This cartoon about vaccinations has been circulating on FB. After seeing it a dozen times and seeing more passionate posts on the subject than I can count, I started a post on FB with my thoughts and realized I have enough to say to make this an actual blog post (since people often ask me for my take on vaccines as they are preparing to become new moms and dads I hope it'll be good for that too).
Let me start by saying three main things:
1. My kids (and myself) are fully vaccinated. (on a modified schedule)
2. I base my views on vaccinations on historical evidence combined with my TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) views on health and balance/disease and dysfunction.
3. While I agree vaccines are good and important I disagree with the way vaccines are recommended to be given in the US.
Let's dig in!
Yes, vaccinations have absolutely changed the world for the better. For any of the arguments as to why I will happily default to the above cartoon link. It says it all very effectively. We don't want polio. Measles and Mumps returning and hurting kids and families sucks. There's no good reason for this.
A quick side note and before I go on any further, I want to be crystal clear, I do NOT think vaccines = autism. When I say we did different vaccination schedules for our kids most people instantly say, "Oh, because of autism right?" Wrong.
But what I absolutely DO think is that vaccines = taxation and stress for our bodies (albeit MUCH less than getting the actual disease). It takes energy and resources to process a vaccine (not to mention the other stuff in the vaccine which as many people take issue with as they do with the actual "active agents"). The very nature of a vaccine is to put our immune systems on alert and spur them onto creating new disease fighting antibodies. This is work!
Infants and children, just by the very nature of being an infant or child have a LOT to keep up with energetically. They are growing exponentially. They are mastering many developmental skills and abilities (motor, cognitive, social, the list goes on!) And I believe strongly, that ANYTHING we add to their to-do list should be done mindfully and for good reason! (I've written articles about this and being too busy & scheduled, and the same thing applies to exposing them to vaccines.)
So, while I feel it is important to keep diseases that have essentially been eradicated at bay and it is important to protect our kiddos (and ourselves) from the dangers of preventable and serious diseases (like hepatitis B a blood born potentially chronic and deadly disease). I do NOT think that asking a newborn to manufacture antibodies to Hepatitis B via exposure to a vaccination on the same day that they are BORN is the best way to go about it. And vaccinating babies against hepatitis B immediately after birth is standard in US! Why is this standard? Because if the mom has Hep B and doesn't know it, vaccinating the baby within 12 hours can help prevent the baby from developing it. But wouldn't it make more sense to simply test the mom for Hep B? Testing the mom is no big deal, doesn't tax her system and is good medicine. HOLISTICALLY it makes WAAAY more sense than exposing a newborn who is already adjusting to the whole new harsh reality of life outside the uterus to a vaccine. This is just one example of where I think the standard western recommendations has room for improvement!
So what did we do with our kiddos and what do I recommend? I suggest taking overall taxation and easing the burden of vaccinations as much as we can into account:
We waited until they were 1-3 months old to get started with any vaccinations.
We made sure they were healthy before giving any vaccines (it is standard for pediatricians to give vaccines to mildly to moderately ill children).
We chose days where we could just come home and rest after vaccines are given, not run errands, go to school, etc.
We did fewer shots at a time. Where some routine "healthy child" visits might call for several vaccines at once we picked one or two.
We gave the vaccinations for the things they could actually contract first, starting with the most serious. For example, meningitis is something that is devastating and possible for them to be exposed to.
We saved the vaccinations for things like polio (that are not around anymore but could come back if people stop vaccinating) for later, but still did them.
When given a choice between two options using the above criteria first, we chose inactive virus vs. live virus.
I wish I would have known to ask for single dose vials (as opposed to multi dose vials with more preservatives), but I honestly didn't have this on my radar at the time and parenting is just doing the best you can one day at a time and is never perfect!
By the time our kids reach kindergarden they are fully vaccinated. Our pediatric clinic allows families to just pop in for vaccines without appointments during their walk in afternoon hours, so we could just pop in between regular visits to space out shots (with no office charge fees). It is a bit more work for ME (along with signing the appropriate forms for them to be in early childhood classes with delayed vaccinations). But a bunch less taxation for the kids (who have much more to cope with as growing developing kids), is well worth a little extra work for me!
And on that note of taxation… Here's the bottom line! If not for fear directly causing autism, why does it matter? Well, because ANY type of health concern (autoimmune, ADHD, autism, allergies and asthma, etc. etc.) are the result of CUMULATIVE damage and imbalance. So while one shot doesn't = autism, one shot MIGHT be the tipping point where signs of autism start to show up because that particular kiddo was increasingly out of balance for MANY MANY reasons (from constitutional weaknesses, to diet, to lifestyle, to trauma, to environmental pollution, to stress, vaccines, the list goes on and on!) So it's not that the vaccine CAUSES something, it just looks that way if you aren't seeing things through a holistic lens. This explains why some parents swear that their child's problems happened after getting a shot, but that the vast majority of kids tolerate that shot just fine and there's no actual data that supports the idea of vaccines = issues.
But, through a holistic lens, when we keep our kiddos as in balance and healthy as possible, by setting them up for health in any and every way we reasonably can (through diet, sleep, down time, free play, natural cleaning/home products, spacing out and pacing vaccinations etc. etc.) we can CUMULATIVELY keep the scales from tipping into disease and dysfunction to the best of our abilities. It's not always enough given different constitutions and factors that are outside of our control, but it is the best we can do and that's a lot!
If you are wanting more information about the flu shot specifically, I found this recent article in Experince Life magazine informative and not overtly biased. I think it's worth a read!