Tag: choice

Making the Right Choice About Vaccines

Most parents vaccinate their kids.

For them, it is an easy choice. They know that vaccines work, that vaccines are safe, and that vaccines are necessary.

Making the Right Choice About Vaccines

Some folks aren’t so sure though. They may either be against vaccines or might still be on the fence, not knowing for sure what to do.

“When my third child was born, I had more questions than answers and a huge reluctance to choose immunizations without certainty that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

Suzanne Walther on A Parent’s Decision on Immunization: Making the Right Choice

Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo when he took his daughter to their pediatrician for vaccines.
Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo when he took his daughter to their pediatrician for her vaccines.

Parents can be confident that all of the evidence points to the facts that:

  1. Vaccines are effective at preventing disease. Vaccines work.
  2. Our kids do not get too many vaccines and do not get them at too early an age. The current immunization schedule helps protect young children from life-threatening diseases. Vaccines are necessary.
  3. Vaccines are safe and are extensively tested before they are approved.
  4. After they are approved, there are ongoing clinical trials and safety systems in place to rule out the possibility that vaccines could cause diseases later in life.
  5. Claims of adverse reactions are well investigated and easily disproved. Vaccines are not associated with SIDS, ADHD, eczema, autism, peanut allergies, or any other so-called vaccine induced diseases.
  6. There are plenty of places to go to get truthful, clear answers to questions about vaccines.
  7. Everything you hear that scares you about vaccines is likely not true, especially things about toxins, shedding, herd immunity, and package inserts, etc.

With all of the anti-vaccine information that is regularly posted on Facebook and anti-vaccine books listed on Amazon, it is no surprise that some parents would be scared though.

“I have discovered along the way that it is easy for parents to be misinformed. It is a real challenge to be well informed.”

Suzanne Walther on A Parent’s Decision on Immunization: Making the Right Choice

Make the effort to be well informed about vaccines.

More on Making the Right Choice About Vaccines

Kat Von D Just Took Away Your Vaccine Choice

Even as most of us understand that vaccines are safe and necessary, we are all free to make our own choices about vaccines and most other things in life. No one is forced to vaccinate their kids, despite what folks try to tell you.

Kat Von D has decided that she will be raising a vegan child, without vaccinations.
Kat Von D has decided that she will be raising a vegan child, without vaccinations.

Also, despite what many folks think, parents who choose to skip or delay vaccines have a lot of different reasons for doing so.

Kat Von D Just Took Away Your Vaccine Choice

Why has Kat Von D, a celebrity tattoo artist, decided to skip her child’s vaccines?

It seems that she wants to “raise a vegan child, without vaccinations,” even though many other vegans do indeed vaccinate their kids.

Why do we care what celebrities do with their kids? Well, for one thing, with 6.7 million followers on Instagram, she has the potential to influence a lot of people, not that anyone should really be taking health advice from a celebrity.

“My point being: I already know what it’s like to make life choices that are not the same as the majority. So your negative comments are not going influence my choices – actual research and educating myself will – which i am diligently doing.
This is my body. This is our child. And this is our pregnancy journey.”

Kat Von D

Just consider her comments about choices.

Kat Von D is all about making her own life choices, but in reality, she is taking away the choice for anyone who gets sick if they are exposed to her intentionally unvaccinated kid, if her child ever gets sick.

But how would her unvaccinated child get anyone else sick? While vaccine-preventable diseases don’t magically appear inside our bodies, we catch them from other people, if you have skipped or delayed a vaccine, then you have a much higher chance of getting one than someone who is vaccinated and protected. And since you can be contagious before you even have symptoms, you can expose others before you even know that you are sick.

Sure, most other people are vaccinated, but many are at risk because some are too young to be vaccinated, have true medical exemptions to getting vaccinated, including kids with immune system problems and cancer, and sometimes, vaccines don’t work.

Unlike parents who used to take their kids to chicken pox parties, you don’t have a choice if your child gets measles because they were exposed to an intentionally unvaccinated child at daycare, school, or the grocery store. In fact, that’s a reason that many pediatricians now dismiss unvaccinated families.

