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.

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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. 1/2 of my family members didn’t vaccinate their children, so when I had my first baby (at home) I wanted to do some research on my own. I read Neil Z. Miller’s book, “Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?” and gained such an appreciation for his dedication and the enormous volume of research he did. The book is easy to read and quite short. I highly recommend it!

  2. Thanks for taking a balanced look at this, instead of taking sides as so many people do.

    My son hasn’t has any vaccinations yet, an I’m a little hesitant on giving him any, but the plan right now is to do selective vaccinations starting at 18 months, one shot at a time, and to try to get them preservative free where possible.

    I just wish there was more information available to parents on risks vs. benefits and on ways to make it safer if they do choose to vaccinate.

  3. I have been looking for up to date information to read to help me to decide whether to have my 14 yr old son vaccinated. He had all his previous vaccinations “on schedule” but is currently “due” for more, including a dTaP and Meningococcal (groups A, C, W-135, Y) Conjugate Immunization. We live in Canada and what makes research more difficult is that most information I find relates more to the United States. As a family we don’t do flu shots (I used to but had a serious reaction and now will not ever again nor will I take my children for it) and have delayed vaccs. for our youngest who has bad allergies. We have been homeschoolers to this point, although very involved in the community so certainly not living in a bubble, but my son will attend a local high school next year. I mention this b/c part of the argument for the meningococcal vacc. is that adolescence is a peak year for this disease. Another consideration, mentioned above by others, is that I wonder if he’ll be required to have these vaccinations in order to travel anyways. He was going to go to East & West Africa this summer (I need to call and find out but just received notification that he was “due” for these vaccs.) Anyways, it seems like many vaccine related blog posts focus a little more on young children. Does anyone have information that they’d recommend specifically for this age group and/or specific vaccinations I’ve mentioned?

    • @Kika,

      I can’t give you much info about DTP, but I recommend checking out the CDC site for more info on Meningitis. I was vaccinated for meningitis just before college, which I believe is now standard for most colleges. While it is typically spread by close contact, it is easier to transmit in close living situations like college dorms. While treatable, bacterial meningitis can be fatal if not treated early. I really really hate shots, I always have and I fought my mother tooth and nail because of needle phobia, but I was glad to get this one. All it took was a few major hospitalizations of students at my college for me to be very grateful for that vaccine.
      Regarding traveling abroad, the big travel vaccines are usually HepB and HepA, probably with a DTP booster, depending on when you son’s last shot was. It will partially depend on the kind of work he plans on doing. My sister does medical missions, so she needs to have all her vaccines up to date since she is working with patients and body fluids that could transmit diseases like HepB and A. However, if you son is up to date on his shots, he probably has already had his HepB. Personally, I don’t see huge harm in delaying meningitis vaccine unless you son is going to be traveling or in some kind of group living situation (like an all summer camp or something). Hep A is also not one I would be worried about unless he plans to travel (which you mentioned he probably will). Sorry I couldn’t provide more info. You doctor’s office should be able to tell you what vaccines will be needed for overseas travel.

    • @Kika,
      Highly recommend the Meningitus vaccination before he goes into high school. Just google “meningitus and students” and you will see this is a very real risk for teens and college students. The symptoms are nausea, headache, fever, sore throat, stiff neck, and aversion to bright lights. You can see how these symptoms could easily be dismissed by a young adult who might just go to bed when they really need to go to the ER. The scary thing with meningitus is the speed the disease progresses, it can kill you within 24 hours of the symptoms appearing. I was vaccinated for Meningitis in college during an outbreak. The vaccine only lasts for three years, so your teen might need a booster before or during college. I understand parents not wanting to “overload” infants with vaccines but I highly recommend parents of teens/college students get them vaccinated for meningitus. Don’t dismiss it because you never got it – it is a real risk for young adults today!

