A pox on my house!

Some of my readers may not know that there has been a growing movement away from childhood vaccines, or approaching immunizations on an alternative schedule.  There are several reasons for this.  The main idea is that there are questions about a possible link between immunizations and autism because of the thorazine (a product containing mercury) or aluminum component in some vaccines.

When I first became a parent, I didn’t know anything about choices in vaccines, so I just had my kids vaccinated for everything.  (I would be doing the alternative vaccination schedule recommended in this book if I were having my babies now to spread out exposure to/cut down on the metallic compounds, however.)

With a couple of exceptions.  We don’t do flu shots, and we haven’t vaccinated against the chicken pox.

As it turns out, the chicken pox thing is a problem now that we are enrolling Connor in Kindergarten.  The State of Washington has joined most of the other states requiring the varicella zoster (chicken pox) vaccine (among several other vaccines) for entry into the school system.  Even if we did choose to give this vaccine, I cannot tell you how angry this made me to find this out.

Parents who choose not to vaccinate, or pick and choose vaccinations, or follow an alternative schedule are not doing this because they are evil and want their child to get sick.  They are doing it because they have carefully weighed the pros and cons of vaccination risks along side of disease risks and the disease risks actually looked less risky.

Here in the modern world, we are used to needles and vaccines.  But stop and really think about it.  Which seems more normal – getting a mostly-harmless disease, or injecting some laboratory version of the disease, mixed with a bunch of strange compounds, into your blood directly?

For instance, here are the reasons we haven’t vaccinated for chicken pox (the varicella vaccine does not contain mercury, thermasol or aluminum):

1.  It is a new vaccine.  As it was only created in the 1990’s, we won’t know the effectiveness of the immunization through the adult years and old age for many decades to come.  Chicken pox is much more dangerous as an adult.  When the vaccine began it was a one-injection thing.  Now Washington State is requiring four varicella injections spread out over childhood.  Who is to say that will be enough?  Will they have to add boosters through the adult years?  And will my child be responsible enough to continue those boosters when I am not there to “enforce” them?

2.   It’s the Chicken Pox.  We’ve all had them – back in our day, it was a rite of childhood passage, wasn’t it?  Now, I’m not going to tell you that chicken pox is risk-free, but it is pretty benign.  Before the vaccine, each year there were 100 deaths related to varicella.  What that statistic is not telling you, though: how many of these deaths occurred in the adult years?  Or with immuno-compromized persons?  Or generally unhealthy people who eat poorly and don’t take care of themselves?  Or infants born to mothers who were experiencing a chicken pox outbreak at the time of birth?  I’ve also heard that there might be a link between these deaths and people taking inhaled corticosteriods for athsma.  Then, think about it this way:  100 deaths a year is nothing when you compare it to the 36,000 Americans that die every year from complications of the flu.

3.   I can build a stronger immunization if I “vaccinate” naturally.  10-20% of people vaccinated end up getting chicken pox anyway (albeit a milder version).  We’re discussing exposing our kids on purpose to chicken pox, probably this summer before school.  I’m not sure we’ll have a full-blown “chicken pox party” (I can’t seem to warm Rich up to the idea) but we might have a playdate with a kid with a confirmed case of varicella.  We’ve discussed it with the kids, so it’s not like we would be being sneaky.  It will be more work for us, but I believe better for the kids in the long run.  I’d love to let nature take it’s course, but with most kids immune we may have to seek it out.  (My parents exposed me and my brother on purpose and I have no problem with that.)

4.  I have doubts about the motives for requiring vaccination.  The World Health Organization mentions “cost-effectiveness” just a few too many times for my comfort level when discussing why to vaccinate against varicella.  Is that what it really is about – saving money?  What about my child’s long-term health?  Oh, I get it – it’s a profit thing!

5.  Our family doc recommended not vaccinating against the chicken pox.   He even mentioned that he exposed his kids on purpose.  (Have I mentioned here how much I like our doctor?  Well I do!)


