Let’s say that you’ve just had a baby (congratulations!) and you realize that your child is not merely beautiful in the ordinary sense – not the standard, “Ah, isn’t she gorgeous,” or “Isn’t he wonderful” — but stunning and life-altering in ways you never could have guessed or expected.  Not only is this child the most important being on the planet, but terribly vulnerable and utterly dependent upon you and your judgment.  Even more, you are not merely responsible for this child’s every immediate need — that of itself is an awesome task – but also for his or her future.  That future could be a life of happiness, fulfillment, and love, if only you do your job right, which, though you may not admit it to yourself, really means being the perfect parent. 

That is the weight of the responsibility on you at exactly the moment when your doctor tells you that your baby soon must be immunized against an array of illnesses.  Immunized?  Vaccinated?   Immediately you realize that the doctor wants to inject poisons into your baby’s body.    

Your mind reels under the weight and complexity of the decision.  There are serious illnesses that the vaccines address and, indeed, that you want your child to be protected from – rubella, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, and hepatitis, just to name a handful.  Yet, the vaccinations themselves pose a significant risk, including mercury poisoning, neurological damage, digestive disorders, and possibly even autism. 

What if I decide to avoid the vaccinations and my child gets sick? you ask yourself.  What are the potential consequences of these illnesses?  On the other hand, what if I vaccinate and my child suffers some of the serious side effects from the drugs?  What then?  What if my decision is the wrong one?   

This is only part of the terrible pressure that parents are under when facing vaccinations today.  Gone are the days when we simply followed the doctor’s advice and vaccinated our children in blissful ignorance of the harm that the drugs might cause. 

Many doctors dismiss parents’ concerns as unfounded.  But that dismissal is, in fact, a denial of the potentially dangerous side effects from the drugs, even those admitted by the pharmaceutical industry.  Medicine’s denial of parents’ concerns is also a form of disrespect to parents whose fundamental purpose is to protect the life and future of the most important being alive. 

The question facing parents is this: Which choice poses the greater risk to my child — the relatively small but very real dangers of illness, or the relatively small but very real chance that my child will suffer a severe reaction to one or more of the vaccines? 

While the question may be simple, the answer isn’t.  Every parent must do what he or she believes to be the right thing for his or her child.  And because Spirit has entrusted you with this child, and all the particulars of his or her life plan (or karma, if you like), you are the only one who can make the right decision.   

But that right choice should not be made without considerable investigation of the facts.  This article is an attempt to give you some of those facts.  There are also important and very valuable resources that you can turn to for help.  By far, the best book on the subject that I have seen is Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide.  How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives, written by Aviva Jill Romm (Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, 2001.  Available at www.InnerTraditions.com, Amazon.com, and other online bookstores).

Many Vaccines And The Numbers Are Growing

The numbers of people killed by plagues and infectious diseases exceed human calculation.  Sixty million people were killed by small pox during the late Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Centuries, and infectious diseases were still the leading cause of death right up to the beginning of the 20th century.   The dream was to wipe them out.  And that was the essential motivation behind immunization. 

Today there are as many as 18 vaccines administered to children before the age of six years.  However, 12 of those 18 injections are administered before a child is 18 months old.   These include vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (also known as whooping cough), measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, hemophilus influenza type B (a cause of meningitis), and chicken pox.   New vaccines are now being added to the list, including a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease that causes genital warts and, in some cases, cervical cancer. 

Did They Wipe Out The Epidemics?

In fact, most of the epidemics that vaccinations were created to address were on the wane long before the vaccines were invented.  Pertussis, or whooping cough, for example, was among the leading causes of death in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  In the mid-1800s, pertussis killed 210 Americans per million population, according to Aviva Jill Romm in her book, Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parents’ Guide.   The pertussis related mortality rate in the U.S. fell to 120 people per million population by 1900, and to 21 per million by 1940.   The pertussis vaccine wasn’t developed in the late 1930s, and by 1940 only a relatively few had been given the vaccine.   Yet, deaths from pertussis were falling fast well before anyone received the vaccine.  Similar trends occurred throughout Europe, and especially in Great Britain, Sweden, and Germany.

This same phenomenon occurred in all the other major illnesses for which medical authorities insist we vaccinate today.  The mortality rate from measles went from 13.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 1900 to 0.3 per 100,000 in 1955, which was well before the measles vaccine was created. 

Polio was clearly on the decline in both the U.S. and England from the early 1920s to the early 1950s.  Jonas Salk invented the first polio vaccine in 1955, after which it was gradually introduced to the general population.  But between 1923 and 1953, the polio death rate in the U.S. declined 47 percent.  In England, it dropped 55 percent, and by 1956, well before the vaccine was widely used, the death rate had dropped 82 percent. 

How was it that morbidity and mortality rates declined for these and other infectious diseases long before vaccines were administered?  The answer lies in the remarkable powers of the human immune system.  After decades of exposure to these illnesses, people developed their own natural immunity.   Our immune systems figured out the riddle of pertussis, measles, scarlet fever, influenza, and polio, which meant that even though many were exposed, fewer and fewer became ill from the disease. 

