Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Why's on My Opinions About Vaccines

I started this as a reply to some comments, but the more I tried to explain my thoughts, the longer it got. As such, I felt like it fit better as a post.

I completely respect other people’s opinions and beliefs about vaccinations, and in the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that because I was in the military, and because I was a military dependent, *not* being vaccinated was not an option. In addition, there was a time when I just followed whatever my doctor recommended, which resulted in two of my five children being vaccinated per the “schedule” when they were infants, and several (what I, now, believe were) unnecessary surgical procedures. As such, after a great deal of research and careful consideration, I have determined that vaccines aren't the panacea that the medical establishment wishes us to believe, and with one exception, I have opted not to continue receiving them for myself or my children.

I don't think modern pharmacology has done us any favors, either, and that a healthy diet (which is not the same for every person), exercise (which again is not the same for every person), and some good, basic hygiene practices are much better alternatives than dependence on drugs.

In fact, in my opinion, the side effects of the drugs often cause more problems, and further, doctors often fail to treat the root cause of the problem, because they mask the symptoms using drugs. Case in point: a person very close to me was prescribed a drug, which she later learned she did not, in fact, need, and because of that drug, she sustained serious liver damage and excess weight gain. The problem is that once doctors have isolated a "major" symptom, they stop looking - in my experience and in my opinion.

In most cases, I think it's a better idea to allow the body to do its job. In a "normal" healthy person, who does not have a compromised immune system, most illnesses will "cure" themselves without any help. I'm very careful with the use of any medications - including something as benign as acetaminophen. Consider, that for YEARS, we were told to give our children aspirin, and now, we're told not to.

Also consider all of the drugs that are widely used, but that ultimately prove detrimental. How about the drug DES that was administered to pregnant women from the 1930s until the 1970s to "control" morning sickness, but later was shown to have serious adverse effects on the girls born to those women? They used it for FORTY YEARS before they realized that it was causing some serious problems in the adult daughters. FORTY years. Forty.Years.

And how about the “new” Gardisil vaccination? How many mothers have had their junior high school-aged daughters vaccinated against the possibility that she might contract an STD which might result in cervical cancer when she’s older, because they were told to? Which is worse, the devastating life-changing, neurological side effects some girls are experiencing as a result of Gardisil or the POSSIBILITY of cervical cancer IF they end up having unprotected sex with some guy who has genital warts? An estimated 20 million Americans have HPV – about 6% of the population of the United States.

Let's do some more numbers, though. Twenty-three million girls have been given the Gardisil vaccine as of February 2009. Of those, over 11,000 have reported "adverse affects." In 2006, a year before the vaccine started being administered, the National Cancer Institute estimated 9700 women would develop cervical cancer. That's an estimated 2000 fewer cases of cervical cancer than there are girls who've been adversely affected by the "cure."

In addition, Gardisil only combats four of the thirty strains that cause 70% of documented HPV cancers. They can't guarantee that their vaccine will do anything at all, and there's as good a chance of having an adverse affect from the vaccine as there is of contracting HPV - but at least with HPV, one has more control of the outcome, if one chooses to exercise that control (anyone watch the show 90210 when Brenda made Dylan get tested for STDs before she'd sleep with him?). And when it comes to this particular vaccine, I wonder what message the mothers who have gotten their girls vaccinated are sending their daughters about sex.

I do believe that modern medicine has resulted in some real miracles. Specifically, antibiotics are an amazing discovery, and without them, my youngest daughter would, more likely than not, have died within her first month. Unfortunately, they have been overused, and we all know what the result of that has been. Can anyone say MRSA?

Finally, vaccines aren’t guaranteed to work, and sometimes they make matters worse. The chicken pox vaccine, for instance, has been shown to cause “shingles”, which are a lot worse than chicken pox. And, come on. Chicken pox? It’s one of the most benign of all of the childhood diseases. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s not life-threatening – in a NORMAL, HEALTHY person. Even adults who get chicken pox don’t typically die from it and don’t usually have any lasting effects (except, maybe, some scarring). So, why is there a vaccine?

And that’s the real issue, for me. MOST of the diseases against which we vaccinate our children in the first year of life are not even life-threatening in a NORMAL, HEALTHY person. Yes, the mumps are painful and uncomfortable, but once you recover (and you will), you are guaranteed LIFELONG immunity. Vaccinations do not guarantee that. In fact, for many of them, a booster is recommended at varying intervals for the rest of one's life.

But let’s concentrate on the flu vaccine itself, because that's what sparked this whole debate. There are three “species” of influenza that affect humans. They are classified A, B, and C and belong to the Orthomyxoviridae family. Each species has several subtypes. In fact, Type A has at least eighteen different “subtypes”, including the most recent strain, H1N1. The flu is usually a cold weather illness, and one reason H1N1 has been so horrible is that it has thrived in areas of the world where they don’t typically see things like the flu.

The flu vaccination can only protect the recipient from ONE type of flu. It takes several months to develop a flu vaccine. As such, it is typically in the developmental stages LONG before anyone even knows what “type” of flu will be the predominant strain that year, and it often changes from year to year. As such, what the CDC is doing when it has a particular vaccine developed for use in the fall is trying to “predict” which strain will be the dominant one. It puts me in mind of using Tarot cards as a divination tool. If all of the factors shown by the cards continue to play out for the next six months, this is the possible outcome. But life doesn’t work that way, does it? Sh*t happens and things change. Sometimes they are wrong, and vaccinated people still get sick.

