Possibly one of the most divisive topics of modern parenting is the issue of vaccines. With my first two children I vaccinated according to the CDC schedule, which currently recommends over 50 shots by age 2.
While both children are healthy, they both had issues as babies. My oldest daughter had low tone and numerous delays. She also had digestion issues and was on a doctor prescribed plan of Miralax daily from infancy. My second daughter had eczema and food allergies (eggs, nuts and seeds) that we discovered at 8 months and that she finally began to outgrow at age 4. Now, she only has a cashew allergy. Do any of these issues have anything to do with the vaccines they took? I began to have mommy guilt over blindly accepting these vaccines to be safe without even asking the pediatrician any questions. After all, when giving my consent to the vaccines, my pediatrician informed me that possible side effects were “redness at the injection site” and sometimes a fever- NEVER anything like allergies or possible developmental delays.
This time around, I noticed that the vaccine debate has been in full swing for a while and many friends and relatives were flouting the CDC schedule, and choosing to delay or even completely bypass vaccinations. Possible side effects that people talked about weren’t fever or redness but autism, behavioral issues and neurological damage. Both sides of the debate were fierce and no one was seeing eye to eye. I set out to learn more and become informed of what was being injected into my baby. I read books, websites, blogs and message boards. I watched videos on YouTube and read even more books. I took notes and asked pediatricians their opinions. Basically, I did the whole mommy research thing that I’m sure many of you have done as well.
Here is some of the things I learned along the way:
1. Everyone agrees that there are toxic substances in vaccines. Certain vaccines contain aluminum, thirmeresol (mercury), MSG, glyphosate, polysorbate 80 and formaldehyde, to name a few. The question then becomes whether the amount of these toxins is significant enough to cause a negative health reaction in children. If you follow me on Instagram or through the blog, you’ll know that I try to reduce the amount of toxins that go into my kids bodies. I try to buy better-for- us personal care and cleaning products, and purchase organic foods whenever possible. While I am no expert, I do know that the idea of pumping toxins into my tiny baby is scary.
2. Most doctors agree that vaccines offer tremendous public benefit. I’ve read many articles online of babies dying from preventable diseases because of a parent’s refusal to vaccinate. This is certainly a heavy weight to be placed on our shoulders as parents. We would do anything to keep our children out of harms way, so a shot containing a small amount of toxins in order to immunize them from horrible childhood illnesses seems as though the benefits far outweigh the risks. Then again, there is so much fake news on both sides of the debate it’s hard to parse fact from fiction.
3. Some vaccines provide zero ascertainable benefit. Here is where I deviate from the CDC prescribed vaccine schedule BIG TIME. The Hepatitis B Vaccine is recommended at birth in the hospital. The vaccine is helpful if mom is tested positive for Hep B and Hep B can be contracted via dirty needles. I doubt my newborn is playing with dirty infectious needles. I was repeatedly tested for Hep B during pregnancy and am negative. I still have yet to understand the CDC’s take on why my newborn was recommended to take the Hep B vaccine. If there is someone out there who understands this one, send me a message please! This example has taught me to look into the individual vaccines instead of taking a stance on vaccines as a whole.
4. Babies’ systems are not fully developed so they may be more sensitive to certain toxins. This pregnancy my ObGyn recommended I get the flu vaccine and DTap (because of whopping cough). If already born babies are sensitive to toxins in vaccines, I can only imagine that a fetus in utero would be even more sensitive. I have no plans of taking my infant into any public places and she has limited contact with the outside world for now so I wasn’t that worried about whooping cough in utero.
5. Vaccines are big business- there’s no way around the fact that, like Monsanto and Big Food, big Pharma makes me uneasy. In this season of a scary flu epidemic I’ve seen no less than a dozen news shows each day advising everyone to get the flu vaccine, despite its seemingly ineffective nature. I believe big Pharma owns mainstream media because of all those commercials they run. Plus, the Pharma lobby is HUGE heightening my distrust in our governmental agencies like the CDC and FDA. I just can’t help this distrust.
Some Conclusions and Decisions:
1. I chose not to get any vaccines while pregnant. I was sufficiently confident
that my lifestyle would protect me from certain illnesses. Even when immune function is at its lowest, ie. during pregnancy, I still wasn’t getting sick often and felt confident in refusing the Whooping Cough and Flu vaccines. That being said, I was repeatedly advised by my doctor that I was going “against the standard of care” and that I “should be putting my baby first.” I did not like the guilt tactics employed here, and it sure didn’t help my doctor’s cause to talk to me like this. After all, everything I did for 9 months- my food, my supplements, my exercises was in the name of putting my baby first! I refused both with a clear conscience.
2. I refused the Hepatitis B vaccine for my baby at birth. As mentioned above, I don’t understand why babies even get this vaccine and I know many doctors who skip this one. I especially don’t understand why the baby needs to take this vaccine within 24 hours of being born.
3. I will vaccinate my baby. I will be paying close attention after shot days to look for any differences in mood or behavior. I won’t be giving 6 shots at once as recommended by the CDC (they are worried that you won’t go to doctors office so they recommend many at once- I’ll happily pay for extra office visits to get them one or two at a time. I understand that not everyone is willing or able to go to the doctor for 1-2 shots but this is an inconvenience that I’m willing to sustain. Also, I WONT be giving Tylenol after vaccines! Some doctors believe that the acitometaphen in combination with the vaccines exacerbates the side effects and creates behavioral problems.
4. I will discuss vaccines with my pediatrician and use his intellect and knowledge to guide me towards making an informed decision. I hired a pediatrician that sits down and actually informs each parent of what to expect from the vaccines- the good and the bad. His approach is gentle but informative- no guilting parents for their hesitation or fear. He employs science as his guiding principle- not pushy sales tactics. I purposely chose a doctor that does not take insurance so I know that he is acting in good faith and in parents and babies’ best interest. Ultimately, I realized that I could not bear the burden of understanding all the risks and benefits of vaccines by myself. Having a doctor hold my hand was something that was very important to me.
So far every mom I know l, whether deciding to vaccinate or not vaccinate is doing what they think is best for their child. I know personal cases of moms who do feel like their children “changed” after a vaccine-seemingly overnight. I understand their apprehension and wouldn’t dare tel them they are quacks. On the other hand, I understand parents who want to immunize their children from those scary childhood illnesses and we never want to become that story of having a child of our die from a preventable cause. I wish you all luck on your journey with vaccines.