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Stereotyping the Vaccinators: To Vaccinate or Not?

Kangaroo Care

A little Kangaroo Care for my sick little baby… when she was down and out with the flu at the tender age of 2 1/2 months!

It was hot outside and I was irritated! Margo was up at 4:45am and by 8am was begging for a nap.  Art was at work.  Goldie was even a bit unusually unsettled.  Even after flying out the door, we arrived late to the doctor’s appointment, smelling like sour milk and baby barf.  I had forgotten about the time change and hadn’t had time to shower… living on the border of two states with different times zones for half the year is such a pain!

Anyway, we went to have Goldie’s six week check up .. but I’m a slacker and she was actually ten weeks old (this was over a month ago now).  I wanted him to check her belly button, because I kept thinking maybe it was herniated because it was sticking out a little.  It’s gone back in now!  Funny, it’s like an innie-outie  He checked her hips, heart, etc. and just as I was walking out the door he asked, ‘Are you planning to immunize?’.

Back up!!!  Hold on, let me sit back down, Dr. Rassaby. Vaccines have been on mind on and off since I learned that I was pregnant with Margo.  It’s the topic that keeps coming up over and over again with no resolution in my mind.  It’s not a topic that’s stirring me up.  In fact, I just can’t decide to either vaccinate or to not vaccinate.  The bottom line is that I just need to make up my damn mind!

For the record, Margo did get a few shots when she was a baby, the DTP+ Polio, but then we stopped. These were shots that I would have had as a kid. They were not what the department of health would be considered as sticking to the routine.  I wanted to hear what our Dr. Rassaby had to say.  Normally, I wouldn’t bother listening to what a GP had to say about vaccines.  I know they would say, ‘vaccines are good, blah blah blah‘.  But, Dr. Rassaby is not your normal GP.  He started the homebirth movement in Australia in the 1970’s.  He’s had 4 of his 5 children at home.  He’s an animal lover; him and his wife are the volunteer people you call in the middle of the night if you find a stray opossum, or wounded bird (animal rescue?).  He has a yoga mat hanging in his office!  I wanted to pick his brain about his views on vaccines.  Unfortunately, Goldie started crying, and even boobs wouldn’t help, and Margo was whining that it was time to go home now.  But, I still had to talk to him about it!

To my surprise, he was very pro-vaccines!  He was also very willing to let a parent have their choice on whether to vaccine their kids and was not going to push his views on me.  He was saying that while there can be reactions to vaccines, the breastfed babies actually handle vaccines quite well.  But, then I said, yeah, but what about breatfed babies being able to fight off the diseases in the first place, without having to be vaccinated?  He said that’s very true… but that vaccines are one of the greatest discoveries of modern medicine… Hmmmm….

Now, if it was a clear cut answer, like, ‘You must vaccinate your kid, or you’re doomed‘, then there would be no issue, everyone would have their kids vaccinated.  In certain third world countries, access to vaccines would mean the difference between life and death.  But, for us, in our sanitary, first world countries, there is much less chance of falling sick… much less chance, but still a chance.  And, do you want to take the chance of having a very sick child?  And, if you do choose to vaccinate, are you ok with a possible severe reaction to the vaccine, or ok with pumping them with some traces of aluminum and formaldehyde?  The scientific studies show that although these toxic substances are included in the vaccine, they are processed in such a way that the levels are well below the safe level for infants.  But, the fact is that babies do get sick and react from getting the actual vaccine!  Vaccines are also blamed for causing autism… and I think a family even won a legal case on that one.  But, then again, nobody really heard of autism 20 years ago, but we were certainly all getting vaccinated then…  And, just because you get a vaccine, does NOT mean that you are safe from getting that disease.  Just, less likely to get it.

Building her immunity

Margo, at 20 months, ‘building her immunity’. She was going to day care three times a week and had a persistent double barrel of boogies… Never got too sick, just the boogies!

