“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” Hosea 4:6.
This was the verse recently used by one of my Facebook friends who apparently is anti-vaccine.
Although this verse was taken out of context, the implication of the meaning was quite clear: those who choose to vaccinate their children are without knowledge, while those who are declining vaccinations are in possession of special knowledge.
I refuse to use out of context Bible verses in order to appeal to Christian mothers to rethink their position on controversial issues. But since Hosea 4:6 was used by my anti-vaccine friend, I would propose that the same verse could also be applied to my anti-vaccine friends…
The last few days have been full of anticipation.
For almost nine full months, my body has been carrying a new life and I can’t wait to meet our precious baby.
However, my heart has also been full of worrying about this child’s future well-being.
Do I stay inside the house for the first six months? Should I check my extended family’s vaccination status before letting them come to visit? How do I politely say “no” to friends who could potentially want to come for a quick visit with their potentially unvaccinated kids?
Without a doubt, the issue of vaccination has been a hotly debated topic among mothers.
And, honestly, I was extremely conflicted about writing anything remotely connected to this controversial and highly contentious topic.
I have seen the damage this debate can bring to relationships. I have seen the rude comments, the emotionally-charged comments, the downright outrageous comments, and the well-meaning but passive aggressive ones.
So, my biggest desire in writing this post is not to stir up more controversy, but to write about my own journey of searching for truth regarding this issue.
As a side note, I want to start this journey by adding this article (The Root Of Fear Behind The Vaccination Debate) I came across on my Facebook feed, as I was writing this post. Talk about perfect timing! The Lord knew how much I needed this reminder! I hope you can read it before you go on reading this post, and that it will be of benefit to you as well.
I also sincerely hope and pray that I can write this post in the most respectful and loving way towards parents who will disagree with me regardless.
And so, without further ado…
You see, I’ve been on both sides of the issue.
I never thought twice about getting vaccinated as a nursing student, always convinced of vaccination benefits and that I was protecting myself and others from devastating diseases.
This stance began to change once my husband and I were expecting our first child.
Facebook was the first culprit of my doubts about vaccines and their benefits.
Other moms began asking me if I was going to vaccinate.
What a strange question, I thought. Of course, we were going to vaccinate!
And then came the barrage of arguments against vaccines:
- Do you really know how many chemicals are going to be injected into the tiny body of your baby?
- Your baby can have autism!
- Did you know that vaccines have aborted fetal material?
- The big pharma industry has a hidden agenda. The industry is pushing vaccines on everybody. They pay the doctors to push vaccinations on the entire population because they make a huge profit! Why else would the doctors push the vaccines so much? Our pediatrician even refused to be my child’s provider because I declined vaccinations!
- The doctors and the CDC are all in on this huge lie that vaccines prevent diseases! Those diseases have been declining before vaccines were introduced due to improved sanitation and hygiene practices!
- I don’t know about you, but I would rather have my child have chicken pox, measles, and mumps and develop their immunity naturally than subject them to all the chemicals that can cause brain damage.
I WAS OVERWHELMED.
Of course, I loved my baby and didn’t want to bring any harm to him! Were any of these arguments true? Is there really a huge conspiracy involving the vaccine program in the US?
I was made to feel like I was being a bad mother. How dare I inject my innocent baby with so many chemicals, including Mercury and formaldehyde?
I had to do my own research.
This research was the most intense of all research projects I’ve ever done, including my nursing school. My baby’s well-being was at stake. If that doesn’t get a momma bear motivated, I don’t know what else can.
I started with peer-reviewed studies, but quickly dropped them. Didn’t I hear someone say that it could all be a conspiracy? If it is, I can’t trust the scientific studies now, can I?
Despite my education to conduct unbiased research and my training to always practice based on evidence, I dove into all the material I could find from the anti-vaccine side. To my surprise, there was an over abundance of anti-vaccine sources on the Internet.
