When I peruse the humanist and scientific online communities I so love, I notice a huge blind spot. That blind spot is the topic of childhood vaccination. Immediately the self-proclaimed “science police” jump on the bandwagon of parroting every scare tactic and knee jerk reaction they’ve heard on-line.
Almost word for word every time they talk about anti-vaxers “playing Russian Roulette” with their kids’ lives. They talk about how not vaccinating according to the CDC schedule is socially irresponsible and “keep their kids away from mine” (because you must have a lot of faith that your child’s vaccinations are really effective for you to want to discriminate against a healthy little kid based on vaccination status). They repeat over and over that “there’s no credible evidence that vaccinations are linked to autism” as if that were the one and only reason to forego or delay vaccinating a child. Any dissenters are called “retarded” or told that the responder hopes that their children get serious illnesses and die.
I call bullshit. Let’s forget that some folks are just plain hateful and rude. Let’s look past the fact that even a few science-minded people behave more like sheeple than the anti-vaxers they criticize. Let’s analyze the facts for a bit.
First, in this article How to Argue With the Anti-vaccine Crazies the author gives his readers the latest talking points (So convienient! You don’t even have to think them up on your own.). One of these includes this statement:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend vaccines at very young ages because that’s when kids are the most vulnerable, as some of the natural immunization they got from breastfeeding fades.
This shows an absolute lack of understanding of the science behind breastfeeding. From an immunological standpoint, breastfeeding offers anti-bodies from mom for as long as breastfeeding continues. That means your breastfed baby is at least partially protected from any disease for which mom can produce anti-bodies at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months, when the bulk of vaccines are recommended here in the U.S. They are even protected at 12 months and 15 months when the MMR is scheduled. In fact, some immune factors increase with age if mom continues to offer breast milk, which makes sense because toddlers are exposed to more opportunities for infection than are newborns.
So, why so many shots before age one? I consulted my daughter’s pediatrician on this one. She said that the vaccines your infant are given lose efficacy after a short period of time. The rate of efficacy goes up with the age of the child at the time of vaccination. In short, the immunity offered “sticks” better in older kids, thus fewer “booster” vaccinations are scheduled.
And are kids under one year exposed to the diseases more than older kids? No. In fact, they tend to stay home a lot more than older kids, unless in group daycare. But are unvaccinated kids more likely to be EXPOSED to these diseases than their vaccinated counterparts? Absolutely not. They are exactly equally as likely to be exposed to the same viruses.
So when someone goes on and on about the 1 in 2000 chance of being injured by a serious childhood disease compared to the 1 in 200,000 chance of encountering a serious side effect from vaccines, they are not considering one important thing. Your child must first be exposed to the disease and then actually catch it in order to have that 1 in 2000 chance of injury. When you factor in the chance of actually catching the virus the risk/benefit of vaccinating vs. not vaccinating is almost dead even. In other words, the child is equally at risk of injury from vaccinating as they are of being seriously ill from the disease for which they can be vaccinated. And a breastfed baby will fare better than a formula fed baby in either case.
So here’s the thing. Breastfed babies are more protected at an early age, and less likely to be exposed to communicable diseases than older children, in most cases. So why this one-size-fits-all CDC schedule? Why the 20+ vaccines before age one?! Simple. More vaccines administered more often mean more profits for pharmaceutical companies and more visits to, and therefore more profits for, the doctors. The drug companies have big money and big power to help decide what the CDC recommends. They fund all the research on their products.
As I pointed out in my previous post, drug companies have done a lot of evil in the world (corruption, killing babies in poor uneducated families by testing vaccines on them). These same companies have made an absolute habit of selling people drugs that they don’t really need. And the CDC has been known to make mistakes in regard to recommending vaccinations: the original rotavirus vaccine causing life- threatening intestinal obstruction. And it may surprise you to know that the developer of said rotavirus vaccine is the doctor you’ll see on talk shows reassuring the public about how safe they are.
Another vaccine developer, Dr. Diane Harper, recently publicly voiced her doubts about the safety and effectiveness of her HPV vaccine. So not all drug researchers are greedy, of course. Many are genuinely interested in public health. How can you tell the difference? If they push for compulsory vaccines, and don’t give a damn about genuine informed consent, you can bet that they are putting their own profits ahead of your child’s safety. Remember they can’t be held legally liable for injuries caused by vaccines they create. Those who are injured are seen as unfortunate casualties in the fine tuning of their otherwise useful product, not as real live individual human beings.
In short, not vaccinating your infant, especially if you breastfeed, and even more especially if they are not in group daycare, is not such the huge risk some people would have you believe. In fact, given some new scientific research, the possible role of yeast contained in vaccines in contributing to autoimmune disorders, it might even be better to delay. And even if that science doesn’t pan out, there are plenty of reasons to delay – not the least of which is the fact that it often just makes your baby sick (fever, lethargy), and making a perfectly healthy baby ill goes against every parent’s better instincts. The reason I care at all about this issue is because we vaccinated our daughter twice and the second time she became so ill and hypothermic that she was almost hospitalized. It made me rethink a lot. It made me ask, “just how necessary are vaccines for my baby at this early age?” The answer I am left with is “not very.”
In no other realm of medicine is the same recommendation given for every child, in every instance across the board. To apply that universal approach in any other case would be downright irresponsible. It shouldn’t be any different for vaccines. You are still injecting a pharmaceutical product into a child which has potential side effects.
So as a parent of a breastfed baby who chooses to delay vaccination, the next time someone accuses me of being the one motivated by fear, I’ll look the person in the eye and say, “Oh my god! You are so right! The unvaccinated babies are all gonna die!!!!”
*Disclaimer: As always, I’m just a blogger with a strong opinion backed by what I have learned. I’m not an “expert.” Do your own research, talk to a doctor, and follow what YOU feel is the best course of action (and let’s hope that your right to do so is not legislated away). Don’t base your actions on the words of one mommy with a blog. My purpose is to encourage critical thought, not to be prescriptive.