Hopefully Kat Von D and her husband will really continue doing “actual research” about vaccines and she will understand that the best choice we can all make is to get our kids and ourselves vaccinated and protected. At least she should understand that her choice about vaccines shouldn’t put the rest of us at risk.

What to Know About Kat Von D and Her Vaccine Choice

Kat Von D choice to raise an unvaccinated child and tell her 6.7 million followers on Instagram affects us all.

More on Kat Von D and Her Vaccine Choice

What Are the Demands and Goals of the Anti-Vaccine Movement?

So what exactly do anti-vaccine folks want?

What are they trying to do?

Are they trying to scare parents away from getting vaccinating and protecting their kids, hoping to drag us back to the pre-vaccine era?

What Are the Demands and Goals of the Anti-Vaccine Movement?

Of course, some of the folks who are anti-vaccine don’t actually like to be called anti-vaccine. Instead, they prefer to say that they are pro-safe vaccines. So for them, it is rather obvious – they want safer vaccines without toxins.

Now, since vaccines are already safe and don’t contain any toxic ingredients, it would seem like their work is done already, right?

Another goal is having fewer vaccines on the immunization schedule. Jenny McCarthy often pushes the Turn Back the Clock immunization plan, wanting kids to only get vaccines that were on the 1983 immunization schedule, back when kids still died of meningitis, pneumonia, blood infections, severe dehydration, epiglottitis, and cancer from Hib, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, chicken pox, HPV, and meningococcal disease, which are now vaccine preventable.

Other members of the anti-vaccine movement talk about vaccine choice. They want to be able to choose whether or not they should have to vaccinate their kids.

Again, done. No one is forcing parents to vaccinate their kids. We may not have a choice on whether or not your unvaccinated child gets sick and puts someone else at risk for getting a vaccine-preventable disease because they were too young to be vaccinated, had a medical exemption, or their vaccine didn’t work, but you can certainly make the choice to skip or delay any vaccines you want.

“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

What are other goals of the anti-vaccine movement?

Johns Hopkins Medicine, which includes the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System went out of their way to correct this anti-vaccine misinformation.
Johns Hopkins Medicine went out of their way to correct this anti-vaccine misinformation about shedding.

Have you heard about the anti-vaccine folks who want to quarantine all kids who have recently been vaccinated for at least six weeks? Why quarantine kids who have been vaccinated? They are worried about shedding

Would anyone go so far as wanting to ban vaccinations? Yup. So much for vaccine choice.

Some others want to rescind the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which they think will help make it easier to sue vaccine manufacturers. That’s one of Andrew Wakefield‘s demands in his movie VAXXED. He and others never mention that if you are suing in civil court, then you must meet a higher burden of proof for vaccine injury than you do in Vaccine Court.

Remember when Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. thought he would be appointed to some special Trump commission on vaccines?

“We want safe vaccines, robust transparent science and an honest and independent regulatory agency focused narrowly on public health rather than industry profit.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on Mercury, Vaccines and the CDC’s Worst Nightmare

Kennedy’s vaccine commission never happened, but that hasn’t stopped him from pushing for an independent regulatory agency.

I’m not sure who would run or be a part of Kennedy’s independent regulatory agency though, as he believes that “Congress, the regulatory agencies, FDA and CDC, the IOM, the NIH, the AAP, the science journals, the university science departments and the press” have all been compromised by Pharma.

Kennedy also wants thimerosal out of vaccines, which, as most people know, is already out of all vaccines on the immunization schedule, including about 100 million doses of flu shots this past year. But like others, he seems to be moving on to aluminum as his new target.

What else?

Fortunately, it is easy to see why the demands and goals of the modern anti-vaccine movement are dangerous, unethical, and unnecessary, and like parents who decide to skip or delay vaccines, will simply put us all at risk for more outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease.

What to Know About the Demands and Goals of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Whatever their demands and goals of the anti-vaccine movement, the effect is that they are scaring parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids from life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases for no good reason.

