a conversation worth having

It was never my intention to write a post like this on my brand new shiny blog this early but with the recent cases of measles in the US and Canada there has been a lot of cyber bullying and friends expressing the desire to leave social media because it’s hard to take. I don’t need to write yet another research and study link filled post with all the reasons I choose natural immunity – there are thousands of those. As with  any other topic in life, I always think it’s best to remove the emotional triggers and just talk about what matters. 

Dear vaccinating parent,

I promise you that this letter is not to bully you about your choice, it’s not to convince you to change your mind, nor is it to prove my position. We’ve been over that about a million times and that has gotten us nowhere. This letter to you is only to open the door to change the conversation we are having – because you might be surprised to hear that I do want to have a conversation – just not the one we have been repeating over and over again.

Firstly, I am not an anti-vaxer, I am not anti-vaccine and I do believe in science. Yes, I choose not to vaccinate my children but that means I am PRO natural immunity. I do not think that vaccines should not exist – that would mean your choice would be taken away and I have no reason to want your choices taken away. I know you think that we disagree on what the science says but that doesn’t mean that we don’t read the same papers and information – it just means that we have come to different conclusions about that information. That doesn’t mean that either of us are stupid or not smart enough  to read scientific lingo or twisting that information for it to read what we want – what it means is that you read it and decided how that information is going to benefit you and your family and I have done the same and come to a different conclusion for mine. It actually happens all the time with toys, electronics, television, schooling, which car we are going to buy, food and mostly everything in our lives and somehow we are all smart enough to figure out those studies and decide what is best for our individual families – vaccines are no different.

This is one thing I know about both of us. We both love our children. A lot. We both want to see them grow up healthy and live fabulous lives. So when you call me any numerous of names:

  • abuser
  • neglectful
  • idiot
  • hippie (but not the cool loving everybody kind)
  • stupid
  • conspiracy theorist
  • quack
  • irresponsible
  • selfish

I can tell you that my defenses go up – I know duh, right? I can promise that you calling me names is the least effective thing you can do to get through to me – what it really does is cause me to not hear what you are saying and we don’t move forward to make this planet a better place for our kids. We also leave our cyber bullying footprints behind for our kids to find one day – definitely not the legacy I want to leave behind. So let’s put on our big girl and boy pants – stop being bullies and find some common ground, find a conversation that actually might make a difference in the health of our children.

You believe that vaccines are saving lives. I believe in natural immunity that has kept our human species alive on this planet for a really long time. Your choice carries risks – we both know that from reading the vaccine inserts. My choice carries risks – we both know that 1)nothing in nature is risk free and 2)we have a hundred years of stats too look at on our government run health sites. So if both our choices carry risk…what are we really fighting about here? Are we really fighting about which risk is worse or more risky??

Here are some topics I believe we could actually talk about and make better for the generations to come.

One thing we should both want for our children is to continue to live in a free country with free will. I know you believe that forcing me to vaccinate my children will protect yours – but really that only put us all at risk of not having any say in what is put into our bodies. That opens the door for other people to decide what medical treatments are necessary for the masses. Our goal should be that together we are protecting our children’s choice and human rights in general. I believe it would be naive to think that mandating vaccination would be where the buck stops. We have many health issues that are affecting the ‘greater good’ and will do so even more in the future as more hospitalizations and long term care is required. Are we ok with the seemingly majority of society deciding what goes into our individual bodies?

I would love if we could unite and abolish this barbaric idea that it’s ok for anyone to ‘take one for the team’. While I can appreciate your belief in herd immunity and that you want everyone to be protected – you also seem ok with “some being sacrificed” for the herd. I can tell you with certainty that I’m not ok if your child or any child is harmed or dies for ‘the good’ of my child. I can only believe that you would use this argument of herd immunity and the greater good because you really believe it won’t be your child, and therefore it’s ok that someone else does lose their child for your perceived benefit and that my friend is not the world I want my children to grow up in. If we are indeed trying to protect everyone in the herd – let’s in fact DO THAT and expect that no one will suffer needlessly and no one has to lose their children for our benefit.

