2 sides, 2 good moms, 2 tough choices

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to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question. and a biggun at that. i started studying the options about thirteen years ago, when we had to decide whether or not to vaccinate our firstborn. at that time, it was still highly unusual not to vaccinate; but, being the sort who enjoys bucking the system on occasion and considering this was something that could affect the life of my child forever, i wanted to get a clearer picture of what was going on with vaccinations. smockdaddy and i read several articles, a few books, talked to different parents and weighed the pros and cons to the best of our ability. and then we decided to vaccinate. in the interest of full disclosure, we did opt out of the varicella vaccine as it was still relatively new when "big d" was still wee. his doctor - whom i adored - didn't bat an eye over our decision. he said he understood our concerns and noted only that we may need to apply for an exemption later on when we started school.

call me naïve, but i never even considered that the choice could be something that could cause any negative response. that is, until i actually witnessed a bitter argument firsthand. at an impromptu play date gathering at a local park, i witnessed two moms get into a virtual shouting match over their vaccinated and non-vaccinated children. being the nosy parker that i am, i intervened by asking the pro-vac mom what the big deal was. if her son was vaccinated, what the heck was she so worried about? she then began to argue about social responsibility -- to which i inwardly scoffed, writing her off as a wacko socialist. [this was 12 years ago; i've mellowed somewhat.] anyway, after some very awkward silence, the non-vac mom finally bundled up her son and left. it wasn't my intention to "pick sides" - i honestly didn't see the big deal. for either side. and i ended up leaving the park very upset by the whole situation because i just didn't like seeing a mom in the minority being treated like an outcast.

fast forward twelve years and the decision to abstain from vaccines has become more popular. and now i am the one who finds myself being treated like a social pariah. and, because i have lots of crunchy friends (hi guys!) who choose not to vaccinate, i've been asked to defend my decision to vaccinate on more than one occasion. i don't like being put on the defensive, so i've put even more time into researching the more liberal/freethinking/crunchy side of the argument. but i still respectfully disagree with it.

as i understand it, moms who choose not to vaccinate sometimes claim that preservatives (in particular, thimerosal) in vaccines may be linked to autism. thimerosal was removed from infant vaccines in 1999; and even after thimerosal was removed from infant vaccines, the autism rate has continued to climb. the cdc, the american academy of pediatrics, the institute of medicine and several other prestigious medical organizations maintain there is no known link between vaccines and autism. studies published in the new england journal of medicine and elsewhere also have found no link. now, i'm the most subjective person i know. i'm all about the gut reaction, feelings, and emotions. hello? my mantra is "math is hard" so exactly how scientific do you think i am? but the cdc? aap? the new england journal of medicine? these are all highly regarded sources with huge reputations to uphold. are we supposed to believe that this is some gi-normous medical cover-up they are all involved in together?

seriously, what motivates some to completely ignore the majority of the scientific data out there? one cannot write them all off as conspiracy theorists. and, to be fair, some moms that i've spoken with agree that there isn't enough scientific data to prove a link, but they contend that the bottom line for them is this: if there is even a remote chance that vaccines are related to autism, it is a risk they are not willing to take. i say, fair enough. but speaking of risks, there is another side to this coin.

the answer to the debate is not as simple as it seemed to me back on that playground twelve years ago. it was easy to be cavalier back then, but with recurring outbreaks of infectious diseases, i'm even more concerned about this debate now than ever before. even as a parent who has chosen to vaccinate all six of my children, i cannot be sure that just because they are vaccinated that my children are completely protected from these diseases -- or protected from others who may be carrying the diseases. according to the american academy of pediatrics, vaccines are only 90 percent to 99 percent effective. so the question then becomes do we as parents who have chosen to vaccinate our children think that a possible 10% chance of contracting a life-threatening disease if exposed is worth the risk?

consider this: measles, a highly communicable disease, was declared eliminated in the u.s. in 2000, but outbreaks of infection attributed to incoming travelers have increased this year. at least 131 cases have been reported so far this year alone -- the highest number of annual cases in twelve years. and whether we like to admit it or not, officials cite parents' refusal to vaccinate their children as the leading cause for this jump. this is serious, folks. this is a disease that once infected 3 - 4 million people a year, causing 450 deaths and 4,000 cases of measles-related brain infection. per annum. and there's more. there have also been outbreaks of other childhood viral diseases, such as polio and mumps, in recent years. all of which can be prevented by vaccines.

