• Cara

    I am so glad you wrote about this topic and opened it up for comments.

    While I vaccinated both of my children, it was after much scrutiny and consideration. My older sister’s children (15 and 13) have fairly severe cases of Asperger’s and Autism. She is one of those parents who believes that vaccines were somehow involved in the process and that they triggered something already predisposed in the kids.

    Regardless of where you stand on the pro/con debate, the vaccination schedule should be re-evaluated. My 5-year old entering Kindergarten has now received 19 shots and a TB test. That seems like a heavy burden to put on a small child’s immune system, especially when we are facing increased childhood allergies, asthma AND Autism.

    As for the Gardasil shot for HPV, I’m on the fence. Not sure what I’ll do when my daughter reaches that age, but at least there will be research to see if it’s made a difference…

  • Jojo

    When I was pregnant and first started researching vaccines, I could understand why why fear resulting from a now discredited study would prevent people from vaxing their kids. The more I learn, the more concerned I became. I no longer just shrug off that some people don’t vax because there are areas where the rates are so low that heard immunity cannot be maintained.

    I’ve watched as study after study has demonstrated that vaccinations do not cause autism, as small outbreaks of these diseases have occurred in vaccinated populations, as changes to vaccines has not resulted in lower ASD rates, and really thought this would help to end the anti-vax movement. I hoped that it would because if it doesn’t, the outcome is going to be unthinkable.

    I’ve now resigned myself to the fact that the horrible outcome is unavoidable. We are going to see a significant resurgence of these diseases in the USA. Kids are be maimed and kids are going to die, and it could all be prevented. 15 years from now, we are going to look back on this whole mess and wonder how we could have let such a thing happen. It makes me very sad.

  • Simone

    Hi Dooce,

    I think the most important part of your post is the fact that you’ve garnered over 700 comments. Everyone has their opinion, and their right to having one – but providing a forum for discussion is ultimately the best situation. This helps any person – parents in this matter – learn about alternatives and consequences to what they might have been planning to do. Whether they act upon the alternatives doesn’t matter.

  • Laura

    My four year old daughter is immunized completely because I had no reservations or any reasons to consider any damage vaccines might do to her. And the very first immunization triggered her Mitochondrial Disease. She was, and is, very, very sick. With each vaccination, she reacted so severely she was in the emergency room or hospitalized. I trudged on with the CDC schedule because I would have been an awful, irresponsible mother by everyone’s account had I stopped it. I questioned it, I worried and I begged for help to make my daughter’s suffering stop but we all just pushed through that stupid schedule.

    It’s awful to have to decide now with my younger son between one disease (measles, etc) and another (mitochondrial disease). I would never blame another parent for not wanting to put their child in this position.

    I think it’s very easy for parents of perfectly healthy children to stand in judgment of parents whose children have had severe life-long reactions to these vaccines. Asking me to sacrifice my children’s safety and life for your child’s is hard to accept, because I know if the situation was reversed, no parent would choose someone else’s child over their own.

    I feel terrible for those families whose children were so badly affected by the choice of another families’ choice not to vaccinate. But since I don’t know the story of those families that chose not to vaccinate, I don’t know what fueled their choice or what effect those vaccines would have had on those unvaccinated children, I simply cannot stand in judgment of their choice to protect their children as they saw fit.

  • http://tenaciouslyyours.blogspot.com kat

    At the U, we call our free flu season vaccination program “Protect the Herd.” I write this because what you said is very true – if those who are able to get vaccinated do, then it protects those who are unable.

    While I do not doubt that some concerns with vaccinating children may be vaild, we are truly blessed to live in a time where we do not need to live in the constant shadow of such dangerous childhood diseases.

  • Glyn

    re GreenWeaver:

    Thanks for that. He may have had the vaccine in the last year or so, I’m not sure (he lives in another city now).

    Knowing my mother (and her change of opinion), she probably hassled him enough that he has done so. Fingers crossed he has from my perspective!

    Thanks again,


  • Meg

    Thank you for writing this.

    I live in San Diego and the measle outbreak here hit close to home. Too many friends had infants at that time, who could not yet be vaccinated and the children who were diagnosed with measles lived and shopped in the same areas of town as us. I was lucky that my son had just turned one year and had been vaccinated, but knowing the risk our friends’ infants were exposed to made a lot of us change our mind about the parents who do not vaccinate. We felt they were risking our children’s health.

