Thursday, May 24, 2007

Katy, this is for you.

Katy asked in a recent comment about my opinion on immunizations, since she knows I tend toward natural health.

Well, that's not a question that will be real quick and simple to answer, but here you go:

Unlike a lot of other people in the pro or anti-immunization camps, I don't have a hard-and-fast opinion about this. Here are some of the things I believe:

-I don't believe that the current immunization schedule is set up for the good of children. I believe it is set up for the convenience of doctors offices, with the belief that it is easiest to get kids immunized when they are babies and their parents are running to the doctor's office every couple of months (or weeks). Basically, it's when they can get you there easiest. It's not because there is some magical risk for your child to get this disease or that when they hit 2 months old or whatever.

When our fourth child was born 3 months prematurely, weighing just 2.5 lbs., my husband and I got to see firsthand the medical thinking of "vaccinate now, think later." Because I had somehow missed having a hepatitis test during that pregnancy, they wanted to give our baby a Hep B shot right after he was born! This is a shot that is one-size-fits-all. They don't dose it like Tylenol according to weight. (it's funny how new parents will worry about whether or not they give the right amount of Tylenol, yet we're supposed to not care about the shots they get. Makes sense...not!) They just shoot 'em up, no matter how small they are. So, whatever chemicals, additives, etc. were in there, my child would have been getting 3 times more than regular newborn babies, when adjusted for his size! My husband had to get into a big fight with some idiot doctor about our son not getting a Hep B shot. All that we needed to do was do a quick blood test on me to show them that I did not have Hep B. Duh! They could have poisoned and killed our child with that shot, thanks to their nonsense mentality! I hate to think how many other premature babies sustain injury and suffer because of getting shots that should be delayed. (and, someone please explain to me how a newborn baby is in legitimate need for a Hep B shot anyhow....that doesn't make any sense!)

-I think that it makes sense to learn about each disease that immunizations are available for, and then make an educated decision about how badly you want to avoid it. My favorite book on this subject is The Immunization Decision by Randall Neustaedter. It explains each disease, including normal scenario and worst-case scenario, how a person can get the disease, stats on how likely your child is to get the disease, etc. Then it explains what the vaccine for that disease will and won't do, rates of effectiveness, and risks and stats for having the vaccine. (for instance, the pertussis vaccine is one of the least effective ones) To me it was so much more helpful than having doctor's office staff act like your child would die within a few days of some terrible disease if he didn't get a shot "on time." Once you can learn what diseases, risks, and likelihoods of all the pros and cons, you can make a more educated decision and vaccinate or not with greater confidence. Many people that I know have read the book adopted more of a pick-and-choose approach to vaccination, getting some, not getting others, delaying some to later ages, or spreading out vaccinations a little more to give the child's system more time to recover from each shot.

That book also has some information on ways to handle the diseases if your child was to get it. Some are pretty easy to deal with at home, others would be a nightmare.

Other issues that this book brings up include how vaccine efficacy gets lower over time, although there is not one pat answer to how quickly this happens. When elderly people's immunity to some vaccinated illness wears off, they end up so much sicker than they would have been if they had just been allowed to get the illness once in their childhood. But, vaccinating repeatedly (booster shots) aren't always a healthy solution either.

The book tells about other countries, such as Japan, and their vaccination practices and how their rates of complications from vaccines are much lower than the US when they start vaccinations at 2 years of age instead of at birth.

The Immunization Decision is an older book now, one that I got when I just had one child. So there may be newer, better books out today for you to check into.

One thing you can do in making your decision is contact your local health dept. and get stats on how many cases of various diseases there have been per year for the last several years. Of course, this is no guarantee of the future, but at least gives you some solid numbers of what has happened in recent history. (For instance, If nobody has gotten polio in the entire USA since the 1970s, do you really think your child is going to be getting polio? If you see large outbreaks of pertussis each winter, you may feel more concerned about that one.)

I think your lifestyle makes a difference, too. When we were homeschooling and super health nuts, I didn't worry as much about my children being exposed to diseases. When my kids went to school and we weren't keeping up on being healthy eaters, I felt they had a different set of risks and so I made some difference choices about vaccines at that point. My kids haven't had the chicken pox vaccine, but if they get to be older teens and aren't immune to chicken pox by then, I would give them the option to get the shot at that point since chicken pox is generally a lot worse the older you are when you get it. I'd never, ever let a baby get a Hep B shot since they won't be doing needle drugs or having sex with anyone in their infancy, but it may be something to talk to them about as an option when they get older.

