I’m Not (Quite) An Anti-Vaxxer

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.

To Flu or Not to Flu…Shot

Although I’m of the appropriate age for the inoculation, I have not had a shingles vaccine, and I absolutely don’t intend to do so, neither the original formula shot nor the newest one. I had chickenpox as a child, so I’m well aware that the virus lives in my body, awaiting only the right concatenation of factors, to become active once more.  Several of my family members and acquaintances have suffered shingles, so I’ve seen what the disease can do.  But here is, for me, the salient point: Of the four people I’ve known who fell prey to a case of shingles, three of them had received the vaccine.  And of those three, one of them appeared to have the worst case of anyone I’d seen.

So I just don’t quite see the point of putting into my body a mixture filled with god-alone-knows what soup of ingredients not really intended for human beings, if it’s not really going to prevent the disease.

I may regret this attitude if I come down with a case of shingles. But then again, knowing how badly I react to most inoculations, I may not.

I wasn’t always this adamant about avoidable vaccines. I’ve suffered from asthma since early adulthood, so for many years I was always extremely careful about getting a yearly flu shot.  Long before most people even considered having a flu shot, and certainly long before the government got involved in public awareness campaigns to encourage/chivvy/mandate that everyone receive that vaccine, I willingly rolled up my sleeve once a year.  I also cooperatively got the newly-developed first “lifetime” pneumonia shot (which turned out not to be so lifetime a vaccine after all.)

I accepted as a matter of course that my annual flu jab would send me into a two-week bout with bronchitis, and that only after having made me feverish and aching for at least 24 hours. Having had influenza previously, I thought it was worth it.

But then I experienced my first severe reaction. Within moments of the vaccine entering my arm, I felt as if fire had been poured onto my nerves. I’d taken ibuprofen before getting the inoculation, hoping to ward off aches and fever; I downed another dose as soon as possible immediately afterward. But the pain continued and grew worse, throbbing across my shoulders and neck and down my other arm until I was in tears. It felt as if my every nerve was being rubbed raw with sandpaper.

While the worst of my reaction finally eased after two days, I experienced malaise and fever and general aching for another week. Finally, I came down with my usual bronchitis, but this was much more severe a case than usual.

Although I questioned the wisdom of continuing this regimen, I listened to the propaganda and so got a flu shot the next year, and the next, and the next… Each time my reaction was worse.  At last, four years ago, I endured pain so lasting that, a full two months after the shot, I was unable to lift my sore arm to draw back a curtain one morning.

That was the proverbial last straw. I called a halt. I have not had a flu shot since, and I never plan to have another.

I am not really a complete fool where vaccines are concerned. If I were jabbed with a rusty nail, I wouldn’t hesitate to get a tetanus inoculation – in fact, I have, and I did — despite the fact that my arm swells to twice it’s normal size and becomes immobile for days after a tetanus shot. If bitten by a rabid animal, you’d find me running at Warp 10, demanding a rabies vaccine. I had whooping cough as an adult (ha! the vaccine given me as a child “wore off”) and I don’t recommend that particular disease to anyone; I coughed for nearly three months, unable to breathe, sometimes hacking so hard that I vomited. Yet it was because of having had the illness that I refused a pertussis shot when a little relative was born with lung problems.  As a result, I wasn’t allowed near the baby until he was released from the hospital.  That saddened me, but, again, given my reaction to inoculations, I wasn’t about to allow a mix of unhealthy chemicals to be injected into my body for a disease to which I now had probable long-term immunity.

Each year one reads about those who suffer Guillain-Barré syndrome (a form of paralysis) as a result of flu shots. Others die from flu vaccine.  Yet always, following the reports of paralysis or death, those who mandate the shots step forward to pronounce that the disease is much more dangerous than the vaccine.  Uh, guys, here’s the thing: Death is death, whether it comes from a vaccine or a disease.  Yep, I’d say death is pretty dangerous.

I’ve had influenza a few times now, and survived. It was mightily unpleasant and scary – but so is my reaction to the inoculation. I believe to my soul that if I ever get another flu shot, I might die.  I am not a gambler, but I have to weigh my chances.

I choose not to drink the Kool-Aid