Here it is. The controversial post that I’ve been promising, and that I struggled to write exactly BECAUSE the subject is so very important to me. I was certain that I couldn’t do it justice. That I couldn’t put my thoughts and feelings into words that would adequately explain without stimulating controversy and heated discussion. Ultimately, I decided to just share my heart and let the controversy come, if it comes. Here’s my “disclaimer”: I know that the subject of vaccinating or not vaccinating children is controversial and polarizing. I’m sharing our decision and the thoughts and information that helped us reach it with the purpose of perhaps helping someone else who might be struggling with the decision. The information that I present here is “one-sided” because I feel there is a plethora of information that is easily available from the “pro-vaccination” side. It’s a little more difficult to find factual, evidence-based, medical/scientific information from the other side. Finally, I realize that your decision might not be the same as ours. That’s fine. My only request is that you thoughtfully consider what I present here. I hope that your decision is fully informed, and that, in the future, it will only become easier and easier for all parents to find balanced facts and literature in order to make a fully informed decision.
As you read this post, I have carefully tried to cite my sources. At the end of some statistics and statements, you’ll find asterisks (**) that you can click to follow the link to the cited source. Other links may appear as text highlighted in a different color that you can click for further information.
Weirdly, (and unfortunately) before Jenna was born, we never really talked about whether or not to vaccinate. I worked for chiropractors in the past who did not vaccinate their children and who were vocal about the reasons they didn’t, so I had already heard a little bit from both sides of the argument. I’m not sure why we didn’t research and talk about it more before she was born. Maybe because of all the other issues we were preparing for with her birth? We didn’t realize it, but that’s exactly why it was even more important that we be researching, asking questions and coming to a decision. It’s one thing that I would change about my pregnancy if I could. It’s the one thing that I would encourage anyone expecting a child to add to their “to do” list. Research both sides of the vaccination issue, discuss it with your partner, and be confident and fully informed in whatever decision you make.
It started when Jenna was born. She was whisked away to the NICU, out of my sight, tenuously holding onto life and taking my heart with her. Not long after, a nurse appeared with a form for us to sign that would grant permission for her first vaccination: Hep B. We declined. I had already done my homework for this one and knew these facts:
- Those most at risk for Hep B are IV drug users, homosexual men, prostitutes and those with multiple sexual partners. **
- Overall, Americans have a 5% average lifetime risk of Hep B infection, and most of that risk is during adulthood. The group with the highest reported incidence is 20-39 years. **
- The Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) has so far received over 60,000 reports of adverse effects associated with the Hep B vaccine. **
They didn’t push at first. As Jenna’s stay in the NICU stretched to three months, they began pushing more (and harder) for the Hep B vaccine. I won’t ever forget when one of the neonatologists sat down with me in the NICU to convince me to administer Hep B. One week earlier, Jenna’s condition had become critical, and she had required a blood transfusion. We balked (briefly) when they said she needed one immediately. We asked if we could donate, but they said it would take too long to “clear” our blood as safe. They assured us that this was exactly why we could feel comfortable with the transfusion. All blood is now rigorously screened before being approved as “safe” and incidence of disease or contamination are highly rare. Fast forward to the conversation with the neonatologist about a week later. He reminds me that we still haven’t given Jenna Hep B. I give all my reasons and cite the stats listed above. He gets more frustrated and resorts to scare tactics. He asks, how horrible would I feel if Jenna was in an accident or had a medical need for a blood transfusion, and she contracted Hep B as a result of my decision to not vaccinate her. WHAT??? I looked at him and incredulously asked, didn’t you all ASSURE us one week ago that chances of that are extremely slim?? He sheepishly agreed but stated that the chance is still there, even if it’s remote. I asked if there was a “remote” possibility that she could be injured or harmed from the vaccination. He sheepishly agreed that there was. The bottom line: at the very least, if we put the two sides on a scale to weigh them, the chance of her being harmed by a vaccination was slim, and the chance of her contracting Hep B was also very slim. We chose to opt for the side that didn’t inject chemicals and preservatives into our fragile daughter’s bloodstream. Her body was dealing with enough. He backed off.