And that's the bottom line, for me - even if I accept the vaccination for a disease that will probably not kill me and will probably have no lifelong adverse affects after I've recovered, I could still get the disease or worse the *vaccine* could cause irreparable harm to my neurological system as a result of one or more of the adjuvants used as a filler in the vaccine. Which is the greater risk - the cure or the disease?

Since there's no guarantee that I (or my children) would be protected against getting sick from any of the diseases vaccines protect against, it doesn't make sense to me to take the greater risk posed by the vaccine.

In the end, I just didn’t feel like the “potential” benefits of the vaccine far outweighed the “potential” risks, and as such, I just couldn’t justify using them.

That said, there is one vaccination I have "approved" for use in my children, and that is tetanus, because the disease is FAR worse than the potential side effects from the vaccine. The others … not so much.

But, please, don't take my word for it. Do your own research.

Look up the usual "childhood" diseases against which our children are vaccinated, and then, study the symptoms and treatments (most are treated with fluids and rest). Then, look at the mortality rates for those diseases AND when the vaccinations started being used by the majority of the population. Here's a great article to start ... maybe a little biased on the anti-vax side :).

Then, you might want to have a look at the fillers used in vaccines and the potential side effects of those.

You may still decide that vaccinations are worth it, but at least you'll be doing so with your eyes wide open, rather than because you believe, per the marketing campaigns of multi-billion dollar companies like MERCK, that it's what you should do as a responsible parent/citizen.

But here was the final caveat for me: I was told that, as a parent, if I didn't have my children vaccinated, I was causing a health threat to other children. The question is, if those kids are vaccinated against an illness my child might have, and the vaccination is 100% effective, those other kids are immune, right? They shouldn't get sick, right?

So, if they are immune, how are my "unvaccinated" kids a threat to their health?


  1. Thanks for the explanation. Lots to think about here. I guess one of the reasons I've never looked into these issues all that deeply is that I'm not a parent and don't have to make decisions about whether or not to vaccinate anyone else.

    What you said about weighing the possible risks vs. possible benefits makes perfect sense. I'm more likely to get a flu shot now than before I got influenza, just because I know how bad the illness can be. The benefits look a little bit better to me, such as they are. But I agree with you that a strong immune system is best, and I know that part of having a strong immune system is allowing it to do the work of keeping me healthy.

    I also think that part of the reason so many people in the US get vaccinated for all sorts of illnesses is precisely because, healthy immune system or no, we "don't have the time" to recover from a serious illness. Too many have no sick leave or vacation time and cannot afford to go without a paycheck. Even those with "good" jobs that pay well and allow sick leave are so rushed by modern life that they cannot "afford" of all the "wasted" time they would need to recover. In some ways I suppose that vaccinations are insurance for - or are propping up - an economy and a culture that is unsustainable in so many ways.

  2. Chicken pox is the only one that my boys will get--but only b/c they are mandated to get it going to daycare and public school. Hubby also got the CP vax when he went to work at Mt. Sinai--he had never gotten CP as a kid.
    As for flu and gardasil? Yeah, no. First because they only work against a small majority of the strains. With Gardasil, I take major issue with the fact they developed it for women. Who are the vectors for HPV? I have HPV. Guess where I got it? Not to be crude--but a penis. Yeah yeah it's easier to develop it for a woman, blah blah, but sadly that's the name of the game about pharm research. They're just after the next big thing. One of the reasons Dr. MS left. The bottom line factor was getting to him. He wanted to help people becoming a PhD in Pharmacology/Toxicology--not someone living grant-to-grant.

  3. We don't vaccinate for CP or Hep B and we did a staggered schedule on the other vaccines for my little guy. Because of the staggered schedule he did not need as many vaccines as is recommended because he reached the age limit on some of them.

    I have MS and have vast amounts of experience with the cure being worse than disease. Cortico-steroids are vile nasty drugs. They help me when I really need them but I am 42 and have to worry about bone density as a reslut of being on them.. Initially after diagnosis I did whatever I was told, took the drugs they told me to. But none of the contributed to an increase in qualtiy of life. But when I realized that stress was a huge contributor to my exacerbations I slowed down. Guess what? I got healthy. The neurologists that I was seeing were only treating a disease. They are not trained to treat a patient wholistically. If they had been perhaps a vast amount of money would have been saved. But ahh...there's the rub!

  4. I agree with what you said about the vaccines you talked about. I'm very opposed to Gardisil, it is a STD, let's teach some safe sex instead of giving a vaccine. And do they say in the commercials that it is a STD? Nope. I think the flu vaccine is very important for some populations, but not everyone. Now some of these childhood diseases we are vaccinated again used to be big deals. They aren't anymore and maybe we don't need to be vaccinated against them anymore. I think chickenpox is a stupid thing to be vaccinated against. Small pox and polio, good things to be vaccinated against. And tetanus for sure. Logan and I both need our tetanus boosters actually.

  5. Excellent post! 20 years ago my son suffered permanent brain damage from a dpt vaccine which we were told was "perfectly safe". Shortly after that, the vaccine was replaced by a "safer" one. If it was perfectly safe to begin with, how could it be replaced with a "safer" one? We no longer get any vaccinations,I do not believe in injecting our bodies with toxins. Unfortunately most people believe the marketing campaigns as scientific fact. They do not understand that it is about money, not health.