  • Tina Nicole

    There are too many comments for me to bother reading them all so I am sorry if I am repeating what a bunch of other people have already said but I completely agree with you. My daughter is 6 months old and I have chosen to have her vaccinated on a normal schedule. There have been many studies that disprove the theory that vaccinations cause autism and autism spectrum disorders. Perhaps the reason why autism appears around the same time that children receive certain vaccinations is because this is the time where the symptoms of autism begin to surface. The rise of autism and autism spectrum disorders can also be from a better understanding of the disorder, as well as better diagnostics.

    Here is some information I found:
    “A new study provides more proof that childhood vaccines with mercury as a preservative — no longer on the market — did not cause autism, researchers reported on Monday.

    The findings came from a look at children diagnosed with autism in California from 1995 to 2007. It found that the number of autism cases continued to rise through that period even though the preservative thimerosal — nearly half of which is made of ethylmercury — was removed from most vaccines in 2001.

    The data “do not show any recent decrease in autism in California despite the exclusion of more than trace levels of thimerosal from nearly all childhood vaccines (and) do not support the hypothesis that that exposure (to it) during childhood is a primary cause of autism,” the study concluded.

    Some earlier studies had linked mercury to autism, theorizing that as more and more children were being vaccinated against more health threats, it could explain increases in autism.

    But a 2004 report from the U.S. Institute of Medicine said a review of existing studies did not appear to back the mercury-autism theory.”

  • Lesley

    Really well written post…I struggled with giving my son the MMR vaccine. My pediatrician gave me the MMR documentation that stated that the vaccine was contraindicated for anyone with a brain injury. Well, my son had a stroke and now has a brain injury. I asked my pediatrician for guidance and he gave me nada – sent me to the neurologist. The neurologist gave me nothing. So frustrating! So, we sort of delayed his first round of MMR while I tried to do research and find a new pediatrician (when I moved to another state).

    Thankfully, my new pediatric practice treated me kindly and said they understood my frustration and fears and confusion and that my feelings were reasonable. And while they had never seen any problems with stroke babies having problems with the MMR, they’d do the consult with a neurologist, but that waiting a few more months wasn’t going to hurt.

    We did the MMR a bit late, but with no other vaccines. I was absolutely torn and knew I couldn’t survive another “trauma” like a stroke or other similar surprise.

    I really felt like I was trying to make a decision in the gray area all alone. Thankfully, my son didn’t appear to have any adverse symptoms except my high anxiety.

  • http://hotheaded-hotheaded.blogspot.com/ Tracy

    I can also see the point of both sides. BUT I am worried about the disease becoming vaccine resistant. A child who has only recieved part of their shots picking up measles or whooping cough from a child that hasn’t been vaccinated.
    That is the truely scary thing for me. That these other parents will remove that “choice” for me and others.
    I have 5 children and none of whom have had any problems with vaccines. I did consider not vaccinating the baby but I couldn’t find any actual evidence that convinced ME that not vaccinating would be more benificial than vaccinating.

  • Em

    Heather, thank you for having the courage to address this topic, knowing you would get (even more) hostile responses from your critics. I talked about immunizations with my dad, who pointed out that most parents of young children who are making the decision whether or not to immunize their children today are too young to have witnessed the effects of diseases like Polio personally. We take it for granted that these diseases aren’t a real threat for Americans anymore without giving proper credit to vaccinations. My dad grew up with one or two kids who had Polio and he said you can’t imagine how devastating the disease is to kids and their families. There is some risk involved in nearly everything, but in the case of vaccinations, the risk of NOT getting the vaccinations is too great.

  • Stephanie

    I think children SHOULD be vaccinated unless they are allergic to the ingredients in the vaccination!!! THERE IS A REASON WHY WE SAY THESE DISEASES ARE ERADICATED!!! IT’S BECAUSE WE VACCINATE OUR CHILDREN!!! (sorry for the overuse of CAPS and PUNCTUATION!) I remember my last vaccination shot. It was on my inner thigh when I was about 4 years old and I couldn’t walk for the whole day. But you know what? I’ve never had to worry about measles, mumps or rhubella…my husband (8yrs older than I) had measles when he was a kid. 8 years older than me!!! And it could KILL AN INFANT!!! I’m glad my parents decided to vaccinate me against these things we can now prevent. Isn’t that the whole point???

  • http://www.texasheiss.blogspot.com Amy H

    I have a son. He just turned 1 and I am scared to death that I am not making the right choices for him. He is on the regular vaccine schedule but I don’t know if that is right for him or not. ugh. He was one of the victims of the salmonella outbreak in January and I am sure that compromised his immune system. So now I wonder if I should have been more cautious at his one year (just last week) and delayed the vaccines. I just won’t be able to stand it if he ends up with autism because of shots that I should have delayed.

