Our Vaccination Saga
An Easy Decision
It was over 20 years ago that I had to first think about vaccinations in a personal way… back when I was pregnant with my first born.
Back then, we read some very boring books written by scientists and medical doctors on the pros and cons of vaccinations. Articles found online now are sooo much more interesting to read!
Why do research in the first place?
I may not be a medical professional, but I am intelligent enough to understand what I am reading (and educated enough to know how to use a dictionary and other resources). I am not a
sheeple content to follow the crowd. I like to stay informed and know what is going into my body.
It really didn’t take long to realize that having our kids vaccinated would be contrary to our natural-based, vegan lifestyle. We would rather risk the children getting the diseases naturally, and caring for them while they were sick, than to bombard their young immune systems with the poisons (such as mercury and formaldehyde (1)) used as preservatives and what not. Besides that, many of the diseases are propagated in pigs and we have a strong religious-based belief against using pigs for… anything. See Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary(2)
The decision was easy and everyone involved was supportive (of course, my
circle was a lot smaller back then too…). Our parents just wanted to make sure we did our research before making a decision. The midwife simply nodded her head in understanding. The doctor did not give us a lecture about endangering their lives and those of the entire country (or, maybe, I simply don’t remember it). Later, when registering with the California school as home-schoolers, the staff didn’t bat an eye – just said, ok, you need to fill out this form each year.
Vaccine Exemption Changes
We moved to Oregon before the girls were out of school for health reasons. Just a few years later, California did away with the religious and personal belief exemptions (3). Good thing we moved when we did! Now, Oregon is considering following suit (4)… I am glad that my kids are grown and we have moved out of Oregon!
Growing up, my children did not (knowingly) suffer from any of the illnesses they would have been vaccinated from and only once did I consider going to a doctor for any illness they experienced. Although we did live in a very remote area and did not socialize much, we did travel the country a bit, so had plenty of exposure to contagions. Yeah, I know, we had it easy!
A Personal Choice
When my eldest became an adult and moved away from home, she considered getting herself vaccinated. She asked me about vaccinations, what they were for, why she hadn’t had any, and if we would be upset if she decided to get vaccinated. I shared my reasons and encouraged her to do her own research to make her decision. I was sure to let her know that I would support whatever choice she made. She did some research and decided that she really was not interested in being vaccinated.
A couple years later, she got pregnant. The research on vaccinations started again in earnest, because choosing for oneself is quite different than choosing for a baby!
The doctors were very reluctant to offer any kind of help in the vaccine research. She was told that it did not matter what she found in her research because the vaccines were required. They refused to provide ingredient list labels, side effects, or where to obtain this information ‐ saying that inserts were not available like is given for medication. She was not impressed with their scare tactics and they actually helped form the opinion that they were trying to hide something.
Regardless of this, she moved forward and obtained as much information as could be found via the library and government websites.
For weeks and months, she and her husband flip-flopped over their decision of whether to vaccinate or not. It was a completely annoying process, because I had to endure every, single detail about the pros and cons over and over and over again!
I was soooo relieved when a decision was finally made!
The Long-Awaited Decision
They decided NOT to vaccinate ‐ despite there being plenty of evidence supplied for their effectiveness. One of the biggest factors in the decision had to do with the ingredients of vaccines in general (5) ‐ especially the fact that human cells are now being used (6), which may cause additional complications if the immune system starts to fight against itself (7)
Another factor was that there are so many more shots required in the first year of life versus 35 years ago with little research provided on the risk factors of having so many given so close together. (8)
There was more involved, but this gives you some idea of the reasoning behind the decision. It was not due to popularity, religion, or family tradition.
Having arrived at a decision, the criticism began… but that is another story…
Our family has experienced over-reactions and uncommon side effects to a variety of medication and even vitamins. My eldest has been no different. It should not have been a surprise then that a
perfectly safe pain medication caused some complications during labor.
Breast is Best, but…
The plan was to breastfeed for a year. But, the baby had difficulty with it and pumping began. This went well for three months. Then, an unexpected drop in production created an urgent need to start on formula.
The most recommended dairy-based formula upset the baby’s tummy and caused him to have trouble breathing, so a hypo-allergenic one was tried with similar results. A soy-based one was found, but the cost of this particular brand was not covered by WIC. So, a similar, soy-based alternative that WIC approved was started.
All went well for the next three months until it was determined that the baby was not gaining enough weight and was prescribed a high-caloric formula that was supposedly dairy-free. Having faith in the doctor, a batch was prepared and given to the baby. He immediately had a violent reaction from the first swallow that continued for 18 hours. Despite letting the doctor know of this reaction, it was recommended that they continue feeding this formula for 72 hrs before granting a reconsideration.
However, she refused to feed him any more of a formula that was clearly rejected by the baby’s system.
Not Following Doctor’s Orders Can Cause Trouble
Although she was accused a making up this story, she was offered a second hypo-allergic formula that ended up being basically the same formula as before with a different label that clearly stated that it contains milk proteins. She was told that she did not know what she was talking about and was threatened to have family services called for not following doctor’s orders.
