Parents, Get Over Your Fear Of Unvaccinated Children

Recently a mom wrote a post on this very site with the title, “Your Unvaccinated Kid Is Not Welcome Play With Mine.” When I read this headline I couldn’t decide if I was more troubled with the headline, the article itself or with the ensuing commentary. Shortly after, Time tweeted a link that suggested “1 in 10 parents don’t vaccinate their children,” to which I RT’d, “That’s because 1 in 10 of parents are assholes.”

When a twitter acquaintance suggested that my comment was a bit harsh — she doesn’t vaccinate — I apologized and carried on. Still, both the stat and the post troubled me and so I decided to consult my father, Bolanle Williams, PhD, a microbiologist-virologist, a research scientist with patents, and a former university professor.

My father is a fairly plain-speaking man whose great grandmother was a Medicine Woman and herbalist. Some of her remedies have been passed down to relatives who have incorporated them into Western practice. For example, my father’s niece is a leading specialist on postpartum emotional care for women who’ve experienced difficult births in  Africa. Given this type of familial legacy, my father doesn’t romanticize what Western medicine does well and he essentially feels the same way about naturally-derived medicinal concoctions, too.

In his words, “Science is not infallible, it doesn’t give you all the answers, but it enlightens you to the possibility of what can and cannot happen.” I once asked him what the deal was with pharmaceutical companies and, among other things, he said point blank that it’s big business. Of course it wasn’t always so, and Western drugs certainly do more good than harm if used properly under medical supervision. But we’re a pill-popping culture of addicts, ready to ingest the next cure-all and pharmaceuticals chemical or otherwise enable that.

As for the question of childhood vaccination, he said, “It’s a mistake not to.” The reason being, he explained, is that there are so many different kinds of infection that children can acquire at a young age since they do not have sufficient immune recognition. And, yes, if you eat well you are certainly well ahead of the game, but that doesn’t mean that you are protected against infection unless you consume things with relatively high amounts of certain chemicals that will prevent you from becoming infected. Still, the way to really become immune is with vaccinations and booster shots.

Vaccinations immolate your system before it becomes weak. That said, there are degrees of reaction to certain vaccinations. Sometimes an infection can take a long time to show up in the body and so, too, can a side effect. Reactions to certain vaccinations are normal. A reaction demonstrates that the body is able to recognize the vaccine and this renders the body immune from infection. If you don’t react, it means that the vaccination didn’t work and you will have to get another. It is important to note that having a reaction in the body is not necessarily a bad thing since it entitles your body to build up antibodies.

Which means the jury is still out on whether vaccinations “cause” autism, ADD, mental disorders, etc. There is no scientific proof that this is true. Science discredited and debunked the unscientific findings from the scientist who made the previous false claims that there was a link between childhood vaccinations and autism. It may be untrue.

You can reach this post's author, Bolaji Williams, on twitter.
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    • Jen

      My problem with unvaccinated kids is NOT that I think they are going to infect my healthy, vaccinated kid. In fact, it’s not with the kids at all. It’s with the parents. If I know a parent hasn’t vaccinated their child I don’t want to be around them. Period. And I don’t want my child around their kid. Because while my healthy, vaccinated four year old isn’t at risk from their unvaccinated kid, my cancer stricken, 2 1/2 year old unvaccinated (because of the chemo) cousin IS at risk from them (and it might be easier to keep him isolated if he didn’t have school aged siblings and parents who need to work to pay for all his medical bills). These parents are uninformed and selfish and I don’t want them or their children around me. Nothing to do with unfounded fear.

      • Kate

        Jen- I agree completely. The thing that “righttoworkmom” is missing is just that. If you are an un(der)vaccinated member of our “herd”, it can lead to horrible consequences for the children whose parents have no choice but not to vaccinate.

        Frankly, if autism is your greatest fear, then you need to do some research. Autism is not a death sentence. Getting an incurable disease could very well be.

      • Xyzzy

        Kate & Jen, I agree as a ‘classic’ autistic woman, especially as I’m happy being what I am. There are a lot of us out here that feel that way, and are disturbed at how the media’s distorted depictions of us as tortured monsters are scaring parents to risk their kids’ lives.

        A Rett’s Syndrome autie I know whose vaccines wore off early caught whooping cough from a few unvaccinated spectrum kids she volunteered with, and said it was a nightmare. She cracked a few ribs coughing, couldn’t keep water/food down from coughing so she landed in the hospital with severe dehydration, and the high fever (I think) triggered her epilepsy so she had over a dozen seizures in a day. As she pointed out, if it did that much to a healthy athletic adult, imagine what it’d do to a baby…

        People that are considering not vaccinating should view online video footage of babies/kids with each of the diseases involved, so they truly know what they’re risking putting their kids through. I think that the reason those parents don’t feel the need is because they didn’t have the experience past generations did of worrying while a sibling coughed uncontrollably in the next room, of losing a classmate to disease or having a close friend disabled by their struggle.

      • RighttoWorkMom

        Xyzzy, I completely agree with you that parents who choose not to vaccinate need to be fully informed about the diseases involved. I am a parent who chooses not to fully vaccinate – though my daughter does receive the majority of her vaccines – and I am as informed as I can be. I find it disturbing, however, that we don’t expect equal education of the parents who choose to vaccinate. If I am going to acquire as much education as I can about the medical risks my daughter faces, I would think other parents would want to have at least that much information about the medical risks involved in vaccinating — yet most parents don’t seem to do this. Even if you don’t believe there is a single medical risk involved, despite pediatricians and the CDC openly admitting that all medicines/vaccines/treatments have some risks, I would think parents would be held accountable for knowing what is being injected into their children’s bodies before the injection takes place. I will say for the record (one more time) that autism has nothing to do with our vaccine choices.

      • Jen

        RighttoWorkMom: I just wanted to make something clear. You had a team of professionals who decided based on medical evidence that your daughter shouldn’t be vaccinated for certain things. I’m in no way trying to imply that YOU are selfish or misinformed, because it’s simply not true. You have clearly put a lot of time and effort into researching this and you are acting on the advice of a trained medical professional. But the parents who are selfish and misinformed (and who do think Dr. Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy have better credentials than the medical community at large) are putting your child at risk and that is my point and my problem.

