Health

On Vaccinations

“Is vaccinating your child really necessary and is it safe?”

This question is a familiar one to us Sinclair ladies. Mom wrestled over it years ago and now Danica and I are wrestling over it ourselves. There are both simple and complicated answers. Firstly, regarding the necessity of vaccinations:

No, from a technical standpoint, vaccinating your child is not necessary. Your children can live without vaccinations and not die– people did it for centuries! And you, as the parent, get to make the final decision. Many will tell you that you have to vaccinate your children to enroll them in school (that’s a “trump card” I’ve often had played on me), but you are officially allowed to sign an exemption, should you so desire. That said, I would not be surprised to see increasing resistance from officials on this issue. Last fall in Maryland, parents were threatened with jail if they didn’t comply to the school system vaccination requirements.

As far as whether or not vaccinating is necessary for our children’s medical and future health prosperity– and if it is indeed safe– the lines are much grayer. It all depends on who you’re talking to! Here are some of my brief thoughts on the matter:

1. Know what your vaccinations are made from.

We assume that everything a doctor may recommend giving our children is good for them all the time. If you’ve been a parent for long, you know this simply isn’t true. Often in the medical community, risks are weighed and doctors make the decision that they feel is truly best. The problem is when a doctor’s conclusion is different than yours would be– if you knew what to weigh.

For example, do you want formaldehyde and ethylene glycol (antifreeze) injected into your infant?

Or much, much more horrifically worse, what about the possibility of vaccines that are developed with the use of human diploid cells (the dissected organs of aborted fetuses)?

Ask questions. If you want a certain vaccination, ask for the manufacturer information and call them to get all the facts so that you can be comfortable (from both ethical and safety standpoints) about everything that is being put in your child’s body.

2. Some vaccinations are for illnesses that can be medically treated without being dangerous, but we don’t know they’re not dangerous because they’re unfamiliar.

Recently, I realized that my children will grow up hearing tales about the chicken pox my sisters and I had as girls much the way I grew up hearing tales about the mumps my parents had when they were young. To me, chicken pox is not a serious illness, provided you get it real good when you’re a child and develop all the proper immunities, while measles and mumps make me very nervous because they are unfamiliar and treated as always-deathly illnesses. [Note: I realize chicken pox is much more serious for adults in regard to both reproductive systems and unborn babies and I assume our moms did, too, else they wouldn’t have been sending all of us to each other’s houses to get chicken pox.]

My mom didn’t grow up with an ignorance-based fear of measles or mumps, but I did. Likewise, I didn’t grow up with an ignorance-based fear of chicken pox, but it’s very plausible that my children will.

One thing I did years ago was briefly research each of the diseases addressed by vaccinations. I did a quick overview of the common symptoms and possible complications (and I made a list– prior to the days of google docs– which I’ve since lost on a computer that won’t start… Bummer!). In familiarizing myself with these illnesses, I found that I was no longer so intimated by them because I had eliminated the unknown factor.

3. Vaccinations don’t always work and can then increase our risk much more than if we were simply exposed to and created natural antibodies to illnesses as children.

When I was pregnant with Gabriel, it was discovered that I was not immune to rubella, which can be very dangerous to an unborn baby, even though I’d been vaccinated years before. My midwives were justifiably nervous and I was instructed to be seen immediately should I experience any of the symptoms of rubella.

In regards to chicken pox, there are many questions about its long-term effectiveness; so while we’re making it so that children aren’t getting chicken pox (I fear the motivation is sometimes that they not miss school days and require their moms to take time off work), there’s a very good chance that they will deal with shingles as adults and possibly even contract the illness at a much more dangerous time for their (or their unborn babies’) bodies. Do we really want to take such risks just so that we don’t have to spend a week or two caring for our children?

4. There are real risks associated with particular vaccinations.

When even the government is admitting to a correlation between vaccines and autism, we parents should all stop and take note. For years, there have been suppositions and suspicions and testimonials regarding such things, but the government has flatly denied the possibility. Not so now.

This is one of the reasons I am especially skeptical and try to learn a lot about newer vaccines. What sorts of things might we find out in 10 or 15 or 20 years about the hepatitis A and B vaccinations, for example? Maybe nothing bad! But do I really want my children being guinea pigs for medical research?