on a personal note, i am friends with a mother whose son has autism - a condition she fears was caused by vaccinations. on the other hand, i am friends with a mother who nearly died because, as an adult, she contracted measles. both situations very real and very frightening.

can there be any doubt that we all want what's best for our children? of course not. and, we need to understand that there are two sides to this debate. we need to work together, calling for continued long-term research; and in the meantime, we need to treat each other with respect and dignity.


I made what I consider to be a middle-of-the road decision to delay many vax. I highly recommend Dr. Robert Sears 'Vaccination Book' to parents on both sides seeking to understand each other better.

I've delayed for some of my younger childen, but we do vax. eventually. I just disagree with getting SO MANY in SUCH a short time (and at the same time). Ick. I'm not all that crunchy, we don't want to deal with those diseases here. We also love bacon ;)

Also, I do not typically discuss/debate the vax issue. With anyone. I got the Sears book while pg with TJ, its a good one.

We do not vaccinate out children. Maybe it's socially irresponsible, as a good friend of mine pointed out once, to opt out of vaccines to protect my children form the very real risk of vaccine related injuries while hoping the world is somehow rid of the diseases the we vaccinate for, but there it is.

After extensive research El Papicito and I choose a limited, staggering vax schedule with our first, then beefing up on our info when #2 was on the way, decided not to vaccinate him at all. Even without the "removal" of mercury, the vaccine ingredient list is terrifying- formaldehyde, antifreeze, aluminum, msg, aborted human embryo tissue- many Catholic friends of mine opt out just for this ingredient- human and animal virus, more here: http://www.vaccination.inoz.com/ingredie.html

The CDC and AAP indeed declare vaccines safe, I say the proof is most alway in the pudding.

I know, personally, 5 people who attribute neurological injury, that wasn't there before, to vaccinations. One of them being my Mom after vaccinating my brother. Some of them after the removal of thimerosal (there are some thoughts that vax are not so mercury free: http://www.whale.to/a/mercury7.html ), and I haven't met anyone with a preventable disease.

Smock gave us the numbers, and I am young (I know you're thinking it!) and do attribute our country being rid of many diseases to vaccinates, but I say this to help clear my point of view. I have no obligation to justify my choices but often feel defensive. Many people don't vaccinate their kids because they're lazy, loca, or want to feel like some earthy hippie pants that damns the man and is vying for a crunchy award. I am none of the above.

One last link: http://www.nvic.org/

I totally agree with Smock that respecting the other side of the vax debate is most important. I completely understand the other point of view in this sticky situation, we're all doing what we find best for our littles, which should always be met with consideration. So chill out park ladies.

This is where I am thankful that I am Grandmama age, and not mama age.

When Zman was a little 'un, there was some talk about vaccinate/not vaccinate. I went back and forth, until I talked to my grandfather, of all people, who told me about growing up in the nonvax years, and of the winter they lost 6 children to whooping cough in his little classroom. It was an eye-opening experience, for me. I had no concept what living in a time when those diseases were rampant was like. Then my aunt (my grandfather's sister) chimed in about her experiences during the polio epidemic. Having faces and names to put with what I had read about made a difference.

Now, I know that now we have better treatment methods for those kids who DO come down with something like whooping cough or measles or whatever. But I can't help but wonder what the relevant statistics on death/incapacitation/etc would be if there were no vaccines. Perhaps autism wouldn't be on the rise, but would as many or more children be hurt by the diseases themselves? I don't think that is an answerable question, but I do think it is worth contemplating. Seems to me there is some amount of risk either way.

In short, I'm glad, cowrdly soul that I am, that I do not have to make this decision again. Though I suspect that I would make the same one again that I did before.

We -- and now our kids -- have made the middle-of-the-road decision. We vaccinate (sometimes delaying) against anything you can contract by breathing. We DON'T vaccinate against anything that can be caught only by high-risk behavior. I was not very convinced by the nurse's explanation that my infant should get the HepB shot because someday somebody infected with HepB might get hit by a car nearby and splash blood on her. Riiiiight!