        Why should your daughter, who legitimately can not be vaccinated for certain diseases, lose out on the protection of herd immunity because a bunch of ignorant people bought into fear mongering by a for-profit doctor and a for-profit playboy model?

        To speak to your other point for a moment: I spent A LOT of time reading up on vaccines (as well as ANY medication I give to my family). I also spoke at length with my pediatrician, my pediatric nurse mother and my pharmacist father. I’d be willing to bet I’m just as well informed about vaccinations as you are (and more well informed than many anti-vacciners who buy into the 3,000 or so myths surrounding the process). That being said, it’s not actually necessary for me to do so, because frankly if I didn’t trust my pediatrician to give me all the relevant information on the vaccine (something, by the by, which they are required to do BY LAW) and to provide me with good advice I wouldn’t be seeing that pediatrician. You are clearly comfortable enough with your pediatrician to trust his/her advice when it comes to not getting certain vaccinations, shouldn’t parents trust their pediatrician (and the CDC, the WHO, the medical community at large, etc) when they recommend receiving vaccines?

      • RighttoWorkMom

        Jen, while I appreciate that you respect how we made our choices, you and I know from past debates that I don’t agree with your assessment of other parents. That being said, I think everyone has to make the decision that is right for them, and I think they need to trust their pediatricians – or else find new ones. However, I see a big difference between blind trust and trusting guidance. Blind trust is the astounding number of parents who have no idea what’s in a vaccine, what the virus is, what the risks are, etc. Trusting guidance is when you (general) do your own research, ask your pediatrician your corresponding questions, trust their answers, and then make an educated decision.

    • RighttoWorkMom

      Your last comment does not bode well for the rest of your article. If you want to speak to parents who already vaccinate, you’ve written a good article. You are preaching to the choir, and your sermon will likely be well-received.

      However, if you have any hope of reaching parents who don’t vaccinate, you really should have spent more time learning about their positions. My daughter is not completely vaccinated. She has had most of her vaccines, but she has not had the varicella vaccine, the MMR vaccine, or the HiB vaccines. I’ve done my research. She has not had the varicella vaccine because she is not a good candidate for the vaccine (per her doctors). She has not had the MMR vaccine because we have not been able to find anyone who can give the vaccine in three separate injections, which every doctor has said is a better option. She has not had the HiB vaccine because it still uses thimerasol. I am not relying on others to vaccinate. I am making a conscious decision with each of these vaccines, and I watch carefully for potential outbreaks that could pose a threat to my daughter. I am not relying on herd immunity. I am not relying on first world disease eradication. I did my research.

      What amazes me is that it’s most often parents who don’t fully vaccinate who do their research. We are called ignorant, foolish, and more, yet most of us make educated decisions. I know exactly how many vaccines my daughter should have had by now. I know what is in each vaccine, the possible side effects and long-term complications, and the risk of the corresponding virus. I know when each vaccine began, and I know its history of successes and failures. I am making educated choices on what to inject in my daughter, yet I’m labeled as an asshole – per your article.

      Can you really say that you know as much about the vaccines you have elected to get in your own child? Can you say the same thing for all the parents you know who do allow their children to be vaccinated?

      • Mrs. Brewer

        You really should reconsider giving your child the varicella vaccine. Prehaps your physicians don’t feel she is a good canidate due to the fact that most children today are already vacinated and she probably will not get chicken pox from school. There is a very strong possibility she will get it later on in life. Adult chicken pox outbreaks are extreamly dangerous and in a pregnant woman will cause severe birth defects. Also FYI the shingles virus will pass on the varicella virus to suspectable persons.

      • Mrs. Brewer

        You really should reconsider giving your child the varicella vaccine. Prehaps your physicians don’t feel she is a good canidate due to the fact that most children today are already vacinated and she probably will not get chicken pox from school. There is a very strong possibility she will get it later on in life. Adult chicken pox outbreaks are extreamly dangerous and in a pregnant woman will cause severe birth defects. Also FYI the shingles virus will pass on the varicella virus to suspectable persons.

      • Mrs. Brewer

        You really should reconsider giving your child the varicella vaccine. Prehaps your physicians don’t feel she is a good canidate due to the fact that most children today are already vacinated and she probably will not get chicken pox from school. There is a very strong possibility she will get it later on in life. Adult chicken pox outbreaks are extreamly dangerous and in a pregnant woman will cause severe birth defects. Also FYI the shingles virus will pass on the varicella virus to suspectable persons.

      • RighttoWorkMom

        Mrs. Brewer, I happily respond to your comment because you at least read mine and show genuine concern. I get exhausted with all of the people who argue about vaccines and autism (which has nothing to do with my choices), or herd immunity (which has nothing to do with my choices), or Dr. Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy (who have nothing to do with my choices). My family has a history of poor reactions to the varicella vaccine. My nephews have all shown severe complications from having the vaccine, and the complications were far more serious than chicken pox or shingles. Our pediatrician reviewed the information and openly advocated not giving her the vaccine. We will revisit the issue when she is older and better prepared to have the vaccine in her body.

      • xobolaji

        @rightoworkmom thanks for your comment. i never said you were an asshole, but if you want to cherry pick a knee-jerk, flippant remark, then i won’t stop you. i am happy that you are educated and well-informed, etc. good for you. i had no intention of writing the definitive child vaccine article. my intention was to add something to the discussion. if you feel you can do much better, then please be my guest.

      • docman

        I just wanted to let you know that I think it seems like a very reasonable decision that you made to hold off on the “chicken pox” vaccine. If there is a significant family history of complications then she falls into the category of having a justifiable reason not to get that vaccine.

        My daughter did receive the vaccine but if we had your family history we may not have made that decision.

      • RighttoWorkMom

        Xobolaji, I think you wrote this article before you were really ready. Your responses to these comments are astoundingly inflammatory. If your response to criticism or disagreements is to attack, you probably shouldn’t be in the conversation in thee first place.

