If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you know I’m a bit hesitant to engage in this whole vaccine discussion publicly. And I imagine I’m not the only one here who feels that way.
A few months ago I attempted to publish this series and discuss vaccines for the first time ever on my blog.
But the fear kept me quiet and I decided against it.
Time has gone by and I still haven’t been able to shake the conviction to talk about it publicly, even if I have to deal with some backlash.
So I decided to simply just tell my story. This is MY story. MY family. I figured that I would share it and let you know that although this is not medical advice, it is what I’ve learned along the way. I hope you all find it immensely helpful in sifting through this uncomfortable but very important decision.
I want to preface this post with the fact that I did my best in linking up the studies I bookmarked, books I read, and notes from talks with our pediatrician, as well as other references over the last eight years of research since my first pregnancy, but as any mother of three little ones would know- there’s just not enough time for perfection.
So to sum it up, my disclaimer is: Ponder on my words, but DO your own research. Our family dynamics, health histories, and living circumstances are all so different.
OK, here we are. And I’m really going to press the PUBLISH button this time. Here we go…NOW. 😀
Vax and Non-Vax Risks vs. Benefits
As we all know, discussion around vaccines can provoke all kinds of unexpected responses from people. It should be added to the “topics to avoid at the dinner table” list – religion, politics, and vaccines.
At the heart of the disagreement are two completely different belief systems for managing disease in people.
You have one model (by far the most popular) saying we need to inject and “solve” the pathogen problem with patented vaccines and everyone has to participate. Individual circumstances and family health history are of little concern since the vaccines are “proven safe and effective” for everyone and far outweighs the risk of the disease. They teach us about what disease epidemics “used to be like” before vaccines and convince us into doing our part to make sure it never happens again.
The other side suggests that perhaps there is a cumulative and long-term consequence to all of these vaccines so early in life or at any time. They are saying that perhaps we need to “build the patient up from the inside out” and “allow the immune system to work optimally” by giving it proper nutrition and gentler preventative care. Public sanitation has been perfected with clean water, indoor plumbing, trash collection, and food safety. We are also in the golden age of emergency care if needed and knowledge of proper nutrition and vitamins and minerals are well studied and available.
So who is right? And is there a middle ground?
Is it possible to find the gray?
But First, A Cancer Diagnosis
When we were making our decision whether to fully vaccinate, delay, or choose none of the recommended childhood vaccines for our first daughter we were fresh off of my cancer diagnosis and overwhelmed with yet more medical choices.
But because we chose to treat my cancer with alternative methods– primarily optimal plant-based nutrition, supplementation, and proper detoxification we saw first hand how the body behaves differently when it is treated properly and given the resources it needs. In my situation- my body HEALED from NLP Hodgkin’s lymphoma over the course of six months without any chemotherapy, radiation, or other drugs.
You can’t unlearn this kind of thing. You can’t un-experience the beauty and innate healing capability of the body when you go through reversing cancer without all of their drugs and procedures. Procedures they said you would need to do or you would eventually die.
How after all of that could I easily believe that “the need for my child to have vaccines or else” is somehow different?
The point is, in our culture we are taught from an extremely young age and then indoctrinated into adulthood that there is only ONE WAY to prevent and treat illness and disease, and that is to vaccinate fully and on the CDC recommended schedule.
The truth is that there are risks and benefits, no matter which way you choose to modulate or support your child’s immune system (as there are risks to anything in life), but you have to find your peace, make your choice, and then accept the responsibility and risks that come with it.
My Primary Concerns About Vaccines:
Like I said before, when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter in 2009 and found myself having to decide my stance about vaccines, I was still dealing with my own cancer diagnosis and healing. Choosing natural therapies required intense lifestyle overhaul. I was learning that so much of what we use in our modern world is toxic and unnatural to the human body outside of living in the woods and eating plants straight from the ground.
Pesticides, EMF’s from technology, chemicals in water, pollution from cars on the road, chemicals in your hygiene products, deodorant, shampoos, face wash, chemicals in tampons, chlorine in the pool, flame retardants on your carpets, mattress, and clothes….and you know you are probably thinking of at least 10 more as you read this list!