How Protective Are Vaccines?

Still, these are serious diseases.  And even if they were declining, they still wrecked havoc among people who contracted them.  Which begs the question: Was the vaccine able to protect people against these illnesses?  

That question is difficult to answer, in part because there are two basic criteria that are meant to reveal the answer.   The first is the question of whether or not the human body produces antibodies against the inoculated disease.   Antibodies are proteins produced by immune cells that fight specific illnesses.   When a child is injected with pertussis vaccine, for example, he or she produces antibodies against the illness.  When that same disease is encountered in the environment, the child’s immune system has already recognized it as a threat, which means that it has already created a powerful defense against it.   The immune system is able to identify the illness as “not self,” or as a threat to health, and is able to marshal an effective attack against it. 

However, not all people who are inoculated actually develop antibodies against the illness.  That doesn’t mean that they are vulnerable to the disease – it just means that their immune systems are not producing antibodies against it as yet.  However, if detectable antibodies cannot be found, then it is difficult to assess their overall protection, at least from this single criteria. 

The second measure of a vaccine’s effectiveness comes from population studies, also known as epidemiological evidence.  Scientists determine if the incidence of the disease is rising among a given population.  The epidemiological evidence shows a decline in the incidence of the illnesses for which there are vaccines, and therefore supports the assertion that vaccines are effective at lowering disease rates.   While that general statement is true, it’s nonetheless difficult to establish how effective the vaccines really were, because disease rates already were falling when the vaccines were introduced. 

One of the questions many researchers ask is this: Do vaccines weaken or even replace our immune system’s natural ability to protect us against these and other diseases?  And if that is the case, than what are the overall effects of vaccines on the strength of our immune systems.  The latter part of the 20th century brought about a crisis in immunity.   Did vaccines play a role in that crisis? many ask.  The evidence suggests that they did.

What Are The Side Effects Of These Drugs? 

Like any pharmaceutical, vaccines have side effects.  Most of them are considered mild by medical authorities.  These include fever, headache, joint pain, swollen glands, loss of appetite, fatigue (babies often spend more hours sleeping), rash, vomiting, extended fits of crying, and even bouts of screaming.  Aviv Jill Romm reports that these reactions occur in up to 50 percent of those vaccinated. 

Many parents and critics assert, however, that these “mild” reactions may be the early symptoms of more severe and long-term conditions, including cerebral inflammation, injuries to the nervous and immune systems, inflammatory bowel disorders, and even autism. 

The U.S. Government, along with governments throughout Europe, have established a system for reporting injuries that occur from vaccinations.  In the U.S. it’s called Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).  The U.S. has also established The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 that provides financial compensation for parents and children who have been injured from vaccinations.  Unfortunately, the criteria for establishing injury is highly restricted.  For example, all adverse reactions must be reported within 30 days of vaccination.  And the parents or guardians of the vaccinated and injured child must be able to establish medically and scientifically that the adverse reaction occurred from a specific vaccination.  Needless to say, these steps are often difficult to accomplish, especially since vaccinations are given in groups.  In the addition, there are numerous bureaucratic hurdles to overcome, as well. 

One of the impediments to proving that a single vaccine has caused a specific injury is the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (known as MMR), which is given as a trivalent injection, meaning three vaccines in a single shot.    Many parents and medical authorities question the wisdom of giving a young child – in many cases, the children are younger than 2 years of age when the shot is administered – an injection that contains three rather serious diseases, along with an array of chemicals that are used to preserve the drug and stimulate an even stronger immune reaction. 

One of those substances commonly used to trigger an immune response is aluminum, a potentially toxic metal and increasingly implicated in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. 

Among the common reactions to the MMR vaccine, according to Aviv Jill Romm, are fatigue, sore throat, running nose, headache, dizziness, fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and painful lymph glands.  One of the drugs manufacturers, Merck and Company, reports that the MMR vaccine can cause inflammation of the connective tissue of the abdomen, atypical measles, fever loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, irritability, inflammation of blood and lymph vessels, arthritis, anaphylaxis shock, convulsions, ataxia, defective motor coordination, sore throat, pneumonitis, rash, hives, cough, thrombocytopenia, lymphadenopathy, leukocytosis, hives, cough, otitis media, nerve deafness, and death. 

Many critics and parents are concerned that the triple injection can overwhelm a baby’s immune system and create long term damage.  An increasing number of medical doctors and scientists speculate that the MMR vaccine, and even the single measles inoculation, may be linked to inflammatory bowel disorders, and specifically Crohn’s disease. 

Of course, the greatest concern surrounding the MMR vaccine is the possibility that it is triggering autism in sensitive children.  Autism rates have risen dramatically since the 1980s, which is when the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines were combined into a single inoculation and administered all at once.  Medical authorities have stated consistently that vaccinations do not cause autism. 