    • Momof3

      My children are vaccinated/going through the vaccination process. I have made confident, informed and educated decisions to vaccinate. I do agree that it is selfish for parents not to vaccinate. Unfortunately, vaccinations are effective when “the herd” as you so delicately put it, are vaccinated. It is a community that eradicates, not the individual. And, where your unvaccinated child is not necessarily an immediate threat to my vaccinated child, you are however giving way and opportunity to these illnesses to return bigger, better and stronger. Illnesses that at one point were deemed non-existent have returned thanks to those who do not vaccinate.

    • Hollie

      It’s not my vaccinated kids that I worry about. That’s the point of having them vaccinated right? I worry about my newborn who can’t be vaccinated yet. Why should my baby’s life be at risk because of someone else’s selfish decision not to have their kids vaccinated? This is very frustrating to me. Barring a valid medical reason every child should be vaccinated!! I also don’t understand why anyone would put their own child at risk by not vaccinating them. Is the minimal threat of autism(which I have my doubts about anyway) really worth the risk of losing your child to a disease or virus that could have been prevented?

    • Michelle

      This article is so poorly written it’s hard to read. I didn’t think it needed to be stated twice that HIV is a complex virus, therefore no vaccination.

      It’s fact that unless the kid is sick (which you may not know) there is no reason for an unvaxed kid not to play with a vaxed kid, but that point wasn’t really thought out and explained in this posting.

      I followed the normal CDC schedule and will do so with any future kids that are able to get vaxed. Those who CANNOT because of legitimate sicknesses and allergies are at a real disadvantage from all the parents that are scared of autism or any other stupid reason they use to not give their kids shots.

      • xobolaji

        @michelle if you can write a better post that is *easier* to read. i suggest you go ahead and do that. have a good day!

    • LoveyDovey

      Vaccines DO NOT cause autism! Some recent research has brought to light a more likely possibility, along with higher awareness: antidepressants taken during pregnancy, which theoretically COULD rewire the fetus’ brain so they end up on the autism spectrum.
      http://edition.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/04/antidepressant.pregnancy.autism.risk/index.html

      As for me, after I birth this little one I’m making sure to get all my boosters up to date, given the rates of vaccinations are dropping I want to do everything in my power to protect my kids within reason.

      • xobolaji

        @loveydovey thank you for your comment, and for posting this link!

    • Caroline

      “It may be untrue” that vaccines cause autism?

      Multiple follow up studies proved that vaccines and autism are not linked. The journal that published the original study retracted it. Further investigation of the original study showed that the authors had messed with the data so much that not only were any conclusions useless, they were completely manufactured by the authors. Plus, the doctor who was the main author of the study has lost his license to practice.

      Oh, and that original study? It found a correlation between the MMR vaccine and autism. Even with doctored data, they couldn’t create a causal relationship. For those who aren’t familiar with statistics: Sales of ice cream increase in the summer. Murders increase in the summer. Both increase during the summer, so you could argue that there’s a correlation between the two (there’s a link or a connection) but you could NOT say that ice cream causes murders. You need more evidence to prove that one causes the other beyond both happening at the same time.

      “But my kid is healthy so he doesn’t need vaccines. We’ll just keep doing whatever we do to keep him healthy.” Vaccines work by creating a herd immunity, where almost everyone is immune so there are are fewer cases of the disease to be spread around and fewer susceptible people to spread it. This protects the minority of people who cannot get vaccinated, such as the kid with cancer and chemo who was mentioned above.
      That’s why hospital workers are generally required to keep their vaccines up to date. As a healthy nurse, the flu isn’t a big deal to me, but it could kill my patients. I get the flu vaccine to protect my patients.

      • xobolaji

        @Caroline thanks for your comment. at my father’s suggestion, i phrased the link between autism and vaccinations as “it may be untrue” because science is not infallible, in other words science is always finding ways to support and debunk theories. i’m fully aware that the link has been disproven.

    • Rachael

      Sorry, but your unvaccinated child is NOT welcome to play with my (hypothetical) immunosuppressed child. If my mother had let unvaccinated kids play with me when I was very little, I could have died. In fact, I almost did die from an illness that most people are vaccinated for. PLEASE, parents, vaccinate your kids, for others’ sake. This article is incredibly narrow and ignorant.

      • xobolaji

        @Rachel you’re ignorance is astounding. if you are VACCINATED, an unvaccinated child will NOT infect you. what don’t you understand?

    • Amanda

      While I don’t have any kids and don’t want to necessarily intrude on anyone’s ideas or beliefs, as Rachael pointed out, there are kids out there that are at a very serious risk of infection. I have JRA and have had it since I was 2. I was on immunosuppressants and couldn’t have the vaccines myself, because a lot of these vaccines are “live” vaccines, which my suppressed immune system wouldn’t have been able to fight off. Not having your child vaccinated can put immunocompromised and immunosuppressed children at an extremely high risk, because they can potentially carry illnesses and infections in higher concentrations and for longer periods of time than vaccinated children. Even as an adult, I am just getting over a flu that almost hospitalized me because someone at my job refused to get the flu shot and passed it on to me! There’s a larger picture here, one that you completely ignored. If you’re going to present an issue like this, you should do more research.

      • xobolaji

        @amanda what “more research” and what “larger picture that [i] completely ignored” are you referring too? this post was not was not meant to be the definitive article on childhood vaccinations. i am not a virologist nor an expert on childhood/adult vaccines. i wrote this piece to learn and discuss. thanks for your comment.

    • Abigail

      “If your child has been properly vaccinated and immuned, then the unvaccinated child poses no risk to your child.”

      That’s what I’ve been saying all along! Nobody ever listens… Except this author, apparently. :)

      • Jen

        Abigail: Would that smiley be quite so appropriate if a child who had a VALID reason (like cancer or autoimmune disease) for not being vaccinated got sick because someone who listened to one too many quacks and playboy models decided not to get their child vaccinated? Those children who are FORCED to rely on herd immunity are suffering the worst consequences. That’s why I don’t want my healthy, vaccinated child playing with kids who aren’t. Because they have selfish parents and I have no interest in seeing what kind of kids those people raise.

