Vaccinations — TMI!

So, today I was browsing the blogosphere and literally stumbled on the following article/link:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/07/06/jenny-mccarthy-spreading-dangerous/

For those of you unfamiliar, and if you have any children 5 years old or younger this would be unlikely, Jenny McCarthy has a son who is autistic. She has made it her mission to, at worst demonize the vaccinations that are given to children in the United States today, at best call for more research to be done.

Let me just warn you right off the bat that this post is not intended in any way to choose a side and argue with empirical evidence for either. My point today is that one must be careful in the age of the Internet to do one’s own careful research, and come to one’s own conclusion.

I mentioned some of this in my first post on this blog, but the issue of immunizations is HUGE with parents of young children today. I took my time and read almost all of the comments on the link above, and all it did was frustrate and anger me. Why is it that we (and by we here, I mean specifically Americans — please forgive the generalization) are so incapable of saying “I don’t know”?

When faced with the first couple of rounds of immunizations on our son Xavier, my wife and I admittedly had not done any homework on the issue. Kerry was the first to question what we were doing after the 2nd month checkup when Xavier was given 4 injections plus an oral rota-virus vaccine. He was irritable for a couple of days, and ran a mild fever for one night, but on that night he had a short burst of terror inducing crying, the sound of which thankfully has faded from my memory. Kerry had heard some stories about other parents refusing to get their children vaccinated on the recommended schedule, or even at all, and was seemingly leaning that way.

I am naturally skeptical when I listen to debates between the unknown and science, so I decided to do some homework so that we could make an informed decision about our son’s health. This is where the frustration immediately began. There is so much “information” out there on this topic, and so much steadfast assuredness of individual beliefs that it caused in me information overload, and I mean brain shutting down…period!

It became quickly apparent that if I chose to vaccinate, I was buying into the government system of lies and deceit, and was poisoning my child. On the other hand, if I chose not to vaccinate, I would be considered a new age quack, and would very surely endanger my son’s health, AND eventually his ability to go to school. So, what is a parent supposed to do? I can only tell you what we did, and ask you to honestly share your own decisions here for others to use to form their own opinions.

Kerry and I discussed it (sometimes endlessly), and chose to continue the full immunization schedule, but on an extended time frame to avoid multiple injections at the same visit. Our pediatrician, one who we are very happy with, advised to stay on schedule, but seemed more than happy to respect our wishes and slow down the barrage. We have continued this decision with our new daughter, Hayden, and all is well with both children thus far.

You see, the fact is that there is not a good answer to the question, “is the current immunization schedule the best thing for our childrens’ health?” I hate to use a movie as an example, but I will anyway. In the first Jurassic Park movie (c’mon, who didn’t like that flick?) Jeff Goldblum’s character was explaining the inherent flaw in the scientists self-assuredness that by only breeding a single gender, they would avoid massive dinosaur re-population on the Earth. “Life finds a way,” he explains while spinning a yarn about some frogs that are able to change gender spontaneously in order to procreate and continue their species.

My point is that we must be very careful to avoid hubris in thinking that because we have tested something with the scientific method, it is surely correct. On the other hand, we would be completely irrational to refute the scientific evidence we have discovered as so much crap. I do not need empirical evidence to suggest that the world’s population is exploding right now due to births significantly outnumbering deaths. This is due to any number of factors from advances in sanitation and treatment of clean drinking water to yes, advances in medicine…including immunizations.

Let me go on record as saying that we know what our children don’t get sick and die from as a result of immunizations, e.g. measles, mumps, rubella, polio, and more. There is very solid evidence as well that we have diagnosed far more children today with autism than we did 30 years ago. These two things need not be related. It would seem that enough work has been done to suggest that there is not a causal relationship between the current immunizations and the increase in autism cases, but does that mean we should not better understand why there is such an increase in autism? I have heard it suggested that the increase in autism can be at least partially explained by our increased knowledge of the disorder, and therefore increased diagnoses in individuals determined to have something else in the past. I have spoken with too many parents who are choosing completely different paths to consider this a case closed, and if it will take more research to put people’s mind’s at ease, then we should fund that research.