Homeopathic and “natural news” sites. Countless anti-vaccine sites. Sites with heart-wrenching stories of children hurt by vaccines…
I WAS CONVINCED.
The information was presented to my husband and we decided not to vaccinate our baby.
This was not an easy decision to make. This was our first baby and I felt like the stakes were high. Were we risking our son being potentially injured by vaccines if we chose to vaccinate, or was he more likely to contract one of the vaccine preventable diseases if he didn’t get any of the vaccines?
My initial research, (although very biased, I admit), convinced me that he was more likely going to get some type of brain damage or autism than one of the childhood diseases preventable by vaccines.
Besides, I’ve never heard of anyone’s child getting measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, or any of the other diseases. I had chicken pox as a child and it wasn’t so bad, I thought. And isn’t natural immunity better than acquired?
But everyone in the anti-vaccine community claimed to know someone who had autism or some type of brain damage, allegedly caused by vaccines.
In no way am I invalidating those claims. Like the author in the cited article above writes, those parents who are convinced their child was injured by vaccines are truly confident about their claims. My purpose is not to argue against those allegations.
I do, however, disagree with the author’s statement that “most women who choose not to vaccinate have a vaccine-injured child.”
In my own experience, most women who choose not to vaccinate their children may claim knowing someone who was injured by vaccines, or they have other reasons like the ones presented by the bullet points above.
The list of these reasons is by no means exhaustive of all the reasons parents choose not to vaccinate their children. But it is a list of the most common reasons I came across during my own search for answers regarding vaccines.
So, how did I change my mind about vaccines?
It was a gradual process, one that involved much critical thinking, logical reasoning, and an extensive unbiased research process (the one I should have committed to before).
You see, I had to put aside my motherly emotions to be able to look at both sides of the issue in an unbiased way.
The following are reasons, or arguments against the most common reasons presented by the anti-vaccine movement and my findings.
Vaccines are meant not to protect your children but to harm them because they contain mercury, formaldehyde, MSG, aluminum, antibiotics, etc.
First of all, I just want to point out that almost all of the anti-vaccine sites and printed materials use an emotionally charged language, with an intent to grab the attention of the unsuspecting mom and draw her to believe the stated “facts” as if they were a revelation from heaven.
For an example, naturalnews.com states that the real reason for vaccines is “not to ‘protect children’ with any sort of immunity, but to inject the masses with a toxic cocktail of chemicals that cause brain damage and infertility: Mercury, MSG, formaldehyde and aluminum. The whole point of this is to dumb the population down so that nobody has the presence of mind to wake up and start thinking for themselves.”
The authors of this site take this even further. “This is precisely why the smartest, most ‘awake’ people still remaining in society today are the very same ones who say NO to vaccines. Only their brains are still intact and operating with some level of awareness.”
Unfortunately, this is the same kind of thinking I’ve been coming across time and time again while discussing the issue with a number of anti-vaccine moms. “We are smarter and more aware. We are more educated than those who push vaccines (doctors and nurses). But you can’t fool us. We know you are all in on this conspiracy.”
And I fully understand if there are moms who may be thinking right now that my brain is all fried up because I choose to vaccinate. My question to those moms is: How many of you were vaccinated as children, same as I was?
But let us track back to the issue of chemicals and additives in the vaccines.
Yes, one can go to the CDC website and see a full list of chemicals and additives contained in a vaccine. The list is there.
Just a side thought: If there really was such a huge conspiracy against the general population, wouldn’t the government hide the list? (Oh, but some may say, the government is pretty sneaky and that they put the list out there to fool people like me. OK…)
What most people seem to miss is the simple pharmacological rule: “the dose makes the poison.” These chemicals and additives are present in extremely small amounts.
You and your children are exposed to much higher doses of chemicals and additives such as formaldehyde on a daily basis. Car exhaust, small amounts of formaldehyde on the fruits and vegetables you buy from stores, nail polish, new carpets, etc.
