A CRUNCHY MOM CHOOSES TO VACCINATE?
It has taken me a lot of time to write this. The “hate debate” about whether or not to vaccinate has circulated Facebook with much virility, cruel finger-pointing, and definite anger. There should be a Christian response to both sides of the argument regarding vaccinations; however, I’m sad to see that in many Christian circles, there has been splintering of friendships and general stirring up of animosity towards the other side. It’s easy for people to think this is a black and white issue. However, there is danger in taking this black-and-white approach to the vaccine debate. I have finally had the moment to gather up my thoughts and share with you what I want to say to both sides of this issue.
I consider myself a “crunchy” mom–one who chooses to parent as naturally as possible. I chose a natural unmedicated home birth–I birthed our daughter in a birthing pool “kangaroo style” where she came up to breastfeed and delayed the cord clamping. I got my placenta encapsulated. We didn’t do the eye ointment, the vitamin K shot, or any vaccinations at birth. We also nurse exclusively until at least 6 months old, cloth diaper, eat paleo, brew kombucha, and babywear!
I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. I am a parent who researches all of her parenting decisions, looking for truth in research and science, but also deriving moral conclusions from the Bible. The problem with looking for truth about vaccines on the internet is that there is no unbiased article. Any person these days can write whatever they want and even claim to be a doctor. Journal publications can be corrupted and bought out by pharmaceutical companies. It has been very difficult wading through all of the information on the web about vaccines.
However, we had to make a decision and agreed that we would vaccinate our daughter on a delayed schedule and be selective about the vaccinations that we give her. It comes down which is a greater risk. Do we risk the side effects of vaccines to help prevent her dying from a deadly disease? Do we risk death to avoid possible long term side effects from vaccines? Does my decision affect others? Choosing whether or not to vaccinate also depends on each child’s reaction. I believe that the genetic makeup of some babies cause them to react very negatively to vaccines. I like to think of us taking a middle-of-the-road position–an exercise of moderation if you will–but includes reasons to vaccinate as well as reasons not to vaccinate. (We don’t do the flu shots, HPV or Hep A or B.)
Let me help summarize the vaccine debate for you who may be unsure of the perspective from both sides. This post is meant to help you understand both sides of this debate better and hopefully allow us all to get along without having to call each other idiots.
Pro-vaccine Side–WHERE THEY’RE RIGHT
- Vaccinations work. They don’t work 100%, but they allow a person’s immune system to respond to a virus quicker and better, often beating a virus without severe symptoms.
- Diseases like the measles were declared eradicated from the US at some point in our history due to vaccinations. The use of vaccinations fought back deadly viruses and almost eliminated them from our entire population. This may be in part due to better sanitation; however, if better sanitation was the reason diseases were eradicated, then why are we seeing outbreaks happening today in the US?
- Vaccinations produced currently no longer contain mercury. When vaccinations did contain mercury, it wasn’t the mercury that we think of in fish, but rather ethylmercury, which is harmless and exists in our bodies anyway.
- There is no link between vaccinations and autism. I don’t think there’s any other way to explain this. So many articles have shown that the original doctor who created this research was stripped of his license.
- ‘Herd immunity’ is true and is something that should be maintained in a population. Since vaccines only help boost one’s immunity (not prevent one from being infected), people rely on the general health of the herd to prevent outbreaks. If the general health of the population declines (whether through poor diet, not vaccinating or maybe weakened immunity from receiving vaccinations), then the viruses can get a foothold on a population. This foothold is easily gained by infecting unvaccinated people who suffer more severely from the illness, and therefore the possibility of exposing or contaminating others increases (since recovery is longer). Whether it be a vaccinated or unvaccinated person, the length of time and risk of further spread increases.
Pro-vaccine Side–WHAT I WANT TO TELL THEM
- There are some serious side effects to some vaccinations. There are many anecdotes where a child just didn’t seem the same after receiving vaccinations and I believe them! No two humans are the same and many can react differently to these vaccines; however there are many people who don’t react negatively to them.
- Infants should not be given vaccinations until they are more developed. The baby’s immune system is just kicking into gear at birth and is negatively affected by being overloaded with chemicals, alcohol, and viruses from vaccinations. I believe there should be an adjustment period where babies are given time to grow stronger. They will be protected through the breast milk.
- The cause of the outbreaks (like the measles in Disneyland) cannot be pinpointed to the unvaccinated. The anti-vaccine people aren’t the only ones running around giving the virus to other people. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people can transmit diseases, even diseases they were protected against.
- Parents who choose not to vaccinate are not mindless followers. These ‘anti-vaxxers’ are educated, they have done their research and have chosen to take the risk of their children getting these deadly diseases to spare them the possible risk of brain inflammation, autoimmune diseases and allergies caused by the chemicals in vaccines.
Anti-vaccine Side–WHERE THEY’RE RIGHT
- There are too many chemicals given all at once in most vaccines, especially the ones given to children. Unfortunately, in our industrial world, in order for vaccinations to be produced in mass quantities and widely distributed, preservatives and other chemicals need to be used to maintain shelf-life and also aid in its effectiveness. Many anti-vaxxers would vaccinate if there was a ‘natural’ vaccination that didn’t include all of those complicated chemicals.
