Will You Be Required by Law to Vaccinate Your Child?


You may soon be required to accept mandatory education on the risks of vaccination exemption, with an emphasis on vaccination as a “community prevention tool,”  before being allowed to opt your children out of vaccinations for “non-medical reasons,” according to an article in the Wall Street Journal (requires a subscription to read the article). Colorado and Washington are planning to institute mandatory counseling this year. Missisippi already allows only medical exemption and other states are considering similarly restrictive schemes. 

“Non-medical reasons” is a way of saying personal choice or philosophical reasons. Should it become difficult to opt out of vaccines for non-medical reasons, this could make things very tough for parents who choose not to vaccinate. Obtaining a medical exemption generally requires parents to have a written statement of proof from a physician that their child has an illness that precludes vaccination (few illnesses do) or that she or he has had a previous vaccination reaction serious enough to warrant skipping them in the future – which given the limited existing definition of what qualifies as a vaccine reaction serious enough to justify this, can be hard to prove.

While I am not opposed to parents receiving education on vaccination pros and cons, as well as the pros and cons of choosing not to vaccinate — which actually could be of value to parents — I am concerned that the information will be biased, based on convention medical rhetoric that denies any and all problems with vaccinations. And if the ability to choose not to vaccinate for non-medical reasons is removed and parents can’t prove a non-medical reason, is this not essentially the equivalent of mandating vaccinations? 

This move is being predicated on the association between a drop in vaccination rates and an increase in pertussis and measles rates in a number of states. However, this is only a small part of the story. The fact is that the pertussis vaccine is much less effective than expected, as demonstrated by Centers for Disease Control statistics:

Valid vaccination history was available for 1,829 of 2,006 (91.2%) patients aged 3 months–19 years. Overall, 758 of 1,000 (75.8%) patients aged 3 months–10 years were up-to-date with the childhood diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) doses. Receipt of Tdap was documented in 97 of 225 (43.1%) patients aged 11–12 years and in 466 of 604 (77.2%) patients aged 13–19 years. Estimated DTaP coverage in Washington among children aged 19–35 months was 93.2% for ≥3 doses and 81.9% for ≥4 doses in 2010; Tdap coverage in adolescents aged 13–17 years was estimated at 70.6%  …Increased rates of pertussis among adolescents aged 13–14 years who were fully vaccinated with acellular vaccines in childhood suggests early waning of immunity after vaccination with Tdap vaccine. Studies are ongoing to evaluate Tdap duration of protection in adolescents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Previously thought to confer practically lifelong protection, or at least protection until adulthood when pertussis infection causes no more than a mild annoying and persistent cough, we now know that the current vaccine preparation confers only about 5 years of immunity with nearly 50% having waned in half that time. A large percentage of the kids in the recent Washington State pertussis outbreak were vaccinated against pertussis.

Does a state have a right to mandate vaccination when it comes to a conflict between individual choice and potential public health issues?

As a physician I am not at all anti-vaccine. They save lives. No question. I personally came quite literally face-to-face with diphtheria when providing medical care in Haiti. I counted my lucky stars that I was protected against this often deadly disease through the vaccinations I had received.

A decrease in immunization rates could mean that more of our kids contract “vaccine preventable diseases.” It is likely that the current measles outbreak in California is due to a decline in measles vaccination rates. This is a reality we have to face. However, parents are declining the vaccine in unprecedented numbers because they are afraid that there is an association between the MMR vaccination, of which measles is a component, and autism. While a causal link has not been identified, in my clinical experience as a doctor I have seen children whose symptoms of autism began within weeks of the MMR vaccine. None of their parents were opting out of vaccinations or even questioned vaccine safety. They were following the rules.

As a mom and physician I have many unanswered questions. And so do many parents that I hear from whose questions and concerns have not been adequately addressed by their pediatricians and family doctors.

I have followed the vaccine debate for 3 decades, and chose to opt out of the whole cell pertussis vaccinations for my own children over 20 years ago because of safety issues. I empathize with parents who are concerned about vaccine safety. There are legitimate reasons that educated, intelligent, caring parents are concerned about vaccinating their children and are even opting out. When my children were young, I was told that the pertussis vaccine was totally safe. It was replaced several years later with a new form of the vaccine, the acellular pertussis, because the whole cell version was in fact found to be associated with neurologic events including seizures. We’d been told there was no such association, though it had already been discontinued in Japan and several European countries in favor of the safer acellular version. I picketed with other families at the CDC 25 years ago, asking for the truth. It was not forthcoming. So who are parents supposed to trust? And how can they trust the information that might be delivered in mandatory education sessions?

Lawmakers, health policy drivers, and physicians would be wise to listen to and address parents’  concerns. Further polarizing parents with increasingly restrictive laws will only keep parents from sending their kids to the doctor’s office. And if the consequence of choosing no vaccines is no school — well, increasing numbers will simply choose that option.

It appears that very soon, at least in some states, parents will be required to listen to programming on the importance of vaccinations. Will state governments and physicians similarly be required to listen to and try to understand parents’ concerns? I believe we all have the same goal – healthy children. But who gets to decide what that means?

What do you think?