But I feel that I’ve already lost those who have already made up their minds on not vaccinating their children based on the amount of “harmful chemicals and additives” in the vaccines. But for those who are still on the fence about this, here is a good source you can read – one that explains this in much more detail: Toxic Myths About Vaccines.
Linking Vaccines to Autism
Certainly this is a big concern among parents who opt out of vaccinating their children. We know that autism is on the rise. Autism scares parents. It certainly had me worried as an expecting mom of my first boy.
I wanted to do everything in my power to reduce the risk of my son being afflicted by autism. I believed that included not vaccinating him.
I knew that the Wakefield study (proposing a link between mercury in vaccines and autism) was not a credible study (small sample, ethical violations, conflict of interest, among other things). More importantly, several other studies have not been able to produce similar results.
But like some other moms, I was thinking more with my emotions than with logical reasoning based on unbiased research.
Yes, there are numbers of parents who are absolutely convinced that vaccines were in fact at least a trigger point (if not the cause) of their child’s onset of symptoms of autism.
I’m certainly not an expert on autism. But I do trust the scientists and doctors who dedicated their lives to studying autism and I know that they are working relentlessly on finding contributing factors and/or causes of autism. As a matter of fact, a recent study from the UC Davis MIND Institute, found an association between autism in children whose mothers live in close proximity to fields (pesticide use on agriculture).
Questions/points to consider:
- Relation does not mean causation. Seeing the first signs of autism in a child shortly after he/she got another dose of vaccines does not mean that the vaccines caused autism. This kind of thinking is the same as the recent headlines from the East Coast Snowmageddon: Several people died while shoveling snow. What was the cause of their unfortunate death – the snow shoveling or the heart attack they experienced while shoveling the snow?
- The rise in autism does not mean it’s caused by vaccines. (The anti-vaccine movement would have you believe that since vaccines are a fairly recent invention and autism is fairly new, therefore, something in those vaccines is to blame). Are we getting better at diagnosing autism, therefore seeing the increased numbers?
- I seriously doubt many of you will want to read scholarly articles or research studies (these can be boring for some and a “hard-read” for others). But, for what it’s worth, here are two studies you may want to read: The Rise In Autism And The Mercury Myth and a study from Denmark on MMR vaccination and autism.
Didn’t you know that vaccines contain aborted baby material?
I can certainly understand the implications this belief may have on a parent who holds strong pro-life beliefs. I am one of those parents.
There is a grain of truth to this but I earnestly hope I do not lose your attention at this point.
What most people think when they hear the “fetal cell presence in vaccines” argument is that the pharmaceutical companies are constantly harvesting fetal cells from ongoing abortions and using them to manufacture vaccines.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is that 50 years ago, the pharmaceutical companies acquired fetal cells from two legally aborted fetuses (babies) and have been using these cells to manufacture vaccines that require human cells to grow a weakened or inactivated virus. Some of the viruses can be grown in other mammal cells but there are also others, like the Hepatitis A, the rubella portion in the MMR, and the chicken pox that absolutely need human cells to grow.
But hey, what do I know? Please, read an article written by a scientist, who is a Christian, who addresses the complicated moral issues regarding this issue: “Vaccines DO NOT Contain Fetal Tissue.”
The alleged “Conspiracy” between the pharmaceutical industry and the doctors
In today’s world there is an over abundance of conspiracy theories. The Internet provides a way for anyone to come up with a theory, find the alleged “evidence,” (however misconstrued/deceptive), or support for that theory, and present it to the masses who know how to Google.
The “conspiracy” theory could not stand up to my logical reasoning (once I put aside my motherly emotions, of course).
I simply cannot believe that all the scientists and doctors, from different countries around the world, are in on this conspiracy. Talk about blind faith!
And yes, the pharmaceutical industry makes billions on vaccines. What does that prove? Wal-Mart and Starbucks also make billions. Did you stop shopping? Did you stop drinking coffee?