I told you it’s maddening.
And I was gradually but fervently removing all of this from my life in efforts to restore my health.
So knowing all of this and seeing the healing that was taking place in my body from IMMUNE SYSTEM cancer, I became extremely uneasy about the idea of INJECTING harmful chemicals and foreign biological products into my daughter to modulate her own brand new, immature immune system.
She had my genetics…and a long history of cancer in my family.
I couldn’t imagine how the ingredients in a vaccine and the amount of DOSES required of that vaccine throughout my daughter’s first five years could be helpful. Could I prevent those diseases in another way? Could we wait until she was older if at all?
With this discomfort there, I knew that if I changed my mind about vaccination I could always vaccinate slowly or gradually if there were a particular concern, but I could never UN-vaccinate.
I had to find peace between my fear of the vaccines’ chemicals and long-term implications from bypassing the body’s natural defense barriers through injection- and the diseases that they could be susceptible to if we didn’t vaccinate.
It’s important to note that NONE of my vaccine concerns came from an anti-vax website I read, an anti-vax celebrity I heard, or horrible vaccine injury story.
It came from within my own healing experience and months and months of education around healing my own body from cancer. I had a basic understanding of how the immune system worked, but I didn’t feel I was “expert” enough about the actual reality of these disease risks and vaccine ingredients to make this decision. I needed to understand and wanted to inform myself to make an educated decision.
The first book I found extremely helpful for starting off was the ‘The Vaccine Book‘ book by Dr. Sears. It was extremely helpful since it took a balanced, middle-ground approach to vaccination and the risk-benefit for each vaccine and the diseases they are used for.
(A side note: The best place for vaccine ingredient research and where Dr. Sears’ got his information for his book from, is going to be the actual vaccine insert on the current schedule. Here’s a list with access to all of the vaccine inserts online or get them from your pediatrician.)
Here’s a bit of my initial concerns once I started reading the book, some of which I was quite shocked from!
- Multiple vaccines contain cells, cellular debris, protein, or DNA from aborted babies including the childhood schedule vaccines of Polio, Dtap/Polio/HiB combo vaccine, Hep A, Hep A/Hep B Combo, MMR, MMRV, and Varicella (chicken pox.)
- There were other troubling ingredients: thimerosal (ethyl mercury), formaldehyde, propylene glycol, aluminum, polysorbate 80, and monosodium glutamate, among others.
- I was especially curious as an immune system cancer patient (lymphoma) about the unstudied effects on the immune system by modulating artificially through injection (bypassing the natural barriers to infection), regardless of what the ingredients were.
I also had a lot of other questions like:
- Although each vaccine is tested by the drug manufacturers, have the compound effects of several vaccines on the same day or even the vaccine schedule as a whole been studied?
- Why is it that the vaccine schedule in the 80’s or even 60’s was significantly less than now and yet we haven’t seen an epidemic increase in disease in those generations?
- Why is it that even though we have had IMMENSE advancement in emergency medical care since the 60’s, we have more than tripled the number and dosage of vaccines?
- Why is it that autism occurrence has skyrocketed since the 80’s and the number of autoimmune disorders are increasing in kids?
- What about delayed vaccination in these brand new babies? Aren’t they too young for all of that? Have any studies been done on breastfed babies vs. non-breastfed babies and their likelihood of getting any of these diseases?
- What about moms’ diet? Kids’ diet? Does the CDC schedule take variations in diet into consideration?
- Has there ever been a study of the overall health of unvaccinated kids verses fully vaccinated kids?
- Why do we lump the entire population under ONE schedule when the risk for each disease varies depending on the population?
- If my child were to get a “vaccine preventable disease” – what is the emergency care like?
- Does the risk factor change whether a baby is in a daycare situation vs. home care situation?
- Why can’t I pick and choose vaccines for the diseases that concern me the most?
I realized that ALL of my questions and concerns were valid because I wasn’t at peace with the information I was given at that point. I began to trust my gut over the opinions of people trying to scare me into any decisions.