5. Certain vaccinations at certain points in time can be a real blessing.

Believe me, as soon as Gabriel was born, I got a rubella vaccination (after checking the source and how it was made). The possibility of contracting that sort of illness when carrying an unborn baby was enough to make me very, very grateful that there was some sort of prevention available. And while I hope that my children will be exposed to and generate natural antibodies to chicken pox at some point in their childhoods, should they not be, I’m glad there will be something available for them as adults who are faced with bigger concerns about the illness.

6. Don’t be afraid to create your very own Vaccination Schedule.

I remember the first time Danica and I went to a restaurant with some friends and one ordered a meal, only to then tell the waitress all the things she wanted different: “No onions, and instead of fries I’d like a potato, and please put the mayo on the side,” etc. Mouths hanging open, we were astounded! “You can do that???” (When you eat out with a big family, the options are usually pepperoni or no pepperoni on your pizza!)

I think some parents would have the same reaction upon finding out that you can decide when, how, and what in regards to vaccinations. Yes, you can! You’re the parent and you are the one ultimately responsible before God for making good decisions for your child(ren). If you don’t feel comfortable with the rubella vaccination but you want measles and mumps, you can get separate measles and mumps shots. If you think getting the tetanus shot for your son who likes to play in the run-down barn nearby that is probably full of old, rusty, bacteria-covered nails is a good idea but you’re not interested in the diptheria or pertussis part of the DTaP shot, then say so. If anything, I’ve found that doctors respect me more when I start discussing vaccinations intelligently with them. They realize I’ve not just bought into a movement that is anti-modern medicine, but that I’m a genuinely concerned and invested parent.

Regarding when you get vaccinations, my greatest word of caution is to highly protect your child’s developing immune system. Doctors are concerned about this immature immune system, too, and their solution is to expose it to disease in as controlled a fashion as possible: vaccinations. Attentive mothering, at least 12 good months of breastfeeding, good hygiene, and caring for your baby at home (vs. a daycare center– if you must work it is better to find a friend or family member to watch your baby in their home) is, if you’re able, the better option during this delicate time. [Note: breastmilk has the best natural antibodies! Vaccinations can’t even come close to breastmilk in terms of effectiveness, let alone safety!]

A child’s immune system and brain are both pretty fully developed by age 2. If you want to do any vaccinations, it would be much kinder to your child’s body processes and development at this time than earlier. The exception to this is MMR– the vaccination most associated with autism– which may be better to wait on at least until your child is beyond the formative preschool years.

Also, consider talking with your doctor about getting your child’s titer levels checked prior to immunizing. Your child may have developed immunity to certain viruses just by exposure.

7. Pray about and make decisions that are best for your child(ren).

Sometimes people have said to me something like, “You’re being selfish by not giving your kids the MMR vaccination. What if you start an epidemic?”

I don’t honestly know all the logistics of such a possibility because I’m not a doctor, a medical researcher, or an expert on statistics. I have a good measure of confidence in the fact that most of the major illnesses that vaccines address were on the decline before vaccinations due to good hygiene, better medical care, and a general increase in knowledge about them, but that’s about it.

Epidemics aside, we know our children. We know what we have faith for and peace about. We know that we can trust the Lord to honor our sincere-hearted obedience.

I also know this: fear can too easily be our motivator. There are times when I’ve spoken with a doctor and come away very shaken and worried about what could happen if I don’t vaccinate my baby. Similarly, there are other times when I’ve read about vaccinations and been fearful to get any vaccinations ever. That’s when I come home and say, “What is God saying to me? What are the facts I know to be true?” I don’t want to live my whole life dictated by the What-Ifs. That would mean never leaving my home, never touching that grocery cart or getting in that vehicle, never being at peace about my children’s welfare… never having children.

In ending this very long answer to a very short question, I realize there is probably much more to be discussed. Please feel free to comment, share information and insights, and encourage one another as we process and make these not-so-black-and-white decisions!

