Last week we started discussing the controversial topic of vaccination. It has been very encouraging to see the responses it has generated, and to get to discuss a topic so near to our hearts!
We began by taking a look at the Foundational beliefs we can use to anchor and base our "Vaccine-Stance." We briefly looked at two Blueprints, one being the CDC's recommended vaccination schedule, and the other being a more cautionary approach to vaccines.
Today I will present 10 Tools for sifting through all the Blueprint-variations out there and framing your own Family Vaccine Plan. It may look different than mine or your best friend's- it may even be different for different children. That is better than "ok"-- that is wonderful! As a parent, you know your own child, your family history, and your situation better than anyone else. My desire is to empower you to metaphorically "build your own house!"
God is in Control
But before we dive in, I want us to remember one crucial point, the Bedrock upon which any "Foundation" and "Framework" is laid: God is ultimately in control; over our children, their lives, and their health. How freeing that Truth is!! We can find immense comfort in knowing that He not only has ordained each of their days, but has even determined when and where they would live-- all with the goal of bringing them to Himself (Psalm 139:13-16, Acts 17:26-27), the Source of Eternal, Overflowing Joy!
What if this little blog series leads you to research aspects of vaccination that cause you to regret a past course of action? What if you're now thinking "I vaccinated my first child on the CDC schedule without thinking, and now I'm really wishing I hadn't"? Praise the Lord, God is still sovereign, and He is full of grace! Even if we did do everything "right" medically with our children (which we won't)-- the Lord could call them Home through any "accident" any day. Our responsibility is as limited as we are. There are so many factors outside of our control; air pollution, traffic, animals, storms... Just as we trust Him with those factors, so we must trust Him with disease and medical decisions.
May we always act in faith, not fear. We might say, "whether you vaccinate, or don't vaccinate, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God..." (1 Cor 10:31)
Image by fauxto-dkp
10 Questions you can use to decide whether a vaccine is appropriate to your child at this point in his life:
- What disease(s) is this vaccine aiming to protect against?
- What is the a) probable outcome of this disease, and b) worst-case scenario outcome?
- Today, is this disease treatable and/or preventable by other/natural means?
- What are possible dangers in this type of vaccine (look up whole list of ingredients)?
- What is the a) probable outcome of this vaccine, and b) worst-case scenario outcome?
- How much has this vaccine been tested, and are those tests by objective testers?
- How effective is the vaccine?
- Are there any benefits to gaining immunity to this disease through actual infection, rather than through the vaccine?
- What is the rationale behind getting the vaccine? Is this valid/applicable to my situation, particularly my child's age?
- Is the disease generally worse than the vaccine?
Now before you freak out and think "that's a LOT of questions!," be assured that at least numbers 1-3, 9, and perhaps 10, should be answerable with a quick (but thorough!) search in a medical handbook, reputable website or even by asking your doctor. Look it up on wikipedia, using the footnoted references to go one level deeper. You may be able to stop there (for example, we felt the varicella, or chicken pox, vaccine was fairly obvious at this point).
Look up vaccine information from the manufacturers (your pediatrician can copy the info off of the vaccine box for you, or at least give you the name of the company and you can look it up on the CDC website) to answer numbers 4 & 5. Numbers 6-8 are the hardest to find answers on, and you may need to enlist a medically knowledgeable source to rightly read study results and findings, but there are GREAT books out there to help with that! You can do this!! (More on the research aspect will come in the final blog post.)
Image by petter palander
Let me go step through one vaccine to show you how one might reason through a vaccine and come to a decision. I'll do today's most-used polio vaccine, the IPV (inactivated polio virus).
2. What is the a) probable outcome of this disease? a) 95% of polio infections cause no symptoms at all. In 5% of cases, mild symptoms such as headache, fever & sore throat develop (source). b) worst-case scenario outcome? In 1% of cases the virus enters the central nervous system, targeting motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness & temporary (rarely permanent) paralysis and, in rare cases, to respiratory arrest/death if respiratory support is not available (source). Most paralysis cases are temporary. (read more here). Polio levels were fairly constant until the 1880's, when the first polio epidemics began, primarily in cities in the summer months. (source)
3. Today, is this disease treatable and/or preventable by other/natural means? Yes. Because of how this disease is passed on (the fecal-to-oral route, i.e. lack of sewage disposal, contaminated food, unwashed hands etc.), hygiene is a huge preventative measure. If the worst case occurs, proper stimulation of affected limbs, ventilator-aided breathing and therapy (lots of massage) to regain muscle tone is key. A vitamin-rich diet is a huge preventative measure: vitamin C seems to be a great preventative as well as a factor in how disease affects an infected person. B vitamins seem to be protectors from paralysis. Read a Time Magazine featurette or Dr. Klenner, a hospital doctor from the '70's, studies, also here). It also stands to reason that a healthy intestinal immune system full of good bacteria and properly low pH (acidic) is a first-line barrier keeping the virus out of the blood stream (where it causes the worst damage).
