Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An Agonizing Decision

For thirteen years we have stood our ground against immunizing our children. With each new babe, it has always been a most agonizing decision and I've spent many worried nights with coughing infants, stressing over the idea it might be pertussis.

Truly the only vaccination I've teetered back and forth over has been the DTaP or DTP. Pertussis is a frightening disease and I've known at least one person that has had it and her story terrified me. Morally, there really aren't any questions about the vaccine itself. Unlike immunizations for chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella, the vaccines used to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis are not derived of human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue. The reason it has been so hard for me to go ahead and immunize my kiddos has been the fact that our oldest son had a frightening reaction to his first dose at 2 months old, which led us to begin research into the potential dangers and questionable efficacy of our nation's compulsory vaccination program. In the end, after much reading, consulting, and praying, we shunned vaccinations for our children altogether.

The combination of new and increasing pertussis outbreaks, a new vulnerable life being added to our family, a change in our previously more isolated lifestyle, and a few accidents that led to our questioning how do we best protect our active children from tetanus without vaccinating them, led us to reexamine our complete rejection of immunization. Yesterday morning, Lil' Wingnut was the first of our 4 completely non-immunized children to receive his first shot. He was brave and did not cry. He examined his stuck leg and determined, "That kinda hurted." And he is resigned to the idea that in four short weeks he'll be stuck again, and again in another four weeks, and one last time after another six months.

We are biting the bullet and trusting we have made the right determination for our family, but it certainly was not an easy decision to make.

There are two books I regularly recommend on the subject of vaccinations. The first being The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for your Child by Dr. Robert Sears. This book has plenty of information on vaccinations, the research behind them, the controversies surrounding them, arguments for and against immunizations , as well as an alternative immunization schedule. The second book helped guide our initial child healthcare decisions; How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by Dr. Robert Mendelsohn. This book gives very convincing evidence against the compulsory vaccination program as well as general pediatric advice for keeping your children healthy without resorting to too often excessive and invasive medical interventions.

For more information regarding Catholic moral debate on vaccines see Children of God for Life. Their site has a wealth of information and resources to peruse. For a sample list of the potentially toxic and morally questionable ingredients in common vaccines see this resource. As Catholics we are called to follow our own properly formed Moral Conscience. To best do this we should arm ourselves with trustworthy information and then pray, pray, pray.

As a final word, this the decision we have made for our family. I would never impose our choice on others. The decision to give or not to give any or all immunizations is one that should be left to each individual family and should not be imposed by any other single individual (doctor or otherwise), government, power or institution.
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Sarah Oldham said...

You do everything as thoroughly as you can - I commend it! I've vaccinated our kids w/ no ill effects (that I can see, you know what I mean?). I refused the chicken pox (I figured they'd get it - and they did!); I don't believe in flu shots (Rachel got it once and got sick). NO NO NO on any prevention of STD/cancer shots. Not happening.

Our choices are important. To be informed in them is all the difference.

Katie said...

We struggle with when to start the vaccinations. AS you know, none of our kids have been vaccinated yet. Now that J is older and interacting alot more with other kids, I have been doing research on vaccination schedules. I bet within the next two years, we will start, with at least some of the shots.

Tonya said...

Thanks for posting this. We've stopped vaccinating (more due to laziness than a complete decision), but I've been feeling like I need to get the pertussis one. Thanks for the shot in the butt! Ha ha ha - maybe I'll finally get it done.

aka the Mom said...

Thanks for sharing this. We do the same thing. We do none except dtap and delay it until they are older. We all do the best we can with the knowledge we have. Then we just have to pray and let God be in charge.

Maia said...

Thank you for posting! I fly by the seat of my pants and often just go with the flow -- but on this issue I've been knowing I need to do more looking and praying. Thanks for explaining your decision so succinctly! MUCH appreciated!