  4. Thanks so much for a calm and reasonable article. I’m used to such a topic being much more heated and even ugly. I will have to check out those links. When I was looking at the subject before getting my daughter (13mo) vaccinated I had a very hard time finding any good studies or articles that showed real evidence for avoiding or even delaying vacs… perhaps I should have dug in more. That said, I still had them separate the shots so she didn’t get as many at once… and we are avoiding the chickenpox vac until she goes to school and is basically forced to get it. Chickenpox- seriously, isn’t that a childhood rite of passage?! lol

    • @Laura,
      I had similar feelings about the chicken pox vaccine, but it seems like very few people in our area ever get the disease because of high vaccination rates. So we opted to vaccinate rather than risk a case of adult chicken pox, which can be much more serious. Getting the vaccine can also reduce the risk of contracting shingles later in life. My dad contacted shingles when I was in high school and it was incredibly painful and he has permanent nerve damage in his shoulder. That being said, getting the chicken pox is no guarantee of getting shingles and if I could have guaranteed my daughter a quick and easy childhood case of chicken pox I would have totally opted out of the vaccine. It is, after all a rite of passage. :-)

      • @Laundry Lady,
        Agree about the shingles! Doctors recommend a shingles vax to adults over age 60. It is an extremely painful disease. I highly recommend everyone encourages the over-60s in your life to get the vaccination.

  5. I usually don’t comment about these things because they are so controversial and I am less educated than many of you. But I did want to mention, as someone briefly did above, that the main reason that we are choosing to fully vaccinate our son is that we want our family to have the freedom of going to the crazy places in the world to be a part of expanding God’s kingdom! We are surely blessed to live in a country where many of these diseases are so uncommon today, but I would love for my sweet baby boy to grow up and live in a village in Southeast Asia or somewhere in Africa where these diseases still cause real problems. My husband and I would love to take our family to some of the hardest places, without having to limit where we believe God is calling us because we are afraid of vaccines.
    I have heard other moms say, “If we were going to live the life you are, then we would probably vaccinate too.” But isn’t that statement limiting what you are willing to let your child/family do for the Lord? I know there are many reasons to not vaccinate, but I hope that we are not making these decisions because we think God would not call our family to another place in the world.

    • @Megan, I can understand where you’re coming from. We also want very much to travel with our children and perhaps live in another part of the world one day. If/when those times come, we will deal with the necessary vaccination recommendations/requirements and consider them carefully. We don’t want our children to be restricted either, but I would certainly rather give them their vaccines later and more individually, than all up front just in case. But that’s my personal opinion.

      I am wrestling through this very issue myself, as I am now preparing to go to the Philippines with Compassion International this May. Though most vaccinations are only recommended, at least one will be required, perhaps more. I am researching it now, but I also know in my heart that being available to say “yes” to what the Lord has for me is more important than whether or not I get an immunization. I don’t think that we should allow fear to get in the way of our ability to say, “here I am, Lord, use me”. And with that, we still exercise discernment, and make careful, prayerful and thought out decisions.

      Yet another important issue and reason why I am so glad to be discussing this issue in such a calm and balanced way! :)

  6. I’m not so sure this statement is correct: “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.”

    My husband and I have ton a lot of research regarding this topic. Unfortunately we live in one of the toughest states not to vaccinate. The vaccines the doctors try to pass off as “helping” are doing nothing but hurting our children. I am not even sure delaying the vaccines is enough. They are filled with toxic substances and animal parts! Mercola.com has a lot of info that every parent NEEDS to read!

  7. I appreciate the point of this post – that we as parents are supposed to THINK about medical procedures for our kids rather than just doing what the majority tells us. We fully vaccinated our first two kids – no adverse affects with the first and some food sensitivities (which can NOT be linked to the vaccines) in the second. But by the third child, I had figured out that something was genetically different with him – he became sickly when we started feeding him formula at 9 months, developed eczema, and food sensitivies. THIS ia when I started researching vaccines – after he had recieved 12 months worth of them. We discovered an egg & soy allergy in him and then decided not to continue his vaccinations, in particular the MMR and varicella (which were all FOUR lumped into one shot).
    Our 4th & 5th children (which seem to have similar genetic dispositions to the 3rd but also had a much more healthy start with home birth and healthier diet) have not yet been vaccinated. We plan to pick and choose (depending on our research) which, if any, vaccines to give them and we plan only to do so when they are closer to 5 years old.
    I wish that this issue were not so infuriating to so many and that I could have the freedom to choose what I feel is best for each of my kids without having to ‘keep the secret’ that I haven’t vaccinated half of them. I am thankful that you could post this andhelp us to have a healthy discussion of the topic though!