14 Responses to “A pox on my house!”

  1. 1 Cheeky March 10, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Actually, you aren’t *required* to have any vaccinations to attend school in Washington. In Washington we are lucky that we can opt out from any or all vaccinations with either a personal or religious exemption (I use the former). The immunization form should have two sides, with the exemption information at the bottom on the back. Sometimes they only give the front side (because who would be crazy enough to not vaccinate their child?!?!), in which case you have to go to the website and download the full form. 🙂

  2. 2 womantowomancbe March 10, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I totally agree!

    My husband was kind enough to get shingles when our older son was 13 months old, so he and all of his cousins got chicken pox. Our family doesn’t do vaccinations much anyway, and certainly not vax for chicken pox. People who are against abortion have a further reason not to do this vax–it’s grown in cells from aborted fetuses (that’s what “human diploid tissue” is if you’ll look at the package insert for Varivax). I’d definitely go with a “pox party” over vaccination, for the reasons you’ve listed above.


  3. 3 Rattling the Kettle March 10, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    I recently had a doctor try to sell me on the benefits of the chickenpox vaccine by telling me how mild his (four) kids’ cases were after they were all vaccinated. He didn’t appreciate my laughter.

    Good luck with the pox parties. I’ve exposed my son twice this winter, with no luck. He’s 2-1/2, so there’s plenty of time, but wouldn’t it be nice if more docs were like yours?

  4. 4 Dan March 11, 2008 at 1:23 am

    The link to autism and MMR has largely been debunked now.

    I can see why you wouldn’t want to get the chicken pox vaccine. It’s not exactly a life threatening disease. But (as you would have guessed I’m sure) I’m all for getting kids vaccinated.

  5. 5 Agatha March 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    You mentioned metallic compounds in vaccinations. This is a thing of the past.

    Peope who choose not to vaccinate their children are relying on the common sense of parents like you, who support the herd immunity. It drives me nuts. It angers me NO END that people STILL believe in the link to autism/MMR – it is utter nonsense.

    As a child I was sent to Chicken Pox parties until I caught it, but as a relative of a child who died of Measles, you bet your life i’ll vaccinate my future children.

    People who choose not to vaccinate have never seen a child in an iron lung, lighting for it’s life from the devastating effects of polio. We have forgotten that smallpox & polio are diseases that decimated entire countries – including the USA – in living memory.

    I cannot urge people enough to quit relying on OTHER people to preserve herd immunity.

  6. 6 krysten March 12, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    i found you via rachel’s site and I am soooo right there with you. i see some of your commenters think there are no metallic compounds in vaccines, actually some still DO have them. my first inclination was to just skip hep, chicken pox, flu and sort out the others, but at this time my baby’s vax free. the one i struggle with is polio, as in maybe he should have that one… But i too had a good chuckle that my kid should get chick pox vax so i wouldn’t have to use my sick days, or pay copays at the doctors, save money ha!

    it’s also funny how the medical community has brainwashed people into thinking the only reasons these diseases (like smallpox) are gone is because of vaccines? i wish i could find the chart again where it showed the improvements of hygiene/indoor plumbing helped iradicate smallpox BEFORE the vaccine was required. having these illnesses once provides immunity for life, vaccines need to be given every x years to keep immunity…blah

    tell me again which OBJECTIVE study, done by a NON-gov’t entity PROVED autism is NOT linked to vaccines? altho I’m not convinced it is or it isn’t, i won’t rule it out until it’s done by an outside study.

    and once i did my research, i felt more convicted to NOT put “mouse tissues, human tissues, formeldahyde, green dyes, red dyes, and whatever other nonsense is in there” in my baby’s pure body.

    I don’t have a problem with those who do vaccinate, that’s their choice, their child and they’re doing waht they feel best, but I have a problem with everyone having a problem with what I do. Educate before you vaccinate!