    • Victoria

      I thought this article was clear-minded, informative, and did a good job of being non-judgmental. It’s a troubling debate, and we’re all going to do what we think is best regarding vaccinations; still, it’s nice to read such a well thought out argument for vaccination when it seems the topic is flooded with emotional reactions, in both directions.

      • xobolaji

        @victoria thank you, i appreciate your comment. my intention was not to lay judgment, but simply to open up the discussion. i am not a virologist.

        i support an individual’s right to choose because at the end of the day people are going to do what they feel is best for them. in that respect we have the choice to agree to disagree, hopefully learning something in the process. i vaccinate my children, and it’s never occurred to me not to. that said, i do hope that individuals who choose not to vaccinate do so with the proper information.

    • Cat

      I think people who are flippant about chicken pox have probably never experienced shingles. Once you’ve been infected that virus lays dormant in you spinal cord for the rest of your life and can flare up as a horrible burning, blistering rash, and the older you get, the greater the chance the nerve damage and pain will be permanent. I’m 29 and I’ve had shingles in my eye, it was horrible and I’m lucky I didn’t suffer permanent vision loss. I wish the verciella vaccine had been available when I was little.

      • RighttoWorkMom

        Cat, I am not flippant about chicken pox, so I know your comment was not directed at me (if you see below, we were advised not to get the varicella vaccine for other reasons). However, I do think you are over-simplifying. The number of children who get the vaccine and then develop shingles is increasing, particularly because people erroneously believe the vaccine will protect them completely from both. The varicella vaccine is supposed to give you immunity to chicken pox, but it only lessens your risk of shingles marginally in comparison. To protect yourself against shingles, you need to get the Zostavax virus, which is not the same thing and typically not offered to children.

      • Cat

        It is the exact same virus – Verciella Zoster. People get the Zostavax vaccine later in life to help project them against resurgence because immunity tends to wane with age. The underlying infection is still the “chicken pox” we got as kids and therefore avoiding infection in the first place is the best way prevent Shingles.

        And no, my comment was not directed at you, though unless your child is severely immunocompromised or suffers from some specific chronic diseases I’m skeptical as to why your pediatrician recommended against it.

      • RighttoWorkMom

        I can’t imagine why you would show skepticism against a team of pediatricians you’ve never met. That being said, there is no such thing as a “verciella” virus. There is a varicella virus, and it’s not exactly the same. Shingles, much like herpes, is a different strain of the same foundational virus. You can get the varicella vaccine to prevent chicken pox, but it does not give you immunity against Shingles.

      • Cat

        Herpes Zoster, Verciella Zoster, Chickenpox…call it whatever you want it’s the exact same strain of Herpes (type 3).

      • RighttoWorkMom

        Look, I’m usually the last person to call someone out on something as dumb as spelling, but you aren’t even using the right name – yet you insist they are all the same. You can’t even do a search for “verciella” and find the kind of information you’re trying to offer because “verciella” is not a virus. I used the real names, did my research, and confirmed what I have already said.

      • Cat

        Here:
        http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(07)70267-3/fulltext

        For goodness sake you could probably Wikipedia it and be more informed than you are acting.

      • Nadia

        I’m with you CW. These people are INSANE. They vaccinate because they DON”T even care about life ITSELF!!! They think Pharmacy is GOD HISMELF! Boy will they fall hard. Killing innocent HUMAN life no matter how small is pure evil.

    • CW

      One issue that I haven’t seen raised in the comments here is that certain vaccines are manufactured from stem cell lines tainted by abortion. There is currently a lot of controversy in the Pro-Life community about the morality of using an abortion-tainted vaccine. I have personally decided that for SERIOUS diseases like Rubella, the moral thing to do is to go ahead and get the vaccine because the disease itself can kill unborn babies. But I can certainly understand how others might decide that the ends don’t justify the means and forgo the abortion-tainted vaccine entirely. Hopefully in the future, there will be alternatives to the abortion-tainted vaccines so that nobody will have to make that decision.

      • Jen

        Really? 3 cell lines from aborted fetuses (that were aborted for medical reasons–generally meaning they weren’t viable) more than 40 years ago. That’s not a moral quandary, that’s a bunch of people itching for a meaningless fight. Nearly every church in the world (including the Vatican) has issued statements in favor of vaccines DESPITE the cell lines. And the way that so-called “pro-lifers” couch the debate they make it sound like abortions are performed left and right specifically to obtain new cell lines.
        And PLEASE stop calling the community “pro-life”. If they aren’t going to let children get vaccinated against potentially fatal diseases because of something like that there’s NOTHING pro-life about them (not that the pro-life community has ever shown any respect for life anyway).

      • couch_thief

        @Jen: You’re pretty level headed and reasonable yourself. (Also, you’re awesome!)

      • CW

        Jen, you lost your right to talk about what is or isn’t “pro-Life” when you murdered your own innocent baby because the timing wasn’t convenient for you…

      • Jen

        CW: Aww…You don’t even understand the difference between a baby and a fetus!

        Look at the ignorant little person trying to make me feel bad for exercising bodily autonomy. She’d be adorable if her little mind wasn’t threatening the lives of women everywhere!

        You lost the right to make a judgement about what is or isn’t “pro-life” when you demonstrated repeatedly an astounding lack of respect for women and also a complete ignorance of pretty much everything regarding abortion. Please go sit in the corner with the special scissors. The teacher will be there in a moment with the non-toxic paste.

