Why I Vaccinate: One yoga-teaching, Reiki Master, Naturopathic mama’s reasons for vaccinating children.

Normally my blogs are light and uplifting – all about how to de-stress and find more peace in your life. This particular blog is not aiming to be uplifting, but it is about how vaccinating my children helps alleviate stress and brings more peace into my life.

I am putting myself out there on this one. I have a feeling I am going to garner some virtual rotten tomatoes thrown at me and that I may even lose some friends. And I am sorry about that. Buuuttt, I feel so strongly about this issue that I’m willing to take the punches and losses. So here we go! Please, please, vaccinate your children! The measles outbreak that started most likely because of one unvaccinated woman at Disneyland is, as of this writing, reported to have spread to fourteen states and infected at least 84 people according to USA Today. Not only are you hurting your children by not vaccinating them, but you are also potentially hurting others! Two of the children infected by the disease at Disneyland were infants too young to have been vaccinated. My children were at both Disneyland and California Adventure in December, the month of the infection outbreak. If their vaccines had failed (the vaccine is 95% effective, so there’s room for failure) they could have been infected. Again, vaccines not only protect the person who has been vaccinated, but they also provide a bubble of protection for others in society.

For those of you who know me, you know that I prefer naturopathic prevention and remedy over allopathic if possible. I was feeling and touting the immune strengthening qualities of yoga and meditation before integrative medicine researchers like Deepak Chopra and Andrew Wiel were showing these same results through scientifically sound research. I was a Reiki practitioner (energy healer) before hospitals started training their nurses to use it on patients because of the empirically sound results they were finding when prompted to, “just try it.” I prefer acupuncture and shiatsu to pain medication. I use nutrition over medication as often as possible. That said, there are certain things that under no circumstances would I use a naturopathic approach, over an allopathic approach: Cancer, bacterial infection, organ failure and VACCINATIONS.

THE DISEASES:

So what happens when you contract one of the diseases for which we have viable vaccinations? I’m only going to cover a few here:

Measles: The measles can cause anything from low-risk complications such as a low-grade ear infection, to death by pneumonia, brain infection, and/ or low platelet count (causing blood not to clot) www.mayoclinic.org. During the last outbreak 1988-1991 there were 55,000 reported cases of measles and 123 deaths. In the 1950s, the decade prior to the invention of the measles vaccine, the yearly averages of measles related cases was overwhelming: On average, 150,000 pneumonia complications; 48,000 hospitalizations; 4,000 brain infections; 450 deaths. www.bartbarrett.com (Thank you Dr. Barrett for your compelling blog).

Mumps: Contracting the mumps causes painful swelling of the breasts and ovaries in women and testicles in men, pancreatitis (which is painful and causes nausea and vomiting), encephalitis (swelling of the brain) leading to neurological problems and possible death, life-threatening meningitis which is often treated by amputating infected limbs, permanent hearing loss (I know, being deaf is not necessarily seen as a deficit anymore), and possible miscarriage www.mayoclinic.org. Pre-1967 mumps vaccination data indicates that an average of 35.9% of all meningitis cases the U.S. were mumps related. 1 in 6000 mumps cases resulted in encephalitis. The other areas of complications of mumps varied depending upon the population. Mumps rarely results in death, but meningitis, which starts with mumps can be fatal www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

Rubella: Rubella is not as serious as some of the other diseases we’ll talk about when contracted by anyone but pregnant women. It causes ear infections, fever, painful joints, and in some cases encephalitis. However, if it is contracted by a pregnant woman it can cause her child to be born with any or all of the following: Growth retardation, cataracts, congenital heart defects, deafness, mental retardation, underdevelopment of organs. The risk is most serious during the first trimester of pregnancy, but continues to a certain degree throughout pregnancy www.mayoclinic.org. An unvaccinated child who contracts rubella can expose a pregnant woman to the disease and thus result in harming her unborn child.

Chickenpox & Shingles: I am including these together because they are both caused by the same varicella-zostra virus. Chickenpox is an arguably mild disease that causes discomfort, but is not in general terribly harmful and is not life-threatening. So why vaccinate? First, again, there is the issue of pregnant women. If a pregnant woman has chicken pox at the time her child is born it can cause the infant to be born with a serious, even life-threatening, infection. Second, in one word – Shingles. Shingles is caused when an adult has already had chickenpox. The varicella-zostra virus lies dormant in the nerve cells and can be activated later in life. The activation of these cells results in the painful condition known as Shingles. Shingles can be extremely debilitating due to the severity of the pain. It can also cause eye damage and organ damage, depending upon where the effected nerves are www.cdc.gov. Even though I was under the age of 40 at the time (Shingles is normally a condition that normally effects people above the age of 60 or those who are immunodeficient) I can attest that it is extremely painful! Yes, there is a vaccination for shingles that you can have later in life. However, that vaccination is only 50% reliable. The chickenpox vaccination is over 95% effective, thus it protects the immunized person from both chickenpox and shingles at a that rate for their entire lives.