Well, what’s funny (ok, not so funny), is that the second we got home from the doctor, was the second that Margo started feeling sick.  In fact, we all got sick with this horrible, terrible flu!  (All except Art!).  It was really hellish and I wouldn’t have wished it upon anyone!  So, that was it!  The kids were going to get vaccinated!  Right???  The flu vaccine is actually one that I know I would never get, but after dealing with two very sick kids (and myself being out of commission),  I decided that if there was anything I could do to prevent having an extremely sick child, then I would do it.  It’s easy to say that you wouldn’t vaccinate when you’re feeling healthy.  But, get really sick and scared because your child is sick, and you think twice about it.  Anyway, so my mind was made up.  Then, I put it  on the sidelines for a while and decided to make an appointment with the doctor as soon as we were better to get our vacs.

Fast forward a few weeks later when we’re all feeling fine and I still haven’t made the appointment with the doctor because I’m a slacker.  A mother posted a picture of her son, on the attachment parenting Facebook page that I belong to.  The poor little baby, maybe a little less than a year old, had had a severe reaction to the MMR/Meningitis/HIB vaccine.  Huge rash all over his face, etc.  She was only doing what she thought was best for her baby because they were about to move to a sketchy part of Asia… What would I have done if I were moving to Asia?  Well, I was scared enough to visit America that I decided to give Margo a few vaccines…  Mind is now changed again!

But, I’m an attachment parent hippie!  I breastfeed my toddler, we co-sleep, I wear my baby, I let my babies cry in my arms and have emotional releases.  Some people would assume that all parents like us would ‘risk’ not getting their kids vaccinated.  So, why am I still on the fence about vaccines?  Could there be a benefit to having them.  Well, yes, there could.  And, can something terrible happen, like a severe reaction… yes…  Oh, somebody enlightened just tell me the answer!

I went to this ayurvedic counselor guy and asked him quickly about vaccines and he said that kids who have had vaccines seem to loose a certain light in their eyes and become a little dull!  At the time, I hadn’t given Margo any vaccines, but I think if he could see her now, and, she was given two shots, I think he would agree that there is nothing dull about her!  It’s very hard to get straight facts.  There’s so much quacky information against vaccines out there, as well as too much government sponsored brainwashing ‘you-must-vaccine-or-else!’.

Still don’t know what to do… What are your experiences with vaccines?  Are you against it and why?  Did your kids get them and react badly to them?  Did your kids get them and everything was fine?  Will you ever come visit me even if you know that my kids are still, for the most part, not vaccinated?  Whether a family decides to vaccinate their kids or not, I don’t think anyone can give a straight answer.  But, what is important, is that people do their research and make an informed decision (and, hello, just google it, you’ll find everything you need… right?  Is that why I haven’t made a decision yet?)  Oh my…what to do?  I’m going to bed, GOOD NIGHT!

45 Responses »

  1. DD was vaccinated, mostly right on time. Think I’m going to delay with DS. There is a book that is apparently a good read about delaying them, written by Dr Sears (AP’s “godfather”‘s son, I think)

    Reply
    • Hey, good to know that I’m not the only attachment parent hippie who is thinking about vaccinating 🙂 I also agree, I think I’m going to wait. A friend of mine who did heaps of research on vaccines, have decided to give no vaccines until their boy is 2 years old… I sort of resonate with this idea.

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    • I just wanted to share that I just picked up Dr. Sears’ book (The Vaccine Book) and found it very helpful and supportive in making choices about vaccines for my first child. Lots of raw data, interpretations and Dr. Sears’ professional opinion. He also includes other suggested schedules: an alternative schedule (that he feels is better for babies than the current US accepted schedule), a selective vaccine schedule (for parents who do not want all the vaccines – it includes the ones that he feels are most important and safest), information about delayed vaccines as well as modifications applicable for Canadian readers.

      I felt that it provided enough unbiased information that I could feel comfortable making a choice. It is also well organized enough that I could bounce around in the book – I read the chapters that seemed most relevant to me and found it easy to find other related information in the book quickly.

      Reply
  2. Im not on the fence with this one. Im not shy about being pro vaccination. Family of ours lost there little baby at 9 weeks from whooping cough. Before vaccination many children died from diseases that are now covered by vaccines. Im sure there are risks and that there are negatives but I really do think that they are one of the most amazing inventions of modern medicine that use he bodies natural disease fighting ability to prevent thwarting death of thousands each year.

