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Stages Parents Experience On Their Journey to Understanding Vaccines

I speak to many parents who choose an alternative vaccine schedule – whether it is to selectively choose which vaccines to administer, delay certain vaccines until a certain age, or decline vaccines all together….

We all seem to be on a journey of attaining more education to answer questions we hold (many of which our pediatricians are unable/unwilling to address). To those who are new to the debate, it seems they are the most willing to absorb it like a dry, thirsty sponge…just be cautious of your sources (on both sides of the issue).

Whether you are just starting to ask questions while pregnant or if you waited until your child was a toddler – it seems that the initial journey starts out in predictable stages.  For me, this is how my journey started…

The Delaying Stage - “Maybe There Can Be Too Many …”

Some parents start by delaying vaccines or selectively choosing which vaccines to administer. It’s overwhelming to see just how many more vaccines our children are receiving then when we were children.

The ol’ stand by suggested book of Dr. Sears (The Vaccine Book) address this issue. This book is popular among new parents just starting out and I remember reading this initially before my daughter’s first well-child visit.

Although the book has the potential to be beneficial at providing a platform to start further research, I would definitely recommend further reading.

I remember, after reading The Vaccine Book, telling my pediatrician my concerns about the amount vaccines that were going to be given to my daughter. I suggested only administering one at a time. I didn’t yet know enough about why exactly we were going to give them, how safe they were, what adverse reactions I should expect, what to do if there was a reaction… etc.
But instead of advising me to wait until I was sure – she responded :
 “We don’t recommend that. It’s more convenient to make one trip and your daughter may start to feel anxiety in the office if she’s here too many times to receive shots.”
What the frig - I was completely unprepared, anxious and unsure what to do.
What that book didn’t tell me (nor anyone else) is that pediatricians (in general) really aren’t equipped well at address parental concern over vaccines. For one, they really don’t have enough time to sit down and talk to you about the research available and where you start. Frankly, they aren’t there to be your own personal medical counselor.
Sorry to say, but that is your/our responsibility.

Needless to say, I went along with the doctor’s advice – I felt like I didn’t have enough information yet to make an informed choice, so I trusted the doctor to make that choice for me. I obediently agreed and stood there while my concerns were thrown out like yesterday’s trash.

The Ingredient Stage -
“You Said They Were Made Of What?!”

Usually starting off with headway on mercury alone, it doesn’t take long to find out this isn’t the only ingredient to be leery of.

I remember being in the pediatrician’s office (the second pediatrician - we switched after the debacle of the 2 month-shots) and they proudly posted an article about how mercury is no longer in vaccines in the small examination room.
Why is it always mercury?
Sorry to say – but mercury is still in a number of vaccines given in the US.  (thimerosal is in the following vaccines: Tripedia (DTaP),Afluria (Influenza), Fluvirin (Influenza), Flulaval (Influenza), Fluzone (Influenza),Decavac (Td), Mass Biologics (Td)
Here is a list provided by the CDC of the ingredients in each vaccine. After reviewing, you might ask yourself – how is this acceptable? Why can’t vaccines be made with something other then crap ingredients? (polysorbate 80, aluminum, etc.)

Good question there – heck if I know…maybe because they are so effective the way they are already being made? Ugh -Check out this and this and this and this.
Let’s just say when we searched and found a second pediatrician, hoping that the DO (versus MD) title would lend more kindly to our concerns, we weren’t met with an understanding ear. Instead, we were expected to list everything we knew at that point about vaccines (whilst a baby fussed and cried – tired and hungry) next to the large poster spouting vaccine safety. At least by this point in our journey, we had enough gusto to say no – no matter how bullied we were!

The Adverse Reaction Stage - “Just a Mild Fever and Fussiness is to be Expected, Right?”

I remember a nurse offering several papers (all printed on fun, different pastel colored paper to make them more interesting and light hearted) informing us of about the  vaccines that they wanted to administer. (If you ask me, these should be printed out on red paper with black bold print minus illustrations and decals)

She told me that they were for me to read and they were to inform me of a few common reactions that I may see in my baby following vaccines.

 That was the only paperwork and information I was ever provided by my doctor. (If you don’t count the letter we received informing us we where fired from the practice)
Interestingly, I never received an offer to see any of the manufacturers inserts for the 7 vaccines they wanted to inject that day. Although, again, this is my responsibility – why aren’t more parents told about that?   

