Vaccination Wars

Here’s a fairly thorough pro-vaccine post that recently made the FB rounds.

This is one rebuttal (I agree with some, but not all of it)

I liked most of this rebuttal, but especially this point, which is the one that matters most to me:

The reason I have decided to put this into a blog post is because as the fear-mongering revs up, and the propaganda is in full force right now, my husband and I have both recently seen some uncharacteristic behavior in people. In the past, we never really worried about mentioning our choice out loud.  But now, there is a firestorm occurring and the fear being generated in the media is creating a witch hunt for those of us who choose an alternative schedule with our children’s vaccinations.  But there is more.  Our rights as parents are being threatened.  Your rights.


I do care about this kind of vitriol being put in its place:
“Dear Anti-Vaxxers: You Want Pure Nature? OK, Die Young.
Wow. So much hatred (and ignorance- nice strawman there). I don’t want ‘pure’ nature, I’d never heard of Jenny McCarthy until years after we’d made our vaccination decision (pretty sure she was still in high school when we did, too), and our decisions actually have never had anything at all to do with autism.
I care about responding to this kind of vicious, illogical attack because this whipping up the hatred against those who make different choices than you creates a hostile climate for your victims, one where people are quite comfortable bludgeoning us into submission using the law as a club

Some of our kids have had all their vaccinations (except Hep B, unless it was given in the hospital without our consent, which is regrettably entirely possible).

Some have had some but not others.

Some haven’t. There are different reasons, some of them specific to the child, some to what was available when and where we were at the time- when the FYG was born, the base hospital was still only using the live polio vaccine, which we didn’t want, for one example.

Choosing not to go with the flow and just do what the doctor said without questioning it at all was probably the hardest, scariest decision we ever made. I do not wish any of that on anybody.

So I don’t really care whether or not somebody else vaccinates, and in real life, I have never tried to convince anybody else about anything, except, fairly briefly one of my own daughters with one of the grandchildren, and then she reminded me sweetly who was mom and who was grandmom, and I backed my way out of that conversation.

I do care about the freedoms of parents to make the decisions they think are best for their children. And that’s really why I bring this topic up – to keep that point visible, to do what I can to normalize the idea that parents ought to get to make these decisions without fear of losing their kids.

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  1. Mama Squirrel
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    In our area you must have “the usual” vaccinations to attend public high school, and as of this year they are adding the vaccines for chicken pox and meningitis to the mandatory list. If Public Health doesn’t have you on file with all your shots filled in, you get suspended from school.

  2. Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    I believe in vaccinations, but I also believe that they are given far too early in a babies life. I was generally late with all of our children, and they nurse/doctor would take me to task, but I felt it was my choice. With our last I waited an entire year before getting any shots. My mother, born in 1928, had seen young friends die of diseases we are vaccinated for now. She impressed on me that vaccines are blessings to extend our lives, but that they must be administered judiciously.

  3. 6 arrows
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    This hits close to home, in a way I wish I could talk about, but can’t. It’s unfortunate that there is such vitriol about parents making choices different than others might about their own children.

    I will say, though, that it’s interesting how many times I have heard a doctor say, “We used to think [this], but now we know [that that is not the case].”

    The human body is amazingly complex, and I believe there is much about its intricacies and functioning that we do not yet understand. None of us, not medical professionals, not scientists, not lay people, no one. For people to criticize and/or try to limit the freedom of parents to lovingly determine what is in their children’s best interests, to act like we can’t be trusted to make wise, informed choices on the welfare of each of our unique children, is reprehensible, when no one has all the answers, and no one loves our children like we do.

  4. Liz
    Posted April 12, 2014 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    The difference is that this is a public health issue. You can homeschool any way you want. Sign up for as many or few extracurriculars as you want. None of this affects me. But when you don’t vaccinate, and you don’t live in a cave, it DOES affect me because vaccines are not 100% effective. How would you live with yourself if your child, who you could have vaccinated, got measles and then gave it to an unvaccinated infant who’d passed through her air space within two hours? Life is fraught with risks that we take all the time, like getting in a car. Life is also full of rules that we must follow in the interest of the common good – laws. Sorry DHM, but we disagree on this – I think that if you want to be part of society, you have to be willing to follow its rules in such relatively low-risk endeavors as vaccination (barring true cases of the immunocompromised who can’t receive… which is why herd immunity is so important). As a final note, I don’t think anyone has had kids taken away solely for failure to vaccinate – both sides are capable of hype.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

      How do you prove that your vaccinated child got sick from an unvaccinated child, when 99% of all the kids who fall ill are vaccinated? Blaming the minute number of unvaccinated children for an illnesses vaccinated children get indicates a very low faith in the efficacy of vaccines. This is just fearmongering, and frankly, blood libel.