    Being the mother of a boy–whose likelihood of getting autism is 1 in 4–is very worrisome.

  • Anonymous

    I thought the same way till I had a boy. Then it all changed. He has had all his shots up till 12 months then I got scared and stopped. There seems to be too many links between the shots and autism. To be perfectly honest I’m scared and don’t know who to trust.

  • http://theatricalmilestones.blogspot.com Charlotte

    As the mom of a 3 1/2 month-old, I am scared shitless by the whole vaccination issue. At her 2-month appointment, my little daughter received all the shots on the schedule and promptly woke up screaming from her afternoon nap, with the leg on which she received the DTaP shot red, hot, and swollen. Nothing would calm her down, not even Infant Tylenol, for over an hour. This had me in tears, too, and on the phone with the ped’s office, where a nurse assured me in a bored voice that everything’s normal. Put a cold compress on the leg; if it doesn’t go away in 2 days, call again. Needless to say that I wanted to walk over there with a baseball bat, screaming kid in tow, but wouldn’t have been able to find my way through all my tears and snot.

    So, I’m dreading her 4-month appointment because, heck, I don’t want to see her hurting like that *ever* again. Ideas/ advice is more than welcome.

    On the whole, though, and as a European living here now, I do think that this schedule is very aggressive (certainly more so than in my home country, Germany: http://www.babycenter.de/baby/gesundheit/kinderkrankheiten/).

  • Anonymous

    949. Katie – There is absolutely Scientific evidence REFUTING immunizations cause autism. Its Ilusary. Whether a child is immunized or not. That is the age where autism symtoms come up.

    visit http://vaccinesafety.ecbt.org/ecbt/studies.htm#02

  • http://fridayfilms.blogspot.com Friday

    In my opinion, it’s dangerous for anyone to assume they know better than a medical practitioner on matters of disease. Legally they are obligated to ask for our consent, but this shouldn’t be taken to mean that we can choose not to consent when it comes to safeguarding children in general against some of children’s biggest killers.

    Obviously as free-willed individuals we can decide to ignore the advice, but as a responsible parent I am not going to weigh the life of my child against what amounts to a handful of potential symptoms and misguided online hysteria over an outdated study on autism that has since been disproven.

    Sure there are risks involved, but these are so minimal (fever rarely occurs now because there are fewer impurities in vaccines these days, and seizures are even less likely as these are triggered by high fever) that deciding against the protection these inoculations afford would be tantamount to staying inside a burning building because there is a slight chance someone might drop a piano on your head the minute you step outside.

    My infant is nearly three months old and has so far had his first set of inoculations plus a vaccination to protect him against TB. Yes I worried, and it wasn’t much fun to see him in pain for even a few fleeting moments, but I could not live with myself if he contracted a life-threatening illness that I could have prevented.

    Some people actually argue that children don’t die from these diseases anymore so why bother? But it’s because of the inoculations that we’ve managed to keep them at bay. Let us not be arrogant enough to believe otherwise.

    Thanks for letting me weigh in on this issue, and congrats on your book and impending new family addition. We’re still recovering from the shock and wonder of our first…

  • Tierney

    What you fail to realize is that no vaccination is 100%. I myself have had 2 boosters for MMR and just recently found out that I have no immunity to either measles or mumps and that in order for me to get immunity I will have to actually be exposed to these diseases.

    I have chosen to selectively vaccinate my children on a delayed schedule. I am very grateful that I live in Canada, a country that will allow me to do so without fear of being “kicked-out” of my ped. practice or shunned by my community.

    While I don’t have a problem with vaccinations per se, where my issue lies is with the “One size fits all” schedule. Not every child is the same, not every child’s immune response will be the same. If my child were to show horrible side effects from vaccinations, I would be incredibly hesitant to get any more.

    But really, what it boils down to is: If you have kept your child up to date with their vaccinations, then you really have nothing to fear right?
    Oh, and you (as an adult) have been getting your boosters, right? Because even as adults we should all be keeping up to date on ours. ;)

  • http://www.xanga.com/yourfavoritecynic Ray

    I’m not a parent but I agree with you that your child getting vaccinations is of strong importance. On the other hand: I understand certain parent’s fears with vaccinations since nowadays we’re hearing about a possible chance of “autism” and that’s just a really scary concept. But we cannot plan how our children’s health goes. Autism can occur just as well as cancer. And I know people will quickly argue that cancer and autism are two totally different things and at two totally different sides of the spectrum, but they are both illnesses. Sure you can prevent your child from getting a cold, but the bigger health risks you just pray don’t happen. So I agree with you when your wrote, ” If you’ve decided that the risks are too great to vaccinate your child then you are counting on the rest of us who are willing to take those risks to decrease the chances that your child will be exposed to these diseases. You are counting on us.” You’re right.