The fact is, pediatricians and doctors actually lose money on vaccinations, and the vaccine industry barely made any profit until recently, due to the rise in global demand. Source: Vaccines Are Profittable, So What?
The doctors push the vaccines – proof that they are in on this conspiracy. Why else would they push vaccines so much?
It’s really quite simple: They swore the Hippocratic Oath that states, “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.” Yes, they do care about the well-being of your child, despite what you may believe. And they also care about the well-being of hundreds of other children who are their patients.
No doubt, many of you have heard about the concept of “herd immunity.” But just like some of you, I never fully understood the entire scope of this principle.
I thought, why should I care about other “unvaccinated” people/kids? My baby is potentially going to suffer because the doctors need to keep that 95% vaccination rate? Pretty selfish of me and it proves my previous misunderstanding of the importance of “herd immunity.”
Herd immunity is what helps keep infectious diseases from entering a community. Imagine this scenario: one individual shows up in your community infected with measles. If most people are vaccinated, it would be extremely difficult for the virus to spread to other people in the community. The higher the number of unvaccinated people in the community, the more easier it is for the virus to spread, leading to an outbreak of measles. Same with other diseases.
There are people who have no choice but to depend on herd immunity. Some of those people may be your loved ones.
- People/children without a normally functioning immune system or those without a normally working spleen.
- People/children who have diseases like cancer and who require chemotherapy (their immune system is weakened and they cannot receive vaccines)
- Newborn babies who are too young to be vaccinated
- Elderly people
- Those who are vaccinated but their immune system did not respond in a proper way (did not develop antibodies to the disease)
Just put yourself into the shoes of a parent whose child has cancer… Perhaps that is the reason most parents who vaccinate their children (and who understand the concept of herd immunity) get so heated in their arguments with those who do not vaccinate?
I often hear this comment from anti-vaccine moms: “why are people worried about their vaccinated kids getting sick? This just proves that vaccines don’t work!” Again: Misunderstanding of how vaccines work and lack of understanding about the immune system.
As of this writing, I am anxiously waiting on the arrival of our third precious baby.
With all honesty, I am worried about this baby’s well-being, especially since we live in a city with a large population of children who are unvaccinated. It is no secret that there have been outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough) in our community. Several outbreaks took place in some of the local churches that have large numbers of anti-vaccine parents.
Recently, the Sacramento Bee published a new database article, highlighting schools with the lowest vaccination rates: “See Sacramento schools where parents most often choose not to vaccinate their children.”
This is a screenshot of a map, where the red dots represent the schools with the highest numbers of unvaccinated children.
Believe it or not, I am concerned not just for my children’s well-being but your children’s well-being.
Unfortunately, the anti-vaccine movement has done much harm to our society and it won’t be long before we see more outbreaks of childhood diseases such as pertussis, measles and mumps.
Finally, concerning the last argument some anti-vaccine moms make: that natural immunity is much better than acquired and that they would rather see their children get sick with the chicken pox, measles or mumps than “brain damage.”
We are fortunate to live in a country where the above listed diseases have not been around and that is due to the vaccination program, whether you choose to believe it or not.
Because we have not been around these diseases, most people have no idea about the serious complications these diseases have on children who contract them. They take their chances with not vaccinating their children, without realizing that the more people choose not to vaccinate the higher the risk of an outbreak of one of these diseases.
And, ironically, with all of the mistrust the anti-vaccine moms have towards the western medicine and all of their focus on natural and homeopathic remedies, these moms will come running to the “western medicine” doctors who were pushing to prevent those diseases in the first place (in case their child contracts one of the vaccine-preventable diseases)…
At least we live in a country where no one gets denied medical care. We can be thankful for that.
Meanwhile, I am doing everything I can to protect my children and your children from these diseases, including writing this lengthy post in hopes of clearing up some of the misunderstanding regarding vaccines.
Don’t know how many of you are still with me and hoping that at least one person read this post to the end.
May God grant us all wisdom to make the right decisions.
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