      How do you live with yourself if your child is vaccinated for chickenpox and somebody gets sick from your child’s vaccine? This is from a totally PRO-vaccine site:

      “The vaccine may produce a mild rash within about a month of the vaccination, which has been known to transmit chickenpox to others. Individuals who have recently been vaccinated should avoid close contact with anyone who might be susceptible to severe complications from chickenpox, until the risk for a rash has passed.”

      The live polio vaccine was the best way to catch polio for several years- did any parents who chose to vaccinate and then gave polio to somebody else feel guilty?

      How do you feel comfortable with yourself imposing this level of government control on other families at all? How do you feel about those vaccinated children who do get ill, gravely ill, from the vaccines?

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

      I actually do know people who were told they would not be allowed to take their newborn home from the hospital if they didn’t accept the vaccination for Hep B given at the hospital

      Not hype.

      • Liz
        Posted April 13, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        OK, I take your word for it on the newborns. But I don’t think “blood libel” is an appropriate thing to say – nobody’s inciting violence again non-vaxxers, and that’s truly what it means, going back to the horrible lie about the makings of matzo. As for the minute number of non-vaccinated kids… well, therein lies the problem. It is getting to be no longer a minute number, and that will obliterate herd immunity. It’s amazing the cases of measles on the Lower East Side and in CA haven’t spread like wildfire, and that’s because of extant herd immunity. We may not have that much longer.

        • Headmistress, zookeeper
          Posted April 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

          So, it’s okay to threaten to take somebody else’s newborn baby because they don’t want to vaccinate them for a sexually transmitted disease?

          Did you not read the articles I linked? One of them encourages non-vaxxers to die.

          Then there are the multiple examples recently where people insist that if you don’t vax, you should be sued.

          We’re not making your kids sick. *THAT* is a libel. You are not at risk from my children. My kids have always been at a much greater risk of catching an illness from kids who have recently been vaccinated with a live vaccine.

          • Liz
            Posted April 16, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

            First – Hep B *can* be transmitted sexually, and often is, but that is not the only method of transmission; it can survive out of the body at least seven days, and be passed on that way.

            Second – that was TIME magazine. It didn’t encourage non-vaxxers to die. It said, rightly, that if one doesn’t want to vaccinate, that goes hand-in-hand with a need to accept a statistically smaller lifespan. This is truth, not a wish on anyone’s part.

            Third, part one – if I’m understanding your concern correctly, you’re talking about a 1:2,700,000 risk to a vaccine recipient on polio:

            Third, part two, and to my mind the most important – As far as unvaccinated kids being on the receiving end of risk, well, there’s this:

            And this:

            It is not a libel to state truth. The truth is that sometimes vaccines don’t work, and sometimes people do get horribly ill, and that the vast majority of the time they prevent plagues the likes of which the U.S. has not seen in close to a century.

          • Headmistress, zookeeper
            Posted May 13, 2014 at 10:30 am | Permalink

            Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood or sex. Those at risk include male prison inmates, gay men, people who share needles, the sexual partners of the former categories, and health care workers. The only infants who need the vaccine are those born to Hep B positive mothers. It is not given to newborns to protect babies. It is given to newborns because high risk populations were refusing the vaccine (including, quite tellingly, health care workers), so the CDC did an about face on this vaccine in one year- they formerly strongly recommended it never be given to any baby unless the mother tested positive because babies have almost no risk of infection and the risk of harm from the vax is greater than their risk of infection (MUCH greater)- to about a year later adding it to the cocktail of infant vaxxes.

            You can read more about the shameful history of this particular vaccine and government involvement here.