More on the Demands and Goals of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Ask Amy About Intentionally Unvaccinated Kids at a Holiday Party

How do you avoid fighting with friends and family when you get together at the holidays?

Some say to talk about whatever you want, but just have empathy for others when you talk about controversial topics.

Other experts say to simply avoid talking about things like politics, religion, and sex.

Going that route, it is easy to imagine that the list of things that you can’t talk about can get pretty long in some families.

Topics Too Dangerous To Avoid

Are some topics too dangerous to avoid talking about?

I’m not talking about in the long-term, what’s going to happen to our world kind of dangerous, but short term dangers to your kids and the rest of your family.

For example, what if you instinctively think that you should avoid talking about guns when visiting your uncle’s house, because you remember seeing all of his Facebook posts about the NRA. But you want to make sure there aren’t any unsecured guns lying around the house that your toddler could find. Do you ASK about guns in the house?

Ask Amy About Intentionally Unvaccinated Kids

What about vaccines?

That’s another topic that’s too important to avoid talking about.

Ask Amy took on the issue of the risk of an intentionally unvaccinated child to the rest of the family.
Ask Amy takes on the risk of an intentionally unvaccinated child at a holiday party.

What’s the problem? Some family members don’t want to come to a family gathering if their sibling is going to bring their intentionally unvaccinated child.

And why is that a problem if they are all fully vaccinated (a common argument posed by anti-vaccine folks)?

It should be clear that they are not all fully vaccinated. At least one of the grandchildren is just 6-months-old, so is too young to be fully vaccinated. She will not get her first dose of MMR and chicken pox vaccine, for example, until she is at least 12 months old.

But she isn’t the only one at risk. The other children and adults could be at risk because no vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccines work and they work very well. They just aren’t perfect.

What Ask Amy Gets Right and Wrong

Ask Amy was smart to turn to a pediatrician for help on this question.

And Dr. Thoele is right, this intentionally unvaccinated child is getting away with hiding in herd (at least so far) and won’t get anyone else sick unless he is exposed first and gets sick himself.

“If you choose to delay some vaccines or reject some vaccines entirely, there can be risks. Please follow these steps to protect your child, your family, and others.”

CDC on If You Choose Not to Vaccinate Your Child, Understand the Risk and Responsibilities

Many of us would take exception to the part that it is “highly unlikely” that this child could get a vaccine-preventable disease though. There are usually one or more outbreaks of chicken pox, mumps, pertussis, and measles, etc., going on in different parts of the United States throughout the year. And because parents who don’t vaccinate their children often cluster together in groups, it increases the chances that their kids will catch something.

Have they traveled out of the country? Have they been exposed to someone who has? That increases their risk too.

And what about the flu?

“(Dr) Thoele and I both hope that everyone attends the family get-together and that all family members should try their best to be nice to one another. There is, fortunately, no vaccine preventing that.”

There is also nothing preventing those parents from vaccinating their child.

Unvaccinated Kids at a Holiday Party

So should this intentionally unvaccinated toddler come to the holiday party?

Should other kids come if the unvaccinated child will be there?

While no one wants a family to be split over such a matter or for grandparents to be put in the middle, it is a much more complicated issue than wishing that everyone play nice.

Not Vaccinated? No Kisses!
A billboard advocating that teens and adults get a Tdap booster.

Not surprisingly, pediatricians get asked about these kinds of situation all of the time:

  • Should new parents allow family members to visit if they won’t get a flu shot?
  • When can they allow a family member to see their new baby if they won’t get a Tdap booster?
  • What do they do about the family members who don’t get vaccinated and don’t even take their kids to the doctor for regular checkups?

And what’s the answer?

Understand that kids aren’t at least partially protected against:

  • pertussis until after the third dose of DTaP at six months
  • the flu until after getting a first flu shot at six months, keeping in mind that they are actually going to need a second flu shot for full protection, since it is the first time that they are being vaccinated against influenza
  • measles, mumps, and chicken pox until they get their first dose of MMR and the chicken pox vaccine when they are 12 months old

And that’s why many parents would not, if they had a choice, expose their children to an intentionally unvaccinated child until after they had at least had their 12 to 15 month vaccines. By this time, they have also gotten 3-4 doses of Hib and Prevnar, and have completed their rotavirus vaccines.