    Also when you think about it: getting vaccinations has the same risks as taking regular medications. I mean we watch these commercials and whatever they’re advertising sounds like it’s going to fix all your health problems. But then in the end they list all of these side-affects and people still take the medications and go on their merry way. So either way you’re taking a chance when you allow your child to receive that vaccination. Both have side-effects/risks.

    I was surprised to read this though: “I had heard stories about certain parents refusing vaccinations, but at the time their concerns were not about autism or side-effects but about fears of a government conspiracy, something I did not take seriously.” PLEASE elaborate on the government conspiracy thing having to do with vaccinations (IF you can and IF you read since this is 711 comments deep)!! I’ve never heard of that one.

    Well, take care.

  • Jocelyn

    If you listen to well-paid spokespeople of the vaccine industry, you’ll hear that the case is closed on the link between vaccines and autism and that the scientific consensus supports no association. It’s eerily reminiscent of the days when tobacco companies produced a consensus of science showing no link between smoking and lung cancer.

    But, calmer voices like Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former Director of the NIH, are rising up and challenging this rhetoric.

    Where is the truth? Like everything else in life, the devil is in the details. The “fourteen studies’ are being misrepresented by public health officials who are trying to save the current vaccine program, which has ballooned from 10 vaccines in the 1980s to 36 today, a 260% increase. During this same time, autism rates have gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150, a 6,000%, or 60-fold increase.

    By reading and analyzing every published study used to “prove” vaccines do not cause autism, this website will show you that:

    - No real world studies of the vaccine schedule have ever been done. Of the 11 separate vaccines given to American children (many given multiple times), only one vaccine — the MMR — has ever been studied for its relationship to autism. Yet, American children get 6 or 7 different vaccines simultaneously at 2, 4, 6, and 12 month doctor appointments.

    - Not one study compares vaccinated children to unvaccinated children — every study only looks at children who have received vaccines. This is like comparing smokers who smoke one pack a day to those who smoke two packs a day, seeing no difference in cancer rates, and saying cigarettes don’t cause cancer.

    - The studies are rife with conflicts including authors who have been paid by vaccine companies and federal agencies and foreign governments charged with administering vaccines.

    - Many of the studies reach false conclusions or conclusions that have nothing to do with the simple question: do vaccines cause autism? They are simply being misrepresented in the press by public health officials taking advantage of a docile media that is heavily dependent on advertising from pharma companies.


  • Heather-in-Australia

    I heard on the news recently that the doctor who “researched” & then claimed the link between autism & immunisation is now under review because his research was irresponsibly & inaccurately conducted.

    The consensus from more reliable research seems to be that autism symptoms start to appear at a certain age (if they are going to appear) & that certain age happens to coincide with a certain immunisation schedule-age. So, said doctor made circumstancial, unlinked “evidence” into assumed fact & lo, the fear-mongering began. I hope they throw the book at him.

  • Tierney

    One more comment about the 10 month old. That child could have gotten measles from anyone, seeing as how they themselves don’t get the vaccination until they are 12-15 months old. It’s a risk you take when you travel with a child of that age. Who’s to say a vaccinated person with no immunity (like myself) couldn’t have contracted measles and passed it along. I would have done everything I could to prevent getting them, but would have anyway and unwillingly passed them along.

  • Michelle

    Heather – I agree with you completley.
    I’m an Aunt to an Autistic child. Our family has been left wondering (of course) if it was the vaccine or if it was genetic in nature or what else. Yes, we have reason to wonder.
    As a new(er) mom, it didn’t take much for me to be convinced that immunizing my children was the way to go. My board certified pediatrician, the doctor I selected to care for my children, discussed it with us and there are too many reason to vaccinate your children and for us (living in SoCal) too much risk in not vaccinating.