I’m going to address some of these questions throughout this series on vaccines.
Choosing a Path for Immune Modulation
I am in full support of a family’s choice for however they want to modulate their child’s immune system. The primary purpose for vaccines is to elicit an immune response to a possible future infection in individual people.
The same goes for those choosing responsible living and education for how to support their unmodulated (non-vaccinated) immune system.
The concept of debated vaccine-induced herd immunity does not apply here. I’m talking about individual people and how they protect themselves.
One of the things about making the choice of whether to vaccinate or not is that no matter what your decision, you’re going to be judged. It’s just the times.
And I’m speaking mostly to the moms because we are on the front lines. We are typically doing the research, are at the playdates and school functions where other moms are talking, and at the doctor’s office dealing with their policies and opinions.
If your research leads you to choosing some or all vaccines for your child, you are most likely not facing as much backlash or judgement for your decision. The vast majority of people will thank you for your decision because it is agreeable with what they believe. You are also on your doctor’s side for being an agreeable patient. This significantly reduces stress, especially if you suffer from people-pleasing syndrome (like myself) and don’t want to shake up anyone’s boat.
You will also experience relief in that you believe you are protecting your child against all of the diseases that vaccines are designed to protect against.
It’s also great to have a trillion dollar industry behind you with thousands of articles, funded research, and aggressive marketing tactics to help their customers feel better about their decision.
You might however have to deal guilt, especially if your child has any reactions after vaccination or any other problems that you may blame on their vaccines- especially if you have read much of the research on the ingredients in vaccines (see above.)
By choosing vaccination you are also subscribing to a lifelong dependency on vaccines for depending on “immunity’ from diseases through booster vaccines.
Nowadays it is very common in parenting circles to ask the question, “Are you going to vaccinate your baby?” so perhaps the only judgement you could receive is from yourself in thinking someone is judging you for your decision (or from the ballsy naturally-minded parent who is brave enough to question your decision.)
Choosing NOT to Vaccinate
This is by far the more difficult choice faced with adversity. Parents of unvaccinated children can face discrimination from the government level down to their family and friends. I’ve heard stories many times of family not coming to see other unvaccinated relatives and cousins not being able to play with unvaccinated cousins because of their mother’s fear (even though their own children were vaccinated.)
Doctors “firing” families who choose to delay vaccination or not vaccinate at all, and kids getting denied school entrance because of their non-vaccinated status are extremely common. In three states (and growing) there is no entrance into public school without record of state mandated vaccines.
The benefit to delaying or choosing not to modulate your immune system with vaccination is…a naturally functioning immune system.
You miss out on the dozens of doses of viruses, bacteria, and toxic chemicals and biological cocktails that come with vaccines. You give your body a chance to respond to its environment naturally and can be educated on how to prevent and treat illness both naturally and with conventional medical care in case of an emergency.
Perhaps the most significant downside in choosing not to vaccinate is the commitment to being different and the resulting criticism, hate, and ignorance towards you and your children- which can be heart wrenching at times.
If your child does come down with (what used to be normally occurring childhood diseases) such as chickenpox, measles, mumps, or whooping cough, you could be looked down upon by your pediatrician.
There is also a great responsibility, if choosing not to vaccinate, for being educated on what to do if your child is sick. At-home self care and the knowledge of the symptoms of common diseases is very important. We also have a responsibility to keep our kids out of hospitals and from around immunosuppressed populations (just as any sick kid should be- vaccinated or not.)
A well-known benefit in the “non-vax” community is that unvaccinated children do not get what are known today as “common” issues of being a kid.
You can see in this observational study of non-vaccinated and vaccinated homeschooled kids that acquisition of certain illnesses such as ADD, ADHD, sinus infections, strep throat, and ear infections is significantly less for the unvaccinated group. Although a small study (and perhaps not “scientific enough” for the uber critics,) it supports what is a well known observation amongst parents of unvaccinated children.
Back and Forth.
As I continued to go back and forth between the concern over vaccination ingredients and implications and the possibility of disease, another concerning point practically smacked me in the face.