There is another issue, in that vaccines often lose their effectiveness over time. So adults (not just children) who were vaccinated can catch the disease from an unvaccinated child. I have a friend who got whooping cough (pertussis) while pregnant (her teenage daughter got it first - it was going around school, a small private school that has no vacc. requirements.) My friend coughed violently from months 3-9 of her pregnancy (often vomiting, waking up in the middle of the night.) She was miserable, and also got to worry about whether her baby would catch the disease from her (pertussis is still sometimes deadly in infants.) I watched another large homeschooling family pass pertussis around (none of the kids were vaccinated) and I swear those parents didn't sleep for 6 months. I got my kids the pertussis vaccine after seeing that.

I think having seen the effects of the diseases makes a difference. I grew up knowing a priest who could not walk, breathe without machines, or say Mass on his own because he had contracted polio as a young man. I would get the polio vaccine for my kids even if I got no others.

And on top of all that, while I had expected to homeschool for years, my kids are now in Catholic school, and they will not grant a religious or philosophical exemption for most vaccines in this diocese. I suspect waivers are going to become harder to come by in the future.

I only wish I'd read just a bit more before vaccinating my children. I should have halted any further unnecessary vaccinating after reading on this site www.cogforlife.org. As a Catholic, why on earth did I not stop after learning about the aborted fetal cell lines specifically cultured for vaccines? It's sickens me.

I thought, hey, maybe I can find an alternative vaccine that does not have aborted fetal cells in the ingredients--now I have to worry that my children have animal cell lines swimming in their systems (see the "Vaccine Sources" at the above site for specific cells used). Now I've introduced non-human DNA into my kids.

I was foolish to believe the safety pages the pediatrician gave me right before I agreed to vaccinating my 3 oldest kids. Those pages scared me--who wants to catch a disease that can be prevented. I was scared they could die from the actual disease. Guess what? My son got FOUR DTaP shots and not one of them provided him ANY immunity to those diseases. The one-shot-fits all schedule is ridiculous and only seems to be growing (see the 2008 vax recommended schedule--over 30 by kindergarten!!!) My son's reactions to his childhood vaccines are far worse than any disease that I could have let run it's course, gain him immunity and then move on with life. Now, he's got neurological delays, fine and gross motor problems, can't speak, can't take care of himself and gets sicker than the average kid since his immune system was shot to hell by his recommended vaccines (and don't let the 'recommended' part make you think you have to get them either--every state except MS has some kind of exemption form for those of you who think you 'have' to get the shots for school--check out http://www.909shot.com/state-site/state-exemptions.htm)

Unfortunately, my son is one of those 1 in 150 kids affected by *autism*. It's really vaccine injury if you look at what happened to him after each and everyone of those darn shots to include the two flu shots we opted for him before the age of two. There will never be enough therapy, medicine or money to bring him to 100% health. I can only pray for a miracle that he lives a life free of pain and suffering.

Don't let the CDC or the AAP fool you like they fooled me. Thimerosal was supposed to be removed in 1999--not every vial from every doctor's office did that. Heck, it's still be injected in every flu shot (if you don't request for the t-free ones). Big Pharma is driving the "vaccines are safe" mantra. The flu shot TO THIS DAY has mercury in it (page 11 http://www.fda.gov/CBER/label/fluzoneLB.pdf); FluMist does not recommend their product to children under the age of six (page 7 http://poisonevercu re.150m.com/ vaccines/ package_inserts/ flumist.pdf)

I sit on a very sturdy soapbox about this subject. You've got to dig and then dig deeper to get to the true science behind what a vaccine can and will do to a child. Back in the day, vaccines were helpful and did an enormous job of keeping us healthy and erradicating diseases. Now, vaccines are hurting children instead of helping. I've done over three years of research on looking for what caused my son to fall ill. Now, I am researching any kind of healing--not just for him, but for me too since I lost the 'what could have been.' Of course, each family has their own reasons to make the decision to vax or not. I only hope no other family has to go through what we do now and most likely will go through for a very long time indeed.




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This page contains a single entry by smockmomma published on October 2, 2008 10:15 PM.

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