I think this was the point where I realized I needed to start researching with a vengeance. I wanted to be fully informed and to make the right choices. I started gathering books, videos and materials and searching the internet. My search was still in the beginning stages when they told us Jenna could go home. We were so excited to be finally taking her home after three months, but we were also horribly nervous and frightened. She was coming home on oxygen, a feeding tube and an apnea monitor. The responsibility would now be ours completely and it was overwhelming. This is when the doctors told us that it was vital to have her vaccinated. We were taking her into the scary, germy world (not their words, but the general message that came across) and she was at high risk of contracting serious illness that could kill her. The common cold that many kids cycle through could have devastating consequences for Jenna. We gave in. We agreed to a modified vaccination schedule that would space the shots out.
Jenna received all the AAP recommended vax for her first year. We brought her home in April, and for the entire stretch of time from April through her first birthday in January, she struggled with horrible diarrhea and vomiting. This was medically believed to be due to her intestinal birth defect, and there’s absolutely no way to KNOW any differently, but there’s a part of my brain that wonders about the effects of the vaccinations. Here’s why. In the fall before her first birthday, we were lectured on the horrors of RSV. Jenna’s lung status was still fragile and she struggled to breathe every day. The movie that the doctors had us watch and the information they presented were enough to convince us (hesitantly) to agree to administer Synagis to protect against RSV. These were started at the end of October and were to continue through the winter. She had to receive two shots of Synagis each month. Starting in November, her diarrhea and vomiting worsened considerably. Somehow, we didn’t make the connection with Synagis. We just assumed it was from SBS. For two months we watched our miserable baby lose weight while her poor little bottom was raw and bleeding and she suffered constant vomiting and diarrhea. We tried changing her feedings in various ways as well as adjusting her other vitamins and supplements. Nothing worked.
I started researching Synagis. Here’s what I found:
- Only two clinical trials were performed before its approval. One trial with 1500 children and one with 1200. **
- Trial 1 found that Synagis reduced hospitalizations for RSV by 50%. Trial 2 found hospitalizations reduced by 45% **
- The other 50 and 55% who were injected with Synagis but still had to be hospitalized had no reduction in symptoms, that is, they were affected by RSV just as severely as those not vaccinated. **
- Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis and reproductive toxicity studies have not been performed. **
- Upper respiratory tract infection, otitis media, fever, and rhinitis occurred at a rate of 1% or greater in the Synagis group compared to the placebo group (RSV is a lower respiratory tract infection). **
- Other adverse reactions include anaphylaxis, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, gastroenteritis, cough and wheezing. **
- These adverse reactions have been reported to VAERS: blood and lymphatic system disorders, respiratory failure, cyanosis, anaphylaxis, hypotonia, unresponsiveness, dyspnea, angioedema, pruritus, urticaria, and injection site reactions. **
We also started thinking more about “following the money.” There are many serious conflicts of interest in the system of researching vaccinations, announcing their safety, and promoting them to the public. Do you know that the CDC gives hundreds of millions of dollars to state health departments in the form of immunization grants? States have to prove that they’ve administered a certain number of vaccines to get the funds. Do you think that affects the way states promote vaccines? Here’s more information on this subject from Monica at Healthy Green Moms:
“Here is an example of just one such conflict of interest. Notice the name Paul Offit in the article. He is the chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He denied any contribution vaccines had in an autism court case. Continue reading as you will see that “Dr. Offit is also one of the patent holders of the rotavirus vaccine (Patent Application number 353547), and the recipient of a $350,000 grant from Merck for its development. Additionally, he is a consultant to Merck Pharmaceuticals.” This is just one of many conflicts of interest! Most of pro vaccination “reasons” relayed to you by doctors, etc. are from studies funded by the pharmaceutical companies. The bottom line is that the current vaccine policy is BIG business. Remember, the purpose of a publicly traded corporation, such as MERCK, is a responsibility to its shareholders. Period. A reduced vaccine schedule means less money for the shareholders. Plain & simple. I have no problem with people making a profit, just not at the expense of human lives.”
My own experience also factored into the decision we ultimately made. I’ve worked with many families of children with autism. I know that the prevailing scientific literature (that we’re seeing) assures us that there is no connection between vaccinations and autism. I also know what the families of children with autism are saying. As scientific as my brain tends to be, I simply can’t overlook the overwhelming “coincidence” in the timing of vaccinations (especially the MMR) and the beginning of symptoms of autism. I think that much more research is called for in this area.