Discussion

Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Oh, how silly we are whne we give in to fear.
    I remember walking away from a short hospital stay during my pregnancy with the boys. The Doc had looked Eric in the eyes and called him a rebellious fool for not aborting them at this early stage in the game. He angrily and firmly said, “I just got off the phone with my partner and she confirmed it- Lisa WILL get an infection and it very well could KILL her.”
    Wow. An hour later I was back home on the couch, shaking inside with fear from what he had said. My head and heart KNEW what was right, yet that fear crept in anyway. I thank God everyday for the wise counsel I received from Eric (and from a few honest, caring friends- eh, hem, like Janel Colbert who reminded me that this fear was straight from the pit of hell!) :~)
    So I wrote all this to remind the moms out there that when fear creeps in, remember what the Lord says about it. Refuse to buy in to the lie! He is with us to guide and protect.
    I couldn’t agree more with everything you wrote above. It’s an important string of decisions that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Imagine if we were on our own in this parenting adventure? YIKES!

    Posted by Lisa | April 2, 2008, 3:33 am
  2. P.S. If anyone out there wants a specific example of how certain vaccines are pushed, then pulled- research the OPV. Oral polio was “the only way to go” when Colby was born. By the time Timmy’s turn came around, they were phasing it out. By Molly, wasn’t even being offered! Just a specific example of what you mentioned in #4 above.

    Posted by Lisa | April 2, 2008, 3:34 am
  3. the top news story on cnn.com was about this.

    BTW, I held off on vaccinations on my 2 darlings until they entered public school. I didn’t know I had a choice! When they got their shots (or “shocks”, as Ana erroneously called them) I buckled in and prayed for the best.

    would I do it differently now?
    maybe!

    Posted by nancy hull | April 2, 2008, 6:54 am
  4. This is the article Nancy ^ is referring to.

    Posted by Brietta Paladin | April 2, 2008, 6:58 am
  5. I read an article about a correlation between mercury in vaccines linked with Autism. In one study the mercury levels in infants receiving shots were well below all safety levels. You can read this article: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/12/04/earlyshow/contributors/emilysenay/main531638.shtml

    The link between Autism and mercury is not a proven one. Especially since we don’t know exactly how Autism happens, what causes it, and where in the brain/DNA it is located. Unfortunately there is no test for Autism. It is only diagnosed by it’s symptoms which can be so different they have all kinds of specifically named Autisms.

    Just for the record, we breathe mercury everyday in our own air!

    I was completely vaccinated as child on the doctors schedule and I had no problems with it. I am actually a really healthy adult and rarely become ill. As a child I never got chicken pox even though I had my chicken pox infected cousin spend the night and sleep in my bed. I got vaccinated for it when I was 13 and my sister was a baby. Mom had her vaccinated too to mostly protect me and I have had my kiddos vaccinated for it as well.
    I had all 3 of my kids vaccinated on schedule with the dr.’s office and have had no problems with it.

    Vaccines have done a lot of good for us. I read that only 1/310,000 patients have a severe side affect. Meningitis went from 20,000 cases a year to a few per year. Small pox has been eliminated from America and polio from N. and S. America. It’s just a personal choice each person must make but just remember that these vaccinations were designed to help not harm.

    Posted by Randi Young | April 2, 2008, 11:07 am
  6. I did not know parents had a choice whether or not to vaccinate thier kids. Since Mara was born she has always recieved the routine vaccines, although I was paranoid about the chicken pox vaccine, as I didnt feel it was necessary at all. I shold study up more on this…and perhaps make some more informed decisions in the future for both Mara and Charlotte.
    What sources did you use to do your vaccine research?

    Posted by Sarah Cunningham | April 2, 2008, 11:18 am
  7. @ Randi – the CNN article from earlier today mentions autism and mercury, but mercury is not typically one of the chief ingredients that is of concern, from what I understand. However, regardless of specifics, if you read the article I linked to (under point #4), you can see that government officials are admitting to a correlation of sorts between autism and vaccines. I think the full understanding of autism and specific ingredients is something that is yet to be discovered, but I do feel that it is the right of parents to at least know of the possibilities.

    Which leads me to responding to Sarah: Yes, I am astounded by how matter-of-fact-ly parents are told their children are getting vaccinated and when– like there’s no other option. I am not of the mindset that vaccinations shouldn’t be offered, because I think there’s a time and place for them (and my children do receive certain immunizations are certain ages), but it is baffling to me that parents aren’t even given a list of ingredients in the shots. I mean, we all look at food labels and even restaurants are required to have nutrition information available– and food is government regulated– but we’re expected to blindly accept vaccinations. It just seems weird.

    Much of my initial research actually came from a class I took before Gabriel was born, taught my an RN (who was a mom, too). From there, I’ve done a lot of online reading, as I find that allows me to see different perspectives fairly easily. There are also some good books on the issue. One that comes to mind is “Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide” by Aviva Jill Romm. I’m sure there are more books out there– I know Danica read a couple and she might have a recommendation for you.

    Posted by Brietta Paladin | April 2, 2008, 2:30 pm
  8. I realize the article mentions mercury and autism. I have researched this before a lot but the point I was trying to make-as far as the mercury goes-it’s very unlikely it is dangerous enough to cause Autism since we do actually breathe mercury in our air.

    I don’t really know about the other ingredients in the shots so I can’t really say anthing concerning them. I think it is definetly good to be informed and make informed choices-not choices based because so and so doctor said I should.

    I remember the first time I questioned my dr. about my gestational diabetes testing and he got pretty upset saying, “No one EVER refuses this!” (I had very good reasons and was already eating a diabetic diet) But, it was kinda scary as he threatened me with this and that. You just have to stand up for what you believe.

    I just wanted to make sure that we do see that these vaccines have done a lot good. Thanks.

    Posted by Randi Young | April 2, 2008, 4:33 pm
  9. @ Randi: thanks for chiming in and sharing your thoughts. And I would love to hear of your experiences with GD sometime– I love learning more about our bodies and the way they work!

    Posted by Brietta Paladin | April 2, 2008, 4:42 pm
  10. Remember, too guys that it is very difficult for us laypersons to gain access to the facts. With my Dad being a pharmacist for well over twenty years and a few of my close friends being employed (and then unemployed) by prominent pharmecutical companies, I have picked lots of brains and tried to get access to the important studies and findings. It is virtually impossible. It sometimes seems like unless you are a board certified phycisian with a password and/or subscription, you’re a tad out of luck. It takes patience and persistence, and as I’ve heard others say- sometimes lying to get to the bottom of what really goes on with these link studies. It’s not really about the welfare of the precious son or daughter as much as we’d like to think so. It’s more often about the product and who is promoting it. I know I sound like one of those fanatical nut jobs that you’ll find on the street corner holding the “DO NOT VACCINATE” signs, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s really just that my main frustration lies in the fact that those moms who really do have a desire to research and educate themselves have to really push and spend lots of time and energy to do it, only to find in the end that they still can’t gain access to the whole truth. I wouldn’t get my facts solely from the CDC for vaccine safety just like I don’t get all my food safety facts from the FDA. Just some more crazy thoughts from a mom who is, like I said, still asking anyone who is at all connected to the field.

    Posted by LisaCriscitello | April 2, 2008, 6:03 pm
  11. From one who is just now beginning to understand more about vaccines, I’d love to hear the delayed schedules some of you are adapting. I know for us, Lael (my oldest) is the only one who received the MMR, due to my complete lack of understanding. Alyssa has a severe egg allergy and the vaccine is created in an egg base. (But I thank God every day that we tested her when we did, because if she had been given the MMR, she would have gone into anaphylactic shock.) After she outgrows her egg allergy, at what point is it safe to give her the MMR? Lauren is just now a year old and I’ve stopped all vaccinations until I better understand them. When is a good time to resume shots? Should we resume them at all??

    Posted by Jackie C | April 3, 2008, 3:01 am
  12. Just found this site –

    http://thinktwice.com/

    I’ve not gone through every page but it seems like very clear info on the vaccines, hwo they’re made and what the reactions can be.

    Posted by Jackie C | April 3, 2008, 4:17 am
  13. Wow! Very interesting, Brietta. Eric told me about that CNN article yesterday. 6 months ago at Eleora’s 2 month check up, our old doctor told us that he had a son with autism, so he had done much research and there is no possible link between autism and vaccinations. The practice told us we had to get vaccinated or else they would ask us to simply leave when we walked in the door to the office. So, we left. We thank God that our new doctor highly respects our decision to wait on vaccinations and has not even come close to arguing with us about it as our previous doctor did.
    I, like Jackie, would love to know what your delayed schedule is for each particular vaccination as well. I’ve got a lot more research to do on this topic and all the input I can find helps a bunch! Thank you so much for this post!