Respectfully,

AJR-Sig

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S Hamilton

I appreciate your calm, open minded, discourse on this very difficult topic! And very much appreciate your perspective on the kind of information that parents can expect to receive from authorities as laws change. The National Vaccine Information Center (http://www.nvic.org) is the advocacy group trying to keep options open for parents.

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Michelle Levy

I agree it's an important rights issue, and we must protect parents' right to refuse being injected or having their children injected with largely untested substances, and individual ingredients such as aluminum known to cause disease.

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Shirley

Has everyone looked at the ingredients in the vaccines? Why would anyone want to have that injected in their body or in the body of a baby?

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    maury

    I agree. If you wouldn't drink that, why are we bypassing the protection of the digestive system, and entering it directly into the bloodstream? It honestly doesn't make sense to me. The problem with the mandatory "education" is that it will inform you, to scare you. It would be one thing to present both sides in a calm and factual manner, as in Aviva's book, but in the past, the "education" I received at my ped's office was all about what the disease could potentially do to your child at it's worst. They don't tell you that most healthy people, eating real food, limiting sugar intake, etc, have a strong enough immune system to fight most diseases.

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      yadi

      Thank you for this reply.

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      K

      Yes. Exactly. When I opted out of the Varicella vaccine, the office showed me a picture of a newborn with chicken pox. My baby was 6 months old. I had already had chicken pox, and that shot isn't given until 1year, anyway. At that point, I saw what they were doing as fear based selling. It was the beginning of the end for me. I was unsure if I wanted to vaccinate or not, or how the schedule would look. It was that "education" of the worst of the worst pictures that repelled me from her point of view and made me take a deeper look at the larger picture. I made it my job to study ways of 1. Protecting against illnesses, and 2. What to do when they got sick. There is also the issue that vaccines are not 100% effective, either. So in truth, we all should be prepared for helping our kids (and ourselves) through illness.

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Joel

Thank you for a well balanced discussion of vaccine issues. We also opted out of the vaccine schedule after our son came down with pertussis immediately following his first scheduled vaccination in 2008. Of course the doctors wouldn't even document that our son had pertussis (or at least symptoms) or that it had anything related to vaccine, because the science says that there is no possible relationship between pertussis vaccine and contracting pertussis. When we tried to remove the pertussis vaccine from the next scheduled vaccination, we were continually met with road blocks and skepticism so in the end we decided to opt out completely. If we can't find a doctor that is willing to work with us on an individual level, we felt we'd better become better informed and evaluate our own needs and risks. In the end, we feel that there are better ways to ensure and manage our health than through vaccines, and that it's a well calculated risk. Now, should we end up in an environment where risk of disease is higher, than maybe we'll reconsider, but by then most of the vaccine will have lost their resistance anyway. As an example, it seems to be that it would be better to get chicken pox and become immune as a kid, than run the risk of chicken pox as an adult when the vaccine wears off.

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Lori

I wish our govt would require everyone to be healthy, eat green vegetables, maintain a healthy weight, etc.. first! If you are healthy, getting sick is will not kill you. The FDA did this to themselves and have lost my trust. :(

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    April

    I want the government out of my life, not embedding themselves in even more.

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      Sarah

      AMEN!!!! The government needs to stay out of it!

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Nora Morbeck

Thank you. I enjoyed reading your informed, reasonable defense of family choice where vaccinations are concerned. Unfortunately, many on both sides of this issue choose to leap into the fray and bludgeon each other with accusations, etc. That's so unnecessary. I prefer your approach and wanted to applaud you for it. We chose not to vaccinate our daughter and quit vaccinating our son. This, of course, has caused some controversy in our friendships and in my family. But my husband and I feel that we did the right thing, and support others in making different decisions that are right for their families.

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Eileen

HI, This is very concerning to me. I live in NYS and both of my daughters have a religious exemption that our school district accepted. I have been very thankful to not have had a huge fight to allow them to go to school. My daughters have not received any vaccinations. I am not sure with everything in the news lately that I am becoming scared or secretly bullied into getting them. I believe that vaccinations are good but do not like how many they have to get and how soon. My daughters are now 8 and 6 and are pretty healthy girls. I have been thinking of possibly getting them a few vaccinations for example measles, pertussis, diphtheria. But again I am not sure if it is because I am just scared with all the hype. But a problem I am running into with this is having the vaccinations separated and unfortunately it is an all or nothing thing with vaccinations. To get a religious exemption it is because you are against all of them. How is that fair?

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    Deb

    Hi Eileen. I have 2 girls, 6 & 8, and our stories appear identical. At one point I found that single immunizations were available through both Canada and Germany, if your doctor was willing to order them. Here is am interesting article I just read on the history of measles and the measles vaccine, that you might find informative: http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2014/06/24/measles-and-measles-vaccines-fourteen-things-to-consider-by-roman-bystrianyk-co-author-dissolving-illusions-disease-vaccines-and-the-forgotten-history/ It touches on true immunity and atypical measles. It is all so complicated. I continuously struggle with the concept of harming my children with a pharmaceutical derived virus, and yet wanting to keep them safe from horrible diseases. You are right, It is not fair, plus then having to endure the endless judgment for simply wanting to know the truth. Be Well, Deb

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    jess

    I live in NYC as well my son and daughter start school next year how do I go about exemptions and also I planned on going to wic and was told they will call child services for neglect if I Dont vaccinate

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Dineen

I was required to sit through mandatory vaccination education at the Department of Health when I participated in WIC when I refused vaccinations. It didn't really teach anything, in my opinion but had broad global statements about herd immunity. With other misinformation from the program telling me I should be weaning my baby at one year and how many "jars" of baby food my child should be eating per day (I didn't feed jarred food, and when I DID try it, my baby refused it) I quit the program even though we could have used the grocery assistance for the next 4 years. I don't look to the Department of Health for up-to-date nutrition and health information.

