As you can tell, I’ve been thinking a lot about vaccinations lately.
I thought that the whole issue had been put to rest after my son’s negative reaction to the MMR vaccination, but given his recent diagnosis with Job’s syndrome (a genetic immune disorder), his immunologist advised us that it would be in our son’s best interest to get him fully immunized.
Ack! My intuition told me right away that this would not be in his best interest. I knew that children whose immune systems are compromised are the ones that are most prone for being negatively affected by vaccinations. And, yes, I do very strongly believe that vaccinations can lead to autism, especially when a child is already immunocompromised. I also know that there are some individuals with Job’s syndrome who are also on the autism spectrum.
A couple of individuals with children that are diagnosed with Job’s syndrome mentioned that their doctors said that their children should not be vaccinated because their immune systems could not handle it. Plus a scientific study has shown that individuals with Job’s syndrome have poor immune responses to vaccinations.
My Heilkunst practitioner encouraged me to get grounded in the research so that I could base our decision not just on my intuition, but also on knowledge. And so I did. I was surprised at how much research I was able to find. I found so much research on the topic of the effects of vaccinations on allergies, anaphylaxis, neurological damage and autism that it broke my heart. It really broke my heart.
The scientific studies are out there, as well as countless stories of vaccine-injured children. How do we not know about them? How is it that I didn’t know about them? (You probably don’t know this, but I’m actually a scientist with a M.Sc. and have co-authored and published 7 of my own papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. I currently work as an environmental consultant and wildlife biologist as my day job.) It broke my heart as I felt that I had failed my son in that I didn’t dig deeper into the research earlier. Knowing what I know now, I would have chosen different.
Right from the start, I felt strongly against vaccinating, but my husband felt strongly for vaccinating, so we compromised by saying yes to some. In particular, we said yes to the vaccinations that have been around when we were kids. We figured that if we turned out alright, then those vaccinations must be safe enough.
Part of the problem is the number of shots that our children receive today (28 vaccinations in Canada and 36 in the US by the age of 5). I was born in the 1970s, and during that time, children received 10 vaccines before attending school. Even though my son has only received a total of 4 shots, he’s actually received the equivalent of 18 vaccinations (3 shots each of diptheria, tetanus, accellular pertussis, polio, Hib when he was 2, 4 and 6 months old and the MMR when he was 3.5 years old). So even though we only partially vaccinated him, he still received almost double the amount of vaccines than when my husband and I were children.
If I only knew what I know now… Assuming that we still wanted him to be vaccinated for DTAP-IPV-HiB, if we had waited until he was 2 years old, he would have only needed one shot (equivalent of 5 vaccinations), not the 3 shots when he was 2, 4 and 6 months (equivalent of 15). The reason that they need so many shots when they are so young is that babies have poor immune responses to vaccinations when they are so young (which is another reason to delay them). Given that my son has struggled with asthma, it broke my heart to learn that by delaying the DTP vaccination, the risk of developing asthma is decreased.
If I could choose all over, I would not have vaccinated my son at all. I would have made a more informed decision. Or at least, I would have listened to my intuition, which wisely told me not to.
But, of course, I can’t go back in time. And I know why I didn’t delve into the scientific literature any earlier. He was 2 months old when he was scheduled to receive his first set of shots, and I was exhausted from raising an (already) sick and colicky child, who didn’t sleep (which means that I didn’t sleep). There was no time to do any research. Of course, I forgive myself (I need to). I did the best that I could at the time. We all do the best that we can as parents.
So why does my heart continue to break? Because the research is out there that we are damaging our children through vaccinations. The rates of allergies, asthma, anaphylaxis and autism are astronomical. Most of the children that I know need a puffer to control their asthma. Most of the children that I know have allergies. One in a 110 children have been diagnosed with an autism syndrome disorder. And yet we still continue to vaccinate our children.
It’s not the fault of the parents. The parents are simply doing what they think is best for their children. The pressure to vaccinate is tremendous (and is mandated by law in some places). Thankfully, in Canada, we have the right to choose. Nonetheless, the pressure to vaccinate is enormous. During my son’s doctors appointments (and there are many), we are constantly harrassed because our son isn’t fully vaccinated.
Well, we are now armed with knowledge. We have scientific research backing our decision of why we are not going to fully vaccinate our son. Yes, we are aware that his immune system is compromised. That is exactly why we are not going to be vaccinating him.
DH is mostly in agreement with me. We’ve definitely agreed that our son will not receive the following vaccinations:
- flu vaccination (we are staying away from thimerosal [mercury], for obvious reasons);
- chicken pox vaccination (it is a live vaccination and live vaccinations are contraindicated for children with severe immune disorders);
- pneumonia vaccination; and
- tetanus. He has already been vaccinated for tetanus, but his titer levels show that it didn’t take. Why would we want him to be vaccinated for this again, especially when it didn’t take the first three times, and given that it’s known that individuals with Job’s syndrome have a poor immune response to vaccines. Also, the tetanus vaccination is generally not available by itself, but is almost always lumped with diptheria. No thanks. (You can read some information about whether the tetatus vaccination is really necessary here).
The only one that we haven’t yet come to agreement with is meningitis. I’ve asked DH to read this paper about the danger of excessive vaccination during brain development, and if he’s not convinced by that point, I’ll start sharing the other research that I have found.*
All that being said, I believe that each family needs to come to their own decisions about vaccinations. Each family is different, each child is different. But, I believe that parents should be given the opportunity to make informed choices and currently the medical establishment isn’t giving parents the opportunity to make informed choices.
I would encourage you to read some of the scientific research that is out there, and then make an informed choice. If you do choose to vaccinate, I’ve written a post on ideas of what you can do to minimize the negative effects of vaccinations.
*Update – December 2, 2010: DH and I now agree that our son will not be vaccinated any further at this time.