Only later did I find out there was more to those pastel colored pages. There was a whole data base listing side effects.
These side effects include (but are not limited to) convulsions and epilepsy, permanent brain damage, anaphylactic (life threatening allergic) reactions, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), retinal/brain hemorrhages and death.

And that’s only immediate side effects.

What about long term side effects? Vaccines have been associated with such conditions as asthma, eczema, insulin dependent diabetes, arthritis, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, attention deficit disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, and cancer. Near 40% of all children in the
US now suffer from such chronic conditions. (read here for more published literature on the safety of vaccines)

If all this could happen then why did my doctor just tell me these were safe?


The Safety Stage - “I Thought You Said These Were Tested and Safe.”

The gold standard of medical science is the double blind crossover saline-placebo study.
This test is rarely performed on vaccines currently licensed in the US.
In an astounding leap of logic, contrary to all rules of science, vaccines are assumed to be safe and effective and therefore, it is considered to be unethical to withhold vaccinations for the purposes of testing them. The placebo groups in vaccine safety trials are given another vaccine (or adjuvant injection) to compare and assess safety results.

While the CDC continues to spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars a year in promoting and implementing vaccination campaigns and little or no money on independent research, parents will continue to mistrust the research that has been performed by vested interests and I don’t blame them!
Just consider the conflict of interest involved in the data collected or the use of placebos in the research reviewed. [1][2][3][4][5]

I guess this stage could easily transform into the “conspiracy theory stage” if you become bitter and linger here too long…so don’t.


The Bigger Picture Stage -  “Maybe Getting Measles or Chicken Pox serves a bigger purpose”

Being fearful of certain diseases is helpful in obtaining the highest level of immunization in our population.
Being educated is not.  I recommend you take the time to learn about the illnesses you are considering vaccinating against (in fact, this should be your first step!)

Countless studies have shown that contracting the common childhood illnesses help to prime and strengthen the immune system in a way that vaccinations just simply cannot do. This priming means that children are much less likely to suffer from the now common allergic and autoimmune conditions that plague them today.

Just one example, contracting measles, for instance, has been shown to treat such autoimmune conditions as eczema and many studies performed which show that children who do not contract measles naturally as a child are more likely to suffer from certain cancers later in life. Would you rather have measles or cancer?

Another huge benefit to contracting the wild strain of these diseases is ‘vertical’ immunity (the ability for mother’s to pass on immunity to their newborns). It is not known if vaccinated mothers can confer immunity to their babies. This facet of immunity is critical at protect all newborns during their most vulnerable first months and years of life.

Consider this, immunity passed to infants for chicken pox dies with my generation.

Consider this, this vertical immunity to measles and mumps died with my mother’s generation.

Now, a vaccinated mother will give birth to a child who will be susceptible to these infections when, prior to vaccines, they would normally have been immune…

For me, this stage was huge– learning about the immune system will probably something I will be doing for the rest of my life. It’s simple, yet the most complex subject I’ve ever read about (even more complex the quantum theory – yet it mirrors common facets of the subject which is really interesting).

I feel with this stage came an abundance of trust in my daughter’s (and my) body and huge responsibility in providing her with healthy nourishment. It has seemed to click in line with every other aspect of my holistic outlook to health and medicine as well.   
If you are currently on the hunt to learn more about our national vaccine campaign -I hope reading this lets you know that you are not alone. I also hope that the overwhelming feeling of ‘information overload’ doesn’t deter you from learning more.

“To prevent disease, we must create health.”


[1] Mark Friedberg et all. Evaluation of conflict of interest in economic analyses of new drugs used in oncology. JAMA. Vol 282, No 15. Oct 1999

[2] Joel Lexchin. Lisa Bero. Ben Djulbegovic. Otavio Clark. Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review. BMJ. 326:1167. May 2003.

[3] J P Orlowski. L Wateska. The effects of pharmaceutical firm enticements on physician prescribing patterns. Chest Journal. 102(1): 270-273. 1992.

[4] ICMJE Forms. Annals of Internal Medicine. American
of Physicans. 2012

[5]Mark Cicero. Michael Curi. Mark Mercurio. Ethics for the pediatrician: physician interaction with the pharmaceutical industry. Pediatrics. Vol 32. No 1. Jan 2011.

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