Before I continue on my mini research, I thought it would be nice to give a bit of background here.
My 18-year-old son had all his vaccines right up until he was taken out of school at the end of grade 3. Being pregnant at the age 22 and having my son at 23, I think at that time, also taking into consideration of the generation I fell in, I pretty much relied on family and doctors around me for information resources on how to bring up a healthy baby. I watched Oprah and the likes and bought a lot of baby books to read. Living right at the south end of the world we were always behind a good few years from first world countries, so information lagged behind for us here in SA.
When my second son was born, I was 30 already and by then have done even more research and did what I best knew best, too, at that given time in my life. Being a complementary health therapist also fuelled my decision. I opted not to vaccinate my younger child as at that time natural was and to a large extent still is the way to go. He did have his vaccine (Hepatitis B) they give to newborns but that was also done without my consent as I did clearly tell them not to vaccinate him.
My little one has been and still is monitored by Dr. Steele my homeopath and has never been almost his entire life to a conventional doctor. The only time he has seen a paediatrician was at birth, and then he was hospitalised for Jaundice for a week when he was two weeks old and then we did follow-up check-up with the paediatrician, and that was it until this year he has been to a normal GP as he had a rash which we felt needed to be seen by a GP. The GP had even diagnosed the rash incorrectly to be ringworms and that has been the first time he has taken oral allopathic medication. Then he went to the dermatologist who diagnosed it to be a rare form of eczema.
My older son has a much weaker immune system than my younger one. He has already had his tonsils and adenoids removed by the age of 5 and have mild wheezing and other mild respiratory problems due to a weaker immune system. That is hereditary of cos but he still lives a more natural therapy life than other kids that were born around the same time in the family. Some may say that his immunity is low because of vaccines, but I am not calling it out that way because I would not know either way as we can never go back to experience it the other way around.
Their diet was also very important to me, not strict about it, but I preferred that they made better food choices. Now I am not one to go and swallow a tablet with every ache and pains I had. Even when I was smaller as in a teenager and below, I never really took to taking much medication and I still do not. It is not something that someone instilled in me either; I just found it unnecessary to do if you can manage your pain with meditation and keeping a strong mind and its likes. So my whole life has been that way and still is. Yes, there were times I had no choice but to take it but never relied on it otherwise. And here again, people may think that I have a distrust for doctors, do not get me wrong, in fact I have lots of confidence in the advancement of science and the medical field, but for me, it was always about, if it was not absolutely necessary, then there is no need to abuse it. If it is not broken, do not interfere.
Then to skip way back to when I was a baby, I had the MMR vaccines and all my vaccines were up to date. I still had the measles as a baby and almost died from it. Family members that took the flu vaccines when it first hit SA, I remember then being far sicker than actually getting the flu. Some never got the flu and ended up being terribly ill after the flu vaccine. Like I said, if it is not broken why try to fix it?
Back on topic! In the last two years or so probably after the outbreak of measles at Disneyland, I saw the internet and facebook in particular as that is the social media I am on, flooded with things like “anti-vaxxers are irresponsible” and “they don’t care about the rest of the kids so they are selfish” and “if you are anti-vaxxer please unfriend me” and a host of other angry comments. Honestly speaking I really had not done my homework on vaccines as I had not a clue what these people were talking about. Here is my child, all natural, does not get sick often, except for when he was small, he would have high fevers whenever his tooth would cut through and he has a strong immune system. So what are all these people going on about? And what on earth are an Anti-vaxxer and a Vaxxer? So I decided to do my own research into this topic as I did initially not vaccinate because a natural lifestyle was what we were/are living.
I went on to watching Vaxxed and other documentaries and read books like ‘calling the shots – why parents reject vaccines’ and I deliberately read and watched more documentaries on why people vaccinate and not why they did not vaccinate as I did not want my research leaning to something I am already practicing which is anti-vaccine. Bear in mind, when I say research, I am talking about information available on the internet and in books, not scientific research in a laboratory.
Here are my findings and concerns and arguments of both Vaxxers and Anti-Vaxxers in point form and I will elaborate more on each point if needed.
*Please do not take this as a well-researched topic either as spending two months on spare time researching would not be considered as such. I encourage you to go ahead and take each point below and further delve into it yourself or maybe I will take each topic and do further research on it for future blog posts. There are also so much more aspects to this that I could not fit everything on one blog post and honestly speaking by the end of this mini research I felt there was an information overload at some point and was left with the dilemma on who to trust and not to trust.
- Herd immunity – here there are two arguments presented:
Herd immunity takes place when a high percentage of the population is protected through vaccination against a virus or bacteria, making it hard for a disease to spread because there are so few susceptible people left to infect. This can effectively stop the spread of disease in the community. It is important as it protects people that cannot be vaccinated, like the too young, those with immune problems, are allergic to the ingredients or that are too ill.
Then the opposition claims that this is still a hypothesis if the herd immunity theory actually worked, those who have already been vaccinated should have nothing to worry about. The fact that 95% of the population needs to be immunized for herd immunity also suggests that herd immunity does not work, because in theory there should not be any outbreaks but it has been found there are more outbreaks the higher the percentage of herd immunity went up.