  8. I’m so glad you’re diving into this subject. My 6 month old daughter was due for her shots today. I’ve only recently begun questioning the recommended vaccine schedule. I have researched and read but ran out of time. Well, about 3 days ago she came down with a cough and today the Dr didn’t think she should get her shots. She wants her to go back in two weeks and get them. I have a little more time to read and make my final decision (leaning heavily to no vaccines). My son5 has had all of his vaccines. He also has had 3 seizures, the first one not long after his 6 month shots. And we’re doing Feingold for his hyper activity. The vaccines may or may not be related, but…..

  9. I am so glad you posted this. Our first child was vaccinated according to the CDC schedule (because I didn’t know any better!). Our second was born in the UK and they don’t do as many vaccinations, nor do they do them as quickly, so I was okay with following their guidelines. We are back in the States now and I know my son is due for some vaccinations (he’s going to be two in a couple of weeks), but I’ve been hesitant to make him an appointment because I don’t feel like I am well enough informed. Honestly, its also a little frustrating and tiring trying to “go against the system” and I’ve just been plain avoiding it for that reason. Thanks for this article. I’m looking forward to the one where you give more resources for further research. I also need to get my hands on that Dr. Sears book. Its also nice to find other moms who like to be purposeful with the choices they make for their children–even if we come to different conclusions while being purposeful.

  10. This is a really fabulous post Christina! It is few that are able to make their case without ruffling feathers or getting a mama’s emotional response to vaccines revved up. Thanks so much for presenting these thoughts objectively yet sharing the research that you have done over the years. I do read read read too but it is difficult to find books that are unbiased. That is so great that you have had access to medical journals. I’d love to have that since the doctors that I have been in conversation with always reference these and tell me that my argument has downfalls because I am reading biased research. Therefore, I try to read things on both sides of the fence.

  11. I love an article that promotes intentional living and owning one’s choices! I am looking forward to the next part. :)

  12. I really enjoyed this article because the take away point is to do the research. The only (potentially) wrong choice is an uneducated one.

    I have done research on both sides and I definitely feel pulled in both directions. Both sides of the argument utilize fear and it’s hard to sift through all the information to find the truth. Because I believe there is truth on both sides and there are benefits and risks on both sides.

    I for one wish it was easier to discuss vaccines with your doctor. I’m sure there are doctors out there who are willing to discuss it openly and talk about both risks and benefits, but that’s definitely not true in my personal experience.

    Vaccinations are such a hard topic and I feel like I’ll never feel 100% comfortable with whatever I choose.

  13. I find Christina’s article interesting and, to her credit, I am impressed that she encourages her readers to do their own investigating. I have done so and I am not impressed with how she has presented her scientific findings.

    For example, autism spectrum disorder is not an autoimmune disease. It is neurodevelopment disorder. And while ASD has certainly increased over the last decade, the role of vaccines in the development of ASD has been completely discredited. The medical researcher that first proposed this link has lost his licence to practice because he fabricated and sensationalised the evidence.

    She states that ‘[if you get the real thing, you get full immunity to it'. This is not always true - people who become immunocompromised later in life can lose their natural immunity (e.g. hemodyalysis patients).

    She also states that '[if] you get the real thing, you get full immunity to …possibly other diseases –for instance, women who get childhood mumps have increased immunity to ovarian cancer’. The research that supports this statement is really poor – there was only one retrospective study published in 1983 on this subject and they calculated the correlation coefficient to test the relationship. Correlation never means causation without supporting proof and there have been no prospective studies examining the relationship between childhood mumps and ovarian cancer relationship. Try searching ‘mumps’ and ‘ovarian cancer’ in the PubMed database.

    Given the above examples, I consider her research findings suspect and likely biased.

    • @Kim Reid,

      There remains a lot that is unknown about Autism Spectrum Disorder, however, there is a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that it is a neurodevelopment disorder stemming from an autoimmune disease.

      • @Jennifer, I disagree. There is ‘a lot’ of evidence showing that many with ASD have immune dysfunction. This is not the same as saying ASD is caused by an autoimmune disease. I encourage you to look a recent medical review on this subject called “Immune dysfunction in autism: a pathway to treatment” published in July 2010 by M Careaga et al. You can find the abstract at PubMed.

