Special Needs Sunday: Vaccinations for Kids: The Shot – Or Not?

09 Nov

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 humorous, but thought-provoking video (via Adventures in Babywearing)

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

The Vaccine-Autism Court Document That Every American Should Read

Vaccine articles and testimonies by medical doctors

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

Historical Facts Exposing The Dangers And Ineffectiveness of Vaccines

Personal stories of vaccine damage

Thinking differently:  Why infection and illness can be important to a child’s overall health

From other blogging moms:

Noah’s story at Adventures in Babywearing

Xavier’s story at Mama’s Nest

Monica at Healthy Green Moms

My two favorite books on the topic:

What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave, MD FAAFP with Deborah Mitchell

The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child by Robert W. Sears, MD, FAAP


22 responses to “Special Needs Sunday: Vaccinations for Kids: The Shot – Or Not?

  1. mamasnest

    November 9, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I followed you through your link and am glad I did! Thank you for providing such a well researched, personal and thought provoking post. Mom’s need more of these to counter the scare tactics of our doctors and the “invisible” trail of money we are not supposed to see.

    Even with our single vaccine and 2 rounds of synagis for our son we held our breath and held out hope that there was no long term damage done. Unfortunately, we just discovered he is testing at toxic level for Aluminums, the likely culprit? That TPN solution in NICU that was meant to keep him well.

    This situation (vaccines, our kids, the denials, the debate in general) often brings me to frustration and tears. We all want what’s best for our kids and honesty, transparency, vested interest (of the familial kind, NOT slick funding) is the only way we’ll get there.

  2. MommyWizdom

    November 9, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Psychmamma, I am so sorry for everything your little girl has been through. I fully understand why you’ve come to the decisions you’ve stated.

    In the end, I truly believe that as parents, as mothers, we have to trust our instincts! I know how difficult it is when you know those doctors are supposed to be more knowledgeable than you are… they’re supposed to know what they’re doing. But , in the end, they’re only human, just like we are. Prone to making mistakes, prone to becoming corrupt, prone to hubris…

    I think it’s great that you are at peace with your decision.

    I have chosen to vaccinate my kids; despite my chiropractor’s vehement and VERY vocal disapprovals.

    My daughter was a very healthy baby and I was ignorant when she went through the system. Fortunately, she did just fine. However, I’ve been much more careful with my son who had multiple allergies from birth. He is on a very modified vaccine schedule; one I have chosen. And I am fortunate that my doctor respects my decisions. My son is almost 16 months old and has not had the MMR yet but I do plan to do it… I’m just holding off as long as possible. The older he gets and the strong his immune system, the better his body can handle it (is my opinion).

    I have studied about the devastation of disease in third world countries. I do believe in vaccines, although you are right, they still need to be improved. I strongly support the Green our Vaccines effort too. I’ve blogged about that too.

    Thanks for such a thought provoking post. I hope you don’t get too much flack from the die-hards (from either side).

    Holy cow, did I just write a post on your blog!?

    Don’t even get me started on the milk controversy! *smirk*

  3. psychmamma

    November 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Mama’s Nest –

    So sorry to hear that Xavier is struggling with toxic levels of aluminum. Thank you for sharing your story, which helped to inspire me to share mine. I agree that it is only through openness and honesty that we can achieve any sort of change in our medical system, and that we can help each other reach fully informed decisions as parents who only want the best for their children. Sending well-wishes for Xavier your way…..

    Mommy Wizdom –

    Thank you for sharing your differing perspective so thoughtfully and respectfully. I am a little nervous about the “flak” that might come at me as a result of this post and greatly appreciate level-headedness. {wink}

    I should clarify that I, too, understand the devastation of disease in third world countries, and would need to do MUCH more research before I even began to address the topic of vaccinations globally. I’m glad that we agree that no matter what, much more research is necessary to improve vaccination safety.

    If we were doing extensive overseas traveling or exposing Jenna to people who do, our decision may have been different – I’m not sure. Some day, when she’s older and stronger, not at the peak of neurological development, and not struggling so much with SBS, we may revisit the subject, especially if we decide to do more international travel.

    P.S. I’d love to read your thoughts on the milk controversy! I think you have the makings of a post, right there. {wink, wink}

  4. Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle

    November 9, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you for writing this post. I think it is so important to think about this topic before your baby is born and not just assume everything will be okay. Parents should be making truly informed decisions and recognize that it is not an all or nothing choice.