Thimerosal is a compound that contains Mercury and Mercury is found naturally in the environment. Thimerosal has been removed from vaccines but is found in some flu vaccines. It is a preservative. Mercury is toxic to humans.
Aluminum is an adjuvant used in vaccines which enhance the body’s immune response. Aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications. Aluminum is found in pots and pans, fruits and vegetable, baby formula and many other products around us. It is said that we consume 7-9 milligrams of aluminum per adult per day. Aluminum adjuvants are used in vaccines such as hepatitis, diphtheria-tetanus-containing vaccines, influenza, and pneumococcal vaccines, but they are not used in the live, viral vaccines, such as measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, and rotavirus.
Formaldehyde is an inactivating ingredient in vaccines used to kill viruses or inactivate toxins. Formaldehyde is produced naturally in the body and is found around us in our environment. Formaldehyde is a respiratory irritant that causes chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and nose and throat irritation. It can also cause cancer and has been linked to an increased risk of asthma and allergies in kids.
Egg protein is found in flu vaccines. The MMR vaccines are built on cultured chick embryo fibroblasts and said to have traces amount in the vaccine. Just looking at this ingredient at a glance I can already tell you Vegans will definitely have a problem with this, unfortunately.
Above are just some of the ingredients of concern. I suggest the following link if you need to know what exactly goes into each vaccine.
Breastfeeding is a natural act of nurturing your child. There are many moms that are recognizing this just as there are many moms who have taken to bottle feeding. Unless the mom has a dreaded disease then breastfeeding is the best food you can give your child. There are also many moms that volunteer to express milk for moms that cannot afford this luxury. The antibodies found in the mother’s milk are all that one needs to boost immunity in your baby. But not all moms too, go through two years of breastfeeding.
The CDC also recommended that during immunization the mom must not breastfeed during this period as it counters acts the live vaccines like the MMR. So anti-vaxxers use this as an argument to show that breastmilk is the best immunization for your little one.
- Side effects
The side effects are the thing that caught my eye. The link below takes you to the CDC site regarding the side effects of most of the vaccines. I know, you may say I must not concentrate on the severe side effects as CDC points out that the cases are so rare that they not even sure it is caused by the vaccines. I am looking at the MMR vaccine in particular as it is what interests me right now because of my 11-year-old son. Is it really rare? Not from the videos and the articles I have watched thus far. Yes, they may be trying to link it to autism but the side effects are displayed very much so like the description here. So shouldn’t a parent be concerned?
- Pharmaceutical Industry
Now, this is a big one. At first, I said, scam or no scam, I am not interested in the big Pharma companies, whether they are a money greedy machine or not. I am more interested in what goes into my child’s body. I have come to realize that if there is a scam then we need the whistle-blowers to expose them because it does boil down to if they are in this for the money then the pharmaceuticals are definitely never going to be trusted as the vaccines still need to be safe for our babies and children.
People put their trust into the CDC and if the CDC is corrupt then we certainly have a problem on hand.
Unfortunately, I cannot verify if the big Pharma is fraudulent or not and there are many conspiracy theories lurking out there and numerous of articles written about against the big Pharma. But you have to ask yourself how often are these theories really proven wrong? If there is smoke there is fire.
- Trust in the doctors because of medical advancements
Another school of thought is and many may believe that most parents are against the medical field altogether. Quite the contrary, there are some parents that say we are living in a world that have such large and vast technical and medical leaps in advancements that why should they vaccinate, as they completely trust these medical advancements.
- Schools and vaccines became mandatory at the same time
This I was mildly surprised by. Now I am a Life Learner (a branch of homeschooling) and that is a whole other topic on its own, so it was interesting to note how vaccines played a role and became mandatory in an industrial age. Is it another conspiracy theory? Maybe the herd immunity factor came into play?
Just to take note, this anti-vaccine movement has not just appeared in this generation. It has appeared since vaccines were discovered and many vaccines were taken out of the market because of the safety aspects of it, protested by so-called anti-vaxxers.
- African-American males are more likely to be affected by the MMR
Is it biological warfare? Possibly not, but the CDC did cover up this study and took away the rights of African-American families to decide on whether to vaccinate or not based on the risks because of their ethnicity. This demonstrates not one size fits all and not one size fits all ethnic groups either.
- MMR vaccine why all 3 given at once
Some feel giving the vaccines one at a time in spaced out intervals, lowers the risk of the side effects of the vaccines. In a live virus immunization, I also do not see the logic of giving 3 vaccines in one go. There are 3 live viruses (I am aware they are the attenuated version of the viruses) injected at once and this can be detrimental can it not?
- Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated Research
Why has there not been a research as such been done yet? I know there is one research been done but I cannot validate it as a good friend of mine said the source itself is a weak source. Here is the link to it anyways.
Here again, Autism spectrum disorder refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
According to the link below vaccines do not cause autism, but parents are saying the side effects of the vaccines is the reason for the kids to behave in an autistic manner, taking into consideration that autism is a spectrum disorder that is the product or symptom of something deeper.
