Friday, April 3, 2009

I Answer a Reader's Question About My Vaccination Stance

In the comments section in my recent post about vaccines shedding and what doctors say about that, if anything, a reader, Susie, wondered if I worry about diseases that vaccination is supposed to prevent. She wondered if non vaccinated kids are more at risk for catching those diseases, and wondered if that was a worry for me. She wrote,

Anonymous Susie said...

Hey Laura,
I'm new to this topic. I've got an almost two year old who has been vaccinated on the recommended schedule. Her doctor is great (she's my doctor as well) and did give us information on side effects and when to not have the vaccine (during illness,etc.).
I've heard of the Dr. Sears method where you space out the shots given to your child,etc. But, how does not vaccinating your child work? Are your kids at a greater risk of developing some of these viruses,etc. because they haven't been vaccinated? As a daycare provider I'm sent letters every year that update me on what dangerous sicknesses are spring up around the state, and children in past years have even died from some of these random illnesses.
So...that was a lot of rambling :) Sorry! I'm just curious about whether you worry about your kids getting sick and how you deal with all of those worries or fears. Or..maybe you don't have them at all!! Thanks!

April 2, 2009 12:57 PM

The big answer to all of that is no, I don't worry. However, I do proactively do things that strengthen my kids' immune systems and that I think fortifies them against disease. Not that they may not catch a disease, they might (as might a vaccinated kid--the vaccines fail all of the time) but that their bodies will be able to clear a virus, or snuff out a cold easily and quickly.

I had no invasive prenatal testing. I didn't have a single ultrasound. I gave birth at home without any kind of drugs. I held my babies almost constantly and breastfed them on demand for years.

We eat very little sugar. We drink raw milk. We eat organic foods as much as possible. We eat meat from grass fed, pastured animals. We use coconut oil in smoothies and in cooking. We eat raw honey. We don't take allopathic medicines of any kind.

My son has never had antibiotics--no medicine from a doctor ever. My daughter and I both had antibiotics once together when I had a breast infection and we were both sick. That was over 7 years ago and no one since that time has had any kind of medicine from a doctor. We're not Christian Scientists and if we ever needed to take something, we would. But, we would first find out how to support the body to heal naturally. It seems to be working for all of us.

My kids do not have asthma. They have no food allergies. They have no skin ailments. They rarely get sick, and when they do they recover quickly. I think they have robust immune systems partly because they've not been tampered with.

As a pregnant woman with my first child, I knew I would have a homebirth. I already knew I would breastfeed as my mother had done. I knew that if I had a son, he would remain intact. I also knew that I didn't want to inject any chemicals into my kids.

Realizing this, I knew I should research and learn what I could and as much as I could.

What were the diseases that had vaccines? What were the current rates of infection? How were these common childhood diseases treated in the past? What were complications in these diseases? How were they treated? What was the risk of complications?

If my kids got sick, in general, how would I care for them? I read Dr. Robert Mendelsohn's book, How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor. I read with great interest the areas about fever. I found out that that's the body's way of burning off a bug. The body increases in temperature and the invading bug can't survive. It's curative. I knew then that I wouldn't try to treat fevers, I wouldn't ever give Tylenol. If It got crazy high, I might. But, it's never gotten crazy high in either of my kids. They get warm, briefly, and the next day they're fine.

I read Neil Z. Miller books, Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective? and Immunization Theory Vs. Reality Expose on Vaccinations which both showed graphs, obtained from Vital Statistics from the government, that showed the precipitous decline of diseases, before the introduction of vaccines. Hmmm... That was very interesting to me. I saw other graphs that showed a low incidence of death from measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus well before the onset of vaccinations. Interesting.

I read the almost completely unreadable book by Viera Scheibner, Vaccination: 100 Years of Orthodox Research Shows That Vaccines Represent an Assault on the Immune System that showed through orthodox research published in mainstream journals like JAMA and Lancet that vaccines are ineffective and are recognized as an assault on the immune system. Scientific studies showed this, but those are not what's quoted by the AAP, the American Academy of Pediatrics. These studies are also not what doctors look at. They're busy looking at patients. They're not scientists--never were--they treat patients with what they know. What they know is what they learned back in medical school. The medical school curricula is written by pharmaceutical companies. I find that interesting also.