    Posted by Jen Trelease | April 3, 2008, 6:59 am
  14. @ Jackie & Jen: Regarding when and how to resume vaccinations, I am still very much sorting this out, so I’m hesitant to give many recommendations. I try to do what makes sense according to what I currently know– but it’s always a tough decision. Lisa C. has definitely had a lot more years and experience under her belt with this one and is probably worth giving a call. I know she doesn’t mind chatting with other moms at all.

    That said, I generally make decisions by trying to weigh the risks of vaccinations vs. the disease. (Disclaimer: I still don’t know that I fully understand the risks of vaccination– much because it’s hard to get good info like Lisa commented ^!)

    Gabriel and Bronwyn have both received DTaP and started when they’re 3 years old. Knowing my kids are running around and playing with things outdoors makes me feel like tetanus is a worthwhile vaccination. It’s only been in the last month or two that I’ve questioned myself on why I had them get DTaP instead of just tetanus; I have to research more to make a good decision there. MMR is for illnesses that are significantly more dangerous post-adolescence so, as of now, I plan on my kids getting MMR when they are around 10 years old or so– just before adolescence. They may also get the chicken pox vaccine then if they don’t test positive for antibodies at that time. Not sure about that one. Hep A & B seem like vaccines that I may only consider if/when they are traveling overseas to 3rd world countries. As far as polio goes, I’m sorting it out. Even my doctor said there’s really no point in getting it since it’s pretty much been eradicated from the world, so that makes me less inclined to mess with it.

    Does that help at all?!?!

    Posted by Brietta Paladin | April 3, 2008, 7:44 am
  15. Funny when people realize they really do have choices. You wrote a very good article. There are also worries right now about the flu shot and Alzheimers. The ads right now on the menengitis vacinne are very fear mongering…menengitis is a bad disease, agreed, but people should look into that too. The ads would have you know your child will lose a limb or die if you don’t get this shot. Without really giving you details. Some colleges are now requiring it. As a mom having a child in college next year, I really don’t think I will get that for him. He will have to be in on the decision now too, being an adult. I didn’t even know what the risk factors were before and I’m finding out they are not what I thought. He worries about germs so much I really don’t think he fits the profile. So I will have to study more on that. I also know Pfizer tested a drug on African children for menengitis that had already been proven to be dangerous for adults here in the states. My husband took the drug when he had pnuemonia. Later we found out people’s livers were being destroyed and dying from it. Now at that time…he was really sick, this drug was new, and he did get better…But 2 weeks later he had really bad dissentary, I wondered later if it was God’s way of getting the rest of this stuff out of his system. His liver is one of the weak areas of his body. I was one that worried about the autism/mercury link. I know I am allergic to thimerseral, but didn’t know for sure till I got contact lenses and the cleaners and eyedrops gave me a bad reaction. I also couldn’t use methiolate on my skin. I started to put these things together. I guess I can handle it in small amounts, I only remember having a reaction to the measles shot when I was young for other reasons, I woke up with bumps all over me! But it went away in a day. Guardisil(sp) for girls is another one to look out for. It seems it does more harm for good and many of us will not have the risk factors for that either. And it really doesn’t prevent cancer, it is against certain viruses that MIGHT cause cancer. So I’m very interested in this subject myself, thanks for your post.

    A new source on what I spoke of earlier, Doug took Trovan in 99 or 2000, I don’t remember exactly right now. http://www.pharmalot.com/2008/01/nigeria-seeks-arrests-in-pfizer-trovan-case/ http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=trovan+nigeria&fr=yfp-t-501&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8

    Posted by Greta | April 3, 2008, 7:51 am
  16. I should mention that Aubrey is receiving her Hib shots. This is the first time I’ve had an infant vaccinated or even considered the Hib shot (it isn’t offered to anyone over 1yr). When weighing the risks with her, the scales were tipped by her CHD (congenital heart disease); when I researched illnesses like the flu and RSV through the American Heart Association, I realized I was in a whole different ballgame. It still wrecks me to have her getting vaccinated at all, but this is again where I have to trust the Lord once I have made the best decision I know to make. In the end, it is God who sustains and keeps us!