    • @Kim Reid, Thanks for voicing your concerns, Kim! I really appreciate knowing that my readers are holding me accountable and challenging what they hear– that’s EXACTLY what I want to encourage!! :)

      I should have put in more citations as I wrote– I’m trying to do better about that in my subsequent posts. So in answer to your queries:
      - regarding ASD being grouped with auto-immune disorders– first, there are many ways to label a disease. A disorder can affect one system in particular, and still be an auto-immune disease. For example, Celiac disease (which I have) is mainly a digestive disorder, but it is also classified as an auto-immune disease. Similarly, diabetes mainly affects the circulatory system, yet its root cause is auto-immune. Autism does mainly affect the neurological systems, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an auto-immune disease. (another doctor described it this way: “Autism is best redefined as an environmental disease with genetic susceptibilities.”) At the very least, autism is linked to auto-immune diseases (http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-07-12-autism13_N.htm, http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/content/44/16/25.2.full, http://www.generationrescue.org/pdf/jyonouchi.pdf) This site provides many facets of autism– including the gut-brain immune connection and vaccines: http://www.generationrescue.org/science
      -regarding mumps & later ovarian cancer protection: far from being pushed aside, the historical association you mentioned is being examined as recently as August 2010 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20559706

      As far as keeping naturally-gained immunities goes; in the normal course of a life, we do keep them. Yes, an event leaving a person immuno-compromised could potentially leave them open to recurrent infection, but in such a case, vaccine-gained immunity would be even less reliable. Take the chicken pox vaccine as an example. Some adults who get chicken pox as children do get shingles… but adults who instead got the vaccine as a child can get full-blown adult chicken pox (which is far more serious and potentially life-altering).

      Hope that helps.

  14. It is sad commentary on our country that it is such a novel concept to use your brain, ask quesions, and be responsible for your decisions. I am amazed how many sheep there are touting what the commercials say as truth. Thank you for this challenge in this and all areas of our lives and health. Ultimately, we are responsible for our decisions and can’t blame the government, Big Pharma, fast food chains, or the devil especially when all the info is out there. We just have to educate our selves and do what it takes to make what we decide is important a priority in our lives!

  15. I’ll add my voice to the many who have applauded both Christina and Stephanie for exploring this very touchy subject. It seems that many people avoid the topic for fear of the controversy it stirs. But I really appreciate a community of believers who are willing to work out these important issues with grace and humility.

    My husband and I are presently in the non-vaccinating camp, but we respect and love those who disagree with us. I have done many posts about vaccines on my blog. I think these kinds of posts encourage a few different groups of people:

    1) Those who DO vaccinate and may consider non-vaccination to be foolish or negligent. They may not change their position on vaccinations, but it may keep them from viewing non-vaccinators as nut-job, faithless, fringe-lunatics.

    2) Those who have chosen NOT to vaccinate, but who feel as though they are beign viewed as nut-job, faithless, fringe-lunatics. It may encourage them in their position and help them to communicate their position with intelligence and grace.

    3) New parents or parents-to-be who may not be aware that there is another side to the vaccination stance held by most medical professionals.

    Thanks again for such a well-done post!

    • @Erika, “but we respect and love those who disagree with us”. thank you. that should be my goal in all areas as a chrisitan! i need to have a post it all over my house car work etc. that say that!

  16. Thank you for putting this wonderful information out there! I have a 10 year old son and a 6 year old daughter and they have both never been vaccinated! I began reading everything I could get my hands on after my first child was born. I had this bad gut feeling about the vaccines and so chose not to vaccinate them. Because of that decision I was put thru a lot of mistreatments not only from my family but from doctors and nurses as well. But as the years went by (and after changing physicians a few times) I was surprised to find that there are some doctors who actually agreed with me on my stand to “not vaccinate”.

    Blessings,
    Nichole

  17. Kathryn Richards says:

    A wonderful and well-balanced article. My children are grown and having their own children now. I did not know there was an alternative when they were small. Shots for the first two seems to be okay, but my third child had problems with them and was more sickly. He also has a mild case of autism now and I truly believe it is because of his body’s reaction to the vaccines. Wish I had known then what I know now. I would have done research and probably done things differently, especially for him. My daughter has done a lot of research and when the doc told her her son was not having seizures as a result of a vaccine, she really dug in her heels. Thanks for a timely and well thought out article.

  18. All four of my son’s have been fully vaccinated. However, that hasn’t meant that I haven’t had my concerns regarding how quickly and how many vaccinations they get.

    When my youngest, Joey, was two he went in for his routine well-check. While I was sitting there waiting for the Dr. I realized that he would be due for vaccinations that day.