I found out that there has never been a large scale study of vaccinated kids’ overall health vs. unvaccinated kids’ overall health overtime or AT ALL.
I also learned that vaccine manufacturers are completely protected from being sued by the families whose children are injured by the very products they say are safe. I can’t say this surprised me, but taxpayer money is actually collected and placed in large fund for awarding families who go through the often difficult and arduous process of proving their child was injured by a vaccine in vaccine court.
My decision came down to this- vaccines are NOT irrefutably safe. There are no clear, unbiased, unsponsored studies showing the obvious evidence that by fully vaccinating my children on schedule, I am NOT putting them at risk. I especially believed this to be true with the amount of vaccines we are giving SO EARLY in life and the long term and compounding effects that aren’t measurable in any current study.
Even the CDC publicly states that the drug companies are the ones that conduct the studies “proving safety”:
Clinical trials are studies conducted before a vaccine is made available. These studies are carried out by vaccine manufacturers and help the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) make decisions about whether a vaccine is safe, effective, and ready to be licensed for use.” Source: CDC
Really? The vaccine manufacturers conduct the studies? I wondered could there possibly be any opportunity for skewing data or manipulating outcomes.
There is enough sufficient evidence supporting the argument that vaccines can cause harm (especially in the amount and frequency of the recommended CDC schedule) that it deserves attention and concern.
My deep, deep distrust of the pharmaceutical industry and conventional care model of western medicine had a significant influence on my decision as well. I did not need a single study to prove to me what my personal experience and gut instinct had shown me.
Now this is totally anecdotal but it’s something to pay attention to. It is incredibly hard to watch these vaccine injury testimonies without crying (or getting angry.) Listening to the hearts of hundreds of parents as they talk about their child’s vaccine injuries will raise concern for many. Adverse reactions are a reality and vaccines are not without risk.
We have traded the disease concerns of the 19th century and early 20th century for our increasing modern childhood issues of autism, eczema, ADHD, ADD, allergies, and asthma and the sometimes life-altering complications that come with these.
I wonder if finding that gray area of vaccine use would help so much of this disagreement and the problems that arise from a strict belief system- one way or the other?
And then there’s the Creator.
It’s hard to write about this when you know it could be seen by the harshest critics and trolls the internet has to offer, but I have to say it.
Deep down at my gut level, I believe that our immune system was designed perfectly. There isn’t anything wrong with it.
It was DESIGNED and has adapted perfectly to our environment. Scientists admit there is so much to still understand about it.
For thousands of years humans have been learning through trial and error about the plants and extracts that help the immune system’s natural capabilities. Over the last 200 years we have seen the impact that sanitation and clean water and proper nutrition has made on the spread of infectious disease and overall wellness. And advancements in emergency and surgical care, monitoring and testing are developments I am grateful for.
But somehow it is still the popular belief of most of us that our immune system is still “flawed.” And vaccines are our Savior.
Our Decision to Wait
As time got closer to our daughter’s birth and after weighing all of our research- my husband and my decision was to delay all vaccines until we learned more.
I knew I definitely did not feel comfortable with her being so young and receiving THAT many vaccines, but I knew I also had the responsibility to her and my community to help with disease prevention.
I wanted to know what to do in the meantime to protect her and also to become more knowledgeable about the symptoms for each disease and emergency care if I needed it.
My husband also began working from home allowing us to work opposite shifts and keep her out of daycare. This was hugely comforting to me as it allowed her to be in her own home environment as her immune system developed.
All of this bought us time to delay vaccines until our research gave us peace to make a decision.
I knew I could go slowly with vaccination if needed, but like I said before- I could never UN-vaccinate.
Over the next few posts in this series I am going to talk about the next seven years of our vaccine decision journey. I will look into the entire U.S. vaccine schedule by each individual disease and its vaccine profile.
I also want to go much deeper into preventative nutrition and holistic care for any disease or infection. This is the foundation of what allows for our body to heal and should not be dismissed or ignored.
Check out the next post in this series, Part 2: Hepatitis B and Hib.