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    Sleeping Realities

    I had a similar experience with WIC. I was rolling my eyes through the entire lecture. Another thing that they advocated (off-topic alert!) was eating low-fat foods because they are "healthier." I was thinking, "Really?? We've known since the '90s that the low-fat thing is a crock, especially if you replace the fats in foods with artificial chemicals." WIC's nutrition training programs are a joke.

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      Amber

      Same here … I stopped going through WIC after three years of the craziness, even though we could have used some of the items. They scolded me for feeding my littles as many eggs for breakfast as they wanted! (That morning, my two boys decided to eat 6 eggs each .. Yes! 6 eggs each, at 3 years and 15 months! I was happy to offer!) They said, 'their cholesterol must be off the charts and they have to be overweight' … only to find two VERY healthy boys when they looked up the charts. What on earth. I'm feeding my babies eggs for breakfast, but I doubt they wouldn't have thought twice if I told them they were eating the Kix that WIC gives. It was incredibly frustrating. When she told me that 6 eggs for breakfast couldn't possibly be healthy, I simply told her, "Well I don't believe that. I have alternative perspectives on nutrition, and I think my kids are eating a very balanced diet." That was that. I never went back.

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Kathryn Hare

We lose the ability to chose when we allow the government to take care of us. And the current swing is for the government to control all aspects of our lives. It is not in the interest of big government or big business for us to be healthy. You are correct about the bias - they will do their best to scare you into thinking you are a horrible parent for even considering to oppose the government and oh by the way, think of the legal costs if you do try to opt out and someone else catches something from your unvaccinated child!

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Jen

My husband's cousin received financial compensation from the federal government through vaccine court for her autism. Thank you for sharing your medical perspective, Aviva. From a legal stand point it concerns me that the pharmaceutical companies have no legal liability. No other industry enjoys such protection.

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    Gemma

    Jen, While I've personally met a lot of parents who saw a direct causation between their child's regressive autism and the child's vaccination, I've never met anyone who actually won compensation through VCIP. How old was your husband's cousin when they were injured and when did their case settle?

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Tamara

THANK YOU, Aviva -- for ALL you do! This is a great article, and as a parent who chose not to vaccinate (after MUCH deliberation), I am appalled that states are going this route. Talk about Big Brother! We must speak out whenever possible for education and CHOICE. My youngest ended up having several intense food sensitivities -- including eggs -- that we did not know about for the first 6 weeks (these were transmitted through my breast milk). Once we figured it out and I cut those foods out of my diet, his severe eczema cleared up. I have NO doubt that had we vaccinated him at that tender age, it would have been more than his system could have handled. I work with severely developmentally disabled adults, and several of their parents have shared with me that their children (now grown) were fine until they received a certain vaccination -- then they lost development. Permanently. I know this is not the norm, but as parents it is OUR JOB to make the educated choices we believe to be best for OUR children. I am VERY grateful I was able to make that decision for my child. Now that he is older and his system is more stable, I wouldn't be so adamant about my objections and would be ok with him having a vaccination or two. But not as a baby or toddler. THANK YOU again, Aviva!

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J Prince

Hello, We are supposed to live in the land of the free. Yet, our freedoms get taken away. I don't believe any vaccination or treatment should be mandatory and it should be your personal choice to decide to put anything into your body. Vaccines cause disease while preventing others.

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Anana Evans

Thank you for keeping us informed & aware. The right to decide what enters our body I feel is a fundamental and inalienable right and stands alone on it own merit. However, when coupled with lack of transparency & profit surrounding pharmaceuticals industry & legislative policies ( current & historical) cause an urgency to this trend or situation.

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Megan

This is very scary and so overwhelming that the drug manufactures are controlling our health care decisions. On a related but different note, what is your opinion of the routine vitamin K injections given to infants at birth? I'm looking at using a liquid vitamin K, but don't know which one or how much to use. Of course everyone I say that to thinks I'm a child abuser, so it's hard to get more information. Thank you! Megan

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Melissa

I love your voice on this issue because doctors and parents tend to get very belligerent, pushy, or demeaning about vaccinating or NOT vaccinating. Please, please keep writing and blogging, especially concerning vaccinations. I'm on the fence and appreciate and respect your viewpoint. Thank you for the extra info this week!