Until we remove this archaic mentality that’s it’s ok for children to die on our behalf, I would encourage all of us to start thinking about how we are going to support those who have been sacrificed – either with their lives or with life long health consequences. If we believe we are civilized human beings wouldn’t that mean that when one of the herd takes one for the herd that we  in return be a herd that compensates and offers any and all support that individual needs? Wouldn’t we want to know who these individuals are so we can know that it’s only a few? Wouldn’t we as society be so heartbroken that a viable life was taken from us that we would want to screen and find out who in our midst is most at risk of being sacrificed? Children dying or being physically harmed should not be something we take lightly. Instead of callusing our hearts further with inhumane culture thought of ‘the greater good’ why not adopt the motto of “One is too many.”

Let’s start asking the right questions. Let’s start demanding to know the risks and true statistics. Let’s start a long term study of vaccinated children vs unvaccinated children. No, I didn’t say double blind with a vaccine…I said long term study. There are non vaccinating parents waiting for the phone call – desperately wanting to help “the herd” get the information they want and need. Is there a difference in the health of these groups? If so, what are the major differences? What is the percentage of chronic illness from both groups and when does it begin in each group? What is the health of these two groups as they age and become adults? Are we actually seeing the same data in each group and can we rule out without question that vaccines only do good and have absolutely no effect on the overall health of a child. We both know that the studies that have been done are not adequate – we need the data. If we both believe in informed choice, we need to know what choice we are making – that information is not available.
We could also start asking why other first world nations are halting certain vaccines when they see troubling coincidences after new vaccines are put out – why isn’t ours?

And in case you are thinking in the back of your head that my words sound pretty but I’m really out to get you – this must be a non-vaxer conspiracy theory trap…let’s get a proper definition:

conspiracy theory

noun

1. a theory that explains an event as being the result of a plot by a covert group or 
organizationbelief that a particular unexplained event was caused by such a group.
2. the idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the
 products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.

 

Great, so everything I know about vaccines and the vaccine industry is general public knowledge so that excludes me from being a conspiracy theorist. Do I think there are conflicts of interest in the vaccine industry. Yes. And I would encourage all parents to care about that and want to unite to ensure that the medical interventions given to our children are safe and have been approved without ethical question marks. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to expect third party testing and studies. I think it’s reasonable to require that there be a line drawn and excludes people working for drug companies from jumping to the governing bodies that approve such drugs. These are our children and it should be without question that the drugs created to keep them safe be done within a system that is ethically sound.

And I can appreciate that you might find me personally to be a bit too blase when it comes to this topic and that I also am expecting to ride into the sunset because “it won’t be my child” mentally. I promise you it’s not. Let me share with you that I am well aware of what it’s like to be that 1 in xxx. Our first daughter was born with a congenital heart defect – every baby has a 1 in 100 chance of being born with one…we happen to be that 1. Surgery that had an 80% chance of giving her a chance to live failed, putting us in that dreaded 20% – she died in our arms. So, I’m quite aware of statistics and percentiles and being on the losing end. I take the choices I make for my children very seriously because I know all too well what it means to be that 1 in xxx.

I know we both care about the most important thing. Let’s start having that conversation. If your vaccines work the way you say they do – you’re safe. If my immune system works the way I think it does – I’m safe. So, now we can stop throwing stats at each other all day long – we have been, it’s not convincing anyone on either side. We can stop calling each other names to get our points across because we are essentially condoning bullying. We can stop living in fear of each other and we can make the choices that we feel are the best for our families and trust in those choices. We can be the change that fuels safer medicine and healthier children. Ours and theirs. Now that is a conversation worth having.

With Joyful Grace,
S. xo

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41 thoughts on “a conversation worth having

  1. Reblogged this on Crazy Casson Family and commented:
    If I could have written out my thoughts on the vaccine hoopla debate that has sprung up recently on social media. It would have sounded a LOT like this blog post! All the mud slinging that I came across was a big part of the reason that I took a break from social media this past winter. It was not the only reason….but it was up there on the list.