  • Angel

    This is such a tricky subject. The thing is, on the video, it seems that you’re arguing vaccinating vs. not vaccinating as if those are the only 2 options, & stating preventing diseases vs. getting autism as the only 2 outcomes. It’s not that black & white. Personally, I am not vaccinating my children according to the recommended schedule by the CDC, but I am not anti-vaccine, nor do I cite autism as my reason not to vaccinate. We are choosing which vaccines my children will get, based on their health histories, their risk & exposure to each disease, our family’s health histories, and the side effects involved for each vaccine. I think some of the recommended vaccines are completely ridiculous, like the Hep B for newborns, or the Gardasil vaccine, and the flu vaccine. I understand the goal of vaccinating, but don’t believe that you should make it mandatory for entire populations. It’s dangerous & just irresponsible. I think the side effects alone are pretty alarming, and good reason to at least do some research before blinding following the CDC, who has a vested interest in how many vaccines your family pays for. That’s like trusting Nike to tell you how many pairs of shoes everyone should own. Not the best source. It’s a known fact that mercury (still found in the majority of vaccines, b/c they keep postponing the deadline to remove it) is a neurotoxin. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all these brain-related diseases & conditions dramatically increased along with the rate of vaccines administered.

    My daughter is a vaccine injured child, and up until her seizure, I was following the CDC’s schedule without question. Now, I’m a much more informed parent, and I found a new pediatrician who encourages his patients to be involved in the decision making of their own healthcare. He fully supports our decision not to vaccinate, and even wrote a book on the subject, entitled “Educate Before You Vaccinate”. I think every parent owes it to their children to do a little reading before making a decision that could potentially hurt them. Every family is different, so I don’t believe there’s a right answer here, as far as whether to vaccinate. However, I do feel strongly that it’s wrong to mass vaccinate entire populations on the recommendation of a company with an obvious agenda.

  • http://beebeemod.com Jen

    I think you did well at elaborating. And you’re right about the information that is out there and how it can be hard to distinguish. I think sometimes there are trends that happen and unfortunately those trends can be dangerous.

  • LinzBanks

    I just wanted to thank you for this. I am a medical student, and this is a topic that comes up often in our ethics discussions and many many many other areas. Parents are allowed to make up their own mind on vaccinating their kids and other issues. But the truth of the matter is these vaccines were developed years ago because epidemics much worse than Autism were sweeping the world. People now don’t realize the morbidity and mortality that goes along with those diseases. Again, it doesn’t just affect your own child, but schools, churches, playgrounds, etc. Personally, I would much rather love a sweet child with Autism than lose a child to a disease that should’ve long been eradicated.

  • http://www.sleepynewmommy.wordpress.com Meg

    I love how eloquently you worded this post. You were able to state your side without attacking the other side.

    I, personally, immunized my child. I have a fear of crazy, scary diseases and feel protected, knowing my daughter is immunized. But there are many who fear the dangers of vaccines and I think their fear should be treated just as legitimately. Fear is what drives us to make choices in life. I don’t fear autism and sensory disorders because they are still abstract to me, but I fear diseases that can kill people. Some people legitimately feel the opposite. I don’t think we will ever reach a general consensus when it comes to this issue, but I love to hear the reasoning for both sides.

  • Susan

    I’m not patient enough to wade through all the comments and I may be echoing someone else, but I am so glad Heather brought up the herd issue. Namely, that parents who choose not to vaccinate often lean on the actions of of others willing to take an alleged “risk” when making their decision. What someone who chooses not to vaccinate must realize is that the herd numbers needed to keep everyone protected breakdown very quickly to an inadequate amount. What happened to us in San Diego County in reference to outbreak was that a large number of the children in the school who where exposed were also not vaccinated (7 in that particular kindergarten classroom alone): to whit, so many people in that “herd” group had opted out that there wasn’t enough protection in total to protect the group. It takes a surprisingly low number of opt outs in a group to raise the danger zone.

    It is important to remember that, up to the advent of vaccines, clean water sources and advances in western medicine from the turn of the 20th to mid-20th century, the child mortality rate was extremely high. These advances have actually served to protect our children. Also, the researcher on the forefront of the vaccine/autism debate has now revealed that he fabricated his results and the Lancet has now retracted his study. That should give anyone pause. Heather recommends sense about the entire issue. And thank goodness for that!

  • http://theworkingmama.blogspot.com Joanna

    If your child is vaccinated, then theoretically, shouldn’t your child be protected against the disease for which he or she vaccinated? So why blame the parents of an unvaccinated child who has measles or chicken pox?

  • http://caffeinerd.wordpress.com Elena

    I’m not a parent yet, but can absolutely say I agree and do not understand forgoing vaccinations AT ALL. As a Speech-Language Pathology grad student, the issue of “vaccines causing Autism” is raised at the clinic and in class…I can’t help but scream a resounded “BULLSHIT” in my head each time. I have never heard a professor, doctor, or other medical authority buy into it at all. I can understand people looking for answers, but putting your children at risk for serious diseases is just not the way to do it. And…I would VERY obviously rather raise and love a child with an autism diagnosis than watch a “typically developing” child die from the measles. Seems like such a simple choice (if it even was one…but in my mind it’s not…because there is no real link between the two).