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Fiona

Hi Aviva, I am so confused at the moment. Our Baby Girl is 2 months old & I have many reservations about vaccinating her at such a young age. I am currently holding off any immunizations. I live in NYC and in an area which is very multi cultural, so she will come into contact with Children who will have contact with Family members from all over Africa & Asia. I am aware that there has been Pertussis and Measles in NY State & that non vaccination has increased the numbers of Children getting these diseases. Our Pediatrician is open to an alternate schedule, but I still have my reservations. I research frequently & see so much conflicting information about the harm that vaccinations can do. It seems to be a lottery- will my Baby succumb to health problems through vaccination or through catching a disease? Which is riskier? She is currently very healthy, is breast feeding well & we have well balanced nutritious diets with no health issues. NYC State requires that she has most vaccinations in order to attend school, so it seems our choices are being taken away from us. I don't believe the 'one size fits all' CDC requirement is right for every child. I guess we"ll just keep stalling on getting them until we"re absolutely required too & not socialize our Daughter too much in the mean time.

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    Ali

    Fiona, I am in NYC (queens) and my children go to public school! They are 100% vax free. Start the process NOW! Have a letter for religious exemption notarized and filed NOW! Patti Flynn is a lawyer in NYC who helped us with our exemptions for our four children. Don't give in! If it is important to you, fight for your right to make informed health decisions for your child. :)

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      aviva

      Shout out to my homegirl! I'm from Queens, too. Born in the city and grew up entirely in Flushing.

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      tania

      Ali, I live in Brooklyn and my kids have only gotten some of the vaccines. Do you know if I can also request a religious exemption? Where do you file it? Thanks! Tania

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        aviva

        Once you've gotten some vaccines selectively, unless you've actually joined a religion since, it's going to be pretty hard to justify why your religion approves some, but not other vaccines. Usually exemptions are thru the state health department and each state has its own that they allow -- from religious to medical to philosophical. You'll have to check in NYS and see what's possible, and possibly find doctor who is supportive who will walk you thru your options and help with the local required paperwork if needed. Best of luck! Aviva

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Jenny

Thanks for the informative article. There's need for a lot more transparency out there! My sister and I and some of our children got pertussis this past spring. It is NOT a walk in the park, even when headed off with antibiotics. It took months for everyone to recover. This is one vaccination we will probably get. Even if you are eating very healthfully (which we were), these communicable diseases are in a class of their own.

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Rachel

Hi Aviva, I so appreciate your holistic perspective and training in health care, and your passion for empowering people to be active participants in their own health and the health of their families! You are one of my health promotion heroins. Its time for me to revisit the immunization debate for my kindergarten-aged daughter, and I'm looking forward to reading your book. I see that it was published in 2001. Do you have any pertinent updates on-line to complement what is in the book? In gratitude for all your talents and passions, Rachel

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    aviva

    Hi Rachel, The core issues and data in the book remain the same. Since it's publications the good news is that all of the pedi vaccines (except the multi vial flu shots) are thimerosal free, all the pertussis vaccines are acellular, and all polio vaccines used for common prevention are killed-type. So some major improvements toward safety at least. The rotavirus that is currently in use is not the same as the one that caused those horrible cases of intussusception but still not sure all kids really need it. The Hib vaccine really has reduced rates of meningitis substantially. And I'm just not sure why so many kids are getting chicken pox vaccination but now they are! Time for an update of that book -- but just the thought is exhausting! :)

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      Darlene H

      I'm still researching, but according to our naturopathic dr who has a friend in the CDC, says they are still adding thimersol, but in lower doses, but to compensate for the lower dose of thimersol they have added more aluminum. Just so you know the friend who works for CDC DOES NOT vaccinate their children! Their view is why would we want to poison our children, go figure. Will update as I get more info.

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        aviva

        Updates most welcome!!!

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      Kate

      Maybe a blog post with the biggest changes you see from when your book was published until now would do for the moment! We used your book when evaluating what choices to make with our kids as babies and chose to opt out 100% for the time being. But now we are reviewing this decision on a vax by vax basis with our children as they are older and we are regularly traveling internationally. I was just planning to re-read your book again for the zillionth time and the idea of even a brief highlights/big changes, sort of post would be helpful to me and those like me who might regularly review their vaccination decisions as their children are growing older.

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        aviva

        GREAT idea!!!!

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          Rachel

          I would also greatly appreciate an update in blog form! I just read your book for the first time and was so pleased at the amount of research you put into it. We started vaccinating our son when he was born (6 months ago) and have just recently reconsidered that decision. But with all the changes to the vaccines since your book was published, I'm not sure what we should do. We also travel internationally to the Middle East every year or 2, so I don't know how that should play into our decisions. Please know how much we appreciate your efforts and wisdom!


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        Erin

        Same here, kids ages 9, 6, and 3, all vax free, but beginning to feel I need to revisit your book. Good excuse to see a friend who I let borrow it yrs back! Also it has been brought up by my day care provider's dr, that my child is a serious risk to other kids. Her Dr sent her with a note for me to watch the pbs special. I haven't watched it yet, I feel it's going to be filled with a lot of propaganda. Im considering staying at home again if she says he can no longer attend. I'm not feeling surrounded or as supported by like minded moms as when my eldest was young. Now that the two older are In public school I don't have many people who I feel comfortable discussing this topic with. I am in VT so there are a lot of like minded folk on this subject, I guess we don't cross paths as much as the baby group days. Thank you, for allowing me that space again. How much more of a risk does an unvaccinated child pose, than all the others with shots? I understand her concerns she will be taking on a 3 month old soon.