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    • It is amazing that we have access to these vaccines, I agree. So tragic hearing about a baby dying from whooping cough. I can’t even imagine the grief one would go through! We had a family at the pool we go to, loose their baby at 4 months from it too. Just awful. It does make me curious to know when I hear these stories about the circumstances of the child. Like, were they being breastfed, did they have any pre-existing medical conditions and were they already immunized? I know that the recommended time to be vaccinated against whooping cough is at 2 months… would a 9 week old baby have even been vaccinated already? Of course, there are risks with everything, like you said. It’s probably way more dangerous to drive in your car than it is to get a vaccine, right?

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      • Hi Kate. Great blog! M. Nixon is my midwife and she said you’d be right up my alley 😉 I have decided that I will vaccinate the baby for MMR, but nothing else. After reading this post, I will consider a flu vaccination if it’s flu season. I feel very strongly that there are two reasons babies should get the MMR: 1) because some many children died of these diseases in the very recent past, and 2) because every child that goes unvaccinated becomes a possible carrier that can infect pregnant women and babies too young to be vaccinated yet. It’s about more that just my baby or your baby – it’s a community health issue. I am delaying my participation in Homebirth Queensland events, like the Gold Coast monthly group, because my blood tests say that I have no immunity to rubella, and if any of the mothers (or more likely their unvaccinated children) are carrying the virus then I could catch it and miscarry or make my unborn-one very sick. Because the virus poses less of a risk after 20 weeks I’ll consider attending then. I used to live in California where the number of unvaccinated people has gotten high enough that rubella is sickening and killing a growing number of babies every year. Not the kind of future I want to contribute to! Thanks for writing and sharing your life experiences.

      • Glad you found my blog! Maria is just awesome! I’ll love hearing responses from people who live locally because it’s a lot to do with where you live too that determines which vacs to get! I’m actually a little weary of the flu vaccines as they change very frequently, and will never forget a few years ago in Brisbane a twin who died from the flu vac (rare, I know…). Even though that flu we had was horrible! The little one was sort of ok because she is exclusively breast fed, but yes, was aweful!

  3. This is such a hard decision! After reading the Vaccine Book recommended by the commenter above we decided to go with the alternative schedule, best of both worlds, right? But then we began having autism concerns with our son (I’m not necessarily blaming them on the vaccines) so we made an appointment with the Dr. Sears that wrote the book (his office is just about 20 minutes from us). He recommended to stop vaccinating Eli altogether and so we have. Now I’m expecting again and I need to make the decisions all over again. Do I not vaccinate at all, or go back to the alternate schedule? I honestly don’t know. I see both sides to the argument about vaccines. My mother lost her teenage brother to polio in the 1940’s. The reason this doesn’t happen any longer is due to vaccines. The one I’d really like to be sure to give the baby is the vaccine for whooping cough as it is now an epidemic in California. But it is a combined vaccine and is actually 20% fatal in children who are neurologically abnormal. When the baby is so young you don’t know if there are neurological problems yet. We certainly didn’t know with my son. Now that we know my older son has problems do I dare take the chance with the infant in case she has some of the same problems herself? Do I dare not when babies die every year of whooping cough even in our own county?

    Reply
    • Wow! I can’t believe you actually got to see Dr. Sears on that one! And, such a blessing that he was able to advise you straight away! I too know babies who have died of whooping cough in our community. It would be interesting to know the circumstances, like were they breastfed, did they have any pre-existing health problems, etc. It is so hard to decide, but I feel so lucky that we even have the choice, like I said, in some third world countries where these diseases really kill many children, it’s a miracle that we can get the vaccine if we choose to do so! Thanks for the reply!

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  4. We are not vaccinated and not going to be…well at least for now…coz most of vaccines are for something that the chance of getting it is incredibly low. Big no for flu vacs too as the virus is different every year. By having a shot ppl encourage the virus to modify and get stronger…or virus is beaten by other stronger virus. I’ve heard about homeopathic vaccination, have look at that one! Hugs and be well

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  5. Here is my take on it…I REALLY think there are some children who’s body’s cannot handle the vaccinations. I had all three of my children vaccinated because I am afraid of the alternative but my middle son’s behavior and personality completely changed after the vaccinations he received at 1 year old. He was up for 3 days straight and cried and was fussy. After that, he never really returned to the happy go lucky baby that he was. He was still very smart and began talking but I began to have concerns about autism and began reading all about it. He wasn’t autistic but he was very sensitive to noises and the littlest things set him off. He’s five now and he is okay but still has some behavior issues. He is very sensitive to certain foods. For example, I can not give him strawberries. His behavior goes off the charts crazy. I believe his body is just more sensitive and can’t break things down like my other two children. I really wish there was a way to test children to see how their bodies will react or if they can handle it.