    I wish every person would read this post, it really is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a mom who no longer vaccinates and who knows what it is to have that 1 in XXX child (my older son died as a baby from a freak strep A infection), and a blogger who has taken on the subject of vaccines more times than I care to think about, this is exactly what we need to be talking about.

    Like

  3. Robert says:

    It’s worth adding to this conversation that decisions about vaccinations are emphatically not the same as decisions about toys or other products: the only protection those who cannot be vaccinated (infants, sick people, the elderly) have is that the people around them are vaccinated. By choosing not to vaccinate one’s child, one is choosing to increase the risk for those other people, and one is making that choice without the consent of those other people. “Natural immunity” resulted in thousands of deaths every year before vaccines; since children no longer die at those rates, we currently have the luxury of forgetting how serious these preventable diseases were.

    Like

    • A Concerned Mom says:

      While I can understand your argument (and please do not forget that is exactly what the blog is trying to stop), I would like to point out that this is the exact argument I was given over and over. When my children finally were vaccinated, my child was that 1 in XXX who developed a very serious autoimmune disease from one of the vaccines. He was very lucky, being the active child he is, he could have died from a brain hemorrhage, just by playing like any normal 6 year old boy. After a hospital stay, being given a drugs with yet more potential risks, and missing a lot of school, he still must be monitored for 3-6 months to make sure he doesn’t end right back in the hospital (or worse). Prior to receiving the vaccinations, he was extremely healthy, hardly ever sick. The rare occasions in which he did get sick, he got over it pretty quickly and without incident.

      Every time someone says “But herd immunity!”, there are parents like me (and some not nearly as lucky as I have been with this incident) who desperately want to throttle that person for suggesting that our children’s situations are worth it.

      Like

    • Stephanie B. says:

      Hi Robert,

      Respectfully, I honestly do understand the point you are trying to convey but there are other sides to this as well.

      My mother has an “idiopathic” autoimmune condition for which she is taking immunosuppressant medication, she falls into the category of “at risk immunocompromised” individuals.

      She’s also a (now retired) nurse.

      She understands the risks of being out in public but doesn’t actually fear specific individuals like unvaccinated kids – she understands that it’s her own responsibility to take the necessary precautions to protect herself from contracting communicable diseases/illnesses while out and about. These individuals need to protect themselves from succumbing to illness from ALL microbes, not just the ones for which vaccines have been created. So targeting only the unvaccinated is not a completely sound choice.

      She also *used to be* a big believer in the germ theory & vaccination – incidentally, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, her autoimmune disorder manifested within 3 months post-hep B vaccination series – but she has come to the conclusion that the terrain theory & a nutritious diet, appropriate supplementation & healthy lifestyle habits also play a huge role in keeping her defences up.

      People who go out into public with a common head-cold are a risk to immunocompromised individuals also, but we don’t see a furore about that – no, advertising tells us to take OTC cold medicine to “soldier on”. At risk individuals can become hospitalised for or die from complications following a simple viral head-cold infection (for which there is no vaccine), so they need to be ultra vigilant in any case – as is my mother. Anyone who is immunocompromised (or parents of children who are) know this already. They should also be quarantined from those who have recently received a live-virus vaccine due to the possibility of ‘shedding’, although many are not routinely told this.

      Regarding “herd immunity” there is another issue – vaccine efficacy wanes within 4-12 years, & many adults are WAY overdue for boosters thus making them the equivalent of “unvaccinated” & therefore a “risk to herd immunity”. Once mandatory vaccination for children is complete, there will still be issues with adults & “herd immunity” until we end up with mandatory adult vaccination as well. Only Ray Bradbury or George Orwell could appropriately expound on the implications of this.

      Recent investigations into the pertussis epidemics have revealed that there is now a vaccine-resistant strain of whooping cough which has become prevalent and, yet again, studies into the efficacy of pertussis vaccination have revealed that while it was beneficial for reducing the severity & duration of B.pertussis infection within vaccinated individuals, it does not provide complete protection from actual infection. Hence, vaccinated individuals are silent reservoirs for the spread of the infection – their symptoms of pertussis infection are so insignificant that they go about daily routines unawares, facilitating the spread of pertussis, even to those very immunocompromised individuals you mentioned. Herd immunity for pertussis is a pipe dream.