Years later, after both of my healthy kids were born, I came across Dr. Sherri Tenpenny. As a conventionally trained doctor, Dr. Tenpenny has turned around on her understanding of routine vaccination. She has conducted thousands of hours of research into disease and vaccination and has produced an informative video explaining her change in thinking. She used to believe that vaccinations were a panacea, an answer to all that ails...she no longer believes this.

If you have some time, please view this video and see what you think.

As Louis Pasteur said on his deathbed, "The germ is nothing the terrain is everything."

No, I do not worry.


susie said...

Hi there,

Wow! Thanks for answering my questions! It's nice to see how much you've thought and researched all of this and it was easy to understand your points.

I haven't had time to look into all your sources and I still don't know how I feel about this issue. (I'm sure it'll take a while to figure out!) There's a lot to look at and a lot to think about.

I guess to simplify it you could say it all comes down to do I want to take a chance. Either I immunize and take a chance or I don't immunize and take a chance.

I also remember hearing about how my Grandmother's brother died of lockjaw ( and I think that shaped a lot of my ideas behind the benefits of vaccinations.

Thanks for the information, for openly sharing how you feel. It's refreshing to see dialogue among bloggers even though we might have differing view points. Keep writing, I enjoy hearing about all your adventures in homeschool,etc.
Thanks again for answering my questions!

Laura said...

What nice comments Susie. Thank you.

There are all sorts of scare stories on both sides of this issue. "If your children catch one of these diseases, they will die, or be made blind!!" or, "If you vaccinate, your child will be injured and will be autistic and every health problem will be attributable to you vaccinating your child!!"

I feel that parents need to look into vaccination for the health of their children. They need to do what they feel they are comfortable with, as they are responsible for their own children.

For me, as with every health issue, that has always meant doing some research. I read books, I looked at government sites, where they show raw data, and not just the exhortations to vaccinate your child or he/she will die!!

I've read the package inserts that come with vaccines. A lot of the damning (in my mind) information is to be found right there. It's not tested to see whether it causes cancer or impairs fertility? Why in the world not?

Finally, I think about the whole issue without a lot of fear, but with some very basic questions:

1) What are the vaccines that are now recommended, and what are the ones I had, or my parents had?

2) What percentage of the adult population is up to date on their vaccines? If it's a small number, how is there any herd immunity? If there isn't any herd immunity, and yet no large outbreaks for a country of 300 million people, then why not? What else is involved in disease prevention?

3) Do I really want to inject any chemicals into my kids' bodies, regardless of the supposed health benefits? What are the long term consequences of those injections? If they're not studying that, why aren't they? If they don't study those kinds of basic things, why would I trust their judgment about the well being of my child?

I have questioned just about everything in my life, and mainstream medicine is another area where I turn my quizzical eye. I don't accept things on faith, I accept things as I understand them. To understand things, I question.

Anonymous said...

Hi Laura,
I just found your blog thanks to Kim Collins.

My daughter is six. I gave birth with a midwife and a doula (DoulaMomma! of course). Despite my planning and precautions to have a natural birth, I had a c-section. In my last trimester I got the diagnosis of gestational diabetes, (which led to many ultrasounds). I now understand this diagnosis to be horseshit, but at the time I believed I was 'doing the right thing' to allow myself to be monitored and tested for high sugars, and for my baby to be screened repeatedly to check her size.

I mention my GD because I now understand that it led to my c-section: the ob/gyn backup for my midwife group could not tolerate my "failure to progress" - 4 cm dilation after 8 (yes! only 8) hours of unmedicated, beautiful labor.

Thankfully my personal, cultural conditioning included three cousins that exclusively breastfed, so I nursed for 2.5 years. Had I had different messages about birth (you can do it, you don't need drugs) I might have birthed at home (as my husband wanted) or at least pushed back harder on all the interference.

