Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thinking Through More Vaccines

Today we'll go through the other major vaccines, and I'll explain why we decided to get or avoid them.  Don't worry, I won't be so in-depth as I was with my example yesterday (pondering the chicken pox, or varicella, vaccine).  Of course, if a reader requests a similar analysis of a vaccine, I'll be happy to oblige!

Remember, these are the conclusions we came to for our family in our situation.  One of the biggest problems with the CDC schedule is that it forces a one-size-fits-all approach to children who are VASTLY different.  Your conclusions could be totally opposite because of where you live or what your genes are!!  That is OK!  Real quick, here are the 10 questions I use to evaluate each vaccine (or medical procedure) I'm given the option of having:

1. What disease(s) is this vaccine aiming to protect against?
2. What is the a) probable outcome of this disease, and b) worst-case scenario outcome?
3. Today, is this disease treatable and/or preventable by other/natural means?  
4. What are possible dangers in this type of vaccine (look up whole list of ingredients)?
5. What is the a) probable outcome of this vaccine, and b) worst-case scenario outcome?
6. How much has this vaccine been tested, and are those tests by objective testers?
7. How effective is the vaccine?
8. Are there any benefits to gaining immunity to this disease through actual infection, rather than through the vaccine?
9. What is the rationale behind getting the vaccine?  Is this valid/applicable to my situation?
10. Is the disease generally worse than the vaccine?
Now, each vaccine in turn briefly:
-Hepatitis A- No, because of #9.  This disease passes through feces-oral transmissions (diapers), or contaminated water/food.  Common in poor, crowded, unsanitary communities, which we do not inhabit.  If we travel internationally to an affected area, we would consider this vaccine.
-Hepatitis B- No, because of #9.  This is a sexually transmitted disease, which can only be passed to infants through an infected mother (which I am not).  There is absolutely no reason for a baby of a healthy mother to receive this shot.  If our child were to begin a career in health or public service, an adult vaccination would be appropriate.
-Polio (IPV)- No, mainly because of 2 & 5.  Even during epidemics, 95% of those exposed to polio will exhibit NO symptoms, and of those, 5% will have only mild flu-like symptoms.  Even among those 1 in 1000 who do exhibit muscular paralysis, the vast majority have a full recovery.  The real clincher, though, is the high percentage of contaminants which this vaccine has had over the years, and still can have now.  Monkey tissues are used to culture the disease, and diseases which monkeys carry harmlessly are deadly to humans. SV-40 infected at least 30 million (some estimate as high as 200 million worldwide) children in the 1960s vaccination campaigns, and is still being treated today in the form of numerous cancers.  Some evidence has shown that SV-40 has even been passed from vaccinated-infected-mothers to their children in the form of brain tumors!  While monkey tissues are now tested for SV-40 and various other diseases, the threat of viral contamination is still very high, and utterly probable.  Some postulate that HIV is the human version of SIV, which infects 50% of all African green monkeys (the kind most used to culture polio vaccines). Several doctors have warned that only about 2% of existing monkey viruses are known and are tested for, and since you can't test for something you don't know is there, who knows what might be in the vaccines. It just isn't worth the risk.(The definition of "polio" as counted by the CDC has become drastically more restrictive since the development of the vaccine, which further confounds the problem of judging its effectiveness; the numbers are falsely lowered.  Now a patient must exhibit the worst possible symptoms in order to be counted as having polio, as opposed to having mild symptoms and being counted.)  I've judged polio (which my child may well be immune to, like most of the population), to be less a risk than a cancer-causing virus.
-Rotavirus- no, mainly because of 2.  This vaccine is to prevent a disease which, while unpleasant (vomiting & diarhea) is treatable-- the main danger is dehydration.  The actual sickness only confers partial immunity (though repeat infections are usually less severe), so of course the vaccine-weakened form of the virus provides spotty protection at best.  
-Meningitis (both Hib & Pc)- Yes, mainly because of 10.  Meningitis begins with flu-like symptoms, yet can turn deadly in toddlers very quickly, though death is relatively rare. It was not uncommon, though breast-feeding and avoidance of day-care lowered risks considerably. While long-term effects of the vaccine are still undermined, and there are the usual cases of serious vaccine-associated reactions to the vaccine, the vaccines do seem to have been effective in drastically lowering meningitis cases among toddlers.  Even if the vaccine-granted immunity does wear off, meningitis in older children is far less serious than in very young children.  Pc also does effectively protect against pneumonia, to which our daughter is susceptible (thanks to her GB's genes).
-Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)- no, because of 2, 4, 3, 8 & 10- none of these diseases tend to be serious in children, and naturally-obtained immunities are permanent, even passing on to their later infants as long as breast-feeding lasts.  That last advantage is not true for infants born to mothers who only have the vaccine-immunity.  Malnutrition is responsible for measles complications, which are nearly eradicated by supplementation of vitamin A (along with avoidance of fever-reducers during the illness). Combination vaccines and live vaccines are a deadly combination, assaulting the still-developing neurological system of little bodies ill-equipped to fight off 3 diseases at once.  Both combination shots and live-virus vaccines are especially linked to auto-immune disorders (diabetes Type I, Celiac's disease, ADD, autism spectrum disorders, asthma). It seems clear to me that this triple vaccine poses far more dangers than contracting any & all of the 3 diseases, especially if our children's diet is rich in vitamin A.
-DTaP (diptheria, tetanus & pertussis/whooping cough)- yes, only for the tetanus component (tetanus alone isn't available for children under the age of 2, at least not that I could find), because of #2 & 9.  Tetanus is severe & life-threatening, occuring due to injuries with contaminated objects (such as are plentiful in our inner-city neighborhood park and street).  The vaccine is 100% effective in providing tetanus immunity, as long as 10 year boosters are given.  If we did not live in this neighborhood, we might delay the shot until only the tetanus component could be given.  I wrestled most with this vaccine decision because pertussis is the most controversial and reactive of all the shots, linked to brain damage and seizures in an alarmingly high number of children (I know a woman whose daughter is suffering exactly that).  However, it seemed to us that the likely-hood of our children reacting so violently to the vaccine were less than them cutting themselves on a rusty iron nail if they tripped in the park.  It might be different for you!
-Human Papiloma Virus-no, because of #9 & 6.  This protects against a sexually transmitted disease, for which my child is not at risk.  If she chooses to become promiscuous in adulthood, it will be up to her to weigh the risks of the shot v. the disease. The shot is brand-new and is showing alarming side-effects after only 1 year on the market.  It may not even be around by the time our children are old enough to get it.

