A friend of mine who happens to be a loyal reader here at Yankee Homestead is newly pregnant with her first baby. She recently inquired about my stance on vaccinations, asking “What is your plan with this baby?” (I’m expecting, too, in case you haven’t picked up on that yet. :-))
So. Let’s all take a deep breath and dive into what is quite possibly the most controversial topic in all of pediatric medicine.
Should You Vaccinate Your Children?
My three-fold answer is as follows…
- I will not specifically answer this question, because I could end up in a heap of trouble! 🙂
- Personally, I have chosen to avoid vaccinations for Baby #3. (After careful research and learning to strengthen the immune system through diet and natural remedies.)
- The bottom line is this: please do your own research and make an informed decision!
I can’t stress #3 enough. One of the main issues I have with vaccinations is the fact that so many parents blindly follow the crowd, without a single piece of information to support their decision.
I know, because I used to be that person. A doctor told me to do it, so it must be safe, in my best interest, the best course of action.
Well. Fast forward eight years since my first pregnancy, through many of my own medical adversities and mysteries. I’ve heard it said that “When you know better, you do better.” That is certainly true for me, and it’s part of the driving force behind this blog–to share what I’ve learned in the hopes of sparing others from the mistakes I made.
And regardless of where you land on this whole topic of pediatric vaccinations, please please base your course of action on research and facts, and not on fear or “what everyone else does” or what someone in a white coat tells you to do.
If you decide to vaccinate, you can do it in a way that lessens the risks to your child.
Ways to lessen the risks of vaccination
- Avoid certain vaccines altogether. (For example, the flu shot.)
- Delay vaccinations until the age of two.
- Space out immunizations instead of administering them simultaneously.
- Request specific brands containing fewer harmful ingredients.
- Boost the immune system at the time of vaccination with certain foods, supplements and essential oils.
Additional resources are listed at the end of the vaccine chapter of book #2 on this list, but the following two books are the ones I’ve read and found to be helpful.
It’s been quite a while since I read this book, but it represented my first concrete steps toward getting to the bottom of this issue for myself. Before reading this book, I wasn’t entirely sure who to believe or what to do.
Unfortunately, I had just finished up Little Brother’s immunizations. He was about one when I got to the point of doing my own research. I was completing his baby book at the time, and told Mr. Native Texan that I wanted to write “I’M SO SORRY!” across the page where you can record the baby’s vaccination records. I never could bring myself to fill out that page! (See picture above.)
But back to Dr. Sears’ book.
I remember being fascinated by the fact that here was a fairly mainstream doctor who finally recognized the need for a clear explanation of each vaccine. His purpose was not to sway patients one way or the other, but to present clear facts and research so that parents could decide for themselves. How refreshing!
By the end of the book, I had the distinct impression that he was still largely in favor of most vaccinations, but that he did agree there could be a better way to go about it all (by following some of the procedures mentioned in the list above).
Sally Fallon is arguably one of the foremost experts in the realm of all things crunchy / real food / holistic / alternative health / whatever-you-want-to-call-it. First came her ground breaking book Nourishing Traditions, and in 2013 she published this similar but entirely new guide to pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing.
To date, I have not read the entire book. It will take me a while to absorb! The very first section I read was chapter 6, all about vaccinations. I found it an extremely helpful and concise overview of the many factors that play into the big picture of vaccinations.
6 things I learned about vaccines from chapter 6
1. Infectious diseases declined at least 90% before vaccinations were ever introduced.
2. Many experts attribute the decline of epidemic diseases to major sanitation reform around the turn of the century (as opposed to the the advent of mass vaccination).
3. Short term illness actually improves long term health. When the body becomes sick and fights off disease, the immune system becomes stronger. In other words, preventing all childhood illnesses may be a bad idea, and may in fact contribute to long term chronic disease.
4. Every state allows for some sort of exemption from vaccination. All states allow for medical exemption, most states allow religious exemption and some states even allow philosophical exemption. See the information box on p. 114 for complete details, including helpful websites like www.thinktwice.com.
5. You should never try to reduce a fever with Tylenol! (I’ve actually known this for many years, but it was helpful to read the explanation again.)
6. The concept of “herd immunity” is a myth. Herd immunity is the belief that if all or most of a population is immunized, the entire population is protected. This concept leads to the notion that if some of us do not vaccinate our children, the rest of the population will be at risk. I won’t go into all the details here, but did you know that many vaccinations last for only a few years? That means a very large percentage of our population is technically “unprotected”.
Chapter 6 of The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care contains additional relevant, well-explained information on the topic of immunizations. I encourage you to read it for yourself!
Again, regardless of what you decide in regards to vaccines, my hope is that you will do your own research and make a confident, informed choice.
Remember: you have options!
Kathleen Henderson is the yankee behind the homestead. Follow along as we grow real food and three boys while renovating a 20-acre farm in northern Virginia. Do you love homegrown food, Paleo-ish recipes, and natural living? You’re in good company! Let’s grow together…