      But whether you vaccinate, or not, the only real protection we have is to support our bodies & the immune system with common sense nutrition & lifestyle choices. Those who wish to be vaccinated can do so, and those who can’t be vaccinated can choose to be careful when mingling with the public, as my mother does. Those who choose not to vaccinate, need to be just as cautious & “avoid the land mines”. I would never dream of taking away the right to choice for any individual – our bodies (& those of our children) are ours alone & do not belong to “king or country”.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A Concerned Mom says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a relief it is for someone to finally put into words what I have been feeling for so long. Thank you. ❤

    Like

  5. A Concerned Teacher says:

    I volunteer myself for the group unrepresented; the people who could not be vaccinated as infants and rely on others to help their own immunity.

    I’m sorry if your child reacted to the vaccine, I had a friend whose child was comatose after the polio vaccine. It was frightening, heartbreaking, and I am thankful he recovered to be a healthy young man today (though without his polio boosters for obvious reasons). I hope that, like my friend, you did your research and accepted the risk of vaccinating vs the risk of immunity as your own choice and not because you were pressured into it. She is thankful others cannot contract polio so she has not also had to deal with that illness on top of his reaction as a baby.

    I also represent the people who had no access to immunizations, and now are receiving scary messages. Recently we teachers had to send pages home explaining the diseases, symptoms, and our policy should any students show the symptoms (namely, we send them home).

    Many parents were concerned. A great deal (about 40%) of our students are immigrants, many of those refugees. They did not have the opportunity to do the research when their child was a baby, did not have access to medication even if they were able to make that choice. The parents are not vaccinated, and lots of the current information isn’t in their native language. Most pages we send home are verbally translated to them by one of our community support workers. I have no idea if they were offered the option of vaccination for the family once they arrived in Canada. I don’t know if they have their Canadian born children vaccinated, as many of their kids are birthed at home.

    No, we have not seen an outbreak at our school, despite the vast amount of unvaccinated people. Points to natural immunity. Who knows what they were exposed to in Africa or the refugee camps. The reason we sent those papers home was because we don’t know what they were exposed to – the recent outbreaks in our province puts all of those people at risk if they haven’t been near measles or mumps.

    Yes, I will vaccinate. I will do so at the risk of my children for their own protection, and for those who did not have the choice to vaccinate for whatever language/financial/informational barrier they faced. I get my own boosters for tetanus and hepatitis as an adult. Not for travel, but to protect myself while working so close to children who frequently need me to help me clean bodily fluids, and to help provide that layer of immunity because they may not be protected themselves. I could not forgive myself if I was the reason my unvaccinated “children” got sick.

    Dear mom, thanks for vaccinating me, even though I hated it at the time and screamed bloody murder and likely made you feel awful when I bruised easily like a banana. Surprise! I have a blood clotting disorder. Thanks for helping me protect my friend’s son from polio, thanks for helping me protect my students from measles. Thanks for making me volunteer at the retirement home and talk with the residents over juice, so I could learn first hand what a survivor of polio lives with.

    In the spirit of conversation, I am not insulting those who don’t vaccinate. I am all for educating yourself and making decisions for your family. I only wanted to speak for those who did not get that choice, who are still not aware of that choice. I personally feel I have a duty to them. Don’t you?

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    • A Concerned Mom says:

      Certainly. And vaccinating yourself (and your children) to that end is your decision. I think we can all respect that.

      It’s nice that you thank your mom for doing what she believed was the right thing for you. Both my parents wish they had known that they could have said “no” to vaccinating their children. They weren’t even given the option. Had they known, none of their children would have been vaccinated. So, rather than thanking them for vaccinating, I thank them for doing the best they could with the knowledge they had available. There are a great many things that we have more information about today than our parents had.