  5. Insta-Mom

    November 10, 2008 at 1:25 am

    I am going to have to come back and read this more thoroughly when I’m not so exhausted from this weekend. So far, the twins have gotten all AAP recommended vaccines. But given their prematurity and lung problems, I have such mixed feelings. I vacillate constantly. Thank you for such a well-researched and informative post. Can wait to read it again when I can actually focus for more than three sentences!

  6. Issa

    November 10, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I vacillate on this one. Because the girls were in day care as infants, I had them both on the schedule the doc gave us. But after Bailey got super freaking sick at about 18 months after a round of shots, we started doing them slowly. Morgan is about a year behind on her shots. We do them, just over time. Bailey has a lot of allergies and is an asthmatic (I am too) so I’m even more careful with hers now. Also as she’d gotten closer to two years old, I started worrying more and more and yeah…she’s four now and almost a year and a half behind on shots. It just freaks me out. I flat out won’t do certain ones….chicken pox and hep B are on that list. MMR & Polio, the thought of the disease scares me too much not to do it.

    With the baby, I flat out refused the Hep B. Hell no, I won’t go. He’s had no shots so far. (except the K at birth.) Since I’m considering staying home and not putting him in daycare at all, I may just not give him shots until he goes to kindergarten. That’s what my new pediatrician recommends. If they are going into daycare, she recommends doing some, but over time. But if not, she says to wait until they are over four years old. Also, the chicken pox, she won’t give it to anyone unless they specifically ask. I puffy heart her.

    I will say, my kids go to a choice school, so while we had to sign a waiver, we’ve had no one harass us about vaccines. Which is nice, because I honestly have no clue if I’m doing the right thing or not.

  7. psychmamma

    November 10, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Issa –

    *I* puffy heart your pediatrician and want to take J to her!! 🙂 How great to have found such a wonderful doc! Our pediatrician hasn’t pushed about J’s vax, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t agree with me.

    Thanks for sharing your stories! It’s a tough decision for all parents to make.

  8. Mama Ginger Tree

    November 10, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    First off, I am AMAZED at the amount of research and time you put into this post. You are awesome.

    My mom was a public health nurse for 30+ years, so when I had kids I didn’t even question the vaccinations. I do have an excellent pediatrician who always explained the vacs to me and asked me a lot of questions before putting together my kids vacs schedule. I felt like she wasn’t just sticking them for no reason.

    I am now thankful that we made it out of those many early shots with no complications. However, one of my daughters did get chicken pox from the pox vaccine.

    My eyes were opened when a good friend of mine had preemie twins. Her son required lots of drugs in order to save his life in the NICU. Seven years later, she believes those drugs and their additives caused his autism.

    Thanks for writing this. I will point a few of my first time expecting mom friends over to check it out. The more information the better!

  9. Monica

    November 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I’m so glad you did this post and shared Jenna’s story. Amazing, so thank you for that. My heart goes out to you as parents for how much you all have endured. Jenna is a little treasure, you have shared beautiful pictures of her 🙂

    Thanks also for referencing my vaccination post in your article. I think the more information is shared, the more we can reach a point where we as parents are encouraged to make informed decisions. If a parent chooses to vaccinate, my hope is that their decision is made from thoroughly researching the information (pro and con) and making “informed consent”.

    Too often we (as a culture) readily accept new methods as dictated to us based on “scientifically proven” research. If I had a dime for every time my health unit cited something for my daughter as being scientifically sound. I have learned in this past 19 month as a parent to be so much more independent in thought and to take time to think things through before committing to any particular recommended practice.

    A big confirmation for me about being extra cautious was when many of the child cold medications were recalled for having extremely harmful side effects. All of the ingredients were previously “scientifically approved” as being safe for children. Hmmmm? This drug culture is an amazing specimen in itself!

    Your article has been really well put together with fabulous references for further information. Kudos!

  10. jess

    November 10, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    every single kid i know that is the same age as both of my children has been vaccinated for chicken pox.

    however, this year at our elementary school, at least 9 kids got the chicken pox and i’ve heard of several others, too.

    i’m not sure i made the right decisions to vaccinate.

    i’m not sure i made the wrong ones.

    i only know that it was right at the time. i do not know if i would do the same thing again today.

    i’m very impressed with your research.

  11. Maura

    November 11, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Such a complicated issue and made even more difficult by the undeniable fact that the interests of the drug companies aren’t always compatible with our needs as consumers.

    I don’t have a horse in this race, so to speak, so I can’t offer an opinion but your presenting all the information in a straightforward, thoughtful fashion can only help further the discussion for parents who do have to struggle with these kinds of decisions.