    Reply
    • So sorry to hear about your son’s experiences. It’s weird though, my little Margo got sick with a 24 hour stomach bug when she was just about 12 months and from then on, it was almost like she was never the same. It was like she had never experienced the agony of being sick and from them on she was a bit more sensitive,,, like really sensitive! She’s what I would call highly sensitive, not badly behaved, but very fussy when it comes to routine, etc. It’s not easy because I am very not into a routine at all! I do believe that you are right, some people’s bodies just cannot tolerate the vaccines. I wonder if holding off on certain vaccines would help for the child to tolerate them? Do you remember which vaccine was the one that made your little boy sick?

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  6. Interesting topic! I see vaccination as a commitment you make to your community. It’s not about me and my child, it’s about deciding to not be a carrier. I understand that non-vaccinated older/stronger kids carry disease very often to the weakest in the community, such as those who are too young to be vaccinated. The commitment we have all made is what makes us collectively protected. It only takes a few percent of us to change the tide backwards. As far as I know the true scientific studies clearly disprove the vaccination-autism theory. I have read all the bad news stories, such stories make good headlines, and whether they can be linked to vaccine or not, it doesn’t seem to outway. I see it as though you are protecting not just that child, but your younger ones, your neighbors, your street, your suburb.

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    • They do seem to be terribly toxic things tho, and I would make sure the little ones are in absolutely perfect health before getting it done. I would think being breastfeed puts them closer to perfect health, thumbs up, agreed! Although… Some people say breastmilk is toxic these days, have you done a post on that Kate?

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    • What a nice reply, Jason! I never really thought of it that way. That we’re also protecting the more vulnerable. (Always out for ourselves, aren’t we?). Yes, I’ve heard that breastmilk is ‘toxic’. The breastmillk is where all the toxins in the environment accumulate, and that’s true for all mammals, it’s called bioaccumulation. It’s not really toxic though, I mean, compared to the alternative, it’s the absolute best for improving immunity and nutrition. I did read a study once that said that even if you’re a smoker and you breastfeed your child is still like 4x better than giving your baby formula.

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  7. randee greenwald

    Hi Kate- I have to agree with your GP about vaccines- the benefits outweigh the risks, but there are risks. I work for the health department, and we are certainly pro-vaccine. A couple of points- first of all the link between vaccines and autism was made by a research doctor based on 12 cases (and he falsified the data)- his medical license has been revoked. I am not sure if he was sent to prison for this or not. But the harm created by that research is tragic, In addition, vaccination creates what is called herd immunity- that is, if almost everyone is vaccinated, those that are not will be protected because most of the others around them are protected. Just this Tuesday (two days before our four day Thanksgiving holiday), an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) occurred in a town where many parents do not believe in vaccines. The children now sick (and I don’t think there have been any deaths) may not have much illness, however, if they expose an infant who has not received vaccines, the infant may be at risk for serious illness or death. How many of them will be around family with infants during this holiday season? Believe me, I took care of an infant in the hospital with pertussis (too young to have completed her vaccines)- it was not a pretty scene. While it seems a bit overwhelming to give so many vaccines at once to an infant or young child, the dose of each vaccine is much lower than it has been in the past. Finally, even a disease as “benign” as chicken pox (and there were chicken pox parties when I was growing up- grandma didn’t do this- but if one kid had chicken pox, all the moms would take their kids over so that they would catch it and get it over with). Chicken pox may cause problems – before the vaccine there were 100 deaths per year and 11,000 hospitalizations in the US in otherwise healthy people. And trust me, shingles in older age due to having had chicken pox is not pleasant. So talk to your GP- he seems to be a very thoughtful person- but realize that the diseases they prevent may cause debilitation and even death if not prevented. It’s a tough decision.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the reply Aunt Randee! Of course, working in the medical world, you would have seen some of the worst case scenarios! So, really appreciate your input. You know, I’ve never even heard of the quack who did the research on linking autism and vaccines until just recently, although, perhaps in a very few cases, it could be true, I would be more scared of letting my kid watch hours of tv if I were scared of them getting autism! My GP did say that of all the vaccines, even the chicken pox one had him a little weary because it meant that people were getting shingles at a very young age… But, I do know that chicken pox is not what it used to be! Funny you should say the chicken pox parties, because when Margo was about 6 months old, a friend of ours had a son with the pox and I almost purposely went over to expose her, but I thought she was a little bit young…