These are just a few of the many, many diseases that can easily be prevented through vaccination. I don’t feel like I need to go into the debilitating effects of polio, diphtheria, tetanus… the list is long and we know just from the names that these were terrible diseases that caused epidemics of suffering less than a century ago. I cannot imagine why any parent would want their child to suffer from the debilitating symptoms or complications of any of the preventable diseases. Nor, can I imagine why anyone would want to put others at risk. Take for example my mother. She is 71 years-old and unfortunately has two very debilitating auto-immune diseases: Rheumatoid arthritis and Shogrun’s syndrome. If she is exposed to any of the vaccine-preventable viruses, and her own vaccines fail, she could die. Is the chance of this high? No. But I still don’t want to take the chance. Additionally, let’s think about the babies – both infants and fetuses. Exposing them, or their pregnant mothers, can again kill them or deal them a life debilitating complication of the disease.

VACCINES ARE POISON?

No, they really are not. There is absolutely no verifiable evidence that vaccines poison children. Moreover, because of the hype generated by the scare-tactics used by the three-trillion dollar a year natural health industry there are layers and layers of protections in respect to the research and production of vaccines and the side-effects of vaccines.
The main arguments I’ve read against vaccines come from the aforementioned hugely profitable natural health industry. These arguments go something like this:

1.Vaccine-producing pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars from selling vaccines.
2.The government agencies set-up to protect us from the allegedly poisonous vaccines (The CDC & the FDA) are in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies, so they protect the pharmaceutical industry instead of protecting children.
3.Ditto for the medical community, including all of the pediatricians.
4.None of the people involved in making money from vaccines cares about children’s health, so they insist children need vaccines.
5.Furthermore, they contend that the vaccines are full of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, MSG, mercury and aluminum.
6.And finally, these harmful chemicals have caused what they are now deeming an epidemic of autism.
I contend that there is very compelling evidence contradicting the above argument:
1. Due to the very low profit margin from the sale of vaccines, as compared to other drugs (statins, chemotherapy drugs, Viagra, etc. ) the pharmaceutical industry is dramatically decreasing their production of vaccines and significantly reducing their research and development budgets for the creation of new vaccines. In his blog arguing for a government mandate for, and funding of, the production, research and development of vaccines, Paul A. Offit chronicles the downturn in vaccine profitability over the past fifty years www.content.healthaffairs.com. On the other hand, the natural health industry disparages the efficacy of vaccinations while selling all sorts of products to promote health, many of which are not proven to, or have even slightly reliable evidence of, having any efficacy at all.

That said, I am a consumer of natural health products and I profit from their sale. People pay me for my energy healing and yoga therapy services. I buy probiotics and other natural health supplements, as well as pay my acupuncturist and shiatsu therapist. I’m am by no means saying that the natural health industry should not make a profit. I’m just saying, let’s call a spade a spade – the pharmaceutical companies are actually NOT making huge profits on vaccines. In fact, the United States government is the largest purchaser of vaccines for their Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Because of this, and because of the in-bulk low purchasing price of these vaccines, the profit margin on vaccines is truly nominal.

2. There is absolutely no reason for the government regulatory agencies to be in the financial pocket of the pharmaceutical companies. Again, the pharmaceutical industry is not making that much money on vaccines, so they really don’t care enough to “buy-off” the government agencies. But that’s a very shallow argument anyway. The people who work for the CDC and the FDA are not high-paid pharmaceutical executives. Even the top salaries are well below that of a top executive. Moreover, the government agencies are required to provide detailed accounting of their income and expenditure. There might be some funneling of budgetary money through Congress, but even the natural health companies who are writing articles and blogs about this supposed governmental corruption are not providing any evidence linking donations by pharmaceutical companies to the congressional appropriations to either the CDC or FDA. It’s all a matter of public record – I highly encourage the anti-vaccination supporters to find and publish the evidence.

Finally, why would people working in these agencies want their children and grandchildren, their nieces and nephews, their friends’ children and grandchildren to be poisoned?