  12. Green Me

    November 11, 2008 at 2:21 am

    For the most part we’ve done what was recommended. I was very concerned about the autism risk, but after talking to my son’s pediatrician who has practiced for 25 years I felt much better about it…the one thing he doesn’t see any need for are the Hep B & A vaccines, so my son has not received those.

    I also know one mom/family that has a history of reacting to proteins in vacs, so they are skipping some and doing a delayed schedule. I guess the thing that bugs me, is that folks tend to get freaked out and not vax even healthy kids, which puts the kids who really can’t or shouldn’t vax for real health reasons more at risk.

    One of the things my ped discussed with us when we were talking about 12 month vaccines is the various risks. I don’t remember the real numbers/ratios, but for example, with chicken pox — the risk that you will die from contracting the disease itself is actually higher than any risks associated with the vaccine, thus our ped recommends the vaccine (I had no idea people actually die from chicken pox).

    On one hand I think we are inclined to assume the risk of mother nature is less than the risk of the vaccine, but that is not always the case…and it also varies from person to person. Definitely worth doing your research and if your ped won’t discuss your questions respectfully, I’d find a new one!

  13. Heather~Domestic Extraordinaire

    November 11, 2008 at 11:56 am

    The only vaccination that I declined (because I did research and was informed on it) was the chicken pox vaccine. I have never developed an immunity to chicken pox and my family doctor told me that there was a possibility that I could get chicken pox from the girls getting their vaccines. Their ped. was furious and really tried to scare me into getting them the vaccine. Once when the Chicken was getting some boosters they tried to sneak it in on me. I was furious! That particular vaccine doesn’t even stop chicken pox, it lessens the chance that you would get a “bad” outbreak. Most parents just assume that it will make it so they won’t get it.

    You did a lot of research and should be proud. I learned a lot reading your post and if I had to do it all over again I doubt I would vaccinate.

  14. jen

    November 11, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    well thought out and researched post. i’m gonna follow some of those links eventually.
    we have a wonderful ped. that has developed an alternative schedule for me to follow with both the girls.

    i’ve requested vacs that are separated (the m, the m and the r), left and rescheduled if they didn’t have a mercury free vac available (believe it or not) and completely put cora my youngest on the alternative schedule. yes…we end up going in more often…but i’ll take that option.

    i’ve realized that it just takes trusting your dr. and research. well…that and being prepared to stand up for what you believe in when confronted with someone who’s opinion you don’t trust.

    good job.

  15. anymommy

    November 11, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Really well done, well researched and thought provoking writing on such a hot button issue. I enjoyed it immensely.

    I struggled with this issue a bit, although, I have to say not that much, and did a lot of reading. I like Dr. Sears book a lot. I came down mainly provaccination, but on the modified schedule that Dr. Sears and others recommend. In particular, the single day dose of aluminum concerned me. My rule is no more than two vaccinations on a given day. I’ve done both Hep series and chicken pox on all my kids as they come up, spacing out to two visits where necessary.

    My kids are big (above the 50th percentile) and have no health issues and I think the weight of the arguments changes completely for low weight, more fragile children.

    But, that said, I have to confess that I am pretty provaccine and I say that with the utmost respect for your research, your concerns and your position. I too have done a lot of traveling and the worldwide and US benefits of most vaccines for devastating child hood illnesses far outweigh the risks in my opinion. (I’m leaving aside chicken pox, heps, flu, rsv, I consider those optional and up to the parent, well all vaccines are but I think you know what I mean.)

    Here is my stance, and I know it’s probably an unpopular one, longstanding vaccines for illnesses like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, etc., have (for most children) very small to nonexistent risks far outweighed by the benefits for society as a whole. When a parent refuses these vaccines, based on that small risk for their child, what is actually happening, is that they are deciding to let the rest of the children (the vaccinated children) shoulder the small risk for them. That unvaccinated child gets both benefits, the small risk of the vaccine is gone, he/she didn’t receive it, AND the child is protected by the vaccination of the herd (terrible I know, but that’s the truth). The likelihood of the child contracting a terrible, deadly disease is small, because most kids in the herd are receiving the vaccine, taking on the small risk and providing massive health benefits to the whole.

    Another way to say this is that if measles incidence in children under five in the USA were 40%, would you hesitate to vaccinate for measles? I do not in any way mean you, as in you, you, the lovely Psychmamma, I mean in general. Probably not, for most. But it’s not, it’s virtually nonexistent because the herd is vaccinated.

    Which, (here’s my point) is why parents have the option to refuse vaccines (I’m assuming here that parents would not refuse vaccines if these illnesses were likely and common as they once were). The luxury for some of refusing vaccines rests on the fact that most of us shoulder that small risk for our children.