I welcome your thoughts and questions!


Lori Emmott said...

Hey Christina!

I just found your blog through Jenny's...I found your posting very helpful. We've been talking about what vaccines to give Lydia and it's helpful to be able to read someone else's thoughts on the matter!

Thanks for sharing! :)

Lori Emmott said...

Hey Christina!

I just found your blog through Jenny's. Zachary and I have been talking about what vaccines to give Lydia... It's helpful to read your thoughts on the matter!

Thanks for sharing! :)

Beth said...

thanks, Christina!

Leah said...

Great post! Have you seen that the tetanus boosters alone still contain mercury, where the DTaP does not? I'm pretty sure I remember reading that. We haven't vaccinated at all, but I'll tell you..the whooping cough is nasty stuff and our kids are still "night-hacking" 2 1/2 months's been quite the miserable experience. Anyway, what is your knowledge of the tetanus shot being effectively given if and when (for example) a rusty nail is stepped on? This too, was the one shot I did actually briefly consider, but the multiple doses and adverse reactions scared me. Still unsure of what to do about the tetanus issue.

Eowyn's Heir said...

Hi, Leah!

The tetanus issue is kinda tricky, but there IS a reactive option, if you choose not to pursue the preventative option. Of course the #1 way to prevent tetanus is to clean deep wounds properly, making sure they heal from the inside out instead of healing over on the skin first. If a person becomes infected with tetanus, a shot called TIG (tetanus immune globulin) can be given--

Basically it contains antibodies to fight the infection until your body takes over and makes its own antibodies. It's relatively universally safe. I guess I'd just call hospitals in your area and make sure they are stocked with it, or that you know which ones have it, if you ever need it!

Eowyn's Heir said...

@ Leah re: the pertussis-- just think, though-- at least your kids have the full natural immunity, and didn't run the risk of SIDS, or encephalopathy which the vaccine causes for WAY too many kids!!

Denise Davis said...

Christina - can I just say a huge THANK YOU! I wouldn't have known where to begin in researching the way you did. This was so incredibly helpful to me! THANK YOU!

Courtney said...

I Share Your Thoughts EXACTLY!!! I was so excited to read a post that was identical to my own feelings! I have my Own modified Vaccination schedule and I scoured the internet to try to find one similar... Thank you so much for sharing.