    …A particularly devastating episode of “Private Practice” focused on this topic. I know it’s a silly show, but oh, it pulled on the heartstrings.

  • Kate

    HERE HERE Heather!

    I have 2 children, the older who has autism. When my 2nd child was born around the time of #1′s diagnosis, I researched vaccinations. The major issue of the vaccines was thimerosol — a mercury based preservative.

    I phoned the companies who produce the vaccines who informed me that all the regular childhood vaccinations were “live” viruses — they contained no thimerosol because the thimerosol would destroy the vaccine.

    I elected to vaccinate #2, but I was also a bit taken aback by the schedule. So in a few cases, I broke things up a bit. I would sometimes wait another month to get the next shot.

    My autism affected child is now in Grade 4 and it is standard procedure where I live to vaccinate for Hepatitis. The Hepatitus shot DOES have Thimerosol in it. I did feel somewhat nervous about that but felt that the benefits were still better.

    I even vaccinated for chicken pox (Varivax). I had been vaccinated for everything as a child, but there was nothing for chicken pox and I remember how horribly I suffered from the disease at age 8. I wanted to prevent my kids from that suffering. Several years ago, my younger was very ill for 2 weeks with pnuemonia and the flu. Everyday I was trying to figure out who would watch him because I couldn’t stay off work for 2 weeks — it was musical sitters. The day he was finally better and back at daycare, my older son’s teacher tells me some bad news: One of the kids in the class is affected with chicken pox. I told her that he had been vaccinated. He and the only other vaccinated child were the only ones who never got it. THANK GOD — because I would have had a nervous breakdown dealing with that so soon after my other son’s illness.

    However, cost may be a factor too for some parents. I paid $100 for tha vaccination — at least now it’s covered on the regular schedule. All these shots should be free for those who can’t afford them, but want them.

    I have NEVER regretted my decision to vaccinate my kids. And for those of you worried about autism — vaccinations did not cause not son’s autism — he was born that way and I have read several studies which all proved that autism and vaccinations are not linked.

    Parents with autistic children are angry. We want to blame someone or something for it happening. We want answers. But, there are no answers yet. I do not believe that vaccines are the answer to “Why does my child have autism?”

    A small number of children die every year from these “childhood diseases.” I could never live with myself if mine did because I chose not to vaccinate.

  • Saz

    Bravo Heather! Could not agree more. This is a parenting choice that affects other people’s children so it is a *totally* different category from most parenting choices. Why should I have to vaccinate my child to allow other people the luxury of coming to the conclusion that the risk of measles is less than the risk of vaccination (not an assessment of risk I agree with anyway but that is a different point)?! We have a social responsibility to vaccinate and I dislike people dodging that responsibility and ignoring the fact that this dodge has consequences for all of us.

    I have a long term friend who has vastly different views on parenting from me (she favours extended breastfeeding, babywearing, co-sleeping etc – I do not). Our differences never caused me a moment’s concern (live and let live was my view) until she wanted to bring her unvaccinated son to stay in my house when my son was 9 months old (babies are vaccinated at 12 months in the UK). Then I was stuffing socks in my mouth not to tell her what an irresponsible parent she was.

  • http://www.pineslakeredhead.blogspot.com Erica

    I’ve posted already at #891 but I’ve continued to read the additional posts.

    There’s one image I can’t get out of my head. It’s a scene from the “John Adams” mini-series in which Abigail Adams makes the decision to have herself and her children innoculated against small pox. It’s a true story. She was one hell of a brave woman. Watch it and then you’ll understand why vaccinations must contain cells from infected human tissue. Where do you think the vaccine possibly comes from otherwise???

    Another historical note – Do you know why the Continental Army survived the winter at Valley Forge and continued on to win the battle in the spring? Because General George Washington insisted that all of his soldiers be innoculated. More than half of the British troops were killed by small pox.

  • Sarah

    Vaccines don’t cause autism. End of story. This is so tiresome, really.

  • Mary

    I’m actually on the pro-vaccination, but perhaps modified schedul side of it.

    Firstly, there is no REAL scientific proof that vaccinations in their *current* formulation are hazardous. In fact, all the studies I’ve seen show no connection to autism. The info that tries to connect to autism are personal stories and some writings with pseudo-science or studies that can’t be trusted because their method is sooooo flawed.