My sweet daughter is now six. We did vaccinate on a delayed schedule. I eat organically, have for over 20 years. I never gave her cow's milk, although we eat cheese and yogurt, sometimes.

My little girl manifested psoriasis at age 4. It is on her hands and feet. She has some eczema on her shins. I wish I had been watching more closely to see if it was related to the shots she had at that age.

But you know what? My father and my brother both have it, although theirs did not manifest until adulthood and teenhood, respectively. My other brother has eczema. My dad had little to no vaccines growing up, my brother the less aggressive schedule/amount of the '60's.

I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to have been the vaccines that triggered Alice's skin problems at such an early age (which is not rare but less common) but I've come to accept that she had the predisposition for it, irregardless of what we've done, or not done.

This long, long, comment is to say; parents should understand that sometimes they do everything right and their kids get sick or have chronic ailments, anyway.

They come into this life with the potential for many things, "good" and "bad". I believe it is our job to prevent as much as we can, help them with as much as we can, but to also accept that we cannot control everything their bodies will do, or they will do, for the rest of their lives.

With much gratitude for listening and for your terrific, thoughtful, thorough blog.

Lisa Duggan
Publisher, The MotherHood

Laura said...

Lisa, thanks so much for visiting and speaking about your own experiences.

Two things really strike me in what you said. First, the idea that you didn't feel fully supported to have a homebirth. I realize how extraordinarily lucky I was to have a homebirth doctors practice nearby, so I could birth at home, in peace and comfort and as my babies were ready to come. It's really rare to have that kind of support, and I know it. I think this lack of support also many times includes: breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, vaccine choice, and homeschooling, despite the 1 1/2 million kids now doing it.

It is especially difficult for new parents to overcome criticism of their alternative choices where they are desperate to do the right thing for their kids. If you are not stopping breastfeeding at 6 months, if you co-sleep, if you don't let your kids cry it out, you're viewed as neurotic or easily manipulated by your baby.

You're supposed to have a medicalized birth. You're supposed to stop breastfeeding early on. You're supposed to turn to doctors for all of your health decisions, even if the history of human development informs you that natural birth, breastfeeding, co-sleeping and responding to cries is the norm and has been for millennia.

People feel pressured to follow what doctors say is healthy for their kids even when it's completely contrary to collective human history.

The second idea you brought up is predisposition. I can easily see how your daughter's skin problems might have come for her any way, perhaps at a later time as it did for both your father and brother. Who knows if the vaccines triggered something in your daughter, a heightened response that somehow turned on her. But, that's one of the problems with vaccination, isn't it?

There is no kind of screening or sincere attempt to see if there are any kind of factors that would automatically preclude administering vaccines. They are not looking for it in anyone and yet they still insist on everyone having the same shots, on the same schedule, in the same dosage. If there are problems afterward, if there are reactions, it's viewed as coincidental to the vaccines always. That seems unreasonable to me, and so very different from every other kind of medicine prescribed.

It seems especially strange in that every vaccination program is an insistence to medicate otherwise healthy people. It is administering a medicine in case a disease might come, and in case your child might catch it, and to prevent rare complications they might have. I think that's a strange kind of preventative medicine.

I don't know what the absolute right answers are. I know what is right for my family. My answers might not work for you and your family. But, I also know that they (you know, "they") don't know what the absolute right answers are either. That's shown over and over again.

I am not anti science, I am very much for science. I would love it if they actually conducted double blind studies of vaccines with true placebos (using a saline solution, not another vaccine as they currently do...). Also, any epidemiology study must include a comparison of vaccinated and nonvaccinated kids. They have never conducted such a study, but still allude to vaccines being more healthy for kids and not an unhealthy assault on kids. Yet, there are no studies to prove that either way. Why?

You said, "This long, long, comment is to say; parents should understand that sometimes they do everything right and their kids get sick or have chronic ailments, anyway."

Yes. Exactly so. You are so right in this.

My point is that there is no absolute right and parents do need to think for themselves and to question. Everyone needs to assess the risks and benefits and see what that looks like for themselves and their family.

I am so glad you left a comment and am pleased you appreciate my blog. The more conversation about these issues the better, I think. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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