Of course, if the child, or any of the adults, had an immune system problem, were getting treated for cancer, or had any other condition that would put them at higher risk for getting a vaccine-preventable disease, then they would likely never voluntarily expose themselves to someone who was intentionally unvaccinated.

I say voluntarily, because we often don’t have a choice.

In most states, folks are allowed to send their intentionally unvaccinated kids to school and daycare. And those kids put us all at risk.

And yes, there are vaccines to prevent that.

What to Know About Unvaccinated Kids at a Holiday Party

Many parents would avoid voluntarily exposing their kids to an intentionally unvaccinated child until they have at least completed their primary series of vaccines, when they are 12 to 15 months old.

More on Unvaccinated Kids at a Holiday Party

The Moral Responsibility of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

It shouldn’t be surprising that talk of morality comes up around the issue of vaccines from time to time.

“Scientists and clinicians confront moral and ethical choices daily and often observe a religious faith that helps guide their own personal conduct. Indeed, the religious beliefs of countless historical and contemporary researchers and clinicians have been a source of motivation to help relieve human suffering by means of immunization.”

Grabenstein on What the World’s religions teach, applied to vaccines and immune globulins

It is most often because some vaccines do have a “distant historical association with abortion.”

Even then, the National Catholic Bioethics Center states that:

One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.

That seems pretty easy to interpret.

They are saying we are both “morally free” to use these vaccines and that we “have a moral obligation” to get vaccinated.

What about those parents who feel like they shouldn’t have to vaccinate their kids, exposing them to the risks of vaccines, simply to “protect the herd?”

“Putting aside arguments about social good, herd immunity, discouraging free loading and preventing harm to others, vaccinating a child for the child’s sake is not just the right thing to do, but also the only thing to do.”

Ogbogu on Vaccines and the Ethics of Parental Choice

They should understand that:

  • they aren’t vaccinating their kids just to protect levels of herd immunity in the community – they are also providing their own kids with individual levels of immunity and protection, so it is not just about preventing harm to others
  • vaccines are safe, so the risks of getting vaccinated are very low
  • by intentionally not vaccinating their own kids, they are free-riding and benefiting from the fact that most of the rest of us do get vaccinated and do vaccinate our kids

And they should understand that there is no ethical way to defend intentionally skipping or delaying their child’s vaccines, which puts kids who can’t be vaccinated at risk.

“The society of the 21st century, just as many societies and cultures in the history of human civilization, use religion as an excuse for wars, discrimination, and now for vaccination refusal.”

Pelčić on Religious exception for vaccination or religious excuses for avoiding vaccination

Although a few folks haven’t gotten the message, and may even lie to get a fake religious vaccine exemption, most others see it the same way.

“Giving children a healthy start in life, no matter where they are born or the circumstances of their birth, is the moral obligation of every one of us. It is heartbreaking to think that three million children die each year from diseases that we can prevent.”

Nelson Mandela (2002 Vaccine Conference)

Most parents vaccinate their kids because they understand that vaccines are safe, vaccines work, and vaccines are necessary, just as they likely also understand that there is a moral obligation to vaccinate.

“The argument relating to public goods can be added to the harm-to-others arguments. Where a public good, such as herd protection, exists we must take care not to damage it. The need to create and maintain such a good provides an additional reason, should one be needed, to argue in favour of a moral obligation for the traveller to be vaccinated in advance for infectious disease.”

Dawson on What are the moral obligations of the traveller in relation to vaccination?

And if there is a moral obligation to get vaccinated, then what does that say about those who push propaganda that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids?

“The anti-vaccine argument is wrong in both the scientific and moral sense.”