      • researcher

        I know this is old but the aborted ‘fetus’s used in vaccines were about 14 wks gestation.. that is termed a baby not a fetus. Get informed people. Would you prepare your childs food and pour a tiny bit of antifreeze in their food? No? Well that is what’s in vaccinations among mercury, formaldehyde and aluminum and spermicide, dog kidney cells(dna), chicken(dna), cow (dna), worm ovaries and mice (dna).. id rather not keep going on with the list of ingredients.. i urge every parent to do the research, no one thinks to find out all of the information on vaccines and not just follow mainstream and believe it is safe and effective because they are neither. Pharmaceutical companies know that many children have adverse short and long term reactions and they keep it from mainstream media and hide it because more sick children equal more money in their pockets at the end of the day. There are safer alternatives they could pursue but they are slightly more expensive. And that’s a FACT that cannot be denied. And why is there no research into the effectiveness of these vaccines.. it is considered unethical to test the effectiveness on animals or humans but it can blindly be administered into our children and ourselves without one ounce of doubt. Please inform yourselves. The ingredients in these vaccines are available on the manufacturers websites. Go educated yourself for your safety and the safety of your children.

    • couch_thief

      People think that vaccines aren’t necessary because vaccines have done their job. Even parents who choose not to vaccinate are depending on vaccines – in the form of herd immunity – to protect their children; herd immunity also protects those who cannot be vaccinated (due to age or immunosuppression) or who have been vaccinated but have not developed an immunity. When herd immunity is compromised – where the percentage of the population that needs to be vaccinated to disrupt chains of infection is lower than the immunity threshold, diseases, such as measles and pertussis, make a resurgence. While a lot of people dismiss these as “common childhood ailments”, these diseases are potentially life-threatening conditions. Let me put it another way: children have died as a result. Choosing not to vaccinate your child has real health consequences for not only your child but also for the population. And for what? A connection between vaccines and autism that has been repeatedly disproven by scientists. Below I’ve listed just a couple of articles that definitively disprove the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism:

      Chez, M. G., Chin, K., & Hung, P. C. (2004). Immunizations, immunology, and autism. Seminars in Pediatrics Neurology, 11(3), 214-217.

      DeStefano, F. & Thompson, W. W. (2004). MMR vaccine and autism: An update of the scientific evidence. Expert Review of Vaccines, 3(1), 19-22.

      Farrington, C. P., Miller, E., & Taylor, B. (2001). MMR and autism: Further evidence against a causal association. Vaccine, 19(27), 3632-3635.

      Hviid, A., Stellfeld, M., Wohlfahrt, J., & Melbye, M. (2003). Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 290(13), 1763-1766.

      Kaye, J. A., Melero-Montes, M. d., & Jick, H. (2000). Mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine and the incidence of autism recorded by general practitioners: A time trend analysis. BMJ, 322. doi: 10.1136/bmj.322.7284.460

      Madsen, K. M., Lauritsen, M. B., Pedersen, C. B., Thorsen, P., Plesner, A.-M., Andersen, P. H., & Mortensen, P. B. (2003). Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: Negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data. Pediatrics, 112(3), 604-606.

      Peltola, H., Patja, A., Leinikki, P., Valle, M., Davidkin, I., & Pauno, M. (1998). No evidence for measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine-associated inflammatory bowel disease or autism in a 14-year prospective study. The Lancet, 351(9112), 1327-1328.

      Taylor, B., Miller, E., Farrington, C. P., Petropoulos, M.-C., Favot-Mayaud, I., Li, J., & Waight, P. A. (1999). Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for a causal association. The Lancet, 353(9169), 2026-2029.

      • xobolaji

        @couch_thief this is a welcome, level-headed contribution to the discussion. thank you.

      • Nadia

        Herd immunity is a FALACY. If it were true, EVERYONE would be sick with disease because MOST adults haven’t had shots for WELL OVER 10 years which is the LONGEST any vaccines BOAST to last. Vaccines are just a money making industry. You’re going to trust pharma to your health? You are NUTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • lolproofreading

      Vaccinations will immolate my kid’s immune system? Oh man, that’s not good.

    • cia parker

      I thought the observation that vaccines immolate (set fire to) your immune system before it becomes weak was truer than it meant to be. Vaccines do indeed arouse the immune system to a heightened state of heat and inflammation, but they often do so to a degree far beyond what is desired. My daughter was given the hep-B vaccine at birth, she reacted with four days and nights of inconsolable screaming (vaccine-induced encephalitis), and was later diagnosed with autism. Many people’s immune system reacts with a chronic auto-immune response, resulting in the current deluge of autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, epilepsy, asthma, bowel disease, allergies of every sort, and/or diabetes. Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s work was not debunked. Fiona Godlee of the British Medical Journal is now reopening an investigation into the bogus charges against him, and many of his erstwhile attackers are admitting that his work implicating the MMR in causing autism and bowel disease was accurate and professionally carried out.
      If your child plays with a child carrying pertussis, he may catch it whether or not either of them or both are vaccinated. The vaccine has a low effectiveness rate, only 30-70% effective at best. My daughter had the DTaP at 2, 4, and 6 months, but then at nine months old caught pertussis at a La Leche League meeting, and then gave it to me. Her case was frightening, but not life-threatening, and she recovered just fine, after over a month of coughing up sheets of mucus. Infants younger than four months old should be kept at home and away from anyone who may be carrying the pertussis germs, whether or not they are vaccinated. And if they get it, they should be carried up on the shoulder all night during the weeks of the worst coughing, to help them cough the mucus out of undeveloped airways. Sweden discontinued use of the DTP in the mid ’70s because of the damage it often caused, had an epidemic of pertussis between 1977 and 1979, thousands caught it, but there was not one fatality.
      We’ll have to let usually mild diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, and pertussis (whooping cough) come back in order to staunch the tsunami of autoimmune disease which is now affecting almost half of all children in the U.S., the result of vaccine damage.

      • Jen

        Damn all those government and health agencies! They are all involved in a worldwide conspiracy to discredit a researcher who thought that twelve was a large enough sample size for an academic paper and a playboy model who self diagnosed her child with autism and then “cured” him with her magical essence. I’m kind of curious where you found the info that Godlee is reopening the investigation, unless by that you mean that she asked Parliament to investigate a bunch of other falsified cases by Wakefield about two weeks ago? Maybe the problem is comprehension?