    I don’t know why, and I don’t want to know, but a feeling of urgency came over me…I knew I did not want him to have those vaccinations that day.
    So, right there in the Dr. office I prayed. I told God I trusted him with my children and this situation.

    Long story short, the Dr. came in a few minutes later and told me that since Joey was late getting his last vaccines he didn’t feel he needed the ones that day. Praise the Lord!

    It was another almost three years before Joey was fully vaccinated. We took our time and I felt much better about waiting.

    I think sometimes we forget that God is the one who gave us these little blessings. We just need to ask Him to take control and guide us in the correct way to care for our children.

    Great article! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Glad to see this topic covered. One very important point I would stress is the myth that vaccines are the ONLY way to prevent disease and provide immunity. If there were another approach that had no side effects, but with the same, or better results, wouldn’t we want to take it? That is why a study that compares the health of unvaccinated, whose parents actively and aggressively attend to the building up of the immune system naturally and nutritionally (such as the Homefirst group in Chicago) to those who are vaccinated. Not by comparing the health of impoverished, unvaccinated populations with vaccinated first world children. It’s a fallacy to at once defend vaccines as opposed to a “do nothing” approach, because that assumes at the outset that there is no other, or better, alternative. Let’s try to think outside of the box, for a change.

    • We need “like” buttons, like on facebook…yes, it’s not just vaccines or no…it’s a whole-being approach.

  20. My oldest 3 children (now 29, 27 & 25) were fully vaccinated according to the schedule they had when they were growing up.

    Then I had my 3 younger children (now 11, 10 & 9) and I started my 11 yr old on the same recommended schedule when he was an infant (of course there were many more vaccines at that time) and when he was 2 month old they gave him a vaccine that he had a bad reaction to, then 6 weeks later pulled it off the market!!

    I was furious. Scared and decided to get educated.

    We now selectively vaccinate and we even delay those and split them up. For us, this works.

  21. I mentioned on your FB post last night that vaccination was a choice all parents have to make for their own children. To me, vaccination is not right or wrong, it is the parents trying to make the best decision for their children.

    When my son was born, I was following a very selective and delayed vaccination schedule with him. He had only three shots when he had a reaction to the HIB and got very sick. That is when I decided to stop with vaccination all together. But, I am grateful to live in a state that has a medical, philosophical, and religious exemption vaccine waiver.

  22. I agree that these diseases were once childhood ailments. One thing to keep in mind is that because a large percentage of the population (at least here in the US) is vaccinated, these diseases occur rarely. Unfortunately when they do, they can occur during adulthood with more severe reactions. I really questioned a chicken pox vaccine, since my sister and I both had the disease rather than the vaccine since the vaccine wasn’t introduced until we had both already contracted it. But the chances of my daughter contacting the disease while a child are low because most of our community is vaccinated. Adult chicken pox is much more unpleasant and dangerous so I decided to vaccinate her anyway. I’ve also considered the fact that my daughter may want to travel or participate in missions later on in life. Diseases that have been almost wiped out in the US thanks to vaccinations are still quite common in other areas of the world. My sister is a PA and she travels to Haiti on medical missions every year. She would never consider doing the kind of work she does without an up-to-date set of vaccines. If our children don’t ever leave the US they may possibly be OK without vaccinations, but I don’t know if I want to limit her future options that way. The reason we can realistically discuss delaying vaccinations or not vaccinating is because most of the population still does which significantly lowers the chance of our children ever being exposed to these diseases (with the exception of things like Tetanus).
    I agree with previous posters, we each need to decide what works best for our family and be responsible to face any potential consequences, regardless of the side we choose.

    • @Laundry Lady,

      Good Point! I have a very good friend who was homeschooled and did not get any vaccines ever, then when she was 21 she went to teach English in Japan for three years and prior to going she had to spend an entire year getting vaccinations. She was literally at the doctor every month for a year, getting a vaccination. It all worked out, she did not have any problems with the vaccinations, she taught abroad for three years, met her husband there, and is now a mom of two and living back here in the USA. It is certainly something to think about for families interested in international mission trips or service abroad programs.

    • @Laundry Lady, Last summer my children got chicken pox from a recently vaccinated child. I didn’t mind, but I did learn that the chicken pox that is out now is a mutated version of the pox children got before the vaccination. That knowledge made me a little uneasy. However, all 7 of mine have now had them.