  7. 7 Tiarnna March 12, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Have no fear you nay sayers, for a link between autism and vaccines has been accepted as plausible by your very own US govt’. http://www.newsmax.com/health/vaccines_cause_autism/2008/03/03/77315.html

    They’ve been dishing out compensation for vaccine injuries (albeit very quietly) for years.

    My theory…..you can put it in, but you can’t take it out.

    Oh wait…….thats how it is for thimerosal too!! It is used in the manufacturing process, and then “removed” to make it free of mercury. Free enough that is to be declared free of mercury. Just like the decaf coffee at Starbucks really is caffeine free! 😉 http://www.energyfiend.com/caffeine-content/starbucks-tall-decaf-coffee

    Turn that vax record over and sign away !

  8. 8 journeytocrunchville March 13, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Nice comments, eh? It never fails. I love that there are always misconceptions on both sides. And I love the arguments about herd immunity. Ironic, no? And as far as the autism and vaccine link it is obviously still up for debate as they have settled a court case awarding the parents compensation for the first autism case in Feb 08. Granted it may not relate to the general public, but still, connection there may be. Besides, people don’t avoid vaccinations for autism alone. But Cheeky is right. Washington state allows for a philosophical, religious or medical exception for vaccinations. All though getting it before school started may save you some drama.

  9. 9 americanmum March 13, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Above is the story about the autism/vaccination settlement court case.

    I actually did get the personal exemption but it wasn’t fun sitting there hearing from the school nurse how we “had” to get the vaccines “by law”. It left a sour taste in my mouth.

    Agatha’s a great gal – don’t be too hard on her 🙂

  10. 10 Agatha March 14, 2008 at 8:21 am

    There are lots of things to think about here- there was a measles vaccination available prior to MMR although not a concerted vaccination programme. The measles vaccine was invented in 1968, and had some effect – though not as striking as MMR.

    Between 1968 (first measles vaccine) and 1988 (introduction of MMR programme), c. 450 people died from measles in England and Wales.

    In the 20 years prior to the availability of any vaccine, approximately 2,500 people died from measles in England and Wales. Of course, underlying vulnerability to disease has something to do with it, as does access to medical care. I’m afraid that for a viral illness like measles, santitation has bugger all to do with it – because it’s basically not about sewerage, but a contact/cough disease and so improvements in hygiene would have to be at a very basic level which is very difficult to achieve amongst children.

    It’s true that while death rates have broadly tracked infection rates over time, that hasn’t remained totally static – some years the virus has been more virulent, the population weaker, treatment better, notification rates more accurate or a combination of these and many other variables. To take some snapshots for England and Wales:

    In 1945: 446,796 cases and 729 deaths (1 in 613 died).
    In 1955: 693,803 cases and 174 deaths (1 in 3987 died).
    In 1965: 502,209 cases and 115 deaths (1 in 4367 died).
    In 1975: 143,072 cases and 16 deaths (1 in 8942 died).
    In 1985: 97,408 cases and 11 deaths (1 in 8855 died).
    In 1995: 7,447 cases and 1 death (1 in 7447 died)
    In 2005: 2,089 cases and no deaths.

    Obviously, there are lots of factors to explain the impact of measles in 1945 (no NHS treatment, lack of notification may mean that cases were underreported, thereby increasing the apparent death rate relative to infection). But changes in nutrition and sanitation are a very poor way of explaining the dramatic drop in both cases and deaths between 1965 and 2005 – because basically the big improvements on that score came about much earlier.

  11. 11 Agatha March 17, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Kristina – thought you’d find this interesting….

    Michel Odent’s primal health research shows a link to autism from the disruption of contact of brand newborn and mother in that very important perinatal period. Makes interesting reading… anyone considering not vaccinating owes it to their children to read it.

    Although the autism has famously caused the mistrust of vaccinations, the evidence doesn’t support it however there are many other side effects that vaccines (like ALL drugs) do cause. So the debate has to be about the statistical risk of disease (and its severity) versus the risk of the vaccination itself.

