Childhood vaccination is one of the biggest hot-button issues out there right now. Many people believe very strongly in one side or the other, and they are very passionate about their beliefs. In writing this article about vaccination, I wanted to try to be fair to both sides, as I don’t want to turn either side off— I think there is something to be learned when it comes to vaccines and to really make an informed decision, it’s vital to see what data is available.
Not including flu vaccines, children receive at least 9 distinct vaccines accounting for at least 28 shots by the time they are six years old. The number can vary based on the fact that there are some combination vaccines, which are intended to cut down on the number of shots kids get. In the 1940s, children were vaccinated against four diseases— small pox, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. In the 1950s, polio was added to the mix. Fast forward to the late 1970s/early 1980s when I was a young child, and I received the same vaccines as a kid from the 1950s minus the smallpox (which was eradicated in this country), and there was the addition of a vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Today kids receive vaccines for: diphtheria, measles, tetanus, mumps, rubella, pertussis, polio, hib, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Varicella, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus and flu. Wow!
When looking at the diseases we vaccinate against, the first thing that always jumps out at me is Hepatitis B. I always wonder why we are vaccinating brand new babies against a disease that is primarily spread through sexual transmission, needle-sharing, tattooing, and sharing of personal items (like toothbrushes). Babies can also receive Hepatitis B from their mother during childbirth. Of course, as a mother having a baby, I’m of the impression that you would know if you have Hepatitis B, and of course, this seems like a situation that warrants Hep B vaccination, in my opinion. However, the pediatrician who I had when my children were born always recommended against having my new babies vaccinated at the hospital for Hep B. The nurses at the hospital always seemed annoyed by my decision not to do the Hep B vaccine while there. They even went so far as to tell me the doctors just wanted me to wait so THEY could get paid for it instead. I’m not sure this is true, since it’s been my experience that pediatricians do not make much money on vaccines, based on the reimbursement rates from insurance companies—but that’s a whole other story.
Obviously, there are a number of people who are of the opinion that vaccines are the cause of autism. While I think our children receive way too many vaccines, and they may be the source of adverse reactions, I am not of the belief that they cause autism. I think one of the biggest disservices to autism research was the falsely reported study that came out in 1998—the one where the investigators admitted they “manipulated” the evidence to make it look like there was a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. I say this is a disservice because it detracted from finding the real cause of autism, and if the cause does in fact end up being vaccination, then what these investigators have done is to slow the progress of finding that cause, and even muddied it as being the cause.
I think parents need to research both sides of the debate to understand which is the best choice for their family. One of the pro-vaccination websites is Vaccines.com and it is managed by a vaccine-maker, Sanofi-Pasteur. I believe this is a helpful website to give parents a jumping off point for their research. I am not saying to take their word (or anyone else’s) as gospel. Looking at each of the points made FOR vaccination, allows you the ability to dissect those reasons and research them to see if they really are a reason for your family to vaccinate. Sometimes those reasons for are not really that compelling, and other times they might be. NaturalNews.com is a great resource for finding reasons not to vaccinate your child. The articles on Natural News, draw their research from reputable sources, which is what I like.
If you choose not to vaccinate your children, be prepared to face some battles that others will not face. Depending on where you live, you might not have as much push back. Most places you will send your children will require that your little one is up-to-date on his vaccines (daycare, school, etc). One of the most helpful places I’ve come across is the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). NVIC provides a resource of which vaccine exemptions are allowed by state—Medical, Religious and Philosophical. While the definition of each may be slightly different by state, this is a good place to start to know your rights in a particular state (especially if your school is giving you a hard time about not vaccinating your child). NVIC is also an organization of “grassroots activists working to protect and expand vaccine exemptions in your state.” This is certainly a good place to begin if you do not want to vaccinate your children and may need some legislation change.
Whether you choose not to vaccinate your children, delay their vaccines or even choose to have them vaccinated, I think it’s important to feel fully educated on your decision. If you’ve done due-diligence and believe that you are doing what’s best for your child, then I think that’s the most important thing.