- Natural immunity is best, vaccines are a weaker protection against deadly viruses. The best immunity is natural immunity–meaning if you contract the disease and beat it. Vaccines don’t claim to be better than natural immunity, but with natural immunity, you run the risk of dying from a deadly disease.
- Many vaccines and what they protect against may cause more harm than good. The benefits do not outweigh the risks–HPV, Hep A, Hep B. When I was 26 years old and the HPV vaccination just came out, I remember getting pressured each time I went to the doctor (whether it be a gynecologist or family doctor) to get it. I tried to explain to them that I had only one partner–my husband–and didn’t need to protect against the HPV that is transmitted sexually. Similarly, there are many vaccines out there that are meant to protect against things that aren’t particularly deadly or serious.
- A breastfed baby receives some immunity from mama’s milk. I’m not talking about feeding breast milk from a bottle. God designed mothers’ bodies with the ability to grow a baby and then to continue growing the baby outside the womb through mama’s milk! There is an endless list to the benefits of breastfeeding. It’s through the breast milk that babies can receive some immunity to diseases, but it’s up to whether the mother has built up immunities against them in order for baby to be protected. There is speculation that if mother doesn’t have immunity built up for a particular disease that baby gets, but the baby gets sick, then through breastfeeding the baby can be protected. Here’s how: the baby passes the virus to the mother from suckling on mother’s breast. The mother’s body receives the virus and then builds up immunity to it which them gets passed to the baby through the breast milk. Breastfeeding is amazing.
Anti-vaccine Side–WHAT I WANT TO TELL THEM
- Vaccines work. If you believe natural immunity works, then you should also believe vaccines work. Vaccines introduce a weaker version of the virus so your body can build special antibodies and become ‘immune’ to the virus.
- Though natural immunity is best, possible death from getting a virus and trying to beat it naturally is not worth the risk. This is the main purpose of vaccinations to begin with. Instead of relying on our natural immunity (which can get pretty good with good diet, excellent gut flora, eating organic, and reducing exposure to toxins), we have developed vaccinations to help us beat these viruses, reducing the risk of death from exposure.
- Just because someone was vaccinated doesn’t mean they are protected from the virus. A vaccinated child can get a virus from another vaccinated child and yet one will have better immunity than another. One can beat it and live, yet another may not and die. (Notice, I’m not even claiming that only unvaccinated children can infect vaccinated children).
- Not all doctors and drug companies are in it for the money. Every doctor I know truly cares for you. When they seem surprised to find someone who isn’t up to date on their vaccinations, they’re not trying to push vaccines on you in order to make money! That doctor that may have irked you because he was trying to convince you to get vaccinated but was probably doing it out of genuine concern.
- Herd immunity is real and should be maintained. Some people cannot get vaccines because they are allergic or their immune systems are particularly weak. Getting vaccinations would compromise their immune systems, so they have to depend on the general population be healthy. For those people who are healthy enough to get them, please stay healthy and get vaccinated for the protection of these immunocompromised people. You have your own choice and I don’t think there should be a law requiring it or that you should be sued, but please recognize that there are people out there relying on your good genes and your good heart.
- Just because an aborted fetus was used to produce vaccinations doesn’t mean it was killed to make the vaccine. No one is killing babies or aborting fetuses to use their cells for vaccine production. Even the Roman Catholic church (which usually remains conservative, i.e., no gay priests and no women bishops) believes it morally acceptable to use vaccines that may have been produced from an aborted fetus. This is similar to using organs from a person who was murdered. No one was murdering people to use their organs, but rather, a victim of murder was used to help save other people. Not only is it not condemnable, it is honorable for that victim to have helped another.
In conclusion, I’m tired of all the name-calling and shaming going on from both sides about this issue. I hope I presented this debate without anger, without heated emotions and in a clear concise way that may help you understand that this issue isn’t black and white.
My approach to vaccinations is two-fold. I am a true believer that God gave us amazing bodies that are able to stay healthy if we treat our bodies well. However, in this day and age, it is almost impossible to stay healthy with the decline of high-nutrient food! I am also a believer that God gave us intellect and the ability to help prevent the spread of disease (much like the ‘invention’ of hand-washing).
I believe that everyone should try to vaccinate their children on a delayed schedule, and then watch your children’s reactions to help determine whether or not you want to continue vaccinating. If you are not breastfeeding, I would try to stick to the CDC vaccination schedule. If you are breastfeeding, try delaying vaccinations until you feel your child is strong enough to handle the extra chemicals they will receive in the vaccinations. Dr. Sears’ book “The Vaccine Book” is an excellent resource to find out what exactly goes into each vaccine. His conclusion is to vaccinate on a delayed schedule as well. Keep in mind that each child is different (even within the same family), so please don’t choose not to vaccinate based on one child’s experience.