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          Erin

          (Edit) .....Potentially shedding vaccines?


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      Lori

      Aviva, DT vacc. without the aP component still has trace amounts of thirmesol I believe. Should that still be a concern?

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        aviva

        It should be that the only vaccinations with thimerosal in them are the multi dose flu vaccines....

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Jessica

I appreciate your perspective. I used to be 100% pro vaccination but recently have come to question them, their makers, and the people who give them and recommend it. I am so confused that I put all vaccines on hold except the very basic ones. I don't think vaccines were created with this whole conspiracy plot planned, but that over time that is what it turned into: Creating vaccines to prevent disease while creating other ailments for profit. That people are threatened and rights taken away when they don't abide by "the rules" just confirms to me that there is much more going on within corporations and government than what we know. With that, I'm left on the fence about vaccines as conflicting information consistently is presented to me everyday.

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Brooke

I'm getting ready to start a family in the next year or so and I have no idea what I'm going to be doing about vaccinations. I remember getting some of mine (back in the late 80s) and I HATED them. I crawled under chairs and tables to get away from the needle....I wonder why??? My mom said she was always doing what the doctor told her. She never asked any questions about safety or anything. To me, this all comes back to unintended consequences, like you mentioned in your article, Aviva. Making vaccinations mandatory for school isn't going to force people to vaccinate. In fact, it will probably have the opposite effect of scaring people away from them even more because if non-vaccination wasn't popular they wouldn't need a law mandating it. If so many parents are not vaccinating, the ones that are vaccinating will be spurred to research why the other parents are not doing what they are told. It's also going to have the effect you described of parents keeping their kids away from doctors offices and keeping them out of the public school system (I'm not a fan of the public school system anyways...). Government just cannot think long term. They only react to the here-and-now and they never understand their consequences...let alone the unintended ones. It will be interesting to see how this plays out...

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Jennifer

It's so great to see a discussion on this subject without the emotion and reactions that it can often generate. Some peoples belief also can be so hardened that they are unable to see what the "other"side is saying. Interestingly they are often saying the same thing. "We care about children and we get distressed when they become sick". My issues are no longer about this debate, but are about how we care for children when they do become unwell with these diseases.Children can become so sick so quickly. I feel that not everyone is up for providing care for their acutely unwell child. As in one comment about - "It's was no walk in the park". For me it's more about whole health and not just vaccinating or not. Both support the other. In our societies we do not seen a lot of vaccine preventable diseases anymore (both parents and health professionals), so it's not part of what we see regularly and care for regularly. Children do become gravely sick with these diseases (and adults can too) and unless this had been experienced, its not truly realised and understood. Also adults get pertussis, for which most of the time they don't get that sick, they also most of the time are the ones that pass that onto to children. For me I don't understand why parents and grandparents and other adults in close proximity to out little ones are not also the target of pertussis and other vaccines.

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    Jennifer Z

    Actually there is a push to vaccinate new moms and dads and grandparents to "protect " little newborns from pertussis. I have no degree in immunology ,but feel the PROTECTION from a vaccine is possibly not the best the body can do vs being actually exposed to an illness and letting the immune system do what it is designed to do . I have decided to learn to treat illnesses with ways that supplement the body and give greater health than we have before we get ill.I know I do not live in a poverty situation and have breastfed extensively all 4 kids and eat a better diet than ever before .

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      Jennifer Z

      .We use herbal remedies (thanks Aviva ) and get local raw milk ,organic veggies and fruits as much as possible.I pray for real health information to be made publicly available and for true choice to be there for my grandkids.

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Becky Webb @ Rooted Blessings

Hi Aviva, Thank you so much for writing this article. I feel like this discussion is so important. As an alternative health provider, there are so many struggles that I have with many vaccinations and their safety. Although, it seems as though the protect us from some acute conditions I believe they we often trade many acute conditions with chronic ones when it comes to vaccines. How little we know. I would you be willing to share any thoughts on this study about Baboons carrying purtussis in their throats? I'd love to hear your professional opinion on he study. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/26/health/study-finds-vaccinated-baboons-can-still-carry-whooping-cough.html?_r=0

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    aviva

    Hi Becky, Yes this is very new research and quite fascinating especially because it would totally contradict the relatively new policy of vaccinating adults (including pregnant moms!) to protect babies and children. I hope more is done to determine whether receiving the vaccine makes adults unwitting pertussis vectors!!! Glad to have your voice in the conversation! Peace, Aviva

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Michelle @ Find Your Balance

Thank you for being a balanced, reasonable voice on this hot topic.