      • @Sheri,
        Sheri your comment about the chicken pox confused me. Do you mean that the chicken pox that kids catch is not the same one they get vaccinated for?

        • @Robin, from what I have read the chicken pox vaccine is a altered form of what we all got as kids. Just like corn can be genetically engineered, but yet be corn, the chicken pox is altered, yet chicken pox. Does that make sense?

    • @Laundry Lady, I think a developed immune system is more equipped to deal with immunizations needed for travel purposes. An adult can also communicate complications if there are any, better than an infant or toddler, and make an informed decision about which vaccines they feel are necessary.

      Also, I was vaccinated as a child and still contracted measles. Vaccines do not prevent illness, only outbreaks.

    • @Laundry Lady,

      “Like” :-) very good point about abroad travel, and missionary work.
      I think that is another great consideration for every family when deciding which vaccinations to give!

  23. Thank you so much for this information. I’m just wrapping up my first trimester with our first child and I am just beginning my research into vaccines. We have six health professionals (two RNs, three pediatricians, and one MD who also practices medical malpractice law) so I definitely feel the need to educate myself fully in order to handle the questions that are already coming from them.

    I would love to see a “starter” list of books or other resources from the author!

  24. What a wonderfully well written, balanced post on such a touchy subject!

    We are at a standstill with our vaccinations with our 2nd and 3rd. Our oldest is vaccinated per the CDC guidelines (because we were too young and naive to do anything different at the time). However, our next two have had a bit of a different schedule and our middle child (4 y/o) will probably not receive any further vaccinations. Our biggest concern recently is how do you know, when it is recommended that vaccines are started at 2 months old, that your child isn’t allergic to the adjuvants/carriers, etc. in the vaccine? Our 4 y/o had a severe reaction to his MMR at 12 months and that is where my “vaccine thinking” got topsy turvy. We have also since discovered that he has some food allergies (that he was already showing signs of at a very early age) and possibly some other allergies that may have caused this severe reaction.

    We are still researching and praying and seeking God’s wisdom and direction in regards to what our next step will be. This is one of those parenting decisions that we definitely aren’t taking lightly because it has the potential to effect our childrens’ future. However, it’s also not in our best interest or even in God’s plans for us to live in fear. The most important aspects of this are truly seeking God’s direction for our family’s health and knowing that what is right for us, is not necessarily right for another family.

    Thank you again for your insights and I look forward to reading the next installment for further resources!

    • If you’re worried about your two month old being allergic to eggs or soy, please read this: http://goo.gl/jMVdP

      There’s very little scientific basis for that fear. As a general rule, the dosage of egg or soy in a given vaccine is so small that probably would not cause an allergic reaction. Pediatrician’s play it safe most of the time, as they should, but there’s very little evidence of allergic reactions among infants due to vaccination — most of this evidence is anecdotal.

    • @Laura @ Homemaking Joyfully, My family is in a similar situation, with a very allergic/asthmatic child who tends to react badly to live-virus vaccines. I think you’re doing the right thing by seeking God’s wisdom. Who else has a better understanding of the right solution for your particular child?
      I hope you’ve also got a pediatrician who’s willing to work with you. It’s really blessed us to have a pediatrician with a good understanding of asthma/allergies and how those interact with vaccines. He’s helped us develop a vaccination plan that works much better for our daughter than the standard plan.

  25. I’m sorry, but this post certainly comes down on the anti-vaccine side, no matter how much you want to label yourself impartial. All your “research” (and yes, I use quotes, because most of the links in blueprint B are not based on scientific study and those that are have been dis-proven many times over in double blind trials) is based on either really bad science, or epistemological thought (i.e. nothing is this world can be PERFECT, so there must be a problem with vaccines, and since autism, auto-immune disorders, and allergies generally show up in kids around age 2, that might be it!). Please, do yourself a favor and take a course in statistics: Correlation does not imply causation, and causation, in this case, has been ruled out by rigorous independent studies done in both Europe and the United States.

    The CDC also has multiple different vaccination schedules for parents to choose. If you have not been presented with these than you should do better research or involve a different pediatrician. You have a lot of different choices between the aggressive CDC schedule and the “no vaccines at all” hippie-fear schedule.