    Just because the US government pays out on something does not prove a link.

  12. 12 River Eden Doula March 20, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    “You mentioned metallic compounds in vaccinations. This is a thing of the past.”

    Agatha – Did you mean mercury or aluminum/aluminium is a thing of the past? I really hope you didn’t mean that, because either assertion is absolutely false.

    Mercury still exists in some vaccines in “trace amounts” (some brands of DTaP, Hib and influenza.)

    “‘A common myth is that thimerosal is added to vaccines in ‘trace’ amounts,’ says Mike Wagnitz, a senior chemist at the University of Wisconsin, ‘The concentration of mercury in a multi-dose flu vaccine vial is 50,000 parts per billion. To put this in perspective, drinking water cannot exceed 2 parts per billion of mercury, and waste is considered hazardous if it has only 200 parts per billion.'”

    Mercury was never was in the MMR vaccine, therefore was never removed, however aluminum/aluminium is still used in several vaccines such as some brands of DTaP, Hib, pneumococcal, influenza and hepatitis A.

    Dr. Bob Sears, the pediatrician who wrote the book the author of this blog mentions:

    “Here are the current levels of aluminum per shot of the following vaccines, as listed on each vaccine’s packaging:
    ·DTaP (for Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis): 170-625 mcg, depending on manufacturer
    ·Hepatitis A: 250 mcg
    ·Hepatitis B: 250 mcg
    ·HIB (for meningitis; PedVaxHib brand only): 225 mcg
    ·HPV: 225 mcg
    ·Pediarix (DTaP/Hepatitis/Polio combination): 850 mcg
    ·Pentacel (DTaP/HIB/Polio combination): 1500 mcg
    ·Pneumococcus: 125 mcg

    Pg. 198 of Dr. Sears’ book – “Using the 5 microgram per kilogram per day criterion from the first FDA document as a minumum amount we know a healthy baby can handle, a twelve-pound, two-month-old baby can safely get 30 micrograms of aluminum in one day.”

    He continues: “I turned to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), who in 1996 published a policy statement, ‘Aluminum Toxicity in Infants and Children,’ that made the following points:
    ·Aluminum can cause neurologic harm.
    ·A study from 30 years ago showed that human adults increase their urine excretion of aluminum when exposed to higher levels of the metal, which suggests that adults can clear out excess aluminum.
    ·Adults taking aluminum-containing antacids don’t build up high levels of aluminum in their bodies.
    ·Reports of infants with healthy kidneys show elevated blood levels of aluminum from taking antacids.
    ·People with kidney disease who build up bloodstream levels of aluminum greater than 100 mcg per liter are at risk of toxicity.
    ·The toxic threshold of aluminum in the bloodstream may be lower than 100 mcg per liter.
    ·The buildup of aluminum in tissues has been seen even in patients with healthy kidneys who receive IV solutions containing aluminum over extended periods.”

    You are welcome to have your opinions, but its not fair to get mad at others who question vaccinations when you obviously don’t understand their concerns completely.

  13. 13 Agatha March 21, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Oh i’m not mad, not a chance. I was talking about thiomersal which is present in some vaccines to keep them ‘fresh’ – once you’ve had the vaccine, you can find the thiomersal in feces. The body voids it.

    I’ve never yet met an anti-vax parent who was concerned that their child would be left permanently deaf, blind, paralysed or mentally disabled from chicken pox, measles, rubella etc. Not once.

    I have only met anti-vax parents who are concerned about an unproven link to autism. And it is unproven.

  14. 14 Lisa March 28, 2008 at 9:04 am

    My dear Agatha…….herd immunity theory is flawed, at best. So no, I’m not relying on herd immunity. The vast majority of pertussis outbreaks have been from vax’d kids. If we can really place our trust in the vaccine…..you have nothing to worry about from us non-vax’d folks. Your *future* kiddos will be safe. And I dare say…should those *future* children become real some day……sticking that cocktail into their tiny little veins maybe become a little less clear.


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