Is there more I am not aware of? If so, then I’d love to hear it. In any case, I hope if nothing else, I have created a place for an intelligent discussion of this matter, and very much welcome your participation.

Be well!

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4 Responses

  1. After the past decade, I get scared when I see how quickly actual science is tossed aside in favor of sound-bite rumors, forwarded emails and yes, people turning to Jenny McCarthy for any kind of medical guidance.

    As you pointed out, we know that immunizations have eradicated many childhood illnesses/plagues of the past. It’s also true that we don’t know what causes autism, but because it manifests around the same time as immunizations take place, the link keeps getting explored.

    To date no link has been proven – the paper that started the whole anti-vaccination movement? Ten of the 13 authors have withdrawn their conclusions and it has now come out that the main author falsified data to get to his conclusion.

    There are many, many other hypotheses out there – both genetic and environmental in nature – fragile X syndrome, mercury poisoning during pregnancy. The list is endless, and about every other day I read of a new research study being done in one of these areas. Of course, these studies are never highlighted by Yahoo! or Oprah (and I love me some O) because they’re not sexy and exciting, and people can’t get all riled up about them.

    So here’s what’s bizarre to me: why would parents not immunize their child when for SURE it will expose him/her and other children to harmful diseases, on the basis of something that has no proven link? Spacing out the immunizations, for your own peace of mind, good for you. But potentially bringing back deadly childhood diseases on the basis of zero proof is just irresponsible.

    • Oh, Elizabeth, thanks for the comment…my first on this blog, hopefully the first of many more. Do you know anyone who has chosen the zero immunization route? Have you asked them why?

  2. Interesting blog post. I agree wholeheartedly. I know that immunizations are beneficial in protecting my kids from the host of illnesses and diseases that could kill them, but on the other hand watching them being injected with all of those “toxins” in one setting causes me to think…

  3. As you know, we too have done a lot of research on this topic. We have chosen a similar path. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there to ingest. For me, when examining what appear to be the most reliable unbiased resources, the main conclusion that I have drawn is that the system in place in this country is fundementally flawed. Autism links? My answer for now is I don’t know. There is no hard evidence on a causal link, but there is equal evidence that can refute the possibility and some frightening in betweens. There is fact, scientific and otherwise that is disturbing. I have a problem with the fact, for example, that Rotovirus vaccinations have become part of the required schedule when it is a temporary disease that at worst causes diarrhea that can lead to dehydration – thus only really threatening in a third world environment without the access to healthcare (an I.V.) that most of us have, and one of the most common side effects of the shot is…drumroll please…severe diarrhea and dangerously high fevers!! There is some evidence that points to the chicken pox being beneficial to kids in building there immune systems to fight other illnesses yet this newer vaccine is now part of the schedule. But worst to me is that some aspects make it very difficult not to draw terrible conclusions about greed and negligence and deceit. The fact that scientists have studied and concluded the that an adult being exposed to more than 25mg of aluminum can be harmful and some of the most commonly used multivaccines have over 650mg going into an infant is maddening along with the fact the these vaccines seem to be carelessly approved for use without appropriate long term studies on the effects. We were adminstering known poisonous levels of mercury through thimerisol for nearly than 20 years because it was a successful preservative. more recently we were told that manufacturers were discontuing single doses to split up combo vaccines for Measels mumps and rubella so we won’t even have that option anymore. There is obviously much more than this but it has certainly taught me the lesson to not assume and trust the motives. My final frustration to highlight is that the medical field makes clear effort to avoid informing new parents of options to slow down the schedule, split up shots, etc. We were told by the doctor who was speaking to us condescendingly for having concern that the main reason multiple shots are administered at once several times in the schedule is because with so many dual working parents these days it saves time and trips to the office. But that would not have even been mentioned had we not brought up the discussion. Here is an interesting link. I think to dismiss the science is extreme, but more people need to recognize that that thought goes both ways on this issue and it certainly causes me less fear of being called an alarmist.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/

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