          • Liz
            Posted April 16, 2014 at 11:17 pm | Permalink
  5. Kristin
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink


    Again, Liz is absolutely correct. It is not libel to say that when herd immunity ceases to exists – as it almost assuredly does now because of many parents’ choices- that the number of unvaccinated children pose an infection risk to the population. This is simply a public health issue and people who are against vaccinations refuse to see that fact. I do not advocate taking children away.
    But until “non-vaxers” cease to be suspicious of one of the most highly studied public health initiatives in any country, there will be outbreaks. These diseases were supposed to be eliminated by the year 2000. They are growing now and it is simply the fault of those who choose not to vaccinate. I am not angry or violent towards “non-vaxers”, yet I am disappointed and concerned. It is pure stubborness and an unwillingness to do what is best for the common good.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted April 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Nope, it’s not the fault of the non-vaxxers. No, it’s not pure stubbonrness and an unwillingness to do what is best for the common good.

      Arguments by assertion are so easy.

      • Kristin
        Posted April 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Ha, ha, your response proved the stubborn part. 🙂 It is exactly what I expected. Sigh. I’ve often wondered what it would take to convince people who are against vaccinations to get them? The risk versus benefit ratio for “non-vaxxers” seem to be really skewed towards their own version of fear-mongering as you attributed to vaxxers above. We already know from history before vaccinations were available what life without vaccinations are like. It was pretty hard. Both my grandparents lived with the very obvious and hard consequences from polio.. Life on the other side of vaccinations is measurably better. My assertions above are true. My area in Canada has had both an outbreak of measles and whooping cough this winter precisely through the vector of unvaccinated individuals returning home, introducing it to other unvaccinated individuals (including infants too young to be immunized and falling gravely ill and hospitalized) and then passing it a few vaccinated individuals for whom immunizations did not protect those few individuals as well. The outbreak continues and it is the fault of those who did not get immunized. It was not immunized individuals who started it, yet some immunized individuals have been caught up in the consequences of foolish and stubborn choices – what science said would happen, has happened here.

        • Headmistress, zookeeper
          Posted April 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          Just so we’re clear- you made a series of accusations based on assertions, I responded in kind with a denial of those assertions, and this proves…… I am the stubborn one?

          Got it.=)

          • Headmistress, zookeeper
            Posted April 14, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

            Was waiting for permission to post this from a friend who had a child in the children’s hospital recently. While there, she met the mother of a child who has been in the hospital for the last three months. He is two and went in for routine vaccinations and within 3 hours of getting his shots he went from a normal child to seizing. He got a trach last week, now cannot walk, talk, barely makes eye contact and is completely tube fed. The parents firmly believe it is the vaccines, and the doctors all deny that it was the vaccines.

            I am not saying it was definitely the vaccines. I do not know that. The thing is, the doctors have absolutely no idea what happened, so they do not know either, but they are not admitting that. They could be right, but their opinion is actually not based on any science or logic whatsoever, they just do not want to believe it was the vaccinations, so it wasn’t. This is blind religion, not science. The fact that they refuse to even entertain the possibility that perhaps it was the vaccine ought to be highly disturbing to anybody who claims to respect science. Because scientifically, that is an option that should not yet be removed from the table. It is not a safe assumption to make. Even if you do not believe vaccines could typically be the cause of such a horrendous event, if you are actually interested in facts and science, you have to acknowledge it could have been a bad batch, or an error could have been made in administrating the vaccine, or an error made in transporting and storage, or the kid has a genetic anomaly, or to really stretch, somebody might have deliberately sabotaged it. What science minded people interested in the facts do not do is remove vaccines completely from consideration without even reporting this possible bad reaction to the CDC or elsewhere.

            And that refusal to even consider the possibility is highly disturbing.

            The mother, as I said, is positive it was the vaccines. She says there is nothing else it could be, he had no head trauma, nothing… she took him straight home and put him to bed after the vaccines, and then he started seizing. She is beating herself up over this and going back over everything trying to see what she should have done differently, and all she can see is the vaccines.

        • Lisa Beth W.
          Posted April 14, 2014 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

          I also have a friend whose child started seizing very shortly (within a few hours) of being vaccinated with the MMR vaccine. She had intractable seizures for years and went from a bright, normal little girl to a brain damaged, wheelchair-bound child who now as a woman does not speak and barely makes eye contact. Her parents also firmly believe it was the vaccine, and this story is one of the reasons I am very leery of vaccinations.

  6. Lisa Beth W.
    Posted April 14, 2014 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and I was going to say that even though I am very disturbed with doctors such as the DHM described and also many doctors I have personally encountered who don’t even want to consider that vaccines may be dangerous, I do not wish any of them to have an early death. Never have. I just want to be left to make my own informed decisions in peace and to be taken seriously when I present evidence to make my case.

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