      Reply
    • right, herd immunity, that’s the important point, and that’s why the government has a role, and why you lose some privileges/rights (e.g. daycare, schooling) in some communities, because it’s a team effort, we are in this together for it to work. it’s like, “i don’t put my car lights on at night because i have great night vision and want to save the battery, too bad if others can’t see me coming”.

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  8. We don’t vaccinate, at all. So far so good. My girls are growing like weeds and they’re really healthy. For me it all came down to looking up the ingredients in the few vaccines I was considering. After seeing what I’d be putting in my baby I was 100% against it. There are always going to be those few sad cases where a child dies, and I’m not trying to be heartless, but those deaths aren’t always due to the child having not been vaccinated. My girls have very strong immune systems (they were breast fed for 17 months and 30 months respectively), and not vaccinating has not caused us much of a hassle (the US schools get scared when you tell them that you don’t vaccinate, but we just sign a religious waiver and that’s the end of discussion). Good luck with your decision 🙂

    Reply
    • It’s crazy, I know, just because a child is vaccinated, does not mean that they won’t get sick! Thanks for your response! All the comments are being processed in ‘brain’. I’m sure I’ll come up with a decision it will all be ok!

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      • I can’t remember the exact figure, but in Australia last year about 85% of the kids who got whooping cough had received the vaccination against it. Doesn’t exactly build a parent’s confidence in the system, does it?

      • Wow! Didn’t know that one! Yes, it’s true that getting he vaccine does not prevent you from getting the illness, only reduces your chances…

  9. Hi Kate, I came across your blog and found this post particulary interesting. To me this is a very important topic and while I respect everyone’s opinions, I am 100% pro-vaccination. I have a lot of first hand experience as I worked at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders for 3 years. I worked directly for the Center’s Director and worked closely with her as well as other researchers at Kennedy Krieger and at Johns Hopkins University and Hospital. These are people who are at the cutting edge of Autism research and it’s relation to vaccines, and I have heard first hand from them the benefits of vaccines. I left my job at Kennedy Krieger after I had my first child to stay at home, and I worked there up until I delivered her. When I was pregnant, I asked many questions to all of these doctors and researchers about vaccines and they all told me the same thing. VACCINATE your baby. To me it’s a no brainer…. vaccines are the one of the greatest medical advances in history. I have breastfeed both of my children, they are healthy, etc. and they both have received their vaccines right on schedule. I have a 6 month old and 3 year old and I honestly counted down the days until they receive their shots. Once they get their shots, I feel like they are much “safer” in a way. My 6 month old has her 6 month appointment tomorrow and will receive all of her 6 month shots and her flu shot tomorrow. I can’t imagine if I decided not to vaccinate my children and one of them got sick and/or died because I decided not to vaccinate them. In my opinion, it is my responsibility as a parent to do everything I can to protect them and keep them healthy and safe. As someone else mentioned above, vaccines are also about keeping others in your community healthy. My 3 year old goes to preschool and they must be vaccinated in order to attend preschool. I would honestly be upset if a child attended her school who did not receive their vaccinations and then proceeded to get everyone else sick. I am happy they require childrent to vaccinated prior to attending school. I could go on about this topic for sometime, but these are just a few of my own thoughts. I hope this helps you make your own decision about what is best for your children.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the reply! I didn’t know that when writing this post I would get so many responses! It’s very interesting because I have had many people respond who are involved with the medical community. I feel lucky to read these posts! I do feel prefer scientific facts, and studies, etc. I keep leaning more and more to get Margo vaccinated, but maybe just delayed and more spaced out. I truly feel that even if vaccines may be linked to a few cases of autism, that is nothing compared to the link between autism and other factors, like tv, internet, etc. Thanks so much for your input, very much appreciated!