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  6. tinyteapot says:

    Our family is in what I hope is the rare situation of having had a family member left permanently brain-damaged by a vaccine preventable disease and another who was seriously brain-damaged by a vaccine. Neither is an outcome I would wish on anyone.

    The problem with “you owe it to society” to immunize all children is that society does not provide adequate medical care or any type of supportive care to either the child or the family, especially as the child becomes an adult. (Handicapped children are cute; handicapped adults are not. Don’t you dare give me any grief about this, as I am talking about dearly loved members of my family. It is the way our society sees things.)

    Something many people do nor realize is that there is an entire spectrum of options between no immunizations at all and following the CDC’s recommended schedule to the letter. Vaccines can be delayed until a child is older. Vaccines can be given selectively. They can be given separately, so if there is a problem, there is no question which vaccine caused it. They can be given in half-doses.

    Deciding about vaccines is one of the most difficult decisions parents have to make, I believe mostly because it is not a decision that is made once. It needs to be continuously reevaluated in light of the child’s health, the family’s medical history (did a sibling or a cousin have a severe reaction to a vaccine?), what is happening in the community, and where the family may choose to live or travel to in the future.

    The fact remains that no matter what decision we come to about vaccinating our children, we take a risk. The difficulty lies in determining which risk is the lessor one for our child–today.

    Like

    • Stephanie B. says:

      Very true, tinyteapot. Could not have said it better:

      “Something many people do not realize is that there is an entire spectrum of options between no immunizations at all and following the CDC’s recommended schedule to the letter. Vaccines can be delayed until a child is older. Vaccines can be given selectively. They can be given separately, so if there is a problem, there is no question which vaccine caused it…”

      It’s not a black or white issue – it’s many shades of grey.

      Like

  7. Maureen says:

    Well said. Most of the conversations about vaccines are ridiculous these days. I recently decided to take a middle ground (rather than stay out of the fray as I had been). We need to build a bridge rather than call names. I was messaging with a lady yesterday who said the anti-vaxers were calling her a sheeple and saying her sons autistic features are her fault. What’s the point in that? If I even suggest I don’t like vaccinations I get called a child abuser. Even though my kids are grown and had (in a reduced amount and procrastinated timeline) vaccinations. If I had a child these days, knowing what I know, I would not give any. We need to find middle ground to have any conversation that is meaningful. I do feel like vaccination advocates are not willing to even question the safety, increased schedule over the years, and efficacy. Polio was naturally decreasing in countries that did not vaccinate. In this day and age where we see corruption in governments and corporate greed, is it not necessary to question everything? Free will is good.

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  8. Thank you for this post – I am a limited vaccine mom after our daughter had a reaction (incessant crying) when we were doing the two at a time Dr. Sears’ schedule. We look at efficacy and risk of disease, risk of permanent damage due to disease and risks of the vaccine components. When will people see this isn’t about a war?

    Like

  9. So impressed with your post that I’m going to share on our FB page. We have a 13 yr.old ASD boy who regressed into autism after his MMR shot. It was only with the help of natural therapies through his MAPS doctor that we were able to bring our regressed non-verbal boy to verbal & damn near close to Aspie! Keep writing!

    Like

  10. karitag says:

    this gave me chills. thank you. we have not vaxed our two year old, I was planning to delay until my sister’s twins had a bad reaction to the dtap at their 4 month appointment, and now I don’t know that I will do any. it’s a hard choice. this was beautifully stated and said so clearly so many of the things I think every day when I read all of the mud slinging on mommy forums and facebook. I stay out of it but it’s insulting. I have a doctorate, I am not uneducated or ignorant, and I understand science just fine – but I refuse to let my child be a guinea pig. we don’t know why some kids have reactions and some don’t. we KNOW some do, and we even know that sometimes they are deadly. I don’t think anyone has the right to tell me I “should” subject my child to that risk. thank you, thank you, thank you for being a rational voice on this topic.

    Like

  11. Tara says:

    I was sent this to read by a friend. I have to say, it was beautifully written and conveys how i feel with this heated “hate” debate. nobody is going to change anyone’s mind, but the fact remains we are all doing what we think is best for our children because we love them so much. Thank you for this. Well done 🙂

    Like

  12. Stacey R says:

    Good to have a conversation, definitely! But there were a number of things I disagree with in that post from a logical and scientific perspective.