I have had friends that spent a lot of time with international students or who traveled internationally for missions work, so they approached immunizations with their particulars in mind. Makes sense to me.

-New vaccines are always a concern to me. Vaccinations are Big Business and Big Money, and it seems there is a rush to push new vaccines on parents as often as possible. The Roto Virus vaccine has TWICE now been released, and TWICE proven to turn kids intestines inside out. That is so heartbreaking and sad! Greed is what puts these vaccines out into the public without sufficient testing and research. And children suffer. It's hard for me to respect an industry like that.

-The ingredients in vaccines are a concern of mine. Most people now know to be concerned about mercury in vaccines, so some vaccines have taken mercury out. Sadly, they have generally replaces the mercury with aluminum. Sorry, but I don't want mercury OR aluminum going into my kids. The CDC's Pink Book comes out each year, and it used to (don't know if it does now) have a listing of every vaccine and manufacturer, and includes the ingredients. You can actually look down the list and find, for instance, a single measles shot without mercury or aluminum, if that's what you want. Your doctor would have to write a prescription for it, and your pharmacy would probably have to special order it, but you can definitely find a way to get the shots you want, avoiding the chemicals you don't want, if you look hard enough. I know of many parents that choose to vaccinate this a la carte way. Spending the $35 or whatever for your own copy of the Pink Book would be well worth it for the parent that wants to be armed with a lot of information that even your doctor isn't likely to know. You can take it with you to the office, show the doc what you want, and have it ordered.

-SIDS is a concern related to vaccines. Some studies have shown that more babies die of SIDS shortly after vaccination. I have also read studies that have shown that SIDS is actually very similar/the same as mercury poisoning. Could it be that mercury overload is what causes babies to go to sleep and never wake up? Again, those one-size-fits-all shots concern me. Heavy metals accumulate in the body, they don't just pass through. So, your child may do fine on their shots when they're born, or their 2 or 4 month shots, but you may see that as they get older, they suffer more. Other things I have read suggest that AUTISM often shows up after about 18 months of age, which is right around when many children have gotten another vaccine cocktail with their MMR shots. Could it be that these kid's bodies just can't handle any more mercury, and now they are poisoned so badly that they are autistic?

Some of the damage that the ingredients in vaccines can do is permanent. I have to ask myself, "Do I want to vaccinate against this bad enough to take this risk?" Sometimes the answer was yes, other times it was no.

Obviously I'm no scientist, and I'm not trying to convince anybody of anything. I'm just bringing up some points that you could do your own research on and see what you learn from there. I did most of my reading and thinking about vaccinations years ago. I've been so settled in my approach to it that I have a hard time remembering all of the issues that convinced me to do as I have done.

One thing that I have kept in mind when I've read anything about vaccinations, is the question, "What does the author have to gain by convincing me of their point?" When someone has big money attached to their message, you might just want to factor that in.

A valuable lesson I learned from early regrets in parenthood (my first child is almost 15 now!) is to learn what you can, and make a decision you can own. When I let the herd mentality dictate the choices I would make, I was heavy hearted and regretful later. Since then I have done my best to make decisions that made the most sense to me, even if it scared traditionalists or offended my super-all-natural friends. God gives you your own children, and He gave them YOU! Do the best you can, pray lots, and move forward. There isn't a perfect answer on a lot of this stuff.

Hope this helps, Katy! did you have your baby yet? It's no fair that you can come here and read my stuff, but I have no way of checking up on you!! :)


Alana said...

I"m glad you mentioned the Autism connection. There's a huge consensus among many many parents and doctors that one of the factors in autism is the mercury overload. The Autism rates did not skyrocket up to 1:150 until the 1990's when the ridiculous vaccination schedule we have now started being pushed.

Also, the problem is, that the CDC is the one both pushing the schedule AND monitoring the dangers, and there's a huge conflict of interests, so the autism connection is being repeatedly denied by them. But it's there.

Dollymama said...

Alana, have you looked into chelation therapy? I have heard that it is helpful in moving the heavy metals out of the body. I don't know that much about it, just have it in the back of my mind as something to look into if the issue ever arises.