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Kathleen

There was a time when I would have been easily manipulated into getting pertussis vaccines for my children. It is relatively easy to scare a mother into getting something she doesn't want "for the sake of her children." And there is no doubt that whooping cough is not a fun ailment--one I would not want my children to endure. HOWEVER...I am not convinced the pertussis vaccine actually prevents this disease. Rather, I am convinced of the contrary. A few years ago, a friend of mine with 6 children had to battle whooping cough in her family. The 3 oldest kids were fully immunized; the last 3 were completely unimmunized (not an uncommon phenomenon amongst educated people.) The 2 oldest children contracted pertussis from basketball team mates, despite their complete immunization record. In time, all the other siblings caught it from them. You might think that the immunized children would have gotten milder cases of it, but there was no such distinction. If pertussis immunization truly prevents pertussis, this should never have happened. My friend did say it was not a fun experience, but if the immunizations do not work, why would you expose your children to the toxicity and risks associated with the vaccine? She did say that the most helpful therapy she used at that time was a homeopathic whooping cough preparation. I would probably use the same, coupled with lobelia or black cohosh and "Amish whooping cough syrup" (flax seeds and lemon simmered for 4 hrs., strain, and add lots of honey.) Since I have learned about the "effectiveness" (or lack thereof) of the pertussis vaccine, I am curious how many other vaccines are completely worthless.

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Mary

What a great article. I have been subscribing to the NVIC (National Vaccine Information Center) newsletter since we decided not to vaccinate our child nearly 10 years ago and it's a great resource for keeping up on what's going on nationwide regarding this subject. At the time our child was born we talked to our family doctor about our concerns about vaccination. He does advocate vaccinating and feels potential benefits outweigh the potential risks, however he shared with us some interesting information. He admitted to us that NO vaccine will give you 100% immunity to a given disease. Even if your body receives the full effect of a given vaccine, it will only confer 85% immunity to that disease. And you're not guaranteed of even receiving that 85% immunity - it could be less, it could be nothing. As an example, he said at that time he had been vaccinating a woman who was getting ready to go overseas. He had already given her THREE rounds of the vaccinations she needed, because NONE of the vaccines were conferring any immunity to her. After each round of vaccinations she was having titres (antibody tests) performed to determine the level of immunity she was receiving from the vaccinations, and there was NO immunity to ANY of the diseases she was being vaccinated for. In spite of a situation like this, he still felt vaccinations were beneficial. Thankfully we have a doctor that was honest enough to share this information with us. I seriously doubt any information of this kind will be brought up in the "mandatory education" the government is putting together.

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Jennifer Baker

The largest thing that concerned me when doing research about this topic is that "big business" in the pharmaceutical area is what runs the show of what vaccinations are given and what is in them. They are more interested in making a buck rather than the care of individual lives, who were created in the image of God. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. The degradation of human value is a sad reality. I do not trust big government. In a smaller community, it is harder to find a pediatrician who will work with you on a modified vaccine schedule. We have had to travel 20 minutes outside of town to find a practice that would even listen to our concerns. Even then, there was a minimum that they required to continue services.

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Jade Shutes

Hello Aviva, Really enjoying your blog postings. Thank you for sharing. Before our son was born, we did a lot of research on all kinds of things (circumcision, vaccinations, etc.). I read your book on Vaccinations and a few others both for and against. We finally decided to not vaccinate our son and he has been a healthy boy with only a few minor colds, fevers, etc. (you walked me through one of those fevers and I shall always appreciate that). We live in an area where his lack of immunizations has never been questioned and I am thankful for that. I am neither for or against vaccinations but I am clearly for the right of parents to choose. It would be a true tragedy if this right to choose was taken away. I appreciate your insights very much and your balanced approach to this information. Thank you again!

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Jennifer

It is refreshing to read your balanced perspective on this issue. Our oldest son, now almost 16, was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes (an autoimmune disease) at age 12. Now I'm reading that there may be a connection between having received the HepB vaccine as a newborn and an increase in the incidence of various autoimmune diseases, including Type I Diabetes. He was given this vaccine in the NICU without my consent! In my previous work as a speech therapist, I saw too many families to count who all said their child's problems began after vaccination (not just autism, but seizure disorders, allergies, skin conditions, etc). This was back at a time when no one was talking about this issue in the news-we're talking 18-20 years ago! So I took what I learned from them and made sure to find a pediatrician who would be OK with a different schedule and opting out of some vaccines, like chicken pox, HepB, and rotavirus. Now, since beginning homeschooling 5 years ago, we do almost no vaccines...my youngest 2 have not had any. It is amazing to me how much healthier they are than the others were at their age...no antibiotics, no ear infections, quick recovery from colds, etc. I wish there was a way for you to reach more young parents with your voice of reason so that they could make good, informed decisions for their precious children! We need to get you on TV!

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CC

Tomorrow I, an adult, need to visit my relatively open-minded physician for my own health concerns. Part of me is actually scared to visit the office, because despite being confident that my doc is well intentioned, I tend to leave visits feeling scared of the environment and doubting my body's capacity to remain balanced while existing in it. I want to information regarding potential dangers, while also feeling empowered, which is where I feel most of my relationships with doctors falter. I strongly believe that people on both sides of this debate will benefit from remaining open minded and by avoiding extreme opinions. It is important to acknowledge that even the body of an individual who leads a balanced, healthy life-syle can suffer and die from disease. But being scared into defending our bodies with an unending arsenal of vaccinations and antibiotics and fear tactics is likely not the best solution toward greater health, and certainly not the only solution. I agree with Aviva that having choice is an essential component of a healthy body and society. Finding a health care team that does not deny the dangers we face to our health today, while seeing each patient as a unique individual with unique needs, challenges and strengths can help us navigate scary topics with a greater sense of trust, which, at least for me seems to have a profound effect on my health. I need to feel like I can trust and lean into the team from whom I am getting information and with whom I share it. I have not found an MD to round out my team yet. Thanks for making this inherently frightening topic approachable Aviva!