      • Jamie

        Quote “We’ll have to let usually mild diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, and pertussis (whooping cough) come back in order to staunch the tsunami of autoimmune disease which is now affecting almost half of all children in the U.S., the result of vaccine damage.”

        Statements like this are what is truly frightening. The fact that ANYONE thinks lettings these diseases re-surge is a good idea is ludicrous. I’ve heard a lot of things from anti-vax parents but this takes the cake. Pertussis is not mild to babies too young to get vaccinated – and the idea of keeping them home for 4 months is not reasonable. Parents, grandparents or visitors could bring it into the house unknowingly. Vaccination in all people would eradicate this awful disease. It’s the parents who don’t do it because of fear mongering that are the problem. Getting rid of these diseases all together, rather than letting them come back, should be the goal of the human race.

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    • couch_thief

      If Jenny McCarthy did, in fact, “cure” her son, why haven’t we seen him? I suspect it’s much like the reason why Andrew Wakefield has never attempted to replicate his fraudulent conclusions: because it’s a lie.

      As @Jen correctly mentioned, Dr. Godlee didn’t call for an investigation as to the bogus charges against Andrew Wakefield. She concludes that the “MMR scare was based not on bad science but on a deliberate fraud” on the part of Andrew Wakefield (articles in BMJ by journalist Brian Deer goes into more detail but essentially Wakefield had “substantially misrepresented” the data to get the result he needed (because he was being paid by a lawyer who wanted to sue the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine). Godlee goes on to state that “in no single case can the medical records be fully reconciled with what was published” in Wakefield’s now discredited article.

      For more information on what Dr. Godlee actually said, follow these links:

      http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d22.full

      http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452

      http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111109/full/479157a.html

      In terms of pertussis being a “usually harmless disease”, I share with you this: in the province of Saskatchewan alone, there have been five deaths (of infants who are under the age of three months – too young to be vaccinated) attributable to pertussis from 2007-2010 (from here: http://www.paherald.sk.ca/Local/News/2010-05-12/article-1084719/Health-officials-concerned-over-pertussis-deaths/1). That’s five deaths too many from a disease that is preventable, if you have a vaccinated population. Furthermore, the suggestion to keep children indoors until they are old enough to be vaccinated is ludicrous (a parent could pick up the disease and bring it home unknowingly).

      The Atlantic reported that, yes, Sweden did stop immunizing from 1979 to 1996 while they tested a new vaccine. The Atlantic also reported that “In a study of the moratorium period that was published in 1993, Swedish physicians found that 60 percent of the country’s children got whooping cough before they were ten. However, close medical monitoring kept the death rate from whooping cough at about one per year during that period” So, your assertion that “there was not one fatality” during this time period is categorically false.

      (Go here: http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2002/09/allen_a.htm)

      Also, where do you get your statistics on vaccine efficacy from? Ramsey et al. (1993) found that overall pertussis efficacy rates were high (93% during a non-epidemic period; 87% during an epidemic). Similarly, the results of a study by Ward et al. (2005) found that vaccine efficacy for pertussis was 92%. So, no, while vaccines aren’t 100% effective in preventing disease in people who have received a vaccine, 87%-93% of people vaccinated are protected from the disease compared to the incidence of the disease in the unvaccinated population. Worst case scenario, 13% of those who are vaccinated are not protected from pertussis. This is where herd immunity comes into play as it would (likely) disrupt the line of infection before those 13% become infected.

      Please provide references as per your assertion that vaccines have caused “the tsunami of autoimmune disease which is now affecting almost half of all children in the U.S., the result of vaccine damage”.

      References:

      Ramsay, M. E. B., Farrington, C. P., & Miller, E. (1993). Age-specific efficacy of pertussis vaccine during epidemic and non-epidemic periods. Epidemiology and Infection, 111(1), 41-48.

      Ward, J. I., Cherry, J. D., Chang, S.-J., Partridge, S., Lee, H., Treanor, J., Greenberg, D. P., Keitel, W., Barenkamp, S., Bernstein, D. I., Edelman, R., & Edwards, K. (2005). Efficacy of an ancellular pertussis vaccine among adolescents and adults. New England Journal of Medicine, 353, 1555-1563.

    • headfullabooks

      The author of this article seems to be unaware of the fact that vaccines are not 100% effective in everyone, so there absolutely IS cause for concern even if your children are fully vaccinated. Herd immunity helps protect not only those too young to have received all their vaccinations or those who are immunocompromised and can’t get them in the first place, but also that small percentage of vaccinated people for whom the immunity didn’t take.

      From The CDC website:

      “No vaccine is 100% effective. Most routine childhood vaccines are effective for 85% to 95% of recipients. For reasons related to the individual, some will not develop immunity. The second fact is that in a country such as the United States the people who have been vaccinated vastly outnumber those who have not. Here’s a hypothetical example of how these two factors work together.

      In a high school of 1,000 students, none has ever had measles. All but 5 of the students have had two doses of measles vaccine, and so are fully immunized. The entire student body is exposed to measles, and every susceptible student becomes infected. The 5 unvaccinated students will be infected, of course. But of the 995 who have been vaccinated, we would expect several not to respond to the vaccine. The efficacy rate for two doses of measles vaccine can be higher than 99%. In this class, 7 students do not respond, and they, too, become infected. Therefore 7 of 12, or about 58%, of the cases occur in students who have been fully vaccinated.

      As you can see, this doesn’t prove the vaccine didn’t work – only that most of the children in the class had been vaccinated, so those who were vaccinated and did not respond outnumbered those who had not been vaccinated. Looking at it another way, 100% of the children who had not been vaccinated got measles, compared with less than 1% of those who had been vaccinated. Measles vaccine protected most of the class; if nobody in the class had been vaccinated, there would probably have been 1,000 cases of measles.”

    • couch_thief

      If Jenny McCarthy did, in fact, “cure” her son, why haven’t we seen him? I suspect it’s much like the reason why Andrew Wakefield has never attempted to replicate his fraudulent conclusions: because it’s a lie.

