To vaccinate or not to vaccinate. It seems THAT is the Question on everyone’s mind lately.
I have been more than a little apprehensive to tackle anything publicly about this touchy subject. But I feel compelled to say something because I know that there are many parents who feel the way I do which is completely lost and confused about whether or not it’s a good idea to vaccinate our children.
The whole idea of vaccinating is one I am actually very enthusiastic about. It makes perfect sense that by introducing a defeated cell of a disease or virus into the blood stream the body can then mimic that antibody to fight the virus or disease on its own if exposed. This is obviously simplified for my layman’s terms of understanding, but even so, it makes me proud to be a human being along with the likes of Edward Jenner who discovered the first vaccination against smallpox in 1798.
What scares the bejeezus out of me, however are the means we have used to mass produce these vaccinations. Drug companies nowadays use some scary chemicals and substances in the making of vaccines. Vaccination advocates claim that these chemicals are such small amounts that it isn’t a risk to have them included in the vaccination and further claim these normally harmful chemicals help to make the vaccine more effective. For example, “Aluminum hydroxide can help enhance the immune response and thus makes the vaccine more effective; formaldehyde can help to kill viruses; phenol is a useful preservative.”(1) Fine, but did Jenner and other earlier vaccination experts use those substances in their vaccines? Does it somehow make it better, or are these things necessary only because it allows us to be able to distribute it to the masses? And unfortunately, I am well aware of the profit to be made by these pharmaceutical companies and doctors who inject us with their products. It leaves me wondering if someone’s scruples haven’t been compromised along the way. Hopefully I’m wrong. I believe in most of their hearts, doctors are looking out only for the best interest of their patients.
What makes me want to take my family and relocate to a remote island void of other human life is when I hear of people like Barbara Loe Fisher(2) or William S. Thompson(3) who have worked at these large pharmaceutical companies and have left of their own free will or were terminated simply because their consciences got the better of them and they could no longer assist in distribution of what they consider to be poison to the masses or at least demand that better safety measures are put in place.
I wish I could wholeheartedly trust our government and the FDA when they say that these preventative measures are 100% safe and effective and that there are no side effects to vaccinating your children other than ensuring that they are now protected against deadly disease. But I can’t, not when there is so much evidence weighing against those claims.
With all that being said, I do vaccinate my children. I feel wary of doing nothing to bolster their immune systems, but also worried about the resources that are available. So I’ve come to a sort of compromise. I know others who do what I do but still there are people who may disagree with this method.
I am one of those who space out some of the vaccines. It makes no sense to me to have my kid injected with three or four vaccines at a single visit (and some of those individual vaccines have several included in one). I don’t follow any sort of a published or recommended schedule. I figure the likelihood of my child being exposed to Hepatitis A and Measles/Mumps/Rubella in the same week is highly unlikely. We will just come back for the second vaccination at a later date.
I only allow up to two vaccines per visit to the doctors office. I ask the pediatrician which ones they recommend at our visit. They always sigh and rub their temples at me, “trying” transparently to suppress their opinions about my “misguided approach to vaccinations” as one doctor so eloquently put. Then I go home feeling like a scolded child and second guess my decision. So I start researching the vaccination(s) for the dozenth time and I end up in the same state I started–lost in a hazy fog. I feel slightly better that I didn’t have four vaccines administered at once, but terrified of having the one or two that I did. Then I pray like a mad woman that my kid doesn’t develop some scary side-effect. We make extra trips to the pediatrician to have the vaccines administered as a result. But they have received all required vaccines before they begin preschool. I am trying to be responsible within the limits of my comfort level. This, to me, is the best I can do for my kids.
Now if you feel comfortable administering vaccines according to the recommended schedule at your pediatrician, more power to you! If you feel that vaccinating your child is putting him or her at a greater risk of being exposed to something terrible besides that disease itself then I respect that choice as well. God knows I am walking a fine line of ambiguity myself.
There are many people on both sides of the vaccination debate who are tearing each other apart. Sentiments like, “GET YOUR KIDS OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS IF YOU CHOOSE NOT TO VACCINATE THEM” or “STOP TRYING TO POISON OUR CHILDREN BY VACCINATING THEM” are becoming much more vocal. I can honestly say, I have no idea who is right, or for that matter if anyone is right. I’m kind of in the middle of both sides and waiting to see how it all plays out. I keep wondering if we will end up with segregated classrooms or even schools at the end of this.
With this post, I am not trying to change minds or stir the pot. I am simply voicing a viewpoint that I believe others out there share and can hopefully find solace in the idea that you don’t have to be pro-vaxx or anti-vaxx. You can just be confused, worried and hopeful that you’re doing the right thing, whatever it is that you’re doing. It makes me so sad when I see parents ripping one another to shreds because they have different personal beliefs. I understand that pro-vaxxers feel threatened by weakened immunity in their schools. It is a scary prospect to me as well. But I can also understand anti-vaxxers feeling their rights are infringed upon by being forced to do something they aren’t comfortable with. I don’t think there is an easy solution. I hope we can come to some sort of agreement or at least a mutual respect for one another. And I hope that we are being told the truth because at the end of the day, we all just want what’s best for our kids.