At some point in your career, you are bound to come across a non-vaccinating family. These families present a challenge. The following information is provided so you can best help families on the fence about vaccinating. This article will provide you answers and links to where you can direct parents who need accurate information.
Most of the anti-vaccine research comes from pseudo-science. The majority of the anti-vaccine information comes from the 10 worst anti-science sites. Almost all anti-vaccine layman blogs use them as reference material. Some fake-science websites will also publish anything for a fee.
The following are the most common arguments/concerns:
“It’s a personal decision” Unvaccinated children kill people who could not be vaccinated due to health reasons or age by diminishing the protective effects of herd immunity. They also put countless other children and adults at risk, including those with cancer or immune deficiencies. Read the story of Natalie who contracted measles from an unvaccinated teen in the waiting room of her pediatrician office when she was only 11 months old. (the vaccine is licensed at ages 12 months and up) She later died of a prolonged and agonizing condition called SSPE. Micha, another child who was infected from the same teen is still dying from the disease. SSPE is a slow, prolonged, painful illness for the family and child. You can read about possible legal ramifications for choosing not to vaccinate here.
The 2010 outbreak of Pertussis in California, which claimed the lives of several infants, has in fact been linked to an increase in non-medical vaccine refusals. You can read the information in an article here, or in the Journal of Pediatrics. In summary, one’s personal decision to put their own self or children at risk, puts others at risk.
“Vaccine’s don’t work.” Vaccines absolutely do work. The fact that more vaccinated people get the disease in a given outbreak can be explained by simple math. Most vaccines are 90+% effective. Since so many people do vaccinate, the 10% or less that are still susceptible to illness outnumber the unvaccinated. If you put 100 vaccinated kids and 100 unvaccinated kids in a room with a few children sick with a vaccine preventable illness, you will definitely see how well vaccines work, but that would be unethical and would never happen.
- The Second part to this argument is that hygiene and living conditions actually wiped out smallpox, measles, mumps, and the other vaccine preventable diseases. While it’s true that improved hygiene has wiped out bubonic plaque and diseases carried by rats, hygiene and crowding did not change dramatically in the years just prior to the introduction of the MMR vaccine and the few years after. The decrease in these diseases is due to the vaccine. See the chart demonstrating this decline here
- Breastfeeding and an organic diet are healthy. However, they are not enough to prevent these illnesses. We had polio in the US in 1900 when “everyone” breastfed and when breastfeeding rates were low in the 1950’s polio rates decreased due to the introduction of the vaccine. You can read one woman’s story of growing up in a very health conscious home and how she suffered due to not being vaccinated here.
“Vaccine’s cause autism.” VACCINES DO NOT CAUSE AUTISTM. Andrew Wakefield fabricated a link between the MMR vaccine and autism and managed to get published in the Lancet. This was big news. Other researchers tried unsuccessfully to duplicate his results. Eventually it was proven that his research was fraudulent. Andrew Wakefield himself did have an agenda as he was developing his own, so called “safer” measles vaccine. He lied. The Lancet retracted the paper. Ten of the twelve original authors apologized for the resulting hysteria. Sadly, the damage was done and his followers would not let it go. Now that MMR has been studied even more extensively and found to be safe, the new villain has become thimerisol, the preservative in vaccines, or the so-called and very disproven “overload” of the immune system.
The rise in autism could more correctly be attributed to many other factors, including better diagnosis of higher functioning cases, the recent inclusion of aspergers as an autism spectrum disorder, and people having children later in life. A bigger spike in rates was seen recently over the past 5 years despite declining immunization rates, further evidence against the claim that vaccines cause autism.
“Vaccines are a money making conspiracy.” or “I follow the money to decide who to believe.” Let’s imagine briefly the fear and suffering caused by polio, if you’re too young to remember that, click here and think about whether or not the team responsible for ending that fear and suffering deserve to be paid.
Vaccines save lives, prevent disability, reduce suffering, and fear. The manufacturers deserve to be paid for this service. As shown above the anti-vaccine movement also profits from their position.
“Too many too soon” As much as I prefer to see a kid vaccinated late over not at all. Delaying vaccination can actually increase the risk of febrile seizures, not decrease it. There is no evidence for spreading out vaccines or delaying them. The reason for the schedule as it stands is to protect kids as young as possible as quickly as possible as safely as possible.
“Vaccines contain mercury” well, technically water “contains” hydrogen, but really water is not going to explode. Thimerisol, the preservative in many vaccines, is made with ethyl mercury which does not accumulate in the body. The toxic form of mercury is methylmercury which is present in our food supply due to industrial waste and improper disposal practices over many years. A tuna fish sandwich contains more mercury than all the childhood vaccines.
As you can see there is good, solid, reliable evidence in support of vaccines. Despite the fraud in the anti-vaccine movement, it’s important to realize that the families we care for are not the ones making this up. The anti-vaccine websites are dramatic and frightening to a non-scientist. Some families simply don’t understand how to critically evaluate sources of information. They do love their children. Children deserve to have continuity of care with a provider they can trust, so it’s important to provide information in a way that remains respectful and compassionate so as not to alienate these families. I am passionate about vaccines because it is a life or death issue for many, not just the people refusing vaccines, but the community at large. It affects all of us.
About the Author
Mary Bacon, Founder of Balanced Bliss life Coaching, combines her decades of experience working as a nurse practitioner in traditional medical environments with her empowered work as a health and wellness coach and green living expert to bring balance and harmony back to her client’s lives. With a deep working knowledge of medications, health challenges, and environmental factors, she's a tireless advocate for her clients, working directly with their doctors and their lifestyle choices to identify a comprehensive and balanced approach to wellness and well being.
Image "Vaccine With Hypodermic Syringe And Needle" courtesy of Baitong333 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net