I am writing about a topic today that has had me in a frenzy! As I mentioned on facebook awhile back, researching this issue could cause a momma to go crazy! The information on both sides is overwhelming, and it is hard to discern which direction to take, or how to find the right balance between the two extremes. Anyway, today I am going to attempt to write out some of my initial thoughts on vaccinations. Although I have done some research, I have more to do! I am not writing this with the intention of changing anyone's mind. I haven't even made up my own, and I most definitely respect parents on both sides of the issue. I am simply writing this out to express a few of my early, cluttered, confused thoughts. Hopefully hashing this out, will help us on the trip to figuring out our position on this heavily debated issue! Perhaps it will help you as well!?
Reasons Not to Vaccinate:
1) Just as with the food industry, the people who are currently monitoring, and setting regulations for the safety of vaccinations and drugs are the same people who are profiting from the sales of these pharmaceuticals. This seems to present a conflict of interests. Just as I have discovered with the perils of the food industry, I am afraid I can't simply listen to the medical professionals and "take their word for it". I want good sound evidence from a non-biased source that vaccinations are not only necessary, but safe.
2) Obviously there has been much debate over the effects of vaccinations. Unfortunately, I believe much of this stems from the fact that vaccinations have not been tested adequately for long term consequences. Although some research has dis proven any link between autism and vaccinations, there is much research that has not yet been investigated. Plus, even if autism does not result from vaccinations, who is to say that there aren't other long term effects? We don't know because the research has not been done, or at least it hasn't been shown that vaccinations are completely safe - consider all the side effects that can be found on the warning labels (if you ask the doctor for it . . . ).
3) Many proponents of vaccinations assume that it is more important to think about the greater good of society instead of focusing on the individual. Obviously I care about other people, but I have to consider what is in the best interest of my child first and foremost. "Spare a few to save the herd," is not acceptable. More research must be done to insure the safety of vaccinations for all, not "most".
4) The current schedule for baby/child vaccinations requires more shots now than ever! The United States is the most vaccinated country in the world (ironically we are not the healthiest!). A baby receives so many vaccinations in his/her first year that it is the equivalent of an adult receiving 70 plus vaccinations! That seems a bit unsettling, especially considering the previous point mentioned!
5) Immunizations do not guarantee immunity. A person is more likely to achieve immunity to chicken pox if they simply get the disease as opposed to merely getting a shot. The same is true for many other non life threatening diseases. Also, many times a person will not become immune to the disease at all. For instance, I received the rubella immunization as a child, but now I am no longer rubella immune. I am supposed to receive this shot after I deliver Kyria, but there is no guarantee that I will be immune this time around. Finally, the flu shot, which I was told by a doctor is absolutely necessary, does not make a person immune to every case of flu. It is a guess as to which flu strand will be vaccinated for in a given year. I know many people who either 1) Received the vaccination and still contracted the flu or 2) Received the vaccination, and yet became very ill with the flu for several weeks.
6) Many people will bring up the point that vaccinations are the reason many life-threatening diseases in our country have nearly been eradicated. However, what they may not have been taught is that many of these diseases were on the decline prior to the immunization. More sanitary conditions and healthier foods could be primarily to thank for the decline of these illnesses, not simply immunizations.
As you can see from my above reasons, I feel much more research needs to be done to prove vaccinations are safe and effective. Nevertheless, there does seem to be some good reasons to go ahead and vaccinate as well.
Reasons to Vaccinate:
1) Although Vaccinations have gotten a really bad rap, and I have read many stories from people who feel vaccinations caused a plethora of issues for their children. I have not personally experienced this. Everyone in my family has been vaccinated according the suggested schedule since childhood. I also received several vaccinations prior to going out of the country for a mission trip. I had no short term side effects to any of these vaccinations, and as for the long term side effects . . . well, I seem to be doing fine so far. I also know many children who are quite healthy, and they were vaccinated according the the governments suggestions. Perhaps this shows that vaccinations are at least somewhat safe. Either way, I am not overly concerned that vaccinating my children will result in horrendous issues. In fact, either way I will trust the Lord, and believe that He is ultimately in control! There appears to be risk involved on both sides, so the question is whether vaccinations, with the risk of short-term/long-term side effects, is more or less risky than not vaccinating at all, which could increase ones odds of contracting the potentially deadly illness.
2) The research for the supposed long term side effects of vaccinations don't seem to be incredibly reliable. I would not choose to refuse vaccinations out of a fear for autism resulting. I don't know if the research is strong enough to prove this. The increase in cases of autism could be the result of many things, but I don't know if it's fair to say vaccinations are the sole culprit.
3) I will put the interest of my child first. However, I also know that there are those in my very own community that suffer from a low immune system. My child might be healthy enough to fight off chicken pox, measles, etc., but if my pastor's special needs daughter were to contract an illness from my daughter it would be life threatening.
4) Some people use the logic that because most people get vaccinated the chances of them contracting the illness is not likely, therefore, they choose not to vaccinate because everyone else does. This is a little absurd. You can't count on everyone else getting vaccinated in order to protect your child or yourself. If I choose not to vaccinate it would not be for this reason. Plus, there is always the risk of an outbreak from travelers/immigrants bringing these diseases to the U.S. Not only this, but my family plans to travel for mission opportunities, and we are around others who come from many different countries. The U.S. might offer conditions that allow for these diseases to be few and far between, but traveling to another country might cause a child to be more at risk for one of these life-threatening diseases.
5) Yes, it seems scary that babies are given so many vaccinations. However, perhaps there is a reason for this. Proponents of vaccinations say that it is actually better to give babies vaccinations soon after birth, because they still have so many of the mothers antibodies. The longer the child must wait to get immunized the more risky it becomes. This would go against the proposed alternative vaccination schedule, which suggests waiting until the child is two years old to receive any vaccinations. (NOTE: I have also read articles from proponent of vaccinations that suggest a child should be immunized early because their "weak" immune system could contract the disease . . . so which is it? I don't know!?)
6) Even though I plan to do my research, I must admit that my knowledge in this area is insufficient. Many times, like in the case from point number 5 above, we assume things that make sense to our understanding of the issue, but in truth, we don't have all the information. Although, I wish more information were given on the safety of vaccinations, I do not think that doctors and nurses are purposely offering us bad advice. I humbly recognize that my doctor may have more knowledge on this topic than I do, and their purposes may be very reasonable. I simply want a doctor who is willing to have these discussions with me.
So there ya go! Some simple thoughts from a simple girl who doesn't know much . . .
For more thorough research, explanations, and resources, here are some links to several very good articles regarding vaccinations from Keeper of the Home! Check them out, and let me know your thoughts! Also feel free to share any other resources you have found helpful in sorting though all the information!
The Thoughtful Parents Guide to Thinking Through Vaccinations
The Thoughtful Parents Guide to Thinking Through Vaccinations: 10 Questions to Ask
The Thoughtful Parents Guide to Thinking Through Vaccinations: Pro-Vaccine and Cautionary Resources