While talking with my family doctor we got into discussing medications, effectiveness vs negative side effects. He looked at me and said, when using any kind of medication, whether pharmaceutical or “natural”, the more effective and well working of a product it is, the more one has to worry about what other consequences it will have because the more effective the drug, the more effective the negative consequences too.
I really appreciated this perspective and it wrapped up my feelings so well on vaccines. Yes, vaccines may work. They really do keep the “oh so dangerous” chicken pox rates down to a minimal but what does it cost us? What will the penalty be for injecting a foreign object into our bodies? That’s why, again, we need to weigh it. Is the vaccine worth the risks it comes with? Is the illness it protects from worse than the consequences the vaccine could cause?
When it takes a minimal of 20 years of a vaccine on the market just to get a slight insight of it’s true effectiveness and side effects, there are a lot of unknowns out there right now. With 4x more vaccines given to children now than in the 1980’s, we just have to sit and wonder. We may not have many cases of mumps, measles or rubella but what will we end up with? Maybe it will be nothing… maybe it will be huge spikes in autism, or adhd, or seizure disorders, or autoimmune disorders.
There are many decisions that we make as parents. We have to decide how many sweets we keep in the house, how much TV time our kids get, and we have to decide if we will be following the CDC’s vaccine schedule or use an alternative schedule.
While the majority of the public does not stop to consider their options in vaccines but follow the doctors schedule, some of us choose to question how much and how often we are willing to give our children vaccinations.
Neither route is wrong.
There are people, of course, on both sides of the argument who will vehemently argue that the other party is wrong. Either wrong for questioning the safety or practice of vaccines or wrong that the parent doesn’t do more of their own research on vaccines, it is important to state that neither option is right or wrong. It is only what is right for YOUR family and the only thing wrong is assuming your family’s method is best for every family.
Vaccinations is a touchy subject. People feel very strongly on it one way or another. It can be hard to have cool, mellow discussions on vaccines with others, especially when one is searching for more information and looking to their peers to see what they chose to do.
Families choosing to research vaccines and find studies are often left disappointed with the amount of (or lack of) well done studies that exist.
In the end the choice to vaccinate or not vaccinate does exist and is the parents to make, despite how those around feel about it.
First, All states in the US have vaccine exemptions for school children who are not vaccinated.
-All states have the standard medical exemption, which is only accessible to a child with an established, medically proven, allergy to vaccine ingredients that has been documented by the pediatrician (or other medical facility like a hospital) and the doctor can show that information to the school system.
-Most states have the option of a religious exemption. By religious, it means that vaccinating conflicts with your families personal (or religious) beliefs.
-Some states have the option of a philosophical exemption- where the reason for not vaccinating can be further removed from the “religious” aspect and more just because the parent isn’t comfortable with it or has a personal reason for not agreeing with vaccines.
It’s important to look up your specific states laws on how to register an unvaccinated (or not fully vaccinated, if doing an alternative schedule) child into school for any families planning on public school.
When thinking about doing an alternative vaccine schedule, there are multiple ways to approach the subject.
-One can choose to Fully vaccinate but administer the vaccines more spread out. Many parents are concerned about how many vaccines their child is given at one time and how that can overwhelm their tiny bodies. They instead make arrangements with their pediatrician where they only get one vaccine at an appointment and make more frequent appointments to get all the vaccines administered in the “correct” time frame still. This method is also great for those who are also watching their child for potential allergies and want to know exactly what vaccine their child is reacting to.
– A Parent may also choose to selectively vaccinate depending on issues like ingredients in the vaccine or the risk of the vaccine vs the risk of the illness it is for. For example, One parent may decide to not use any vaccines that include aborted fetal cells because of their personal discomfort or religious stance on the ingredient. Or a parent may decide to skip vaccines like rotavirus vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine because they feel the vaccine itself carries more potential problems than the illness’s it’s suppose to prevent or that it’s protection rates are not high enough to be worth exposing the child to the ingredients it contains.
– Parents may also choose to decline all vaccines, which is what we refer to as “unvaccinated”. There are just as many reasons for families to choose this option as there are families who choose it. Sometimes it’s because of ingredients in the vaccines, sometimes fear of vaccine reactions, and sometimes it’s purely because they feel a healthy natural immune system is more effective than a vaccine induced immune system.
Rarely, if ever, do families choose not to vaccinate because of autism fears. Despite how many articles and “professionals” claim that autism is the (poor) reason for not vaccinating, most families who choose not to vaccinate have reasons that have nothing to do with the risks (whether real or not) of autism.
Blaming “trends” and “lack of education”
I hear a lot of people accusing unvaccinating parents of just being sheep and blindly following other ignorant people. This is an offensive assumption and is not winning over anyone to the “vaccine team”. While there may be a small percentage of parents who follow others in not vaccinating without properly educating themselves on vaccines, illnesses, risks, benefits, studies- ect, the majority of families who choose not to vaccinate or follow an alternative vaccine schedule do not make that decision lightly or info-less. Actually, the majority have passionately and maybe borderline obsessively studied and researched before coming to a final decisions.
We know how to identify illness. We know that a dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches, red eyes..ect could mean measles. We also know that 95% of children with polio show no symptoms and in the 4-8% of children who are symptomatic, it shows itself as a mild flu and about .1% of those cases can be the more severe paralytic form of polio. We can also tell you about 60,000 cases of polio that occurred in 1952 and that about 3,000 children died that year from it. We are not blindly following trends or uneducated. This decision weighed on us and we chose to take the path that best fit our family’s beliefs and lifestyle and felt right for us. Before assuming any nonvaccinating family chose to avoid vaccines for shallow reasons or because of blind, uneducated fear- try talking to them and opening up a conversation with them in a nonjudgmental way. Or, just accept that whatever their reasons are that it was still their legal right to make them- because in the end- whether your reasons are good or poor or based on education or following the crowd – vaccinate or not vaccinate- the decision is still yours to make, as the parent of your child.
– Nonvaccinating families have always existed. Not vaccinating is no new trend. What has become more widespread is knowing that the family next door, or your cousin or that child in your kids class is not vaccinated, due to social media and people sharing more private information in a more public way. The unvaccinated families have always been here, though. We are not a new trend. We are now just more public, thanks to twitter and facebook and other forms of media sharing.
I respect your decision, whatever it is. It is not an easy one to make and the results can be unpredictable no matter what path you choose. You can be the vaccinating parent whose child ends up with a permanent seizure disorder from the HPV vaccine or the unvaccinating parent whose child gets Pertussis (whooping cough). Or you more than likely will be the parent who chose whichever path felt right for their family and it all worked out fine and your family grew healthy and happily. Either way, it’s a major decision to make and one we should never assume others took lightly.