    Stating that those running the CDC are in any way “pro-vaccine” for personal or greedy purposes is complete and utter nonsense, not to mention libelous. Making and distributing vaccines is not a very profitable business, and developing vaccines costs billions of dollars in trials. Pfizer would much rather develop statins and Viagra than vaccines because those drugs are far more profitable. Stating this as a reason for not vaccinating your children is irresponsible and uninformed. One could make the same case here if one wanted to: Developing a vaccine controversy leads to more and more posts and more and more page-views for your website, but a post resolving all those notions and declaring vaccines safe doesn’t draw many more page-views for your site. You’re preying on people’s fears for you own personal gain! See how ridiculous that assertion is? Let’s stick with evidence of an independent nature, of which there is very little on the “no-vaccine” side, and not ad-hominem attacks on public servants who are trying to advance social medicine to benefit everyone.

    There is no debate on this topic: there is scientifically based study conforming to rigorous double blind accreditation that has found vaccines safe for 99.99999% of children….and there’s the epistemological believes given in Blueprint 2 and by ignorant mothers like Jenny McCarthy who believe that autism can be “cured” and the vaccinations cause it, simply based on anecdotal evidence from her own personal experience with her son, who, it turns out, never had autism in the first place.

    • Magda Velecky says:

      “There is no debate on this topic: there is scientifically based study conforming to rigorous double blind accreditation that has found vaccines safe for 99.99999% of children….”
      Can you post a link to this?

      • @Magda Velecky, You will need a subscription to Nature: http://goo.gl/i5aCl

        That article plus various other ones. I do not have a direct link to the white paper as it was published in nature and their publications are copyright protected.

        Here is some interesting info linked to the MMR/Autism study: http://goo.gl/f4RAN

      • @Magda Velecky, If you’re going to look at safety as a whole, you’re going to have to read scientific papers on each individual vaccine, as well as papers on the safety of vaccines given at the same time, efficacy statistics, and so on. I’m not saying you can’t do it, I’m saying that it’s going to take a significant amount of time, and you’re going to either come up with the conclusion that they’re safe, or you’re going to come up with the conclusion that there isn’t enough evidence that they’re safe, even though the anti-vaccine crowd has yet to show any evidence of disorders like autism or auto-immunity that have stemmed directly from vaccinations.

        I can tell you that most all of the vaccine detractors point to the autism study I linked to above (which has been proven as not only false, but as self-enriching for the author — basically everything Blueprint 1.0 says about the CDC) and various other anecdotal studies on auto-immune disorders that are “linked” to vaccines, but never proven. The CDC has probably done more research on the safety of vaccines in the last 5 years than the fear-mongering anti-vaccine faction has ever done. So then they tell you that these people can’t be trusted (for various reasons), just like the above post does. Only it’s the quack science coming from the anti-vaccine crowd that you should be more wary of, not the public servants at the CDC.

        I’m not saying you shouldn’t do your own research. You should, you should feel confident in your decision and if hundreds of hours of research is what you need for that, that’s ok. But keep in mind that nothing is ever a perfectly sure bet. When we’re talking about 99.99999% of 200 million people, that’s still 2000 people. Which seems significant, but really isn’t, statistically.

        Bottom line: If you think that vaccines aren’t safe, then no amount of study is going to prove to you that they are, because there will always be shreds of doubt in scientific research — otherwise it wouldn’t be scientific (the scientific method is designed to give you the information of all possible outcomes and give you the data set). In that case, I would strongly suggest you research the diseases that the vaccines are available for, the rate of infection, what treatments are available and then decide if you want to “risk it”. Myself? I would never, EVER want to risk my child getting polio, smallpox, or any of the MMR diseases (to name a few) because of the cost to their overall health and the impact to their long term standard of living, when I could vaccinate them against those diseases with little to no side effects. You may feel differently, but you should at least be well-informed. Most of the Blueprint 2.0 information is bad science, anecdotal evidence, or completely unproven theory that doesn’t stand up to the scientific method. I don’t think any of that mumbo-jumbo should sway your decision one way or another.

        • @Eric, In the next post, I believe that Christina is going to pick an individual vaccine and work through how to research it, exploring the pros and cons and how you might go about making a decision on an individual vaccination. This should be a helpful process, because you’re right, it’s important to look at each vaccination individually, as well as the issue as a whole.