    As for fevers, and such: Well, that is a known problem with vaccines in some children. My son is a touch sensitive and he had that at the start. But now each time his reaction is less and less. We just try to give him as few vaccines as possible at a time. I’ve had to come back repeatedly so he could get them all, but it worked out better for him to only deal with one, than say five, at a time.

    I’m also big on, later, seeing if you can get a titer rather than a booster. Because, sometimes, you don’t actually NEED a shot even though the schedule says you do. Why use up a vaccine someone else might need?

  • http://alisaterry.blogspot.com Alisa

    This chart shows that vaccine preventable diseases were in rapid decline long before vaccines were introduced. It’s a hygeine and living environment issue more than anything else.

    With so many comments, mine is likely to get lost, but I need to post it for my own peace.

    During a recent outbreak of measles here in Utah, over half of the children were already vaccinated.

    The CDC conffirmed an outbreak of measles in a highschool and every single one of those teenagers was 100% vaccinated against measles.

    Time after time when I research measles outbreaks, it is about 50/50 whether it was started by a vaccinated or unvaccinated child and the majority of the infected were vaccinated and the ones who get seriously ill or die already had weak immune systems.

    I don’t vaccinate my children primarily because my son has severe allergies to dairy and he can’t have half of them anywway.

    But the other reason is that I’m not about to put my child’s health at risk on the slim chance it might help yours. You can’t for one minute expect parents to choose other people’s kids over their own. That’s maddening and backwards.

    I gave birth to my children, not yours, and their well-being is my No 1 concern.


  • Megan

    I agree with your stance completely. I’m in pharmacy school, and we’ve had a million discussions on how to talk to parents of children who refuse vaccinations. It’s incredibly difficult with all the anti-immunization groups out there these days, especially ones endorsed by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy. The main issue is one you mentioned, Autism. There has been NO scientific proof that vaccinations cause autism. Autism is typically (almost always) diagnosed around the same time that children receive important childhood vaccines. It is merely a coincidence. Even earlier this year, one of the top executives for an anti-vaccine group decided to step down because there has been no scientific proof. (article here: http://www.newsweek.com/id/179998) I just feel like people should do more research on vaccines before choosing their child’s fate, just like you did. I understand legitimate reasons for some people deciding not to immunize their children, such as cultural/religious reasons or allergic reactions from the reagents in many vaccines..but I’ll never understand the sheer ignorance surrounding vaccinating children. Thank you for this post, very well written as always.

  • Erin D

    Thank you for your post. I have vaccinated my 3 children. My youngest is 2 months old and it’s my biggest fear that he will catch a childhood disease from an un-vaccinated child. For me that fear greatly outweighs my concerns regarding vaccinations.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and well-informed comments. I only pray that this discussion will sway those individuals who haven’t vaccinated or are on the wall regarding vaccinations.

  • http://domestiquette.net Wendy

    My great-uncle Jim has just been given 6 months to live. His life has been dramatically shortened by childhood Polio – a disease we no longer have to worry about because of vaccinations.

    He won’t see his daughter marry, or any of his future grandkids.

    People who willingly let their children be at risk for these things (I sincerely hope they have no plans to ever leave the borders of this country!) and put others at risk?

    You either have to be really stupid, or extremely unaware.

    Now I hear in the media that all this business about autism & vaccinations MIGHT just be a bunch of hooey. Hmmmmm.

  • Kelli

    Thank you! I am so happy you are writing about this subject. My daughter has had all of her vaccinations and I plan to vaccinate my baby (due in October). I totally agree with you that the parents who don’t vaccinate are relying on the rest of us to do so- I find this very frustrating.

  • http://theheartoflifeinok.com Emily

    Heather, I disagree with you a lot (and that’s ok) but I’m with you 100% on this issue. No argument the anti-vaccine population has put out there justifies me willingly and knowingly putting my children at risk.

    To me, it is both ignorant and defiant.

    Thanks for sharing this with everyone.

  • Anonymous

    whilst YOU may be able to fend off German Measles, your unborn child is not. It is very dangerous to a developing fetus and can cause severe birth defects (blindness, heart abnormalities, mental retardation), or end in miscarriage, stillbirth or a child born, then dying within days after birth (my mother lost a child this way in the mid-sixties–she lived about 30 hours). Whilst mothers contracting this has significantly declined (I wonder why??), it can still happen and is still just as dangerous. Check out the March of Dimes website for more info.