Sarah Kurchak on Here’s How the Anti-Vaccination Movement Hurts Autistic People

Dr. Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Health Commissioner, is the latest to call out those in anti-vaccination movements, who he says have the “moral responsibility” for the death of unvaccinated children.

“I would like to draw attention to the fact that all these movements, which use different arguments, do not understand what they are doing. It would be a shame if the families belonging to this movement were to bury their children, as happened this year in the Member States where children have died of measles.

I would like to invite those who are against the vaccines to visit families, to visit the tombs of the children of those families, and to think what they are doing. I would like to invite all these anti-aging movements to visit the European cemeteries of the nineteenth century, of the eighteenth century, beginning of the twentieth century: they will find many tombs of small children, because there were no vaccines.”

Vytenis Andriukaitis, MD (translated from Italian)

Dr. William Osler's vaccine challenge in his 1911 essay Man's Redemption of Man.
Dr. William Osler’s vaccine challenge in his 1911 essay Man’s Redemption of Man.

This brings to mind another challenge that was made to anti-vaccine activists just over one hundred years ago by Dr. William Osler in his essay Man’s Redemption of Man.

Dr. Osler jokingly proposed a small vaccinated vs unvaccinated study and challenged ten unvaccinated people, including “three anti-vaccination doctors, if they could be found,” to join him in the “next severe epidemic.”

Tragically, Dr. Osler wouldn’t have a hard time finding three anti-vaccination doctors today.

He would have an easy time recognizing their arguments, as they really haven’t changed over the past 100 years.

Neither is the fact that kids are still dying of diseases that are now vaccine-preventable.

What to Know About the Moral Responsibility of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Many people believe that we have a moral responsibility to protect ourselves, our families, and those around us from vaccine-preventable diseases by getting vaccinated and it is immoral to push misinformation that scares parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

More on the Moral Responsibility of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

Are You on the Fence About Vaccines?

If you have doubts about vaccinating your kids, but you are still doing research, then you are probably what people like to call a fence sitter.

On the Fence About Vaccines

Folks who are on the fence haven’t made a decision yet and are torn between what they see as two difficult options.

In this case, the two options we are talking about are:

  1. vaccinate your kids
  2. don’t vaccinate your kids

What makes those options difficult?

If you spend a little time on the Internet, those two options get complicated quickly and can turn into:

  1. vaccinate your kids – exposing them to toxins and all kinds of vaccine-induced diseases, from autism to SIDS
  2. don’t vaccinate your kids – risking a deadly disease because they are unvaccinated or the possibility that someone will come and force you to get them vaccinated

How do you figure out the truth to help you make the right decision for your family?

The Truth Behind Your Vaccine Decision

Most parents vaccinate their kids on time and on schedule.

These books about vaccines can help with your research about vaccinating and protecting your family.
These vaccine books can help you make the right decision if you are on the fence about vaccines.

Do they all have a hard time making their decision?

Most don’t.

They understand the risks their children face if they aren’t vaccinated.

“When a well-meaning parent like Jenny McCarthy blames vaccines for her child’s autism, placing the fear of God into every parent who has a baby, it’s not only irresponsible – it’s dangerous. Why? It’s simple math: vaccines are less effective when large numbers of parents opt out. And the more who opt out, the less protected ALL our children are.

Celebrity books come and go . . . but the anxiety they create lives on in pediatricians’ offices across the country. A small, but growing number of parents are even lying about their religious beliefs to avoid having their children vaccinated, thanks in part to the media hysteria created by this book.”

Ari Brown, MD responding to Jenny McCarthy appearing on Oprah

That’s not to say that they don’t think about their decision to vaccinate their kids. Or even think twice about it.

But in the end, they know that:

And they know that their decision might affect others around them.

If your research about vaccines has pushed you off the wrong side of the fence and into your pediatrician’s office with a copy of Dr. Bob’s vaccine book demanding an alternative immunization schedule, then you might want to do a little more research.

Misinformed Consent

Most importantly, parents who choose to vaccinate their kids don’t believe the myths and conspiracy theories that might lead them to skip or delay any recommended vaccines.

“If you see a turtle sitting on top of a fence post, it didn’t get there by accident.”

President Bill Clinton

Ironically, the anti-vaccine “experts” and websites that scare some parents often talk about choice and informed consent.

Understand though, that by exaggerating the risks of vaccines and vaccine injury (no, vaccines are not full of toxins), playing down the risks of vaccine-preventable diseases (no, they are not mild diseases that should be thought of as a rite of passage), and ignoring the benefits of vaccines (yes, vaccines do work), they are violating the basic tenets of informed consent themselves.

And that limits your ability to make the right choice for your family.

Making the Right Decision About Vaccines

There is nothing wrong with asking questions and being skeptical about the answers you get.

No one wants to return to the days when reports of measles epidemics made the front page of the New York Times.
No one wants to return to the days when reports of measles epidemics made the front page of the New York Times.

With all of the things you see and hear about vaccines, there is nothing wrong with being a little scared and wanting to do more research, instead of blindly following the advice of your pediatrician.

But remember that if you are going to be skeptical and are not going to blindly follow the advice of someone you know and maybe trust, then don’t blindly believe everything you read on the Internet that says vaccines are bad.

“My husband and I agreed we would just not have our new baby vaccinated until she was at least 1 year old, which seemed like enough time to continue looking for information. Also, we were not concerned that she was at risk of contracting any serious childhood illnesses.

We were wrong.

A week before our baby girl’s first birthday, she was feverish and listless. When she refused to nurse for 24 hours, I took her to see our pediatrician. She was hurriedly admitted to intensive care with the diagnosis of spinal meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae, type B, which is a vaccine-preventable disease.”

Suzanne Walther on A Parent’s Decision on Immunization: Making the Right Choice

Suzanne Walther discovered that “it is easy for parents to be misinformed. It is a real challenge to be well informed.”

What questions did she want answers to?

  • Are vaccines really effective at preventing diseases? – Yes, although they aren’t 100% effective, vaccines do work well at preventing and controlling 16 different vaccine-preventable diseases on our childhood immunization schedule. And yes, vaccines did help eliminate smallpox and herd immunity is real.
  • How are vaccines made? – Vaccines are made in a multi-step process that begins with generating the antigens that will go in the vaccine and then moves to releasing and isolating the antigen from the growth medium, purifying the antigen, strengthening and stabilizing the vaccine, and then combining it all into the final vaccine. Unlike videos you may have seen on the Internet, there is nothing scary about this very scientific process.
  • Are they tested for safety? – Vaccines are extensively tested in Phase I, II, and III trials before they are approved and added to the immunization schedule. This entire vaccine development process may take as long as 10 to 15 years.
  • Are there ongoing clinical trials to rule out the possibility that vaccines cause diseases later in life? – Yes, after vaccines are approved and are added to the immunization schedule, ongoing Phase IV studies continue to monitor their safety and efficacy. In addition, Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project, and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) help make sure vaccines are safe after they are approved.
  • Have allegations of adverse reactions been studied and confirmed or refuted? – Yes. In addition to several Institute of Medicine Vaccine reports, study after study have shown that vaccines don’t cause autism, SIDS, ASIA, or any of the other vaccine induced diseases “they” come up with.
  • And, last but not least, where can I get truthful, clear answers to my questions? – In addition to your pediatrician, there are plenty of vaccine books, sites, and groups that can help you get educated about vaccines.

Today, she might also have had questions about package inserts, aluminum, MTHFR mutations, shedding, vaccine mandates, the CDC Whistleblower, and the HPV vaccine. These and a hundred more have been answered over and over again.

Suzanne Walther learned about vaccines the hard way – after her infant contracted Hib meningitis, a vaccine-preventable disease. She also discovered that you can sometimes delay or wait too long to vaccinate your child.

What will you do to be well informed and to make sure you are making the right choice?

What to Know If You Are on the Fence About Vaccines

It is easy to be misinformed about vaccines, especially if you are on the fence and aren’t sure what to do. Get educated and and be sure you are making the right decision for your family.

More About One the Fence About Vaccines