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Diana

I struggled with this debate for my own daughter. When I was born in 1979 we received at total of 11 vaccinations. The autism rate in 1979 was 1 in 10,000 (I looked it up). The autism rate today is like 1 in what 100 or even lower. It is my understanding that the Japanese don't immunize until after the age of 2 and have a much lower autism rate. There was some additional information about Tylenol administration and autism that I found. I don't have any answers except to say that this epidemic is probably the cumulative effects of environmental factors including GMO's, vaccine additives, and toxins. With the chemicals found in the cord blood of all women today it is amazing our babies are so healthy. I feel like if we where given a choice as parents to determine what vaccines we wanted to give our children there would be a higher compliance rate. My mom took us to get chicken pox which was not life threatening for us as children (I am sure there are exceptions). We got mumps, ran high fevers but it was considered normal. Now all diseases are considered life threatening. I think we need a true discussion with parents and law makers instead of this one sided pharmaceutical approach. Thank you for this article

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    Danielle

    There is also compelling research about ultrasound and autism.

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Emine Charlwood

Thank you Aviva, for your information. I was constantly afraid to vaccinate and then afraid not to vaccinate my daughter who is 2.5 now. I eventually decided to vaccinate when she was 6months old. Despite being uncomfortable with the amount of vaccines in one shot. The morning I was to take my daughter to be vaccinated, I couldn't do it. My gut feeling, my intuition was so strong I couldn't ignore it. I am not a medical doctor but I do feel I know my daughter. In time maybe things will change, I will trust my intuition when I cross that bridge. Manditory vaccination I feel, makes the authories right and a parents own intuition wrong thus moving a parent away from trusting themselves with the health of their children.

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Becky

There is a link between MMR and Autism, just ask the Vaccine Court. No industry should be above the law, and yet the companies who produce vaccines cannot be held criminally liable. Who takes responsibility when a child is injured by a vaccine? the dr? the nurse? The parent.

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Laura Hayes

Thank you for shedding light on the usurping of parental, Constitutional, and God-given rights. I do take issue, however, with your statement that vaccines save lives. In my 20 years of research, I have yet to find one shred of evidence that proves that vaccines are safe, effective, or that they save lives. I would like to suggest a few resources for you and your readers that might shed more light on the mythology and lies, versus truth, behind vaccine propaganda. There is a new book titled "Dissolving Illusions", a new movie that might still be available at no charge on YouTube titled "Silent Epidemic: The Untold Story of Vaccines", and Cynthia Cournoyer's excellent updated edition of her book "What About Immunizations? Exposing the Vaccine Philosophy", all of which expose the house of cards upon which our vaccine program is built...a house that is fraught with lies, deceptions, myths, and cover-ups. Here is a link to an article that offers a sneak preview of the "Dissolving Illusions" book, an article that reviews the origins of today's vaccine mythology. http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2013/08/27/vaccination-a-mythical-history-by-roman-bystrianyk-and-suzanne-humphries-md/? I advise all parents to research effective and non-harmful ways of protecting, maintaining, and enhancing the health of their children. I have learned the very hard way that vaccines are nowhere on that list.

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    aviva

    Hi Laura, There is no doubt that, for example, congenital rubella syndrome was essentially eliminated by the introduction of the rubella vaccine. Not all of the vaccinations have such a clear success story. But keep in mind that the original search for vaccinations was not about profit - it was about reducing the incidence of infectious disease. While there is a lot about vaccination history that has not seen the light of day outside of a handful of books (including my own Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parents Guide), and there is a lot of prevention of disease that could happen if more people had more good food, less stress, and less poverty -- making some aspects of vaccinations a lesser of evils over scourges of disease -- there is no doubt epidemiologically that vaccinations reduce the incidence of infectious diseases such as diphtheria and polio. I've seen this first hand in a poor nation practicing medicine there for a month. I have taken care of pregnant women from Africa and Haiti who were paralytic polio victims -- it's real and devastating. But whether vaccines save lives is not, to me, the issue -- it is the lack of open communication about risks, the acceptance of collateral damage to those who seems susceptible to vaccine injury without deeper investigations into who those people are and why (perhaps genetic polymorphisms), and into long term potential immunologic consequences of both the vaccinations and also not getting some of those infections! I respect all opinions. I think it's important for us to know the facts and avoid rhetoric so we can have these important conversations. Thanks for sharing this book link and also for your patience in waiting for my reply. Warm regards. Aviva

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Candy

So pleased to read this blog post, Aviva. Here in New Zealand we had an American nephrologist, Dr Suzanne Humphries talk to us about the dangers of some vaccinations and the inconsistencies as to their benefits in the research (which is largely kept hidden from the public because of the huge profits the pharmaceuticals wish to preserve). The work that you and others are doing will eventually help to highlight these dangers but how many lives will have been wrecked in the meantime - particularly in the vulnerable population, the elderly and the very young.

