This article is not meant to pass judgement on your decision or to tell you outright whether you should or shouldn’t vaccinate. Rather my hope is this information will alert you to your options and encourage you to make a well thought out, carefully weighted decision that you are confident and comfortable with and that is a good fit for your family’s health needs.
To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate, That is the Question!
Whatever your final decision is regarding vaccines, you should be able to come to it using the same criteria. Your decision should not be made out of fear; fear that your doctor will not agree with you, fear that your child will be denied access to daycare or school, or fear that you will be persecuted for choosing not to vaccinate. Your doctor does not have to agree with your healthcare decisions, nor can they 'fire' you for not complying with their recommendations. If this is the case, ask yourself why your doctor has had such a heated and strong reaction. Your decision should also not be made out of ignorance or a lack of knowledge. This is definitely one of the main reasons parents cite in my office for why they chose to vaccinate. They didn't realize they had options or were not fully informed of the pros, cons, and side effects, or what the true incidence of illness is for these infections. (Example: in Canada, there are 0 to 5 cases of diphtheria reported each year1. Knowing this statistic, many parents may accept the risk for infection, finding it unnecessary to vaccinate against such a rare bacteria).
A risk-benefit analysis on an illness-by-illness case should also be included in your decision making process. First you need to decide if you are willing to risk the possibility your child will be exposed to the microorganism and become sick. If you are willing to risk this, then move on to the next question: if your child does in fact get sick, are you willing to accept the potential consequences? If you answered 'yes' to both questions, then you may choose to not vaccinate against that particular illness. Here's an example: are you willing to risk your child getting diphtheria, now knowing there are less than 5 reported cases per year in Canada? If you are willing to take that risk on behalf of your child, then are you willing to risk the consequences of diphtheria, which include a severe throat infection requiring antibiotic and antitoxin therapy2? If you answered yes to both, then you may not need to vaccinate against diphtheria. The bottom line is weighing the risks of infection and its consequences versus the risks involved in
vaccinating. Yes, there are risks involved and anyone who tells you vaccines are 100% safe are not being truthful.
There are many ingredients in vaccines aside from the live, weakened, or killed organisms. The safety of these ingredients and the effects these ingredients have on your child’s body should be an important consideration in your decision making. Even though most childhood vaccines have had mercury removed, it has been replaced by thimerosol, an organic mercury compound that is an effective preservative3 . But is thimerosol, which is 49.6% mercury by weight, any safer than ethylmercury, the breakdown product of thimerosol? You’d be surprised to know the answer is: we don’t know! In a position statement on thimerosol The Public Health Agency of Canada says “little is actually known about ethylmercury metabolism in humans, including whether it has the same potency as a neurotoxin, whether the blood concentration is ever significant and even whether it crosses the blood- brain barrier. It is presumed (emphasis added) that the majority of ethylmercury metabolized from thimerosal is rapidly excreted in the stool”4. We don’t have enough scientific information on the metabolism, excretion, and toxicity of ethylmercury on infants and children. As such, there are no established safety guidelines regarding exposure. Are you willing to let your child be a part of this massive global post-marketing experiment on the long term effects of thimerosol?
Other ingredients added to vaccines for their ability to stabilize, preserve, and heighten the immune response include:
- aluminum (like mercury, a known neurotoxin)
- formaldehyde (we have strict safety guidelines on environmental exposure, yet inject it right into the bloodstream of our most vulnerable population)
- human albumin proteins
- an assortment of animal proteins
Many parents, perhaps yourself included, are not aware that you actually do have options and alternatives to the standard vaccination schedule. There are four options available to you and your baby 1) do not vaccinate 2) delay vaccination 3) alter the vaccine schedule 4) vaccinate according to the recommended schedule.
Your first option is not to vaccinate your child(ren). This decision, like that to vaccinate, should be carefully considered, as it carries great responsibility should your child get sick with an illness that may have been preventable with a vaccine. Your second option is to delay your child's first vaccinations until his/her immune system is better able to mount an immune response to the injected bacteria or virus, and the chemicals that accompany it. Development of the immune system in your child is not complete at birth. It develops and strengthens itself naturally over time and becomes stronger after being exposed to bacteria and viruses. Delaying vaccinations for months
to years, helps protect the natural growth and development of your baby's immune system. Another reason to consider delaying vaccines is to allow your baby's immature liver and its detoxification mechanisms a chance to mature. This gives your baby the best chance at processing and detoxifying all the vaccine ingredients to the best of his/her ability. Your third option is to implement an altered schedule whereby your doctor/pediatrician can separate some vaccines, reducing the toxic load injected into your child at each visit. It may require more needles overall, but you are injecting less bacteria/virus and chemicals into your child at any one time, possibly reducing the risk of adverse effects. Your fourth option is to vaccinate according to the recommended schedule6.
Choosing to vaccinate or not to vaccinate your child(ren) is not a simple decision. It requires time, careful thought, and reflection on the constantly increasing number of vaccines in the vaccine schedule, the simultaneous increase in chronic and debilitating childhood illness and disease (like autism and ADD), and the risks you are willing to assume in your decision. Ensure that whatever you decide is made knowledgeably, in consultation with different sources, and with confidence because you know you are making the best decision to protect the health of your child.
1. Diptheria Incidence: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/vpd-mev/diphtheria-eng.php
2. The Vaccine Book, Dr. Robert Sears M.D.
4. . http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/07vol33/acs-06/index-eng.php
5. Vaccine Ingredients: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/p01-tab01-eng.php
6. Routine Immunization Schedule: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/is-cv/index-eng.php
Dr. Carly Wendler BA.Sc., Naturopathic Doctor