Bear in mind it has been reported that the CDC did cover up the study to the autism link.
- Parents that vaccinate feel they owe it social community to vaccinate and the anti-vaccine says we have a choice as not one size fits all.
I do agree with we all should be given a choice as not one size fits all. The other question that gets asked, if parents that vaccinate their kids, what are they so afraid of if their trust in vaccines is so high? The same goes for doctors who do not allow kids into their rooms if they are not vaccinated, what are they afraid of if vaccines suppose to work?
- The number of vaccines given
The other scenario is the number of vaccines given is completely absurd. I also find this a bit challenging to understand. Flu vaccines and other ridiculous amounts of vaccines are not called for in my opinion.
- It is not researched and treated like any other pharmaceutical medication that goes into the dispensary.
Vaccines do not go through rigorous research and clinical trials and tests like the other drugs that are in the dispensary. This was another argument presented by parents that do not vaccinate. I honestly do not have the capabilities to even begin to tackle this concern and hopefully I will do so in the future.
I am going to repeat myself and state, none of these findings are conclusive but is just presented to you to research more into each concern and I have only touched the surface of this topic. Some books I have read like ‘the adverse effects of vaccines’ was hard for me to digest as I am not literate in the field of medical or health sciences to understand most of it.
In conclusion, I would like to highlight the one finding that I made that was rather disturbing to me. I found both Vaxxers and Anti-vaxxers to be rude, hostile, ignorant, aggressive and unsympathetic to one another. I find those in the medical science field have this attitude of ‘Just shut up and do what you are told to do’. I find that type of attitude off-putting. In the same breath, those that choose to vaccinate their kids are scorned upon those that don’t. If the parent has been given all this information and intuitively still chooses to vaccinate, should they not do so without being victimised? Are we not allowed to question science? Are we not allowed to query what goes into our bodies and the bodies of our kids? Are we not allowed to make a decision based on our findings, our lifestyle and our intuition as parents? Are we not allowed A CHOICE?
I also found people for vaccines, dismissed people that did not have a degree or any formal education in the field, and was scoffed at and called fools. Un/fortunately, I am way pass all the Degree and PhD stuff as my lifestyle is one of Life Learning. So if a person has dedicated anything between 5 to 10 or more years on researching a subject, that for me is considered an expert on the subject. I am certainly not talking about quacks and those that have taken on the bandwagon of selling natural stuff as remedy for everything; I am talking about people that have genuinely dedicated their life so far in this research.
Are we irresponsible if we do not vaccinate our kids? But who are we irresponsible to, is it to society or to our kids?
So where do we (my husband and I) stand with the decision of vaccinating our 11 year old son. If we had to take my very little findings (as we only really touched the tip of the iceberg here) and gather it all up, right now as it stands we still choose not to vaccinate. Both the vaccine and anti-vaccine movement is inconclusive for us and based on certain criteria for my family I have chosen not to. We are not part of the ‘rat race’ so we do not believe in having ‘rat race’ solutions for our family.
These were our criteria to not vaccinate at this point in time;
- We do not live a mainstream lifestyle, if you like to call it such; we are not part of the herd community. Well we are part of it but somewhat live on the outskirts of it. We are Life Learners (unschoolers).
- My son is an introvert who hardly ever joins others in much social gatherings and if he does pick up any of these diseases then I believe his body immune system is strong enough to fight it, with the help of allopathic and natural practitioners. He will be contained if he has any of these diseases and will not affect the rest of the herd, so to say.
- Our family lives a mostly natural lifestyle and I am not irresponsible about not knowing what my child is going through every day of his life, we are hands on parents.
- We have done all this research with my 11 year old and I believe he is old enough to decide for himself what he wants to do for his own body. This is the bases of how our kids exist in our home and our own personal family philosophy. No one is allowed to anything with their bodies without their permission.
- My kids are been brought up in a home of love, security, stability, hygienic with clean water and soap, it is a privilege we certainly do have. They are been brought up to listen to their own bodies and if they are ill it is their bodies way of saying slow down and rest and that is what they do.
- Vaccines are not guaranteed immunity, the only guaranteed immunity is the getting the disease itself.
- The other major aspect is the side effects of the vaccines. Unfortunately, my child is important to me just as any of you that think your child is important to you; I am certainly not willing to take that chance just yet.
So these are our reasons personal to us. I am not pro vaccine or anti-vaccine, but I feel I do have/need a choice. I am making a choice based on my personal lifestyle and environment. Personally, if the possible serious side effects did not look so scary then I may have vaccinated for MMR only, as the Mumps is the only concern for my son regarding puberty and sterility. I encourage others to make choices personal to their own research, information, and environment. You can choose to fully vaccinate, not fully vaccinate or not vaccinate at all, but make a choice that you are comfortable with.
** I have deliberately left out names of the people in the vaccine or anti-vaccine world as the point of this article is not to point out who is wrong or right but rather for you to come to your own research and conclusions.