      As @Jen correctly mentioned, Dr. Godlee didn’t call for an investigation as to the bogus charges against Andrew Wakefield. She concludes that the “MMR scare was based not on bad science but on a deliberate fraud” on the part of Andrew Wakefield (articles in BMJ by journalist Brian Deer goes into more detail but essentially Wakefield had “substantially misrepresented” the data to get the result he needed (because he was being paid by a lawyer who wanted to sue the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine). Godlee goes on to state that “in no single case can the medical records be fully reconciled with what was published” in Wakefield’s now discredited article.

      For more information on what Dr. Godlee actually said, follow these links:

      http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d22.full

      http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c7452

      http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111109/full/479157a.html

      In terms of pertussis being a “usually harmless disease”, I share with you this: in the province of Saskatchewan alone, there have been five deaths (of infants who are under the age of three months – too young to be vaccinated) attributable to pertussis from 2007-2010 (from here: http://www.paherald.sk.ca/Local/News/2010-05-12/article-1084719/Health-officials-concerned-over-pertussis-deaths/1). That’s five deaths too many from a disease that is preventable, if you have a vaccinated population. Furthermore, the suggestion to keep children indoors until they are old enough to be vaccinated is ludicrous (a parent could pick up the disease and bring it home unknowingly).

      The Atlantic reported that, yes, Sweden did stop immunizing from 1979 to 1996 while they tested a new vaccine. The Atlantic also reported that “In a study of the moratorium period that was published in 1993, Swedish physicians found that 60 percent of the country’s children got whooping cough before they were ten. However, close medical monitoring kept the death rate from whooping cough at about one per year during that period” So, your assertion that “there was not one fatality” during this time period is categorically false.

      (Go here: http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2002/09/allen_a.htm)

      Also, where do you get your statistics on vaccine efficacy from? Ramsey et al. (1993) found that overall pertussis efficacy rates were high (93% during a non-epidemic period; 87% during an epidemic). Similarly, the results of a study by Ward et al. (2005) found that vaccine efficacy for pertussis was 92%. So, no, while vaccines aren’t 100% effective in preventing disease in people who have received a vaccine, 87%-93% of people vaccinated are protected from the disease compared to the incidence of the disease in the unvaccinated population. Worst case scenario, 13% of those who are vaccinated are not protected from pertussis. This is where herd immunity comes into play as it would (likely) disrupt the line of infection before those 13% become infected.

      Please provide references as per your assertion that vaccines have caused “the tsunami of autoimmune disease which is now affecting almost half of all children in the U.S., the result of vaccine damage”.

      References:

      Ramsay, M. E. B., Farrington, C. P., & Miller, E. (1993). Age-specific efficacy of pertussis vaccine during epidemic and non-epidemic periods. Epidemiology and Infection, 111(1), 41-48.

      Ward, J. I., Cherry, J. D., Chang, S.-J., Partridge, S., Lee, H., Treanor, J., Greenberg, D. P., Keitel, W., Barenkamp, S., Bernstein, D. I., Edelman, R., & Edwards, K. (2005). Efficacy of an ancellular pertussis vaccine among adolescents and adults. New England Journal of Medicine, 353, 1555-1563.

    • Hannah

      I’m from the Uk where varicella vaccine is not part of the schedule of vaccines for children, unless they form part of a “vulnerable group”.

      My children are vaccinated as per the recommended schedules in this country.

      They do not have the flu vaccine as they are not in a vulnerable group.

      I have no way of knowing whether the children they play with are vaccinated or not, or whether they have a compromised immunity. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure, if their child is contagiously ill, to remove it from the company of other children until he or she is well again, if the illness is a serious one . If the illness is less serious (eg a cold virus) then the onus falls to the parents of the vulnerable chihldren to remove THEM from risk. If I feel a parent is not living up to their responsibility then i will remove MY child. (eg a parent sent their child to preschool with hand foot and mouth – not terribly serious but VERY contagious – i removed my son for a while.) it is a question of perspective and risk management and responsibility. If a child is a risk to many, or to only one, then clearly a different response is required. Nothing is infallible, we all have to face and deal with risk. As a society we are far too risk averse.

      I enjoyed the article. It was written in general terms, was clearly not meant to be definitive and was not aimed at “special cases” like immuno compromised children, or children already ill. It was talking about peer groups of children in good health playing together. I am dismayed at the inability of some commentators to see that and to so quickly become defensive of their own choices. Being overly defensive is usually a sign of self doubt. My experience is that in the Uk there is not such a culture of fear around non vaccinated children or vaccination.

      i have chosen to take the VERY small risk of an averse vaccine response (as my children are otherwise well) against the serious risk of the illnesses themselves. Having seen children die of measles and asults suffering with mumps and women miscarrying due to rubella, there is NO way I woudl risk my chldren going through that. If they had an enhanced risk of averse reaction (such as epilepsy or compromised immunity) of course I may have made different choices.

    • sparkles pederson

      What about the Black Plague? Leprosy? Throughout history diseases have run their natural course. Before the very recent addition of vaccinations there were beginnings and endings of diseases. There are many in the scientific community who feel that Polio was no longer a threat long before the vaccine was introduced. The disease had simply run its course. Of course those scientists aren’t being paid millions (and millions) to provide studies that support the big drug companies.
      The flu shot is a perfect example. Like all living organisms the flu is constantly changing. The vaccine is made using existing flu strains. By the time those vaccines make it to the public the flu virus itself has evolved into a different strain. You are basically being vaccinated against last year’s strain.
      Do some research into Thalidomide then decide if you want to blindly follow what the Medical Association orders you to do.

      • Nicole Satlow

        The Plague? Really? Should we allow a disease to run it’s course, whether it’s eventual course will wipe out a 1/4 of the population or just kill a handful? And Thalidomide was never used a vaccine, and now is used as one of the only effective treatments for multiple myeloma, adding years to an otherwise exceptionally grim prognosis.
        The flu vaccine shot is not a live virus vaccine.
        (There is a vaccine for bubonic plague, too. If you travel to certain countries, you need to get it.)