    So that’s my two cents. I am in no way saying that parents shouldn’t refuse if that’s where their heart and mind lead them. It’s a difficult choice and there are good, solid, medical and ethical arguments for skipping some (or for some children all) vaccines. I guess I want to talk for the other side a bit, give CDC a little bit of an “I get it” because I think the organization as a whole has the best interest of children at heart, and say that when refusing vaccines, and in particular I mean the big ones, the ones that prevent deadly, crippling diseases, we should tip our hat to the herd a little.


  16. Blessed

    November 12, 2008 at 10:13 am

    This is an issue my hubby and I argue about a lot! He is of the “all vaccines are evil” mindset and I’m of the “some of them are fine, some of them are unnecessary” mindset – fortunately our Pediatrician is patient and explains things well… I have opted out of a few of the vaccines but insisted that our healthy little girl get others, so I get flak from the pro-vaccine people and from my in-laws…

    Thank you for a well thought out post!

  17. Michelle

    November 12, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    This is something I totally wish I’d known more about when the wee ones were smaller. We’re mostly through vaccinations now, unfortunately. And the aluminum? I’d never heard of that before, but that’s really scary. As It is, I need to get Mister Man tested on the zinc side to see if low levels of zinc are contributing to his sensory issues possibly. The one thing I’m grateful for is that many of the “new” vaccines came out after the wee ones were infants, so we escaped them (of course Mister Man was hospitalized for four days for rotovirus and Little Miss has RSV this spring). Informative, and scary.

  18. Adventures In Babywearing

    November 16, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    I know how much of your heart has been put into this! Great job!


  19. Sarah

    May 15, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Wow, so so impressed with your research and conviction with this issue. Thank you so much for putting this info out there. And thank you for watching!!!

  20. Rachelle S.

    May 26, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Wow! This is awesome! You have truly done your research. I have 6 children & do not vaccinate! I did with my oldest daughter (she’s 15), but when I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter Oprah had a show with some women who’s children had some horrible reactions (one woman’s child had even died from the vaccines) so that got me thinking that I needed to do more. It was my responsibility to find out what these shots were doing to my child. Thirteen years ago there wasn’t as much information & support as there is now. It was very taboo & I dealt with a lot of crap from our doctors. In fact the pediatricians we went to sent us a letter shortly after I told them we weren’t vaccinating anymore telling us that they could no longer see my children if I refused the shots. Shortly after baby #2 we moved to Utah where I met 2 women who did not vaccinate. One of them had a baby die at 2 months old, he was a premature baby & was not a full sized 2 month old, but was given the doze for one & within 2 hours of having his first set of shots he was dead. This committed me to do even more research.

    I’m very grateful that you’ve posted this information, it’s been a long time since I’ve done the research & I have felt recently like I needed a refresher course. I know that this choice that I’ve made for my children is the right one. There have been many times when I have felt like something would have happened to my 2nd daughter if I had vaccinated her. It’s hard to argue with the doctors but I feel it’s worth it. After all it’s our job as parents to do whatever we have to to protect our children!

    Thanks again!

  21. Tiffany Magee

    November 30, 2009 at 2:02 am

    My twins were preemies, born at 26.3 wks. They are now 6 and completely healthy (thank God!). I just now started reading information on vaccines, mostly brought on by the whole H1N1 scare. I am just sick that I didn’t know this all before. My children had the whole schedule of vaccinations, not to mention TPN, Reglan and Synagis while in the NICU and until they were 6 months old. I am so furious that I didn’t know there was any controversy about any of this! I was so worried about my babies’ survival in the NICU that I just assumed that what the doctors and nurses told me they needed was just that…what they NEEDED to survive. Even though they are both healthy and were right on track from the time they reached 18 mos, I so wish I could have this part of their childhood to do over again! I feel so guilty that I didn’t know about this!

  22. psychmamma

    December 1, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Tiffany –

    Wow! Six months in NICU!! We were there 3 months, and it felt like forever. I’m so glad the twins are doing well now. I don’t think you should beat yourself up about not knowing all of this before. First of all, it’s overwhelming enough just to have kiddos in the NICU. Besides that, we just cannot be perfect. We can’t know everything, and we just have to do the best job we can with what we’ve got. It sounds like the twins are doing great, so that’s fantastic. Now, maybe you can share the information you know with other expectant (or new) moms! And you can still arm yourself with knowledge for issues like the current H1N1 scare. It’s never to late to learn something new. =)


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