    Posted by Brietta Paladin | April 3, 2008, 7:59 am
  17. Here is the original place I saw about the trovan issue.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2001/jan/17/sarahboseley

    Funny they don’t give Hib to anyone over 1? When Alan was born it was new and I got it for him, and since Matthew had never had it he got it at the same time. (He was actually happy that he and Alan were getting the same shot and wanted to!) He was 3/4(years not 3 quarters!) during the series of shots. At that time I just listened to whatever the dr was telling us to do…

    Posted by Greta | April 3, 2008, 8:21 am
  18. The most balanced book I’ve read on this topic is What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave.

    One of my concerns about vaxing is the number of vaccines that are given and the very young ages they are given at. I have my baby book from the 70’s and I was vaxed for 7 diseases but all spread out. MMR wasn’t even a combined vaccine yet – I got each component separately. Recently I got a newsletter from our health insurance company, so I looked at the vax schedule just for fun. Potentially, my child could be vaccinated for 15 different diseases on the same day! That doesn’t make sense to me. If he had a reaction, how would we know what caused it? Is it truly safe to give them all in conjunction like that? When does the immune system become overtaxed?

    Another thing, they have never done blind side-by-side testing on vaccines – ie. one group of children is vaxed for mumps and another group is not and the reactions and results compared over the long term. The govt started with the assumption that vaccines are a good thing for children and began mandating it for all.

    Posted by Wendy | April 3, 2008, 6:09 pm
  19. I’ve done no research on this subject and left it all to Danica, but my non-informed opinion is:

    a.) It’s not necessary when they’re first born

    b.) Jameson lives in the US where disease is low, and some they vaccinate for, the risks are extremely low

    c.) Jameson will be homeschooled (and this topic is yet another reason why it pays to homeschool!)

    d.) While we believe in medicine and prudence, we do have a very real faith in God that is important in these matters.

    Posted by Ryan | April 4, 2008, 8:04 am
  20. Very informative, Brietta. Our grandson had his first series of vaccinations when he was 2 months old here in the states as my daughter did not trust her country-of-residence vaccines. Children are vaccinated there, and her doctor keeps advising my daughter to get baby his shots. When they were up here six weeks ago, she forgot to get him the next series. I confess to being rather freaked out in my mind that he did not have them, but then heard a few things, read more, and am relaxed. Grandson will do fine, and it is better he is older anyways getting the vaccines. Plus, I am only the grandmother, not the parents, making these decision. I am also very glad not to have to make these decisions that the younger parents now have to make, such as HIB, etc. Cover it all in prayer, and make the best decisions in one’s limited capabilities.

    Posted by susan k. | April 4, 2008, 11:06 am
  21. I forget until I was looking through some of my blogging labels today that I had written this about vaccines. It’s something to think about when considering vaccination (that I had never thought of until I was eavesdropping overhearing a conversation)

    Posted by Katie | April 5, 2008, 5:11 pm
  22. My wife taken chicken pox vaccine on aug 13th 2008,and her date(period) was on 15th aug 2008 but after 2 weeks we checked for pregancy and found that its postive and baby as on 2nd of sep is 6 weeks and 2 days,i cosult aocal doctor and she said its better to do the abortion..but we decided to go head with baby and waiting for gods descion,and we consult another doctor and done the scan and she said as on date the baby is ok..iam asking your expert advice for this problem..and asking for your prayers and blessings for my wife and baby

    plz reply..iam waitng for it

    shijo

    Posted by shijo | September 10, 2008, 10:11 pm
  23. @ shijo: First of all, congratulations on the new baby! What a joyous thing it is to have a child!

    Secondly, I’m afraid I really don’t know how the vaccine your wife received will effect your baby. I do know this, though: life is valuable. No baby ever deserves to die, not even if someone tells you it is in the baby’s best interest. I encourage you to stand in faith for your child. Pray for him/her. Speak words of hope to your wife. Believe for God’s sovereign care. And, most of all, remember that all life is precious in His sight, even life that we may consider “damaged.”

    May God bless you and your wife richly. If we can be of any encouragement to you in any way, please let us know!

    Posted by Brietta Paladin | September 15, 2008, 2:15 pm