It was decided that a second opinion was in order and a doctor from another town with a background in nutrition was found. Lab work was scheduled and a referral to a gastrointestinal specialist was given.
The lab work came back… my grandbaby does not have the more commonly known lactose intolerance, but a rare allergy to casein (a milk protein). That is why he had such a violent reaction to the
hypo-allergenic formula… casein is listed on the label.
The specialist that saw my grandson explained that because his lab work came back verifying he has a strong allergic reaction to casein, he has a high chance of having other animal based protein allergies because the molecular structure is similar and should stay away from things containing them until after he turns two years old, when further testing can be available.
Please note that most vaccinations
may contain trace amounts of animal protein. However, a vaccine medical exemption cannot be given regardless of lab work.
Although proteins are minimized, remnants can still be there and can cause a reaction. Keep in mind that a school can ban all nuts from everybody because one student has an allergy and a remnant of a nut protein can create a serious situation.
It used to be recommended to avoid vaccinations if there were a personal or family history of vaccine reactions, neurological disorders, severe allergies or immune system problems (9) and, if there were, that would be reason enough for a medical exemption. However, according to the CDC, that is no longer the case. Now, medical exemptions for most vaccines require a
Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose or to a vaccine component with very few exceptions.(10)
They were informed that this allergic reaction has to require medical intervention while under observation. A delayed reaction at home does not count, but a 72 hour watch can be requested (that insurance would not cover). A mild allergic reaction also does not qualify for a medical exemption ‐ even though the severity of an allergic reaction can vary widely each time(11) and can cause unseen systemic damage(12).
It is humbling to consider that my grandson could have suffered severely ‐ maybe even ending his life ‐ with the first dose of vaccinations, having never known that he had an allergy.
My own children, having been provided breast milk for the first year and raised as vegans, were not introduced to these types of proteins until they were adults. In their experimentation, both of them have had immediate, violent reactions to certain meats and cheeses. Having learned that some have higher levels of casein and other proteins than others, it is not difficult to theorize that they also have an intolerance to that type of protein.
I have never been sorry for my decision and now, with this new information, am relieved that I never vaccinated my own children and that my grandbaby has been spared certain tragedy.
Vaccines Save Lives
I appreciate the love shown by those who have made an effort to educate and enlighten us, reminding us over and over again:
Vaccinations have saved millions of lives
Yes, it is true. In fact, they continue to protect millions from the severity of these illnesses. No one is arguing that.
Vaccinations are among the safest medical products we use (13)
That’s a relief!… have you noticed the ever increasing list of side-effects to medications? But, I digress…
Normal vaccination reactions include pain and possible swelling surrounding the injection site, headache, low grade fever as the immune system kicks in to fight off the invasion. You are, after all, purposely introducing foreign substances to the body causing the immune system to build antibodies to fight the invasion. It is basically what naturally happens when you get sick, but I have been informed that the vaccinations do NOT make you sick.
Any child that has to fight off diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, rotovirus, polio, pneumonia and the flu all at the same time is going to get severely sick. Fighting off those infections again in two months in a natural state would almost guarantee death. Compared to that, vaccinations are totally safe for the entire population.
However, we also need to keep in mind
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death(14) and that vaccinations are not a 100% guarantee that you will not get the illness(15).
Occasionally, a person will have a reaction and it is terrible but so are epidemics
After all, the needs of the many out-weigh the needs of the few...
There are situations where I agree that such a sacrifice is necessary ‐ when there are no other options and success is virtually guaranteed.
In this particular situation, however, you are asking me (and others) to give up my freedom of choice and possibly harm MY child (or, in this case, grand-child) when there is no guarantee that doing so will save anybody.
How far are we to go with this?
What if an unborn baby was known to have a contagious disease (like HIV or AIDS) or an autoimmune disease that would prevent him from getting a vaccination? Should there be a forced abortion? Many would choose one, but do we force one on them for the public’s peace of mind?
What if the family knew before the baby was born that they would chose not to vaccinate? Should they be forced to have an abortion in the name of public safety?
Stuff like that could be done in a communist country. It is something to consider.
This is ridiculous. No one is forcing you
That may be true right now; but, the condemnation and hostility that has arisen from bringing up anything relating to the unvaccinated makes me feel like some would like to. The changes in the laws of some states is proof that it can happen.
I know, it is only mandatory for those wishing to attend school… Considering it is also mandatory for your child to attend school, then, yes, the issue is being forced in those states. Although most states have some sort of homeschooling program, you still have to provide proof of immunization to register ‐ even though your child is regularly on school grounds. Currently, there are only a handful of states that no longer have faith and personal belief exemptions, so one could, potentially, move. .. for now… if they could afford to.
Even so, choosing to not vaccinate might put the lives of others in danger, right?
How about smoking and drinking alcohol?
