Still a hot topic nearly two years after I authored this original post, vaccinations are a highly debatable decision process. My personal beliefs in whether to vaccinate or not remain the same, though I am teetering on the fence regarding the flu-vaccine after a horrible reaction in Brayden one time. He did not receive the vaccination last season, we were extremely fortunate to avoid sickness but there is no way to know if that will be the case again.
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: That is the Question
Before I achieve the first ever blog post to have more than like 2 comments, let me just say that I see BOTH sides to this dilemma and the basis of this greatly heated, in many cases, debate. This is my opinion, and my opinion alone, although others may share my opinion. I am not trying to force my beliefs on any other parent trying to make this decision for their own child, however I have been asked for my views on this topic a few times. So, what better place to address this than out in the open, in the hopes of getting some feedback from other parents who are willing to share their views from where they stand? Here goes nothing:
This was always somewhat of a no-brainer to me with my older girls, who are currently 8 and 5. I had both heard and read countless accounts of the possible risks associated with vaccinations, however, in my eyes the risks of vaccinating were minimal in comparison to not vaccinating. I do, on the other hand, understand that families affected by these previously noted minimal risks don't see the risks as anything minimal... they've become a source of great devastation to their lives and the lives of their loved ones affected by these risks. Yet, I didn't think twice about vaccinating my girls.
When Brayden was born, nearly 22 months ago, there were many things that were questionable and vaccinating was one of them. The way it was presented to me initially, after his formal hydranencephaly diagnosis, was that the risks could be potentially life threatening to him under the circumstances. Although that was the reality I was facing, something in my heart of hearts told me that he would be ok... and I knew that I would not be able to live with myself if he suffered a life threatening scenario because I HADN'T chosen to vaccinate him. Instead I chose to space them out a bit, so that he wasn't receiving them all at one time.
Once I found the online support websites, and reignited that glimmer of hope in the dark that we had been sent home to, I began doing my own research. One of the first alternatives to vaccines for preventative health was through homeopathic means. There were many more alternative means I discovered as well...and I'm sure some of you all reading are better familiar than I am.
Homeopathic preventatives include a great backing of support, however there are also important notes regarding the general health of the family aside from this topic of vaccinations. For example, a mother who uses homeopathic preventatives opposed to vaccinations, likely feeds her family more healthily with a diet rich in fruits and veggies, than a mother who has no knowledge of homeopathy medicine at all. So, to that point, is it the homeopathy preventatives that are keeping her children healthy, or the healthy diet and lifestyle the family already follows? However, it is widely believed that if homeopathy practices can help a child withstand an infectious disease until around the age of 5, then their immunity level will be built up enough to avoid a life-threatening experience with disease. The biggest positive I have found, and greatest noteworthy accomplishment, when it comes to homeopathic preventatives, is that at no dosage level does it become toxic, even in long-term use.
There seems to also be greater risk associated with the combination-vaccinations, ones that are given to prevent more than one infectious disease. This risk is even greater when the little one has a compromised immune system, which is believed to be true for children with hydranencephaly and other debilitating conditions. Brayden has thankfully not proven to be compromised on that factor, however, I take extra precautions by giving him extra vitamin C and also add Echinacea to his regular regimen before immunizations to insure his levels are running on the high-end!
Also, it is common knowledge to some that the stress-level of the parent is inadvertently trickled down to the children. Keeping a stress-free home environment, and not associating immunization time with a great amount of added stress will prevent further compromising their immunity. You all know that you seem to get physically sick when you are mentally sick or worried over some problem in your life, and this is solely because of the effect of stress on your body's immunity. In this instance, it doesn't matter what supplements or even prescriptions you take, if you cannot control your stress levels, your immunity and health in general will suffer greatly!
I personally tend to take the supplement route as often as I can. When a case of the sniffles comes along, I'll spike up the garlic in his diet to help with congestion. When he's feeling a bit under the weather, I boost up the vitamin C and add Echinacea when I know the sickness is settling in. I believe in more natural approaches to medicine when able, but I am not furtively against vaccinating or other prescriptive measures. In some instances, it is necessary, and in my case it gives me peace of mind as well. Peace of mind that I am doing my part to ensure that even if my children are not greatly affected by the diseases vaccines prevent, they are not using those sharing skills I worked so hard with them on to spread it to a child who could lose their life over this encounter. I choose to vaccinate, however I generally try to avoid giving more than one at a time. I also avoid prescription meds until I know I have naturally done all I can do and the condition is not improving. That is my path I have chosen.
All that being said, bottom-line my view is this: please do SOMETHING to prevent infectious disease in your children, and in yourself for that matter. There are many people believing in the misconception that vaccination is the only way to prevent disease, when there are other means to prevention. Parents can elect to space out immunizations, especially the combo varieties that fend off more than one at a time, for instance. Also, not all infectious disease is a dire risk to otherwise healthy little ones...they can always receive the vaccination when they're older and the risks associated with the vaccine are minimal. Just because awareness of the risks is so great, especially with mercury levels and autism in the news currently, does not mean that parents should be scared to educate themselves in alternatives if they're going to avoid vaccinating.
A barrage of attacks comes from both sides of this debate, when in all actuality everyone should work together to educate and understand the alternatives to following the given vaccination calendar. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of preventative medicine in one aspect or another. If I am a mother doing all I can to prevent my own child living with complications of his own, from a potentially life-threatening disease, I want assurance that you will do all you can to ensure your child is not the child that is responsible for putting mine in a position of fighting for his life.
It just scares me beyond belief to hear some parents talk of being against vaccination, when they have no knowledge of why they are. Without that knowledge, they certainly do not have a plan of action for keeping their child healthy despite the lack of vaccinations to help. Using the current state of health over the past season as an example, the flu vaccine, how many children and adults did not receive this? Out of those persons, how many got horribly ill with flu-like symptoms? And out of those, who were actually shocked to get sick because they'd actually led a healthy lifestyle that should have prevented a sickness such as the flu? Probably not too many of those people can check every preventative measure off that checklist.
Now, how many of those people who were sick even thought twice about going out in to public? How many thought about the potential consequences of their negligence on my son, or others who are at risk of DYING from an otherwise minor case of the sniffles? Probably not one person, unless they have been touched by a child who is clinging to their life every second of every day.
Just please, rather than argue that I'm damaging my child by vaccinating, or criticizing another parent for not vaccinating, be responsible and do SOMETHING to prevent the spread of disease. Educate yourself in preventative measures for yourself and your family. I'm not asking everyone to vaccinate if you feel the risks outweigh the positives. Just know that their are alternatives to orthodox vaccination guidelines which will help in prevention, and most importantly spread of these potentially life-threatening, infectious diseases.