3. Ditto about the pediatricians. And honestly, pediatricians are people who really care about children. If they cared more about money than children they would have gone into a medical specialty field – perhaps plastics – where they would make far more money injecting botulism into people who don’t want to look their age. Why would pediatricians want to harm children?

4. Again, why would all of the people involved at all of the different levels of government, in the medical community and in the insurance industry support something that was doing more harm than good? Let’s take the insurance industry as an example: The insurance industry is all about risk assessment. It makes no sense for them to support something that would be harmful and that would lead them to pay for coverage for services caused by this harm? The insurance companies support vaccinations because they prevent illness, which the insurance companies would then have to cover. If the vaccinations were poisoning children and causing them to be ill, requiring medical attention, or requiring specialized services, the insurance industry would not be in support of vaccinating.

5. Yes there are some chemicals in vaccinations that can be harmful in large doses. However, these chemicals, if they even exist in the vaccinations, are in such minute amounts that they have never in any way been shown to cause illness or any other kind of side-effect. There are possible real side-effects of vaccinations: redness and swelling at the injection site, fatigue, sometimes some flu-like symptoms. On a rare occasion a child (or adult for that matter) will have a severe reaction to a vaccine. But, the incidence of this is very small. According to the World Health Organization anaphylaxis as a reaction to the Measles vaccine is extremely rare and difficult to chart. Their evidence-based research states that, “the rate of anaphylaxis has been documented to variable between 3.5 and 10 per million doses of following a measles containing vaccine (Bohkle K et al 2003) www.who.int/vaccine_safety. The incidence of other severe reactions to vaccines is similarly small.

6. There is no reliable research that reports any evidence-based links between Vaccines and Autism. Wakefield, et. al. (1998), The original researchers who purportedly showed marginal results linking vaccinations and autism, have rescinded their support for these findings. Moreover, the original studies were shown to have serious conflicts of interest and methodological limitations. Finally, and in my opinion, most importantly, there have been many methodologically sound studies disproving any link between vaccines and autism (Liu et al., 1995; Iizuka et al., 1995; Feeney et al., 1997; Haga et al., 1996, Farrington P et al 2001, Taylor B et al 2002, Madsen KM et al 2002, Wilson K et al 2003, Smeeth L et al 2004, Honda H et al 2005, Uchiyama T et al 2007) www.who.int/vaccine_safety.

“But Jen”, many of you are saying, “what about all of the new autism diagnoses since the advent of vaccines?” This is actually easily explained in that our medical and psychological community have developed a much deeper and extensive knowledge of the symptoms that make-up what are now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. The term autism was originally used by a Swiss psychiatrist to categorize a group of symptoms related to schizophrenia. In the 1940s psychiatrists in the United States (Leo Kanner) and Germany (Hans Asperger) began to use the term autism to describe child patients with emotional or social problems. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that autism and schizophrenia started to become detached in the minds of researchers and scholars. http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/history-of-autism. This was the same time that our most popular vaccinations were invented. Thus, autism as a behavioral disorder began to be looked at as its own area of inquiry and understanding at the same time that our society started vaccinating children. In research methodology, this is what we call a spurious correlation. That is, two things may happen simultaneously, but they are in no way related.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE STILL WORRIED

I get it, you still worry about the chemicals and you still worry about possible autism. But maybe you do want to vaccinate your children. Here are two things you can do to help alleviate some of your worry:

Smaller Doses: Most medical offices will give a smaller dose of a vaccine per injection if asked. That said, this means that the child will need to go in for more injections – maybe even double the number of injections.

Space Injections Out: Those pre-kindergarten shots in particular are brutal. I had no idea that there were so many. My poor son (my first child) was jabbed twice in each leg. For my second child we did two in one visit and then two more on the next visit. This was because of the injections being traumatic, not because of a fear of autism or chemical poisoning. But this tactic can be used for those purposes as well. Space the injections over time, giving 2 or 3 months in-between. Your child will not be subjected to multiple punctures or multiple potential reactions.

PLEASE PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN & OTHERS

I know that those of you who are adamantly against vaccinations are not going to heed my advice regardless of the research on this subject. So this blog is really not aimed at you. That said, I hope that some of this will sit in the back of your mind. This blog is for those of you who are on the fence about vaccinating your children. I hope that the research findings I have presented will help you to decide that ON-BALANCE vaccinations are providing much more protection than they are harm. And remember, the side-effects are a minor risk – not something that will imminently happen. So please, protect your children and others in your community. The diseases that can be contracted by not vaccinating are far, far, worse than the possible side-effects.

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