There is an abundance of evidence about how second-hand smoke can harm others. Yet, how many still smoke in the comforts of their own home and car… around others? Kuddos to you if you chose to smoke outside ‐ I appreciate your respect! But, did you know that there is now some evidence showing third-hand smoke can be a problem ‐ especially to children?(16)
Let’s consider alcohol…
92% of domestic abusers were abusing alcohol not just in their lives but at the time of the incident(17)
Every year, more than 10 million men and women, and 5 million children, in the US are subjected to Domestic Violence.
Although few children die from this violence, they are often mentally and emotionally scarred for life and have a higher risk of becoming violent themselves. (18)
Every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver.(19)
Tell me that alcohol is not an epidemic-level problem that puts people’s lives at risk every day.
Have you ever tried to put together a family gather with no alcohol involving key family members that drink every day? You’d think you were declaring war!
Recently, someone close to me took their baby boy to a family gathering at a pool. Alcohol was smuggled in (the pool does not allow it for safety reasons). One drunk man forcibly removed the 7 month old from his mother’s arms and took him toward the middle of the pool with no safety gear on the baby. The man would never have pulled this kind of stunt had he been sober.
As soon as the baby was returned to his parents, they left before angry words could be exchanged. Discussing the situation later, they were told that they were over-reacting. The baby was never in any real danger.
There are nearly 10 unintentional drowning cases a day, with children under 4 being the most susceptible. Alcohol is listed as being involved in
70% of deaths associated with water recreation because
Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgment(20)
Yet, cigarettes and alcohol continue to be legal and I will defend your right to use them.
Yes, I will continue to encourage others to quit, but I would not force them to.
Not Vaccinating Increases the Risk of an Epidemic or Pandemic
Despite 1-3% of US children being completely unvaccinated(21) (often due to finances rather than a strong set of beliefs), this country has been polio free since 1979(22) ‐ except for one case that was brought in from outside the US.
However, in 2018 there was a polio-like outbreak that the vaccine does not cover.(23)
There have been less than 5 cases of diphtheria in the US in the last decade.(24)
Rotavirus used to be the most common cause of severe diarrhea among U.S. children. There have only been 3 cases of the virus in the US since the vaccination was introduced in 2006(25), though it appears that norovirus is striving to take it’s place.
Measles has never been fully eradicated from our country with new contamination from travelers coming in every year. Although the unvaccinated are the most susceptible, being vaccinated does not guarantee full coverage(26)
90% of cases are so mild that they aren’t even reported ‐ with malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency being the most common causes of death in undeveloped countries.(27)
Like the flu, the pertussis vaccine only reduces the severity of the illness if contracted, but the vaccinated can still spread the disease.(28)
What was that?
The vaccinated can spread the disease?
(I have actually read that in several places, I am just picking on pertussis because it is highly contagious to vaccinated and unvaccinated alike) So, actually, your vaccinated are more of a threat to the population at large because they can carry the diseases around with no symptoms for a long period of time, allowing the germs to grow and multiply until the carrier may also succumb.
Regardless, I think there is a much higher risk of an epidemic or pandemic of diseases that have no vaccine and/or no treatment, though not all are infectious (transmitted, instead, by insects). I am, personally, more concerned for public safety regarding:
- Swine Flu (and the other half-dozen-or-so influenza strains that have no vaccine)
- West Nile
These have all been epidemic-level concerns that have been reported as threatening parts of the country in the last 20 years. Other concerns have included acute flaccid myelitis (the polio-like illness), Lyme disease, MRSA, E-coli, Ebola and Typhoid.
What has prevented these diseases from sweeping the nation, significantly reducing the population? One significant reason is that we put up quarantines to prevent the spread.
We could reduce the spread of illnesses even more if children were allowed to stay home when they start to get sick and not just when the illness becomes severe. Adults are no better… continuing to go to work and shopping, spreading germs far and wide, with cough, sniffles, and low-grade fevers… relying on OTC medications to remain somewhat productive. Most families simply can not afford to take the time off of work to care for the sick. Even if they could, most would lose their jobs for excessive absence.(29)
Like me, they are doing the best they can.
This story has not been easy to tell. Family members have become enraged. Friends have been lost. Medical professionals are annoyed.
Do you realize that there is more support and understanding in choosing to have an abortion than in deciding to not vaccinate? That is a HUGE mind-set difference from under 40 years ago!
We are not alone. Others have endured the same treatment. We who decide to not vaccinate are a minority group ‐ treated with ridicule and scorn.
I am not sharing our journey and decision making process to fracture relationships. We could simply withdraw into ourselves, cutting off contact of those who condemn us, and live in solidarity. My ex-husband’s family is that way. In fact, he would be frustrated with me for sharing such intimate details of our lives and making waves! But, I chose to not live that way any more.
Most will still say that we are wrong in our choices. That is ok. You are entitled to your opinion. But, maybe, in learning of our story, there will grow a level of… acceptance ‐ even in the absence of agreement.
Our situation is rare, to be sure; but, if we had followed the recommended course, without consideration of ALL of the details, our story may have been one of sacrifice instead of salvation.
That is not an
acceptable risk to me.