    • Would also like a link to this last paragrah.
      Please be kind…and fair. I know this is an emotional topic, however, if your vaccine does what it claims to do, it should not concern you in the least whether or not the other person has had one.
      I hope none of these things ever happens to you…I sincerely do…but that’s what it took to open my own eyes.
      My son, who almost died from a vaccine, was never reported under statistics. The Dr refused to report it and claimed he was just playing a game…at 6months… Sure, I could’ve filed claim myself, but I was too busy trying to keep him alive and somewhat comfortable for the next few months.
      Statistics say what you want them to say. Study facts. Not statistics. Facts. What are the vaccines supposed to do? Do they accomplish their purpose? What are possible side-effects? Am I willing to live with any ONE of said side effects…or should I pursue holistic-health from diet, exercise and life-style?

      • @D =), My son, who almost died from a vaccine, was never reported under statistics. The Dr refused to report it and claimed he was just playing a game…at 6months… Sure, I could’ve filed claim myself, but I was too busy trying to keep him alive and somewhat comfortable for the next few months.

        While I understand you emotional attachment to the situation, this is anecdotal evidence of the worst kind — personal experience. None of the studies I am referencing involve “reporting” of vaccine related illnesses. They are double blind studies done specifically to test for problems and side effects of vaccinations, using control groups. It’s clear to me that you either don’t understand what I’m saying or refuse to believe it. Either way, anecdotal evidence such as this (which you don’t tie to a particular vaccine, and you don’t give background on what the illness was an how the vaccine caused it) just makes the mis-information regarding this topic worse.

        “Statistics say what you want them to say. Study facts. Not statistics. Facts. What are the vaccines supposed to do? Do they accomplish their purpose? What are possible side-effects? Am I willing to live with any ONE of said side effects…or should I pursue holistic-health from diet, exercise and life-style?”

        Statistical analyses are a way of reporting facts so that you can understand what to expect. Statistics done using the scientific method DO NOT say “what you want them to say” — 0.000001% of 200 million people is still 2000 people, which seems like a lot if you know a couple of them, but statistically it isn’t relevant, because there are many factors that could cause one person to have a side effect from a vaccine, and it may not be directly related to the vaccine itself. That’s the problem — there’s no way to determine whether they are 100% safe, no true scientist would ever say so. Yet it drives doubt into people’s minds who wouldn’t have the same doubts when it came to treating cancer or gout or a broken bone.

        Which is what I’m assuming you mean when you say “facts”. I’ve done nothing but give facts on this issue throughout this post, and I continue to get rebuffed with anecdotal evidence from “fact-seekers”. If you want some facts:

        1. A child is 10000 times more likely to get hit by a car prior to age 5 than to develop a vaccine related illness or side effect.
        2. A child is 500 times more likely to get hit by lightning than develop a disorder or illness related to vaccination.
        3. A child is 500 times more likely to suffer a fatal brain injury falling down the stairs of your home than to develop a disorder or illness related to vaccination.

        I could go on and on, but this is why statistics are important. There are far more dangerous things that you do every day with your child than vaccinating them against infectious disease.

        If you want to assume the risks associated with not vaccinating, that’s fine. What’s NOT ok and should NOT be tolerated are people spreading around hocus pocus information regarding the imminent danger from vaccination when I’ve yet to see a single study find a causal link.

        • @Eric,

          The CDC may be charged with recommending a vaccinated course of action to protect the population en masse. I am charged with keeping my family safe. I completely understand the logic behind cautioning people around anecdotal evidence, but if my child were one of those 2000 cases you reference and I had not done any of my own research or reading I would be crushed. Doctors and research teams (and I am related to more than a handful of wildly successful ones!) are not perfect. Ten or twenty years ago the research papers could have, and did, have very different things to say.

        • @Eric,
          Hi, I’m also curious to hear your response to D=), when she said, “Please be kind…and fair. I know this is an emotional topic, however, if your vaccine does what it claims to do, it should not concern you in the least whether or not the other person has had one” which i assume was in response to your comment above, “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.” Was just wondering how an un-vaccinated child is going to give a vaccinated child a disease that he or she is vaccinated against?

        • @Eric,
          Please, please do not continue to post in such a hateful way. This blog post, and the ensuing discussion, were meant to be productive and information, not emotionally attacking others. I have really enjoyed and been informed by all the rest, but honestly, if I were the blog author, I would be using the delete key right now.

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