  • Carrie

    We have followed the regular vaccination schedule with the exception of MMR. We have delayed it, but not because of supposed link to Autism. I am allergic to the combined shot (or atleast to a perservative in it). My sister is allergic to it and so is my mother. The three of us have been boosted with the combined shot (I needed a booster for college and then again for IVF when It was discovered that I was still not immune to measles and rubella). With both boosters I had to be hospitalized. My sister had her college booster within a month of my horrific reaction. Will we still vaccinate- yes, but with a single dose separated vaccine (with limited perservatives). We have decided to wait until her language skills are strong enough to clearly comminucate feelings of pain and illness. At 2.5 we are almost there. Depending on her reaction we may or may not complete the series. The thought of kicking up anaphalaxis scares me.

  • Vicky

    Fiona (298), I’m totally with you. I have a little boy who’s 7 months, and he hasn’t had any vaccinations. I don’t think I will give him any, I considered single ones spaced far apart when he is a few years old, but I’m not feeling good even about that. I think each parent needs to go with what they believe to be right. For me, Rudolf Steiners teachings about vaccinations are something I take seriously, and respect. But I don’t feel the need to change the minds of those who think differently.

    I do wish the Momversation had included some alternative perspectives, instead of everyone just agreeing. Do all of the moms taking part in Momversation vaccinate their kids? I would have loved to hear from both sides on this issue. So I’m glad you opened up the debate on this one.

  • Jen B.

    Thank you SO much for this blog. I am a nurse and agree 100%.

  • Patience

    Heather, not only are you correct that all children, barring allergy or immunuocompromised state preventing them, ought to be immunized, you miss the point that the fears of autism are unfounded and proven to be unfounded. True vaccine reactions are rare, and we have the Vaccine Court to deal with them; the amount of evidence necessary to win there is miniscule compared to actual, legal court and yet autism cases never seem to win. Funny, that.

  • Lola

    As someone who is a passionate about vaccinations, I am so glad that you have opened discussion about this topic. I have seen babies choke and stop breathing from pertussis (whooping chough), teenagers lose limbs from meningitis and adult women struggle with cervical cancer. I am not old enough to have seen polio and measles first hand, but I can imagine how scary it must have been.

    I see vaccination as one of the most natural things a body can do. With vaccinations we are putting a little bit of disease in the body in order for the body to build up immunity. This is what the body is supposed to do and we know this from the most elementary science class. It works.

    What many people may not know is that there are many different types of vaccines from different manufacturers. Not all DTP, HIB, Flu, etc. vaccines are the same in providing the best protection and the least amount of side effects. Usually, when your physician/hospital purchases vaccines they have chosen to buy them from a specific manufacturer. And once that manufacturer is chosen, the schedule is set and it is often to the exclusion of vaccines from other manufacturers. We are all given the CDC sheets when vaccinations are given, but when are we given the vaccine manufacturer’s product information sheet? Your physician may know what vaccines he/she is giving your child, but does he/she know who made them? Do they know why they should know?

    Also, we talk a lot about the debate about vaccinating our children, but what about ourselves? Teenagers and adults need vaccinations, too. If you have a newborn in the house, has your pediatrician or OB/GYN discussed with you that you can indeed pass pertussis to your child? It happens every day. I can’t imagine the feeling of knowing that my child passed what could be a fatal disease to his classmates, but I don’t even what to think about if I passed that disease to him.

  • Rebecca

    Science (rigorously conducted, double-blind, independent, scientific studies) has shown no link between autism and vaccines. But you know what? I know a lot of people with autism and they are, in general, rad, interesting, amazing people who march to the beat of their own eccentric drummers. I would way rather have a kid with autism, complete with all the frustrations and challenges, than a kid who is dead from a preventable disease. It really all boils down to prejudice and people with disabilities are extremely stigmatized in our society. I think that as soon as we start accepting autistic people for who they are and devote our resources to improving their (and their families’) quality of life, this whole vaccine hullabaloo will die down.

    Autism is not the end of the world.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to know if you, Heather, or any of the readers out there would continue vaccinating if your child had a serious adverse reaction after a round of shots?

  • http://www.randomandodd.com Random and Odd

    I’m sorry, I don’t have to read all 200 comments to see if anyone else is where I am with this. If someone is reading and has an answer, please visit me and let me know…I would love to hear:

    I live in California and I don’t have the option of not vaccinating my children because the schools will not allow my children if they aren’t.
    There was a point when I lost my medical coverage and I had forgotten to get my one daughter shots and the school called and told me to pick up my daughter and she couldn’t come to school until she had her shots.