Why we chose not to vaccinate our child. Ugh. I should have titled this: The post I never wanted to write.
Seriously. I fear hitting the “publish” button on this one, so please tread lightly.
My fear is partly because I know how passionate people get about vaccinations. Partly because I know some people will be angry with me for writing this post. Partly because I respect every parent’s right to make their own decisions and I don’t want anyone feeling judged by those decisions. And partly because I really hate controversy and argument. I much rather have us all hold hands, sings songs, and skip through fields of flowers. Really.
But a couple months ago my younger sister approached me about the topic of vaccinations… something I have not ever talked about in my family (who have all vaccinated their children). But her sincere and honest questions have helped me realize that there may be people who, like I was, are still trying to figure out what’s best.
And in all honesty, I don’t know what’s best for you and your situation. But I can tell you what has been best for us in hope that it helps you on your own journey.
Why we chose not to vaccinate our child
Like so many women, I went into obsessive-frenzied-research mode when I found out I was pregnant. From home birth to co-sleeping, my husband I meandered our way through the whole “natural” spectrum of parenting choices and found what worked for us. And while I’ve learned that there is no such thing as living out your ideals completely, for the most part we always felt really good about our decisions.
But for the life of me I could not figure out how I really felt about vaccinations.
No end to the research or debate
I was vaccinated as a child. Almost everyone I know personally was vaccinated and continues to have their children vaccinated. But in my quest for more natural living, I was introduced to an online community of parents refusing to vaccinate. Between their passion and their research, I couldn’t help but listen.
Of course, I think it’s really important to take everything you read online with reservation. I mean, anyone can post anything. But I also spent enough time in the university setting of higher education to know that just because something is in a scientific journal does not mean that it’s always true, either.
So I continued to research. I read books, online journals, blogs, forums. I asked trusted friends. I followed money trails of the studies that “proved” one thing or the other about the safety or lack thereof of vaccinations. In other words, I was diligent.
And throughout all this research all I got was a headache.
Hello, baby! I’m your confused mama.
By the time my little C was born I still didn’t have a solid plan for vaccinations. But since I knew I couldn’t take back the shots, my husband and I decided to wait.
Each wellness checkup with my daughter I was once again forced with a decision. Each time was preceded with more research. And each time I felt more and more confident in the decision not to vaccinate. Thankfully, my pediatrician was supportive. By the time we hit C’s 9 month appointment, both my husband and I were pretty adamant about not giving her any shots.
What finally sealed my decision?
I don’t think I can pinpoint one particular article or book that finally gave me the confidence to do what was right for us and our situation. But there were plenty of the things that contributed to our decision:
- The ingredient list and warnings on the vaccinations. I just couldn’t bring myself to put so many toxic substances inside such a small body.
- The fact that Pharmaceutical companies do safety testing of vaccines, but no long term studies are not done. (Read more here)
- The drastic increase of the number of vaccinations given over the past 30 years (1983 vs. 2013). And what do we have to show for it? Sky rocketing sickness, disease, allergies, ADHD, autism, and other signs of illness. I’m not suggesting that vaccinations are the only cause for these increases, but I do think they are a factor.
- The money trail of the pharmaceutical industry and the billions of dollars that are made each year on these drugs. Who really benefits from all these vaccinations? Through my research on real food and the food industry, I knew the FDA cared nothing for my family’s actual health.
- I committed myself to eating real food and breastfeeding my child into toddler-hood as a better approach to immunity. I trusted that civilizations have thrived without drugs when they have access to real food. Most cultures that struggle with disease also struggle with things like sanitation, poor nutrition, and other factors.
- I have been blessed to live in a clean home and have access to clean water, sanitation, and other things that help keep our immune system from being compromised.
Ultimately, my gut told me not to vaccinated, and I listened.
(For the record, most of the above links will take you straight to Center for Disease Control stats/info – the pro-vaccination people themselves.)
Every situation is different.
Clearly the majority of people are still getting vaccinations, and the majority of those people are still healthy (although our standard for “healthy” has decreased drastically over the last few generations). And while the debate about vaccinations causing autism are lengthy and usually quite ugly, I do believe that vaccinations can be a contributing factor. We know so little about the actual causes of autism, but most experts agree that it is usually a combination of both genetic and environmental issues… and there are plenty of parents out there who know their child was different after receiving a vaccination. (like this one or these.)
I only mention this because I often wonder what vaccinations would have done to my girl. She is an “extreme” child, and showcased some of the precursor traits of autism. Thankfully, I don’t think she is on the spectrum, but I wonder if vaccinations would have been the tipping point. Obviously, I don’t know. But in this instance, I am grateful I followed my gut.
But aren’t you risking everyone else’s health by not vaccinating?
Every time someone posts about vaccinations you’ll get a lot of angry folks insisting that we “non-vac” parents are putting everyone else’s lives at risk. And that the only reason our children are safe is because of “herd immunity.”
When I hear these arguments I kindly point them to this article and this article. The truth is, if you actually look at the numbers, the years vaccinations were introduced, and what vaccinations actually do to the body and the population at large, you will see that I am not threatening anyone’s life by not vaccinating. The idea of herd immunity never applied to vaccinations. And in fact, since most people don’t stay on top of their vaccinations, only about 50% of the population is ever actually “protected” from these “miracle drugs” at any given time.
Unless you are keeping up on all your booster shots, you are just a much as “risk” as my child is. And honestly I’ve never understand the argument to begin with. How could my unvaccinated kid risk your vaccinated kid if your vaccinations work? Just a thought.
My child is healthy and vibrant
I think one of the reasons why my sister first asked about vaccinations is because she noticed how healthy my little girl is. She is sick less than any other child I know, recovers faster, and has avoided a lot of problems that I’ve witnessed from friends and neighbors.
We’ve had zero trips to the doctors (other than for the occasional wellness exam), zero ear infections, and zero high fevers. Of course every child gets sick, and it’s a part of healthy living… but this girl’s immune system is solid.
How do you decide for yourself?
Read. Read a variety. Read both sides. Talk to people. I have a list at the bottom of this post of related reading to get you started if you need help. But ultimately you need to follow what feels right to you. Not your doctor. Not your neighbor. Not your mom. And certainly not me.
Go with your gut. It’s your child. Your situation. It’s your choice so make it wisely.
Don’t let fear or stress immobilize you. There are no perfect solutions. But know that no matter what you choose, I think you’re doing your best.
The following is in no way inclusive of all the info available to you, but it is a start.
Let’s play nice, please.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, but before commenting please quickly read my “rules of conduct:”
1. I don’t care what your views are on vaccinations, whether pro, con, or still deciding. Feel free to use the comments to discuss, ask questions, and politely present your ideas in a respectable and loving manner. Anything hateful, mean spirited, or off-topic (from either side) will be deleted.
2. If you already have it deeply embedded in your mind that vaccinations are a modern miracle and reading anything that says otherwise makes you angry, just do us both a favor and leave this page. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.
3. If you are seeking any specific recommendations for your situation, remember I’m not a doctor/healthcare professional nor am I at liberty to give that sort of advice. I hope to leave enough information to get you started on your own discoveries, but please don’t ask me for medical advice.