforlife.org/fetalvaccines.htm

    As for the whole herd immunity thing, or the fact vaccines “cured” or “eliminated” anything, some great resources, links and whatnot are posted over at http://mrs-informed.blogspot.com/

    There are some better sites out there, but it would take me forever to find them all again and post them here.

    In regards to the TH2 and TH1 – a great explanation is gone into here: http://www.garynullforum.com/GNthisArticle.php?article=340

    And for those who choose to vaccinate, the following is also helpful:
    http://www.newswithviews.com/Richards/byron54.htm
    Dr Sears’ vaccine book is ok, but IMHO not unbiased. He does however equip the parent who chooses to vaccinate with what food items will need removal from the diet for x amount of days/weeks prior to and after vaccination to lower the risk of adverse reactions or food allergy.

  24. Wow, what a great post!! Insightful, fair and balanced, well researched. I’ve already made up my mind for certain about this topic, and I am still going to go over this several times just for the benefit of your encouraging thought-provoking writing.
    Thanks, Christina!

  25. Well done. As a mom who followed the recommended vaccine schedule because I thought it was the “thing to do” and those who don’t are “selfish” – ACCCKKKK – and now I wish I could go back and do it all over again and establish an individual schedule for each child based on my own research on each vaccine, I’m glad to see this information provided for those for whom it is not too late. (My kids are now 5, 8 and 11, and I will definitely be taking a more cautious approach to future vaccines, but the majority of them are behind us.)

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