One more piece of information that I think is important for all parents to know is regarding the aluminum content in vaccines. Babies with SBS, premature babies, and babies with other serious health conditions receive TPN (via IV) to supply the necessary calories and nutrients for survival. TPN contains aluminum. Studies say that if premature babies get more than 10 micrograms of aluminum per day in their IV, it can accumulate in their bones and brain at toxic levels. ** Studies also say that aluminum toxicity is not rare in babies receiving TPN. ** Keeping that in mind, here’s the aluminum content in vaccines (from Dr. Sears book):
- HIB – 225 micrograms per shot
- Pc – 125 micrograms
- DTaP – 170-625 micrograms (depending on manufacturer)
- Hep B – 250 micrograms
- Hep A – 250 micrograms
- HPV – 225 micrograms
- Pentacel – 330 micrograms
- Pediarix – 850 micrograms
So, at a baby’s first big dose of shots at two months, the total dose of aluminum can vary from 295 micrograms to 1225 micrograms, depending on the brands and if Hep B is administered at the same time. Dr. Sears summarizes by saying there is good evidence that large amounts of aluminum are harmful to humans, but there is no solid evidence that the amount of aluminum in vaccines is harmful to infants and children because no one has studied it specifically to make sure it’s safe (pg. 205). More information on aluminum and vaccine safety can be found at Aluminum and Vaccine Ingredients: What Do We Know? What Don’t We Know? by Lawrence B. Palevsky, MD, FAAP
Finally, I specifically researched the MMR vaccine further. The MMR shot contains three live viruses. The measles virus is transported to the intestinal tract where it multiplies and first activates. Even if we took the controversial MMR/autism link accusation out of the equation, the fact that the MMR vaccine first “activates” in the intestines gave us second thoughts about administering it to Jenna, when her intestine is currently so fragile. It just doesn’t make any sense to us to purposefully inject a virus along with questionable carrier adjuvants into her already damaged intestinal system. (Refer here for a list of studies outlining risks associated with vaccine adjuvants).
After much, MUCH research, thought, careful consideration and heartfelt discussion, we decided to stop Synagis and all other vax after Jenna’s injection that December. In January, her diarrhea and vomiting stopped. We (unfortunately) can’t be sure that this can be credited to stopping Synagis, but I can tell you that she was a different, happier, healthier girl from that point forward, and she hasn’t received another vaccination since.
Yes, she’s been sick (she’s had three ear infections, one bout of bronchitis, and one hospitalization for pneumonia). We know that she will be sick occasionally, and that her body is capable of fighting off disease and illness. We know that she might develop some of the diseases that she’s not vaccinated for. So might other children who are vaccinated (do you know that most of the outbreaks of diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough are often traced to the children who were vaccinated? **) Most of all, we know that there are many ways to prevent and treat disease and we choose to do it vaccine-free.
No matter what your opinion on this issue is, please at least consider this list and read these precautions before vaccinating your child. Talk to your doctor if:
- You child is even mildly ill.
- If your child has any known allergies
- If your child has had even one “minor” reaction to a vaccine. Vitamin C may help protect from adverse reactions. **
- If your child has taken any steroid, anticancer drugs or undergone X-ray treatment in the last three months.
- If anyone who cares for your child has cancer, AIDS, leukemia or any other immune system disorder.
- If your child has a seizure or brain disorder.
- If your child received a blood or plasma transfusion or was given immune (gamma) globulin within the past year.
Report ANY adverse reactions or suspected reactions to VAERS and your doctor.
Additinal information and links:
My number one recommendation: a DVD called The Greater Good
State laws regarding vaccinations and attending school here
An article written by a physician here
Evidence of Harm – David Kirby
A CNN article here
An article (in response to Amanda Peet’s statement) about what people in-the-know have been saying this year
A video with Mary Tocco who has spent years researching vaccinations
Where to purchase Dr. Sherry Tenpenny’s DVD- Vaccines: The Risks, The Benefits, The Choices (for information on what would realistically happen if you or your child would get a certain disease and how to treat it)
Is it really vaccines that saved us? Take a look at these charts
From other blogging moms:
Monica at Healthy Green Moms
My two favorite books on the topic: