On Vaccinations, And Living In Community

February 8th, 2015 - filed under: The Farm » Family

Last year, to celebrate his 4th birthday, Damian and I took Waits to Disneyland for the first time. It was basically the best day ever, and we decided then and there that this would become an annual tradition for us. Kid birthdays at Disneyland!

Well, Waits is turning 5 next month, and I’m sure by now you know where I’m going with this. Because California is smack in the middle of a big (and growing) measles outbreak. And apparently, Disneyland is ground zero.

So the big question: Are we going to go to Disneyland this year for Waits’s birthday?

And the answer is yes, yes we are. Because all of us are vaccinated.


first vaccine

Waits and I in the exam room, before he got his very first vaccine. He was 4 1/2 months old. (And oh my goodness, do you remember those epically widespread, always-surprised baby eyebrows?! Good lawd those eyebrows melted my heart …)

~~~

So vaccines. This is something that I’ve been meaning to write about – and that people have been begging me to write about – for a very long time. The issue is mostly that I’m ridiculously busy, and writing a post like this takes a lot of precision, and care, and emotional energy. It has to be just right, because it’s such a charged topic.

And there’s a lot of topics like those, so many things I want and plan to write about some day. But my lack of time means that I’m often operating with numerous major blog posts just bubbling away in the back of my brain, turning over and percolating until one day, unexpectedly, they decide it’s time to come out.

And that’s what happened today, in the shower actually, when this post just began to boil over and spill out of my brain all at once. So much so that I had to leap from the shower and stand, literally dripping wet in the middle of my bathroom, as I scrawled this entire miniature manifesto on pieces of coral-colored scratch paper. By the time I was done scribbling, I was dry.

And I guess I’m ready to share my thoughts on vaccination, now.

~~~

I remember back when I was pregnant with Waits, and I began to think about vaccinations. And living in Portland – nestled comfortably in the warm attachment-parenting, natural living, eco-friendly, vegan embrace of Portland Oregon parenting circles – I was definitely exposed to a lot of wariness surrounding vaccination.

And you all know that I am a hippie at heart. Raised a hippie, always a hippie. But then, I also have this strange sort of inborn duality. Because after my mother died when I was 9, I was raised by both my father, and my godparents. And my father is an herbalist, acupuncturist, and practitioner of Chinese Medicine. But my godfather is an MD, and relatively western-medicine-oriented.

So I grew up exposed to the inner-workings of both sides, and I feel like it’s given me a uniquely broadened lens with which I approach the issues of health, wellness, and medicine.

Like on the one hand, I make my own Oil Of Oregano to use during cold and flu season. Because hippie. But then on the other hand, I’m also, ya know, an actual scientist – in graduate school studying and teaching biology.

A little of this . . . a little of that.

But I digress. That’s just my background, and meant to illustrate how and why I approach these sorts of issues. Which is:

Open minded, and intellectually honest.

And I feel like those two qualities are so often missing from the vaccination conversation, which tends to be drawn in black-and-white terms, steeped in hyperbole and barbed with ad hominem. It’s not pretty. It’s not smart. And it’s certainly not helpful.

So when it came time to educate myself on vaccines, I tried to avoid the more hand-wringing, shrill sorts of voices – on both sides. And actually, I avoided the majority of voices all together, because I wasn’t after opinions. I was after evidence.

My most valuable source was the most neutral and trusted book I could find: The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears.

This book is simple, straightforward, and methodical. Dr. Sears simply presents each of the vaccine-preventable diseases: what they do and how they’re transmitted, the possible complications and outcomes associated with each one, and the statistical probabilities that each of these things could happen to your child. Straight data.

He also very clearly covers each accompanying vaccine: how it’s made, what poisons it contains, how it’s administered (separate or grouped, live versus inactivated, and including specific brand names), the potential mild and severe side effects, and the statistical probabilities that any of those side affects would happen to your child. It is very frank, and very honest. Which was very much appreciated.

As I read through the book, I compiled my findings – essentially creating a “Cliffs Notes” version – in a Word doc which I then passed along to Damian. Once he had gone over it, and done a bit of his own research, we sat down to form a game plan.

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate.

~~~

I remember when I was 22 years old, and taking my very first college-level Political Science course (and loving every single second of it). I remember very clearly the day that we learned about John Locke, and his concept of the “Social Contract”.

Locke believed that humans would intrinsically form communities in order to protect and abet one another, and that when they did, they sort of . . . “involuntarily volunteered” . . . to operate under a set of natural laws that would guide and govern them. Essentially, he argued that we do not exist solely as individuals, independent from the people around us. Instead, we are part of a larger social system, where our civil rights are granted to us when we resolve to respect and defend the civil rights of our fellow humans. It was basically an overly-complicated, “Age Of Enlightenment”-y version of “We’re all in this together, man.”

And it resonated deeply with me.

Because HIPPIE, right?! But seriously, when I learned about Locke and how his ideas had helped to animate the foundation of our country, had informed our very Declaration Of Independence, I was nothing short of inspired. Because these are my beliefs as well.

I am a godless heathen with no spiritualism to guide me. But I do believe in goodness. I believe in our humanity. And I believe in community.

~~~

And this is what Damian and I kept returning to, as we talked and talked and talked our way around the vaccine debate. And boy howdy, did we talk! For weeks, maybe months, and from every angle. We examined and uncovered, sifted and sleuthed. We adopted new perspectives just to try them on for size – to see how the words felt falling from our lips. We’d be hot one day, and cold another. It was hard and it was confusing.

But it helped.

And now I’m going to say something that might make me unpopular:

It seems to me that when it comes down to it, those who choose not to vaccinate their children are only able to exercise this privilege because the vast majority of people are providing herd immunity. Period. End of story. (And yes, I have read all the “Herd Immunity Is A Myth” literature out there, and I don’t buy it. Not for one. single second. Because I may be a hippie, but gosh, I’m also a scientist. And there’s just no question. Heard Immunity is real.)

That said, we do know that there are serious risks associated with vaccines, and I’m not talking about friggin’ autism here. I mean seizures, Guillain-Barre syndrome, intussusception (where the intestine ‘telescopes’ in on itself), nerve dysfunction, etc, are all noted on the vaccine inserts, which are written by the manufacturers themselves. This is not hysteria or conspiracy theory. This is coming straight from the pharmaceutical companies that make the vaccines.

So to be clear – getting a vaccine DOES carry a very real – albeit small – risk.

However. People who choose not to vaccinate are, in no uncertain terms, choosing to allow everyone around them to shoulder that risk, and banking on the herd immunity to protect them while they opt out of taking the same risk. And as a parent, I get that. It’s your job to minimize your own child’s risk in whatever way possible.

But then . . . I got to thinking. As a parent.

And I thought about the Social Contract, and what I wanted to teach my child about what it means to belong to a community of fellow humans. To belong to his humanity.

And I thought about how, as a parent, I’m not *just* responsible for protecting my child’s physical safety. No, I’m also responsible for molding him into the man that he will some day become, and thus the way that he will move through the world forevermore. And so I asked myself, what kind of man do I want to teach him to become?

Do I want to teach him, “Me! Me! Me, at the expense of those around me!”

Or do I want to teach him, I am in community. I am part of something that is bigger than myself, and I have a responsibility to respect and protect my fellow beings.”

And that, ultimately, is how I made my decision. I chose to walk my talk. I chose community.

~~~

So we vaccinate Waits. We delayed some of the vaccines, and we keep an alternative schedule, but we do vaccinate our son. There are undeniable risks associated with vaccines, and that’s why I prefer to space them out, and to save as many as we can for when he’s older (most of the risks, especially seizures, are higher in younger children). Anyway, he doesn’t need to be vaccinated for sexually transmitted diseases when he’s 4 years old. But the ones that affect him and the people around him – the highly contagious communicable diseases – well, he’s all caught up on those.*

And as I wrap this up, I’d like to emphasize that this is not meant to be a prescriptive post. I am not telling you what to do or think, and I’m certainly not talking in terms of law or public policy. I wrote this post because I wanted to share my thoughts on a very confusing topic. I wanted to express empathy for the parents who are scared and confused. I wanted to provide space to acknowledge that this issue isn’t as black and white as either side tries to paint it.

But it is important, and that’s why I decided (unexpectedly! in the shower!) to share my own process, and my ultimate decision.

And now, just one last thing before I go: please be nice. Please weigh in below in the comments. Please share your own thoughts and ideas. Please speak honestly and from the heart. You don’t have to agree with me or with each other, but please, please be nice. I have only ever deleted one or two comments in the entire 6-year history of this blog. So please, let’s keep it that way.

Alright my dears, now it’s your turn. Thoughts?

*Except flu. I don’t get the flu vaccine and neither does Waits. This post is about the standard series of childhood vaccinations, not the ever-changing annual flu vaccine. Just wanted to clarify that!

  • Melissa

    Penicillin was discovered in 1928. The death rate from scarlet fever fell off sharply in the 1880s and continued to decline. Penicillin is a very important discovery that helped treat many infections, but how can it get all the credit for the decline of scarlet fever when the decline started before penicillin was discovered?

  • Melissa

    I do research the disease and what the treatment would be when making a decision. I would not hesitate in getting a rabies vaccine if needed, while I don’t think chickenpox is necessary.

  • veronika

    “Except that measles plummeted before the vaccine was introduced.”

    The graph you show cites MORTALITY rates, not OCCURRENCE. Big difference.

    The drop in mortality rate that you show probably has more to do with access to basic medical care than actual frequency of occurrence. Here’s a graph of OCCURRENCE of measles https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ed/Measles_US_1944-2007_inset.png

  • veronika

    Your reasoning makes sense: after all, rabies is very fatal, and chicken pox is not (I had it, along with almost everyone who is over 20 years old).

    Like measles, rabies is caused by a virus, there’s a vaccine (does not confer life-long immunity, but works when people get boosters), and there is treatment. This said, it’s an interesting example because there are so few cases of rabies in humans in this country (like, 2 in 2010). Ironically, I think this is a great case FOR vaccination (of both, humans and animals), since it’s really helped to control it :)

    Chickenpox, in comparison, is not terribly fatal, and there is a vaccine if people decide to get it. As expected, both, the incidence, and # of deaths from chicken pox declined rapidly following introduction of the vaccine in 1995 (a fairly young vaccine!), arguing for its effectiveness. http://vaccines.procon.org/files/1-vaccines-images/varicella-cases-1972-2011b.JPG
    http://vaccines.procon.org/files/1-vaccines-images/varicella-deaths-1972-2011a.JPG

    According to CDC, “Each year, more than 3.5 million cases of varicella, 9,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths are prevented by varicella vaccination in the United States.” (http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/hcp/monitoring-varicella.html).

    In comparison, there were 644 cases of measles in 2014, and 121 so far in the first month and a half of 2015. There is no treatment. 28% of kids under 5 who contract it have to undergo hospitalization (are you a working parent who’ll have to worry about missing work? How good is your insurance? Can your family take the burden of such a serious disease if your child catches it?). Pneumonia occurs in 6% of all cases, and accounts for 60% of all deaths from measles. Brain damage occurs in 1/1000 cases.

    Given the large number of cases, the absolute number of these events becomes uncomfortable. Like, what is the chance that my kid is one of the two cases of rabies that occur in this country/year (I live in a large city), or one of nearly a thousand cases of measles? This is totally not meant to be prescriptive, but I like math, and tend to think in probabilities. I guess this is the side from which I tend to approach these questions.
    http://www.cdc.gov/measles/images/measles-cases-616px.gif

  • Melissa

    Standard practice is that in the event one is bitten by an animal that could have rabies, then they get the vaccine. It is not on the list of childhood vaccinations recommended by the CDC.
    I had chicken pox as a kid too. It was nothing to panic about: I stayed home from school for a week and had annoying pox on my butt. I find it interesting how many people a bit older than me say the same kind of thing about measles.
    Why do people keep saying there is no treatment for measles? Taking vitamin A and C has been shown to shorten the severity and duration.
    In the US you still have the same odds of catching measles as you do of getting struck by lightening.

  • Melissa

    I thought the problem with measles was that it was supposedly so deadly, otherwise why would a vaccine be needed? But the incidence of measles was also declining before the vaccine was introduced. I noticed that our graphs are a bit different. This one shows rate per 100,000 as opposed to numbers of cases.

  • Melissa

    What what? “Have you seen children with chickenpox?” I had it as a kid, so did my siblings. It wasn’t that big of a deal, and I have a “scar” too, it’s the tiniest little bump, barely can see it.

  • Betty

    Just because you were lucky Melissa, doesn’t mean others are too! Chickenpox in adults can cause serious complications. If a pregnant woman is exposed to chickenpox, the health of her child is jeopardized. One has to think beyond his/her own horizon and realize what implications non vaccination has.

  • veronika

    I’m sorry, I don’t actually understand what you mean by “supposedly so deadly”. We happen to know that the current fatality rate is 1-2/1000 (0.1-0.2%). I’m not sure where “supposedly” fits into hard numbers and actual statistics.

    Not all things we vaccinate against are “so deadly”. It’s just that we, humans, don’t really like being sick, don’t like seeing our kids get sick, and don’t like having permanent damage such as paralysis or brain damage be inflicted on ourselves or our progeny. And yes, we don’t like being dead either. This seems like a non-argument to me: when we don’t feel good we pump a lot of money into development of solutions, be it headache meds, chemotherapy drugs, or prophylaxis of some kind (e.g. vaccines).

    But let’s look at your graph. The axes may be different, but the math is …well, math. I’m going to assume you know how ratios work.

    The US census bureau tells me that the US population has been increasing throughout the 20th century. It looks like this: http://www.immigrationeis.org/sites/default/files/images/charts/chart_us_population_1900_2010.gif

    The raw numbers from census.gov are here: http://www.census.gov/popest/data/historical/pre-1980/index.html

    Without this piece of information, which is basically the denominator in your graph, it is very misleading. That’s why the graph I had posted provides absolute numbers, not ratios, and does not require the viewer to have any additional information.

    Furthermore, accuracy in linear regression actually increases with increasing data points. I’m going to only do calculations for the time range your graph provides.

    incidence of measles (1934)= let’s say 630
    incidence of measles (1961) = looks like about 250
    slope=(250-630)/(1961-1934) = -14.07

    Census numbers from here (http://www.census.gov/popest/data/national/totals/pre-1980/tables/popclockest.txt)

    US population (1934) = 126,373,773
    US population (1961) = 183,691,481
    slope=(183,691,481-126,373,773)/(1961-1934)=2122878.074
    we divide this number by 100,000 (to equalize units with your graph), and get 21.23

    This actually means that the population was rising faster than the measles cases were dropping. If the difference in slopes was zero, it would mean that the incidence of measles was not changing within the population. If the magnitude (or absolute value) of the slope of measles cases was larger than the population growth, it would mean that the measles cases were decreasing faster than the population was growing. But that just isn’t what was happening.

    It’s a good thing they introduced the vaccine when they did, because the math tells me that over that 27-year period the incidence of measles was rising within the population.

    Hope this makes sense.

  • veronika

    “In the US you still have the same odds of catching measles as you do of getting struck by lightening.”

    you know, we’ve been having such nice conversations with actual numbers, and a mini battle of the graphs, that blanket statements like this just don’t sit well with me. Do you have numbers? Stats to back this up? ‘Cause I’d argue that the probability of catching measles is different depending on 1) the population you are in (and its vaccination rate), 2) your immunity, vaccination status, and age, and 3) the current calendar year and the number of current cases of measles.

    Unless it’s looking like a super-stormy year, I think of lightning as an equal-opportunity striker. I’m not an expert in lightning though.

  • veronika

    P.S. I think that “treatment” to me implies that there should be something that will affect the virus, like an actual, pointed therapy for the infection.

    Bed rest and hydration also alleviate symptoms, but no one would argue that getting a few extra hours of sleep is “treatment”. Getting a good meal and taking vitamins falls into the same category.

  • Melissa

    Yeah, I figured you knew that population was growing at the time so refrained from giving you a condescending lecture on it. I briefly explained why our graphs looked different as I didn’t want to appear misleading. Your graph also leaves out the total population of the US. On that graph measles cases were bouncing around but not changing much, about 450,000 cases per year. There were a lot more people around not catching measles with the population growth.
    You’re saying that measles cases were decreasing but not as fast as the population was growing. How do you conclude that the incidence of measles was rising? If the trend on the graph I posted continued measles incidence would have reached zero around the year 2000, which is the year the CDC declared measles eliminated from the US.

  • Melissa

    Numbers from the CDC: 628 measles cases in 2014 which is much more than the previous years. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/wk/mm6353md.pdf

    US population in 2014: 318.8 million http://www.census.gov/popclock/

    The chance of getting measles in the US about 1 in 500,000.

    The chance of someone being stuck by lightning in the US 1 in 500,000. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_strike

  • Melissa

    A 24% to 28% reduction in mortality with vitamin A http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d5094

  • Pingback: Weekly Links

  • veronika

    That’s good news for the unvaccinated folk! Looks like a good intervention, no argument there.

    This said, I would be interested to see the numbers for US alone (since I’m more familiar with the dietary patterns in this country, and don’t know whether there is a deficit in this vitamin elsewhere).

  • veronika

    That’s really interesting!

    I’m not sure how relevant lightning is to the original conversation, but sure, let’s keep going with it.

    The same wiki page notes that lightning strikes carry a 9-10% fatality rates. Maybe not as high as rabies, but definitely higher than measles (0.1-0.2%). Do you think this makes lightning a good candidate for vaccine development? :)

    Cheers.

  • veronika

    “I briefly explained why our graphs looked different as I
    didn’t want to appear misleading.”

    No, you didn’t. You said “I noticed that our graphs are a bit different”, to which I immediately mentally responded with “No sh*t! They have completely different axes! Maybe Melissa is being misled by the graphs she is seeing! I should write something that explains the difference”. Hence my response.

    Ok, so for total transparency, the graph I put up isn’t actually “my” graph. I entered “US measles cases by year” into google, and looked at images. Then I looked at sources and tried to find something with a .gov, and inserted it into post.

    Ok, now the problems I have with the graph you posted and the conclusions you are attempting to draw from it.

    1) I don’t understand the range of years chosen for that graph. It spans about 27 years (based on labels), which is a pretty short period of time. Like I already mentioned, regression lines blahedy-blah accuracy blah-condescending-blah the more data points the better…

    I started to think about it, and looked for a graph that would show a larger time range. And found this: http://www.nap.edu/books/0309074479/xhtml/media/p20004754g49001.jpg
    This is the longest-range graph I could find, since measles became a reportable disease (the picture is from CDC data, and published here http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10101/immunization-safety-review-measles-mumps-rubella-vaccine-and-autism)

    Now, let’s go back to the time that the graph you show has isolated. If we look at the absolute number of reported cases between 1934 and 1961, the trend looks flat-ish (when not normalized to population growth). When we divide it by increasing population, the trend will look like it’s decreasing. However, if the regression was drawn through the 27 years between time points 1912 and 1939, the slope would be positive, and if we normalized it against population growth, it would have probably looked more flat, and would lead one to conclude that infection rate with measles was not changing. See what I mean?

    If we drew a regression against the entire period between 1912 (supposed start of reporting) and 1961 or 1963, we’d again see a steady increase in absolute number of cases. When normalized against the population growth, it might look flat or just slightly decreasing.

    So, I’d say that choosing a seemingly random 27-year period of time is sort of not good. And if the maker of the graph decided to try to publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, it simply wouldn’t fly.

    2) making predictions based on such a short-time correlation is also inaccurate. Just because the case reporting and disease incidence showed a particular pattern over about a quarter of the century, doesn’t mean that it has any predictive power. We are talking about infectious disease here. And infectious diseased have certain characteristics, such as unpredictability.

    There’s something called antigenic drift and antigenic shift, that is sometimes seen in infectious diseases against which we vaccinate. The latter is a bad situation, and happens when the infectious agent mutates sufficiently to render the vaccination ineffective. Flu is a good example, and they recommend that we get a new vaccination every year. There is basically no way to predict whether a given virus will undergo an antigenic shift. So looking at a slightly decreasing trend in incidence from 70 years ago and saying “it would have gone away anyhow” is short-sighted and overly optimistic. That’s a very far-fetched conclusion to draw from a carefully (and maybe not-so-ethically) selected time range clearly meant to push some kind of an agenda.

    I’m going to preemptively apologize if you feel that this condescending. But you know, if you dish it, you gotta be able to take it.

  • Pingback: Choosing Raw - vegan and raw recipes | Weekend Reading, 2.15.15

  • Melissa

    You missed this part when quoting me ” This one shows rate per 100,000 as opposed to numbers of cases.”

    1) I’ll admit, the date range on that graph is limited, and I too found it online. The one I found starts at 1934. The one you found starts at 1944. Which one has a longer time period pre vaccine?
    In the new graph you found, it looks like cases increased, peaked around 1942 and started decreasing. So the trend was downward in both number of cases and rate in the population.
    2) Yep, there is no way to know what would have happened without the vaccine. We can’t step in to a parallel universe where that is the only difference. But what is possible is to actually do some studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

  • Melissa

    Ha, no, obviously, lightning is not a virus or bacteria. The idea with mentioning lightning strikes was to give an example of how rare getting measles is, but thanks for pointing out that people are actually more likely to die from lighting than from measles. Do you think this means that the media should cover the dangers of lightning proportionally?
    Cheers :)

  • veronika

    “how rare getting measles is,”
    Exactly…because we have a vaccine.
    Because before there was a vaccine, half a million people per year were getting measles. Funny, how that works.

    And although the trend was *slightly* declining in the 27ish years prior to vaccine, because of the nature of pathogens, we don’t know whether it would have gone up again. We spikes in cases and epidemics and hotspots all the time.

    This is starting to feel a little circular.

  • veronika

    we *see* spikes

  • Emily Ruegg

    I think before we get carried away in self-righteousness because of the statistics that we choose to believe, we should consider that all commenters are most likely coming from the same place in their hearts where they want to do what is best for their own children and others. I believe that this conversation would yield so much more if we approached it with compassion, rather than threatening litigation. What non-vaxers need to see is strides being made to make vaccines safer–not scaring them, not presenting them with scathing judgment.

  • Emily Ruegg

    Beautiful response, islandmama. I am compelled by the virtue of protecting the weak, as in Sayward’s manifesto, and I have been more convinced by her compassionate and eloquent reasoning than I have by any data that has been provided to us by our government or the pharmaceutical companies, and it seems difficult to find many studies that aren’t sponsored by and for the aforementioned. Propaganda has always existed. What if someone told you that killing your Jewish neighbor would be the best way to help your German brethren? My husband is very passionate on this subject and I am conflicted, so we go with his passion on this one. If you think your government cares about your precious health and protecting the weakest among us, I urge you to research cases such as http://www.businessinsider.com/army-sprayed-st-louis-with-toxic-dust-2012-10 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKUltra. Sorry, but I don’t want to be forced to do anything–I already have to die and pay taxes!! :)

  • Emily Ruegg

    I agree completely. I totally believe the science behind vaccines, but do I trust Big Pharma to what is best for me and my fellow man? Different story. And both sides can over-simplify things to the detriment of productive discussion.

  • Emily Ruegg

    I was just exposed to chicken pox in my first trimester by my cousins VACCINATED child. They have no idea where he got it from. ??? I’m thinking that it might just be a fluke, but it leaves you wondering how many vaccination flaws there are. I guess he had better immunity and maybe a lighter case than if he hadn’t been vaccinated? How will we ever know?

  • Emily Ruegg

    Sayward, I really respect your opinion as someone who does your research and makes even keeled decisions, and I am very confused on this topic of vaccination. I have been reading this website tonight, vaxtruth.org, and it seems to be cited and linked to completely scientific articles. I know you are extremely busy, but from many concerned ethical mothers to another, if you get a chance to review this information, I would love the opinion of someone who is maybe more skilled at debunking bad science??

  • Betty

    Emily, as far as I remember chickenpox involves 2 vaccinations – I went twice to get the full immunity. The vaccinations were 6 weeks apart and my daughter was 5 years old when she had the first chickenpox vaccination, but now I don’t remember when the second was. She’s 19 years old and had no childhood diseases and I am grateful for that since one of her classmates contacted measles and another one had pertussis in high school. Boosters are just as important as the initial vaccination. Good luck with your pregnancy, Emily! :-)

  • Vienta76

    100% Libertarian

  • Jessica

    I’m really late to the party, but I just wanted to say that I’m glad I am not the only one who was confused reading Mike’s post! I kept waiting for him to disagree with you, per his tone and set-up – but the whole time he was supporting everything your post said. I read it like 3 times before I saw your response, and was asking myself what I’m missing… (Why do people comment if they don’t read the post? That was an awful lot of “arguing” to basically just say “I agree with you.” :) )

    Also: This post is amazing, and I just love you, Sayward. I truly admire you, for so many reasons. Rock on.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    That makes sense.

  • walker

    I am SO TIRED of the “dirty, sick unvaxed people” image portrayed by pro-vaxers! How many bacteria and germs are we all, both vaxed and unvaxed, carrying on/in our bodies constantly and unknowingly, potentially passing on to someone whose system, for whatever reason, can’t effectively handle it like ours can?
    Unvaxed people aren’t the only ones who spread disease. Vaxed people may not show symptoms or appear sick but they still carry germs and can easily pass those on with a cough, sneeze, handshake, kiss… ie all the info on the flu vax failure and how now the CDC admits the vax failed at preventing flu but then pushes the idea that people should still get vaxed to reduce symptoms…maybe…they think…let’s try it and see… Now vaxed people potentially aren’t showing strong flu symptoms but are passing the flu around, How’s that for community. And now info comes out that getting the flu shot 2 years in a row might actually decrease effectiveness in the current year… keep vaxing though! (I know you said you don’t do the flu vax, this was just an example of vaxed people being able to spread disease just as unvaxed are, as well as one of my main reasons for stopping vaxes – the CDC JUST DOESN’T KNOW ENOUGH about vaxes or their effects (esp. Long-term!). And they and pharma don’t have to take responsibility for errors or lifelong negative effects – parents do. No one but me is raising my kid day in and day out. I’ve worked with parents whose children had medically-documented vax damage (ie. The bad DPT shots in early 1990′s) and THEY are the ones up all night every night with their children’s unrelenting seizures and terrors and body spasms, not the CDC or pharmaceutical companies or even the pediatricians. The load for care falls squarely on the parents. The DTP cases of the 80′s and 90′s are yet another reason I realized the CDC just doesn’t know enough about vax effects, and a “Whoops, bad batch, let’s try this other shot we don’t know much about,” doesn’t cut it for me when it comes to my child’s health and future health. Also, why is it okay that their studies aren’t double-blind with a benign placebo, as all other scientists would be asked to do to study safety?… Why can they get away with comparing the new vax they are trying to get on the market against another vax (ie, “Wow, this new vax has less side effects than this other crappy one we’ve been pushing, let’s call it safe and put it on the market!”) instead of saline? Why aren’t studies done of vaxed vs unvaxed? They claim it’s “unethical” but every unvaxed family I know is ready and willing to sign up for a study comparing vaxed vs unvaxed.
    I 10000000000% agree that the energy put into fighting, name-calling, mud-slinging between the “2 sides” could better be used to team up and demand safety, transparency, responsibility, and accountability from pharmaceutical companies and the CDC. I don’t consider myself on a side – I am constantly reading about vaccine info, both pro- and anti- (seriously, it’s almost a compulsion; my husband’s joke when he sees me reading something is “I bet it’s about vaccines!” And it nearly always is.) Anyway, I am doing what I believe is best for my kids and I believe every parent has that right as well. I have lots of friends who vax and I don’t think they are bad parents. I know they are the only ones who can make those choices for their own kids; they are doing what they think is best just as I am.
    I read “The Vaccine Book” when my first was born and decided to do a selective/delayed vax schedule with only monovalent shots when possible. My 1st had a rough infancy and a doctor preyed on me in a moment of sheer exhaustion at the 2mo shots, she literally bullied me into doing a combo shot by insinuating i was an idiot and a bad parent (mind you, i WAS vaxing, just delayed/selectively!) and I’ve never forgiven myself for that, I felt so out of control of my decisions about my child’s health and so beat up by someone I thought I was supposed to trust. My kid had a reaction, but I didn’t realize it at the time. My never-slept-on-a-regular-schedule (or for more than 2 hours) infant slept for about 12 hours, then stopped sleeping and just cried/screamed for the next week. I unknowingly kept taking my child back monthly for more shots, and after the 4mo shots my kid developed eczema that has moved around the body but hasn’t gone away since (at nearly 7yo). I STILL didn’t connect anything and continued to trust blindly and vax. It wasn’t until my 2nd was born, and I was going to start vaxes, and at the 2mo visit the baby was obviously sick but they tried to push vaxes anyway, luckily I adamantly refused. At 4mo the baby got one shot, DTaP, and had a bulbous, sensitive lump at the site for over a month, considered “normal” by the docs. It freaked me out and I started researching and found out it was an allergic reaction to the aluminum. That’s when I really delved into researching vaxes and decided that until I had solid info that my kids would be safe given all their reactions, I’d stop vaxing. We are now seeing some neurological issues with our 1st (nothing as extreme at autism, but nonetheless concerning and worrisome).
    However, neither of my kids is considered vaccine damaged (it’s impossible to have a doctor even admit vaccines have any safety issues, much less that a child has been injured by them) even though I have seen it repeatedly in them. So if vaccines are mandated, then am I supposed I sit idly by and watch the government and pro-vaxers destroy what’s left of my children’s health? Who is going to provide assistance – physical, emotional, financial – when my kids are further damaged and rather than becoming productive members of the community, they are a drain on insufficient welfare, educational, and assistance programs?
    Incidentally, after realizing my kids were having vaccine reactions, I realized that I myself experienced a vaccine reaction to my last shots. It was downplayed at the time, but it was a huge deal to me: my upper arm swelled up to about 4x its size, was horribly inflamed, hard as a rock, and debilitatingly itchy, and I felt horrible for days while my body tried to process and detox. All of the above factors (and SO many more!) have led me to stop vaxxing. It has nothing to do with autism or believing others are protecting us so I don’t have to, but has everything to do with seeing with my own eyes that vaccines are not one-size-fits-all and I’m not willing to offer my kids as test subjects while the CDC and pharma muddles slowly through figuring it out. I am all for safe and effective vaccines, once we get to that point. Until then, I am firmly pro-choice: parents are the only ones who have a say as to what goes in their children’s bodies.

    I wanted to add this article (from a staunchly pro-vax person and website) as it is one of the first from pro-vaxers to admit that there are severe issues at the CDC, issues with their studies, issues with their ethics…reasons for ALL parents (and people!) to scream for a better system. http://www.ringoffireradio.com/2015/02/cdc-scientist-still-maintains-agency-forced-researchers-lie-safety-mercury-based-vaccines/

  • Pingback: » Sunday Reading 02-22-15 #24 One Raw Bite

  • Cel

    LOGIC vs. community?

    “First of all, I need to point out a massive contradiction. When a person receives a vaccine, it’s said that his body produces antibodies against a particular germ and this is a good thing. Vaccination thus prepares the body for the day when that germ will really make its attack, at which point the immune system (including antibodies) will mount a successful defense.

    However, let’s look at another venue: for many diseases, when a person is given a blood test to see if he is infected, quite often the standard for infection is “presence of antibodies.”

    This makes no sense at all. If vaccination produces those antibodies, it is heralded as protection. But if a diagnostic blood test reveals those same antibodies, it’s a signal of infection and disease.

    Vaccine-produced antibodies=health. Antibodies naturally produced by the body=illness.”

    Thoughts?
    I choose LOGIC x

    https://jonrappoport.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/dumbed-down-populations-accept-outrageous-vaccine-logic/

  • Betty

    Jimmy Kimmel got in on the act too and he tells it like it is with humor. I hope it will sink into the minds of the ones who doubt modern medicine.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgpfNScEd3M

  • veronika

    It’s an interesting question, but erroneous in its oversimplification. It sounds like you worried about not being to tell whether a patient is immune to measles due to previous vaccination vs actually having measles, is that correct?

    “However, let’s look at another venue: for many diseases, when a person is given a blood test to see if he is infected, quite often the standard for infection is “presence of antibodies.””

    First, I would say that the “standard for infection” for measles is symptoms like rash and fever and stuff. It’s not super subtle. But if a person wants highly specific results, or is known to have immune problems and an unusual response to infection, the serological tests performed for titers are different for new infection vs a titer (which will tell if the person is immune due to vaccination or a previous infection). And this is because there are different classes of antibodies, and we can differentiate between them. I don’t think you ever see mass news reports about people not being able to tell if they are actually sick or immune to a disease :)

    The class produced shortly after infection is immunoglobulin M (IgM), and antibodies produced weeks+ out are IgG. This person explains it much better than I: http://www.differencebetween.net/science/health/difference-between-igm-and-igg/

    standard for serological testing here: http://www.cdc.gov/measles/lab-tools/serology.html

  • chantel

    Do you still give him the vaccines made with human and animal tissue?

  • chantel

    Nevermind. I finally got through reading all the comments and I found your answer! Great post by the way.

  • Jentle72

    I was so happy to come on here and see this post advocating for
    vaccinations! I imagine it must have taken a lot of courage since it is
    such a hot-button issue; so thank you for this. Thanks to you, I believe
    many fence-sitters in the vegan/natural community will decide to
    vaccinate their littles. This is truly a life-saving post. Of course, I
    wish you would advocate for the flu vaccine as well–it’s just as
    important as all the other vaccines and is part of being a responsible
    community member, too.

    I also have to respectfully disagree with
    you about Dr. Sears’ alternative vaccination schedule. When I was
    pregnant with my son in ’09/’10, I was considering the delayed schedule,
    too. It really appealed to my crunchy-yet-science-y nature. However,
    then I came across the article below and I decided to vaccinate my son on
    time, every time. Unfortunately, Dr. Sears’ schedule was completely made
    up by him and is not evidence-based. He even admits this. Please read this article when you get a chance: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/cashing-in-on-fear-the-danger-of-dr-sears/

  • Pingback: The Real Reason to Vaccinate: It's About Community | Care2 Healthy Living

  • Emily

    I am so sorry you had to go through that with your sweet baby. But the truth is, pertussis is most dangerous to babies to young to be vaccinated BUT older children and adults who are vaccinated CAN and DO spread pertussis to others. So he could have caught it from someone who was vaccinated, but because of the vaccine they had a mild case of it and thought it was just a little cold so they went out in public and spread the illness

  • Pingback: Weekend Links - Sweet Love and Ginger

  • Michelle

    Come to the Philippines and see how “benign” these childhood diseases are.

  • Cara

    Go see a family whose child has been permanently brain damaged by vaccines & see what that’s like.

  • Eml

    Curious as to why you don’t get the flu vaccine. I ask because I’m vaccinated for everything, but refuse to get the flu vaccine. I have no scientifically valid reason for this, just a “gut” feeling that it’s not the best thing for me to do for my body. I’d love to hear your reasons for not getting it. Thanks!

  • Pingback: Weekend Reading, 2.15.15 | The Full Helping

  • Pingback: Friday Faves 2.13.15: Valentine's Day Treats - Clean Eating Kitchen