    The problem with the natural immunity is that it carries much greater risks than vaccination does. Measles, for example, carries a roughly one in five risk of serious complications. The measles vaccine, OTOH, carries a far lower risk of serious complications. Measles is also highly contagious whereas a measles vaccine is not. So when she says that she’s being asked to take one for the team by being asked to get a measles shot rather than an actual case of the measles, it’s really the other way around. Measles is very dangerous in babies. Babies are generally not vaccinated against measles until about a year because the shot often does not provide immunity at that age.

    The proposal of a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study would be unethical (history actually provides such a thing — the hundreds of years without vaccines and the deaths from the diseases). But anyway, such a study would be unethical because you can’t withdrawn known protection from a group. It’s like asking someone to jump out of a plane without a parachute to prove that parachutes are safe. That sort of study would have all kinds of problems. I really like this blog post that explains why. I hope that the title doesn’t turn anyone off, but it does explain some aspects of the issue in a way that I understood.

    http://www.redwineandapplesauce.com/2013/12/21/the-one-study-or-why-the-anti-vaccine-movement-doesnt-really-understand-science/

    Like

    • A Concerned Mom says:

      Hi Stacy,
      There are also a couple of things I disagree with in your statement.

      First of all, everyone who has been telling me that I should ask older people who have lived through the times before the mass vax programs were implemented. Here is some of the information I have gathered from those older people in my life. Not one of them has known anyone to have a bad reaction to getting the measles, mumps, or rubella. Both my parents had all three, and the rest of those I asked glossed over it until pressed, admitting that they didn’t know anyone who had serious complications, either.

      Many of them know people who have suffered serious reactions from the MMR shot, including my child, who was hospitalized with a serious autoimmune disease. I’ve talked to relatives of children who have watched their children regress after getting the shot, and others who’s children have actually contracted one of the diseases from the vaccine. And yes, it is contagious. MMR has live viruses in it, and those with compromised immune systems are instructed by their doctors to avoid anyone recently vaccinated.

      So it’s actually not as far-fetched as you’re insinuating to say that some kids are “taking one for the team”. I knew my child would have a reaction, but I was bullied into allowing it. He took one for the team.

      Your claim about the ethics of a study using unvaccinated children is also not true. There are thousands of parents around the country, of thousands or more children who’ve not been vaccinated, that are practically begging to be part of such a study. These are children who are already unvaccinated. How is comparing their health against that of vaccinated children considered unethical? And even if that were not the case, how could doing a double-blind study using a saline-only placebo unethical? How is that less ethical than injecting children with a drug that was never properly tested in the first place?

      Like

    • Hi Stacey,
      Yes, we do have hundreds of years of illness statistics. And while I appreciate you being very polite in calling me uneducated and too stupid to read – the point is that your post is exactly NOT the conversation I want to have anymore. I clearly indicated a long term study – not a double blind study. Nor do I find that article to be reasonable in terms of what the non vaccinating community wants from science.

      I’m not sure where you are getting your stats for measles complications but again, that is not the conversation I’m willing to have. You have chosen based on your experience, beliefs and knowledge to make a choice for your children. So have I. If you want to discuss how we can move the conversation to include more relevant knowledge that would benefit both sides of this issue – I am more than happy to have that conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Today 4/30 CDC has graciously given us a chance to get out balanced vaccine information. They have organized a Twitter event for people to extol the virtues of vaccination using the ‪#‎CDCvax‬ hashtag, but it can also be used to provide information about how vaccines are potentially unsafe inefficacious risky dangerous unproven uncertain etc. So please tweet your best info today using the #CDCvax hashtag, and be sure to use it on Facebook and Google+ as well, as they support hashtags and follow trending topics.

    Like

  14. Theresa says:

    Awesome post!!!! As one commenter stated, your patience and calm is highly commendable! I could learn a lot from you. 🙂

    Like

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