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Darlene H

I have 4 grandchildren who have not been vaccinated. The main reason that we chose not to vaccinate was not that all vaccines were totally bad, but that the companies who make vaccines and the dr's who promote them are usually vague about the dangers and will not take responsibility for their actions when it has been proven that the vaccine may cause the side effect. Know that I understand that the reason for that is it's all about the money, BUT, when it comes to my child or grandchild, I want to know the good, the bad and the ugly. Don't try to evade the facts and give me your opinion, give me facts, both pros and cons, and then allow me to make the decision that is right for my family.

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Carol

I don't have a problem with having a law to have children vaccinated. Sense the country has have vaccinations we as a country has kept diseases that have killed 1000s of people and those disease are horrific and painful. So, yes I am ok with it. Would hate to see my child go through that.

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Gemma

I continue to be so frustrated by the lack of true discussion on the subject of vaccine safety and I grow more and more alarmed at the hostile and aggressive tone being aimed that those of us who question complete safety and efficacy of vaccination. There is clearly a discrepancy between what the Government says the data shows, and what those of us who can actually read a scientific study see when we read these studies that supposedly show no causality between some cases of autism and vaccines. Do you think we will ever see true open and honest dialogue on the subject? Because, quite frankly, I don't.

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    aviva

    I sure hope so! But I'm as skeptical as you are on this in the near future, anyway.

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laeti

Hi, So good to have a clear sensible voice out of all that phobia around a few cases of measles. Measles is not pleasant, I had it as a child brewing up in France, where this vaccination is not mandatory. I now have lifelong immunity that I'm passing to my daughter through breastfeeding. I have a hard time related to the vaccination hysteria here, and was shocked to be confronted with skepticism when I reported very strong reactions to the full round of vaccinations in my baby. No doctor talked about your initial choice. People looked at me weird when i refused the hepatitis one at birth, because i know that my mom refused it when i was a kid and it has been withdrawn from the mandatory vaccination list in France. And when I asked to slow down with vaccines and eventually refused the MMR I was met with sorta rolling eyes and they showed me a book about vaccinations where the side effects I reported were not mentioned so it was not possible - not mentioning that being showed a sort of "101 vaccination for dummies" book didn't really convince me... All that to say, other people in other countries do not require measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and there is no hysteria about outbreaks in children. Adults who didn't get those as children get vaccinated and that's it. Good luck to all mamas who are confronted with this craziness around vax!!!!

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Leilani

Food for thought on the privileged positions of those who choose to not vaccinate: http://m.gas.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/05/09/0891243214532711.full.pdf?ijkey=fUokCLKdAFzI2&keytype=ref&siteid=spgas

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hallie

I appreciate your nonjudgmental take on this issue, Aviva. I have read elsewhere that it's likely this measles outbreak began with a vaccinated person. the article i read explained that "Scientific evidence demonstrates that individuals vaccinated with live virus vaccines such as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), rotavirus, chicken pox, shingles and influenza can shed the virus for many weeks or months afterwards and infect the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike." This article was cited and can be found at: http://www.robertscottbell.com/government/studies-show-that-vaccinated-individuals-spread-disease/ My question to you, is what are your thoughts on this? Do you believe it to be true? If so, then it would seem better to not vaccinate...?

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Christy

Thank you for raising the issue of trust. Somehow we seem to have gotten to the point in this country where ANY questioning of vaccine safety or efficacy - even just questioning one vaccine out of the many in use - implies that you're a quack. "Shut up, you hippie, and vaccinate your kids!!" I have reluctantly vaccinated my children, and nothing bad has happened. (Probably. They do have their quirks, but I won't blame that on the vaccines.) But I don't for a minute believe that adequate studies have been done of long-term effects, or even short-term effects with a broad enough scope. And I don't think they ever will be because anyone other than the pharmaceutical companies themselves who looks into this is clearly a fan of pseudo-science and will losing standing just by virtue of entertaining the idea that vaccines may not be a 100% clear win. In my opinion, the best way to get compliance is to act as though you have nothing to hide. Is it any surprise that the current policy of "just do as we say and don't ask any questions" has people feeling nervous?

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mp3juice

Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favourite justification appeared to be on the internet the easiest factor to remember of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed whilst folks think about worries that they plainly don't understand about. You managed to hit the nail upon the highest and outlined out the whole thing without having side-effects , other people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thank you

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Crystal

I just took my son for his 18 month check up and opted out of the Hep A shot (just for this time) and Hep B and was met with a nurse and doctor telling me if I did not get them today I would have to find a new doctors office. They said the government is requiring it now if you have state healthcare. Does anyone know how true this is? They tried to bully me into them but I walked and made sure they knew my rights as a mother supersede their tactics to try and force this on me. Where will the line be drawn with government trying to go above the parents? :/

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jen

We live in California and are now being mandated by law to vaccinate in order to attend public schools. I'd love to learn more about how to protect my child from the harm of vaccinations...scheduling/dosing, natural remedies before/after shots, etc...as we only have two years to get caught up before the next grade 'check point'.

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