SusanAlexander said...

I'm still doing the DTAP for my kids because of the pertussis - it really scares me!! I just see how active it is and how scary the cases can get and I just get scared by it - what are your thoughts on that?

Stephanie @ Confessions of a Trophy Wife said...

Wow, what a wonderful breakdown! Thank you so much for sharing your perspective on these vaccines. I think this is the first time that I've actually been privy to something as helpful and in-depth as this. Most of what I see is people who talk in general terms or say no vaccines period! It was really helpful to see what you chose to do and how you reached that decision.

P.S. I came over from the links you posted on Keeper of the Home. I really enjoyed both of your posts there as well and I'm looking forward to the conclusion!

Thanks again!

Eowyn's Heir said...

I honestly am not too worried about pertussis. My friend whose kids had it this past winter assures me that it is NOT fun, but I don't think any diseases are. Experts continue to be stumped this year by the rise in whooping cough, despite the excellent rate of vaccination.

The vaccine isn't working the way they say it should-- kids with all of their shots still got it,- and while they suggest now vaccinating adults to protect babies (meaning that whooping cough vaccine-granted immunity wears off), I tend to think that we should skip the vaccine wheel all together. Other doctors are suggesting that the disease might be cyclical-- that, I can believe.

Eowyn's Heir said...

@Denise & Courtney- I am so blessed to hear that this has helped you!

My Dad's a King said...

This has been one of the best series of blogs I have ever read. Thank you so much for providing such a wealth of info on this (daunting) subject. Our son is 5 1/2 months, we have not vaccinated. I wanted to be very educated before we made that decision on when to vaccinate, which to vaccinate and how many at a time, etc. As a reader commented before, this helps so much to give me a starting point as well as good references to check out (because I know I can waste a lot of time reading the ridiculous references). I found your blog through Keeper of the Home when you wrote the 3 part series about vaccines and am wondering if you posted your in-dept answers to the 10 question's for all the vaccines? Although I do want to and am going to research them all on my own, I would absolutely love to read your answers and conclusions for each. Thank you so much, you have no idea how much you have blessed our family with your blog and wisdom shared.


Valerie said...

Heard about your blog from a friend on facebook. You have some great info on here. I have one child, a 16 month old girl, and felt majorly pressured by her pedi to get her shots. So, with tears in my eyes, I relented and let her have her first round of shots. Those are the only shots she has ever had, though. People look at me like I'm a terrible parent, and I'm about to be "kicked out" of our pedi clinic because my un-immunized daughter is a "risk to the other children." There are no non-vaccine friendly clinics in my area. Have you encountered this? How do you handle it? I would also like suggestions on how to get her into school when the time comes without her having vaccines. That seems kind of impossible nowadays. And about the MMR vaccine, I heard that the diseases are fairly easy for a toddler to overcome, but that if she contracts it while I am pregnant and gives it to me, it can be deadly for the fetus. Your thoughts or any info on this?

Eowyn's Heir said...

Hi Valerie! My heart goes out to you so much! It is so hard to be pressured and feel like you're being boxed into a corner. Know that you are not alone! You are also FAR from a "bad mom" for thinking though these issues, whatever you decide. You would be a "bad mom" if you let someone else just decide for you out of fear or laziness!

As far as shots go-- you are ALWAYS, ALWAYS free to do WHATEVER you want! Many pediatricians can be pacified by saying "I'll do one today," if that's what you want. You can make "well-child" (i.e. vaccination appointments) and then call and cancel or reschedule as many times as you want. Many pediatricians honestly won't notice. Never ever consent to your child being vaccinated while sick, nor if you don't feel comfortable with it. You are always free to say "I need to discuss this with my husband and check our schedules" if nothing else. Once you are out of the office, you will have the space you need to get your bearings and make your decision. Legally, no doctor can force any treatment on your child without your consent.

Allowing your child to be "caught up" all at once on vaccines can be very dangerous-- always administer vaccines one at a time, while a child is healthy, and with plenty of time (1-2 months) between each to allow the immune system to go off high alert.

Public school can be tricky, depending on your state. Check your particular state's laws here: All states offer medical & religious exemptions. To claim a religious exemption you do not always have to be a member of a religious group that opposes vaccines, but rather have some beliefs in common with a religious group that opposes vaccines (such as believing in the sanctity of life or inspiration of Scripture). Several states also allow for a "philosophical exemption." Many private schools admit partially vaccinated or unvaccinated students. You also can always administer vaccines before a child enters school at age 5 or 6, at which point less vaccines are needed AND children tolerate the shots better. Waiting is always an option-- you can opt out now and always get a vaccine in the future... however you can't UN-get a vaccine if you later decide against it.