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  10. Nothing like a vaccination discussion to stir up a bit of controversy!
    I’ve been vaccinating my children, but when I want and when I feel it is right, not according to schedule.

    I just make sure that their immune is really good at the time it is given, and make sure that they are taking immune boosting supplements afterwards. I give high vitamin cod liver oil, coconut oil and probiotics to make sure their little guts can cope with the invaders (80% of the immune system is in the gut).

    There is no doubts that vaccines can have devastating effects on some children, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Good on you Kate for researching and doing what you need to do to keep your kiddies in good health, whether you vaccinate or not 🙂

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    • Oh tell me about it, I didn’t know it would stir up such a ruckus! Thanks so much for the advice on making sure they’re healthy, giving them probiotics, etc. I’m thinking more and more that I will vaccinate, and those things will help!

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  11. That was an interesting read and I believe I have decided that we will be vaccinating. I agree with the community aspect and the fact that it is our responsibility to protect our children. I was vaccinated and I am fine! I wasn’t even breastfed!

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  12. I’ve been struggling with this issue too. It comes down to this for me, if my baby had an adverse reaction to me injecting a foreign substance past her natural defenses (that’s part of the skin’s job) I would feel ten times worse than if she caught something naturally. In addition to that, regardless of what we end up doing later (possible vaccinate as a toddler), she will not get the MMR or Chickenpox because those vaccines are grown using aborted fetal lung tissue and contain trace amounts of human DNA.

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  13. Kate, check out http://www.thinktwice.com, read anything by Neil Miller, and get Wendy Lydall’s book. Highly rec Lydalls’s book, an absolute must read before making any decision. Don’t do it Kate, the truth will leave hairs standing up on the back of your neck. I am a doctor, too. The medical community is fed any info that benefits the vaccine industry pockets. Vaccines and immunisation are two different things. Every vaccine causes damage, though you may not see it, though it may be small. There is a big difference between malevolent diseases and childhood diseases. Honestly, Lydall’s book is the most enlightening, most heavily researched from someone who knows about it from three different countries. Best of luck to you xx

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    • Wow! Thanks so so much for that book referral! I’m defiantly going to buy and read that book! My only issue with researching the vaccine topic is, just lack of hard core scientific studies! I’m just sitting on the fence because I know that I really don’t know anything! Almost everything that you read is bias! I was a science major at uni, and a science teacher, so for me, it’s all about the facts. Like, I’m sure that vaccines could be a cause for autism… but I was reading one quacky website that said something like some huge percentage of Amish boys didn’t develop autism and it’s because they weren’t vaccinated… well… um.. hello! The Amish also don’t have the internet, tv or video games! Do you know what I mean? Anyway, thanks so much!

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      • Hello, I know this post is an old one but I just read the whole thing now. I love reading all your topics and I wish I found your blog years ago. Just wondering what you decided to do in regards to vaccinations for your girls. Thx

      • Hi Sara! We still haven’t gone ahead with any vaccinations. It’s certainly a touchy topic, and I honesty think every parent’s informed decision is done with the best intentions.

  14. Ok good to know. I trust what you have to say because I really agree with everything else you post in here. Before my son was born it was constantly on my mind whether I should or shouldn’t vax. The day before he was born, I spoke with a nutritionist friend who told me that her kids were not vaxed and never get sick and are super healthy compared to other kids. That is what made my decision and my son just turned 2 last week and is very healthy and smart. Most of my relatives think I’m insane for not “protecting” my child, but all who think I’m wrong are ones who have not done a single second of research on the topic. So it’s nice to see that you and others who commented are on the same wavelength as I am. My hubby and I are ttc and will not vaccinate our second baby either.
    Thanks for your response
    Sara

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    • Yeah… I think there may be a ‘few’ vaccines which are ok, like when we were kids, but today there are so many! For the most part, my kids are really healthy (I say for the most part because one just got sick, but that is really rare). Between the two of them, my older daughter was only on antibiotics once. I think that’s pretty rare to find kids who have never been on them. It can be really hard for people to accept if you don’t want to vaccinate because they really feel like vaccines are 100% safe… but if you look at the research and experiences of many people, vaccines also have their pitfalls. Not a very easy decision to make!

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