I’m not an anti-vaxxer. Not precisely. Not quite. But with all the available information upon brain development in children, and the effect of chemicals upon it, I do tend to wonder why we are exposing young, growing brains to so many doses of rushed-to-market, often ineffective vaccines. I’ve done enough reading to know that most vaccines contain at least small amounts aluminum, MSG and formaldehyde, and some include thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) while a few are cultured in cell lines (and thereby contaminated with DNA) originally obtained from legally aborted fetuses and the foreskins of circumcised infants. I look at these ingredients, and at the recommended vaccine schedule, and I wonder if we are not giving small children far too many inoculations, far too closely together, and much too soon.
I was raised in an era when the only vaccines given were for smallpox, polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus – diseases that were frequently fatal. As a child I suffered through the total misery of chicken pox, measles, and mumps. Looming always before us children was the specter of Helen Keller, made blind and deaf from a bout of rubella, or the photos of rows of young polio victims in bulky iron lungs. Encephalitis following chickenpox was written about in newspaper advice columns. Make no mistake: These illnesses are not benign and are sometimes fatal.
But there are two sides to every story; even this one. If parents precisely follow the recommended vaccine schedule, children are given forty-nine doses of fourteen separate vaccines by age six. They will receive sixty-nine doses of sixteen vaccines by age eighteen. One of those vaccines, the HPV vaccine, is so controversial that entire websites are devoted to those whose otherwise-healthy daughters and sons have suffered paralysis or died from the vaccine.
This schedule of standard inoculations recommends the first vaccine, for Hepatitis B, be given within 12 hours of birth – for an STD. Hepatitis B is primarily a blood-borne disease associated with intravenous drug use that involves sharing needles, or unprotected sex with multiple partners. Twelve hours after birth, an infant could only be infected if the mother was herself a carrier – something that can easily be determined by a blood test – or by receiving an infected blood transfusion. Very few newborn infants require an immediate blood transfusion. So if newborns are almost never at risk for Hepatitis B, why are they immediately being given a vaccine – one which, moreover, is implicated in many SIDS deaths? When the bodies of infants who die – die – from the vaccine are autopsied, why is brain swelling always found?
If there were no inherent danger in vaccines, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation program would not exist, and the United States Supreme Court would not have ruled in 2011 that federally licensed and recommended vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe”.
So we are giving our very young children sixty-nine doses of “unavoidably unsafe” inoculations, while at the same time often taking away parental rights to refuse or at least delay such overdosing.
Compounding the question is the undeniable fact that vaccinated individuals still sometimes contract the illness; just a few years ago, in an epidemic of mumps at Harvard, all of those who fell prey to the disease had been vaccinated. Worse, controversy still seems to swirl around whether those recently vaccinated with live, attenuated vaccines are capable of infecting the unprotected or immunocompromised, much like Typhoid Mary infected those around her. (First, read one web page, written by physicians, scientists or nurses, and you will read that this cannot happen. Next, read another web page, also written by physicians, scientists or nurses — or read even the vaccine enclosures themselves! — and you will read that it can and does happen.)
Looking carefully and thoughtfully at both sides of the question, I simply cannot find it in my heart to argue with parents who, if fortunate enough to be living in a state which still allows them to make what they see as the best choices for their children, either delay inoculations or refuse a few of them outright. Rather than denying other parents that right, if you fully believe in vaccination, you can choose to have your own children vaccinated directly on schedule and so (one hopes) be fully protected.
And if you choose either not to have your children vaccinated, or (as I would choose to do) to receive most inoculations on a greatly extended schedule, or even to refuse a few of them, then you can still feel certain in your deepest heart that you are doing your very best for the children you love.