      • headfullabooks

        1. What Nicole said.

        2. What about Leprosy? It didn’t just “run it’s natural course” and cease to exist. People still contract the disease although it is now curable thanks to modern medicine.

        3. “There are many in the scientific community who feel that Polio was no longer a threat long before the vaccine was introduced.” Citation please. Also, I’m sure my dad and aunt who both got polio just a few short years before the vaccine came out would beg to differ.

        4.You aren’t entirely wrong about the flu vaccine which is somewhat of a best guess by experts to try and head off the worst (ie. most currently pervasive/debilitating/deadly) viral strains. From http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/fluvaccine.htm: “The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The 2011-2012 flu vaccine provides protection against the three main viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness this season.”

        Read this: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/random-flu-thoughts/#more-17315 to learn more about the overall efficacy of the flu vaccine. It highlights both the problems with and importance of the flu vaccine and talks about how researchers are getting closer to developing a universal flu vaccine that would work against ALL strains.

        5.What about Thalidomide? Did you know that it was never approved by the FDA for use in the US? (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,873697-1,00.html) and that the tragic results of it’s use during pregnancy led to much stricter testing being required for drugs and pesticides before they can be licensed? So your point here was…?

      • Jen

        Ditto what Nicole said and I’d just like to add: BOTH of those diseases that you mentioned not only didn’t “run their course” they still exist today (though luckily with cures). The Bubonic Plague killed huge amounts of people and resurged every hundred years or so for most of what we know as the Middle Ages.

        Please stop with the crazy ass conspiracy theories. If you really think the world is out to get you and your precious little baby enjoy your life as a shut in, but if your selfish ignorance gets someone else sick you deserve to be charged for their medical bills and if god forbid that someone else dies you deserve a murder charge.

    • SLB

      Unvaccinated kids don’t scare me. Because my kids *are* vaccinated, and that’s all I care about. I just hope that parents who choose to not vaccinate don’t go bawling if their kids get sick from something that could have been prevented. Unfortunately I know of several who would do precisely that.

      • Jamie

        Did unvaccinated kids scare you when your child was too young to get vaccines? Because if your baby contracted measles or pertussis from an unvaccinated older child, it could be fatal. You wouldn’t be so understanding then.

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    • Jessica

      Believe it or not, some parents really are informed about vaccines when they decide not to vaccinate. Also, some children have severe reactions, like seizures, full body, bleeding blister rashes, and some will stop breathing. I think it’s smart those parents stop vaccinating their children. The chance they catch a deadly disease is small. The chance they seize from their vaccine and stop breathing is almost certain. (speaking of myself as a child and my own children). You can paint yourself out to be a better parent then me, but I am doing what is best for my kids, and no one knows what is best for them like I do.

      • Jen

        Jessica: I just wanted to say that YOUR kids are the reason that MOST kids need to be vaccinated. If your children are genuinely at risk from receiving vaccines (which a small population of children are) than you are absolutely correct in deciding not to have them vaccinated. The problem isn’t people who have real reason to fear adverse reactions due to pre-existing issues, but the parents who have bought into bogus “research” and have decided that their special little one is simply going to rely on herd immunity to get by. YOUR kids stand a much worse risk because of these children than the general population. You should be more outraged by parents buying into bullshit and putting your genuinely unable to receive vaccinations children at risk. That sucks.

      • DHT22

        Jen – you are sooo misinformed its heartbreaking, How is my unvaccinated child risk to your vaccinated (“immune”) child or puts other kids at risk? vaccinated children, virus injected children, human DNA injected, aluminum injected, antibiotic injected, pharmaceutical toxin injected children that shed for up to 45 days post vaccination are the real danger to society and unvaccinated children…. for the love of your child read a book or two before you inject one more drug into your child

      • Guest

        Herd immunity refers to herds of animals who have contracted a disease naturally, thereby becoming immune. It is erroneous to talk about the problem of non-vaccinating parents depending on “herd immunity” to protect their children, because first we have to accept that there are two forms of herd immunity: The original, natural form and the secondary (only used in the last 200+ years, compared to 199,700 years without them). You can thank evolution and disease for the great majority of why you exist to worry about vaccines. In fact, if you subscribe to the belief that the world is overpopulated, you might want to blame vaccines for part of the population problem. I think that when we all die, even if for some terrible reason our life has been tainted by the result of others not vaccinating, we’re going to realize how trivial it all is. I don’t need to vaccinate my kid just to keep myself from missing work (work that is constantly making me miss my kid!!!).

      • Jessica

        My kids have amazing immune systems. The combination in the vaccines is what does them in. I don’t worry about my kids getting sick. I worry about people blindly vaccinating their children and not thoroughly researching the ingredients, the purpose, and the side effects for themselves in regards to their children, children that they see on a day to day basis, and know inside and out. I am pro informed decisions. After that I don’t pretend to know why a parent chooses what for their kids. Not everyone is open to explaining why they make their choices. I’m too nice, I suppose, and I trust that these parents decide what they do out of genuine concern for their children’s well being.

      • Jessica

        I do thank you for your concern though. And your desire to inform.

    • SaneinSA

      I will continue to be grossed out by children who are unvaccinated. I never know what kind of diseases they can pass on. If I know a child is unvavaccinated I will treat it like being in the same room as a wild animal.

      • Jessica

        Vaccinated children can be carriers of the diseases they have been vaccinated against. They can pass on the disease to the elderly, pregnant women, and infants if they have very recently been vaccinated. Also, vaccinated children are still at risk for catching the diseases themselves. No vaccine is 100% and to treat an innocent child as a wild animal… there are no words for people like you. Other than grossly ill informed.

      • darren

        you are such an idiot

    • imp

      dont vaccinate your kids, i dont want your stupid genes going on

    • DHT22

      great opinion article, but fact of the matter is vaccines have NEVER been proven to be effective, safe or necessary. its my unvaccintated child that’s in danger of viral shedding for up to 45 days post your vaccinated child. and as far as developing countries and vaccines… lack of vaccines is not the problem, its clean water, food and sanitation thats causing disease….