As far as an unvaccinated child being a danger to vaccinated children, that is absolutely illogical. Shouldn't vaccinated children be safe if vaccines are so effective? If anything, your UNvaccinated child is the one needing to be sheltered and coddled! Similarly, if you have been vaccinated (and vaccines are as effective as they're supposed to be), then you SHOULD be "safe" while pregnant and immune to any diseases. This isn't quite true-- proving once again that getting the recommended shots isn't a fail safe. If you are concerned about rubella or mumps while pregnant and didn't have them as a child, you can always be vaccinated yourself now, before being pregnant. If you're not sure about your immunity, you can order a titer test that will check your blood for immunities for those particular diseases. Pregnant women should NOT receive live vaccines like the MMR or chickenpox, nor the flu vaccine (maternal flu antibodies increase a child's likelihood of having autism).

I hope that helps!

Eowyn's Heir said...

Jess- I did post my abbreviated answers (which you've probably already seen), as well as another example on Keeper of the Home (which it sounds like you've also read). So far that's all I've put online. There has been ongoing interest, though, so I may go ahead and just post them all! Thanks so much for the encouragement!

Eowyn's Heir said...

Here is a link for blood titer tests:

Rebekah said...

Hi, Christina. THANK YOU for the work and thought that went into these posts on vaccines. I have struggled over this since my oldest son was born, but had no clue where to get good info. I would try to search, but only found links to either super pro articles or the NO vaccine crowd. I needed something concrete for my decisions and some direction as to where to go to get the info I needed. Thank you giving that direction!

Rebekah said...

In regards to Dtap, have you read the book "A Shot in the Dark"? I was reading the reviews and many of the parents commented that, though their children has not had the old DTP shot, they still had similar reactions to the supposed "safe" DTaP. I was wondering your thoughts on this book and its claims.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I get nervous when I see either side 100% for or against when there are obviously benefits and risks on each side! Great research and attitude!

Abram Hess said...

As pertains to the Hepatitis B vaccine: They wanted to stick my daughter with it within minutes of being born. I asked, "Why?" They said, "Because if she gets sick in the first 1 to 2 months and has to be hospitalized, there is a very good chance that she will require blood transfusions; and blood transfusions are one of the chief vectors of Hepatitis B transmission." To which I said, "No, thank you. I regularly donate blood, from which I know that the blood supply is thoroughly screened against Hep B and HIV. That screening isn't 100% effective, but I'm willing to play the odds that 1) My daughter won't get sick to the point of 2) being hospitalized and 3) requiring a blood transfusion that 4) just possibly, maybe, might...there's a chance that it could be contaminated with Hep B." I can appreciate an epidemiologist's desire to have 100% vaccination and stamp out diseases once-and-for-all; but when it comes down to my child, who I'm responsible for, I'm not going to live in fear of The Very Extremely Unlikely.

Eowyn's Heir said...

Great perspective, Abram! Parenting by fear instead of faith is crippling!

Krystal said...

Thank you so much for this information!!! I have been doing my own research and it's been so confusing because there are so many different views out there. In the end, I think I've decided to go ahead with the Hib, Pc, and Dtap vaccines for my 5.5 month old son who hasn't had any vaccines yet. At what ages do you give these vaccines? Do you do them one at a time and spread them out or ?? I would also be very interested in seeing your detailed analysis for each vacxine. Thx.

Katie said...

Thank you so much for posting this! My son is a year old today and I've been wrestling for the past year with which vaccines to get for him. So far I've spread the vaccines out/skipping a few, but I get the distinct impression that my Dr. thinks I'm a little crazy! :)

Abigail said...

Hi! I greatly appreciated reading your blog and have looked up every other post you have written about vaccinations. Thank you for all the effort you put into your research and for your willingness to share what you have learned. I am currently doing my own research and would really appreciate seeing your more detailed list about all the vaccinations. I didn't know how to contact you other than leaving a comment. You can email me at - Thank you! Abigail

Abigail Burnett said...

Hi Christina! Thank you for all that you have posted about vaccines. I have found your research very helpful as I have been working on my own research lately. I would very much like to see your more indepth research about each of the vaccinations. Would it be possible to get that from you? Thanks!