However, in March 2008, the U.S. Government quietly acknowledged the first case in which vaccinations did, in fact, cause autism in a young child.  In addition, the U.S. government has settled more than 2,000 cases with families who have claimed that their children were injured by vaccines.  So far, the payout to these families has reached nearly two billion dollars.   

Mercury And Vaccinations

Europe has banned the use of Thimerosal, a mercury containing preservative used in flu and hepatitis vaccines.  However, both of these vaccines are still being given routinely to pregnant women and young children in the U.S. and other countries.    

Numerous studies have demonstrated a link between Thimerosal and autism.  Among these is a study conducted by Harvard University researchers who found twice as much mercury and oxidative stress in the brains of children with autism as those with normal brain development.   In addition, several studies have shown that Thimerosal, when added to the blood, brain, eye, immune, liver and muscle cells, deforms cellular mitochondria pathways – thus changing cellular behavior– and induces cell death. 

In light of these concerns, it is particularly ironic that measles, mumps, and rubella are no longer considered serious illnesses, while the vaccines may be especially dangerous for some children. 

Polio: Beware The Live Vaccine

When Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine, he did it using killed or inactive polio.  Several years later, a new vaccine was created that used live polio virus.  Salk warned of the dangers of this live virus vaccine for decades, but only recently did the U.S. Center for Disease Control acknowledge that the only cases of polio infection in the United States came from the live-polio vaccine itself.   Those who are inoculated with the live virus can contract the disease from the vaccine itself.  They can also spread the illness to others, since the vaccine sheds the virus through their saliva and their fecal matter for up to eight weeks after vaccination.   

In 1976, Jonas Salk testified that the live virus vaccine was the “principle cause if not the sole cause” of all the reported polio cases in the United States since 1961.  The live virus vaccine is still being used as the principle polio vaccine.  

Another concern involving the polio vaccine is that it has been linked with Simian Virus 50 (SV40), which originates in monkeys and can trigger the onset of aggressive tumor growth.   The link between the vaccine and the monkey virus occurred when Jonas Salk discovered that he could grow the polio vaccine in monkey kidneys, which could produce vaccine in sufficient quantities to meet public demand. 

Health authorities asserted for decades that the SV40 could not travel from monkeys to humans.  However, recently the CDC admitted that they found “SV40 virus in human tumors and DNA samples from normal and cancerous tissue,” Aviv Jill Romm reports. 

At this point, researchers aren’t sure what the true consequences are of the SV40, but concern abounds among many parents and some scientists. 

Don’t Say Forever

Vaccinations have long been purported to last a lifetime, but scientists are increasingly forced to acknowledge that this just isn’t so.   The pertussis vaccine is known to lose up to 95 percent of its efficacy after 12 years.   The same is true of measles.  A 1978 survey of 30 states in the U.S. found that half the children who contracted measles had been immunized against the disease.   Many other studies have shown that vaccines lose their power over time, and that booster shots are needed if the immunization is to be retained. 

A Personal Choice

When I was inducted into the U.S. Army, I was inoculated with a wide array of vaccinations.  I remember very clearly becoming ill after the injections, but then recovered.  I was 19 years old and relatively strong.  But I never forgot the effect of those drugs on my system.   

My wife, Toby, and I have three children, the first born in 1979.  We decided not to vaccinate any of our children.  Our reason was the concern for the side effects of the drugs.  In fact, all three of our children did contract chicken pox and our daughter got the measles.  These illnesses were mild and passed relatively quickly.  We treated them naturally with diet, herbs, and healing baths. 

When our children were in middle school – grades six through eight – an outbreak of whooping cough occurred, with many children infected.  All of those who became sick had been vaccinated against the illness.  Our own children never contracted the disease. 

At least one medical doctor told us that we have benefited from the fact that other children have been inoculated, and therefore have reduced the presence of these diseases in our community.  I’m sure that there is truth in that statement. 

People have asked us how our children have attended public and private schools and avoided vaccinations.  The U.S. Constitution provides the right to privacy which offers protection against enforced vaccinations.  There are also religious protections provided by the Constitution that prevent health authorities from enforcing vaccinations upon children.  We never had any trouble with school authorities insisting that our children be vaccinated.  In fact, all the school boards ever required from us was a letter that invoked our Constitutional rights. 

As I said at the outset of this article, there are no easy answers to vaccinations.   Most people who are vaccinated get through the shots without suffering any significant side effects.  A parent who was vaccinated, but never suffered from any side effects from the drugs, has no experiential reason to believe that they will harm his or her children.  Thus, many who were vaccinated believe that the drugs are safe.  I completely understand that reasoning.   Moreover, I would be the first to admit that the vaccines very likely offer some people significant protection against disease.     

Toby and I feared that our children might be among the tiny minority of kids who suffer some form of serious side effect.  Therefore we decided not to accept the drugs.

If you have more questions about vaccinations, please write to us at the Healer’s Community Forum.  We will be happy to pursue these issues with anyone who is interested.