4. What are possible dangers in this type of vaccine (look up whole list of ingredients)? Potentially hazardous ingredients: formaldehyde (toxic), monkey kidney tissue,* the antibiotics neomycin & streptomycin(linked to ear damage).
*Let's talk about that monkey tissue. Diseases which monkeys carry harmlessly are often deadly to humans. One such virus, SV-40 (simain virus 40-- "simian" means monkey) was accidentally given to at least 30 million (some estimate as high as 200 million worldwide) children up until 1963 via polio vaccinations. It is still being treated today in the form of numerous cancers, many of which do not respond to standard treatment. (Some evidence has shown that SV-40 has even been passed from vaccinated-infected-mothers to their children in the form of brain tumors!) While monkey tissues used are now tested for SV-40 and a growing number of other diseases, the threat of viral contamination is still very high, and utterly probable. (Some postulate that HIV is the human version of SIV, which infects 50% of all African green monkeys; the kind most used to culture polio vaccines). Several doctors have warned that only about 2% of existing monkey viruses are known and are tested for, and since you can't test for something you don't know is there, there is literally no way to know what is potentially in a batch of vaccines. [The Virus and the Vaccine (2005) is completely devoted to this topic. A book with a summary we found helpful is The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults.]
5. What is the a) probable outcome of this vaccine? Due to the highly probably contamination of the monkey tissue used to culture the disease, an undetected viral contamination is quite likely, even if the patient has no immediately observed reaction to the shot. b) worst-case scenario outcome? Our child does receive a contaminated vaccine and suffers a life-altering (or death-causing) complication later in life.
6. How much has this vaccine been tested, and are those tests by objective testers? So far I have found no studies at all, much less those of a vaccinated group contrasted with an unvaccinated control group.
7. How effective is the vaccine? Difficult to say; the definition of "polio" as counted by the CDC has become drastically more restrictive since the development of the vaccine, which further confounds the problem of judging its effectiveness; the numbers are falsely lowered. Now a patient must exhibit the worst possible symptoms in order to be counted as having polio, as opposed to having mild symptoms and being counted (as before).
8. Are there any benefits to gaining immunity to this disease through actual infection, rather than through the vaccine? Not in so many words.
9. What is the rationale behind getting the vaccine? Is this valid/applicable to my situation (especially my child's age)? Polio is exceedingly rare in the US today, and is both preventable and treatable. Any vaccine is a tax on a still-developing immune system (source here and here) of an infant under 2. Also, our daughter in particular is allergic to certain antibiotics, so we limit her antibiotic exposure as much as possible. Since the likelyhood of our children contracting polio is so low, we would prefer to wait indefinitely on this vaccine.
10. Is the disease generally worse than the vaccine? That's a tough call, but I think not. While the worst-case scenario is awful, the usual course of polio (especially in a well-nourished individual) is to be completely asymptomatic, while the vaccine with its potential contaminants is a huge unknown. In other words, we prefered the known (low) risk of the wild virus to the unknown (potentially huge) risk of this particular vaccine.
How this "Framed Up" for us: we judged polio, which is rare in the US today and has no symptoms in 95% of people, to be less risky than a vaccine possibly tainted with (a) simian virus(es) (effect/s unknown). We will actively bolster our children's immune systems- including the gut!- through a nutritionally-rich & varied diet full of vitamins (including C & B as well as probiotics), as well as breastfeeding through 18 months. We have access to good medical care should a serious case of poliomyelitis strike despite our best efforts.
Phew! One vaccine down, just 10 more to go! :) Seriously, though, I hope this has whet your appetite for investigating each vaccine individually. If you would like to see more examples of the "Toolbox" being deployed, you may want to visit my blog post thinking through the varicella vaccine, as well as a brief treatment of all today's CDC- recommended vaccines.
Tune in next week for an annotated list of resources (on all sides of the vaccine issue), as well as some concluding thoughts on the CDC vaccine schedule as a whole. Hopefully these three posts will inspire and help you to frame your own "Family Vaccine Plan!"