Posted by: Morgan | December 12, 2010

What Do You Do? – Vaccine Installment

Recently I had a friend ask me for some places she could research unbiased information on vaccinations. I sent her to Ask Dr Sears as a great place to start. The Sears family is composed of three pediatricians (Dr Bill and his sons, Dr Jim & Dr Bob) and one nurse (Bill’s wife, Martha). I have found them to be a very solid source of evenly based information. They definitely support attachment parenting philosophies in regards to caring for children, but even for those who tend toward the “baby-training” type of parenting, I still suggest them for vaccination information. They spent 13 years collecting data and information to compile into a book, named simply ‘The Vaccine Book’. Each chapter in the book takes on one disease/vaccine that is in the American schedule of vaccinations. They describe the disease (what it is, how dangerous it is, how common it is, and if you can be treated for it once you get it), the different types/brands of the vaccine (who makes them, how they’re made, what’s in them, what things in the vaccine that are controversial), and then reasons on both sides of the fence for why people choose to and choose not to get that specific vaccine. They also put in their own opinions at the end of each chapter. Overall, they’re for vaccinating along the full schedule, but the information is laid out so well, it is a very great resource for parents to use when deciding what they think about each vaccine and whether they want their children to receive all, any, or none of them.


*note* I am not trying to imply that “attachment parenting” or “baby training” have anything to do with vaccinations. I know families who practice both types of parenting, and within each ‘method’ families choose different things regarding vaccinations. I just wanted to acknowledge the Sears’ support of ‘AP’ parenting, so that if you did link off to their site and disagree with ‘AP’ type parenting, you wouldn’t be surprised by that. Their vaccine information is unbiased and separate from their thoughts on APvBT.  *end note*

Anyway, all of that to say something actually different, though related. This same friend asked me if there was a way I could ask my entire spectrum of friends about their choices regarding vaccinations. She’s been seeing some more non-mainstream information on mommy-blogs (ie not vaccinating at all) and some reasons for those choices that she had never heard of before (ie not vaccinating to avoid autism or SIDS). I decided the best place to do this was on my blog, with links off Facebook. So that’s where you come in:

Dear Friends,

Whether you are smack dab in the middle of the APA recommended vaccine schedule or your child is ten and has never had a vaccine in their life, I want to hear from you! I want to know what choices you’ve already made, what influenced you and why you chose the way you did, and what you think you’ll continue to do in the future. Are you happy with your previous decisions or will you be making changes with future vaccines for this child or future children?

There are a few rules, though, as this can become a fairly sticky subject, especially because I do have friends on both extremes and I want to hear from ALL of you!

Rule #1: BE NICE. I don’t want to discourage conversation, but I really want to hear from parents honestly without them feeling like they’ll be judged. I normally don’t delete comments in an attempt to be fair about what people want to say, but in this case, if there is anything that is rude, mean, or would make anyone slightly sad, I’m going to delete it. Mainly, I just want each person’s thoughts on their own family. Questions to learn more are fine.

Rule #2: Ok, this isn’t really a rule. But if you would like to participate in this ‘What Do You Do?’ exercise, but would rather stay anonymous, you may email me at I don’t know of a way to keep it completely anonymous (as in, I wouldn’t know who it was), so that’s the best I can do.

I really hope we get a lot of response to this. I’m interested to see all the different paths families are taking on this subject.



  1. Reposting from Facebook for Bobbie Meagan Escobar

    As a mom, after 9 months of research I decided to go with the regular schedule with Adam. I like that we got most of the vaccinations done in his first year, when he could nurse for comfort and sleep all day with no problems. It was really easy. I really struggled with it in the beginning but I am happy with my decision.

    As a Pre-nursing student this issue has been discussed extensively in my classes among professors and students. Everyone agrees that most of the fears are based on hype that is not backed by research. The resurgence of diseases like pertussis (that is already happening) due to fear of vaccinations is a lot scarier to me than a tiny chance of an extremely rare or unproven complication.

    Some diseases(like chicken pox) that aren’t awful and the immune system is capable of taking care of, I think are unnecessary but they’re usually packaged with other stuff so we went ahead with them. If someone wanted to opt out of vaccinations against those types of illnesses, I would have no problem with that.

  2. We are attachment parents and our children go to a Steiner school, and we have a lot of medical people amongst our family and friends -it was a contentious issue. We looked into both sides of the immunisation discussion very thoroughly and ended up going with the full vaccination schedule. We simply don’t discuss it now, and let other people make their assumptions as to whether we have or haven’t.

    • Thanks so much for the response! Isn’t it amazing how contentious this subject can become? With friends on both sides of the issue, I’ve definitely heard a lot of different stuff about it.
      How cool about having a natural immunity to chicken pox! 🙂 Is that hereditary, do you know?

  3. PS We didn’t vaccinate for chicken pox because it wasn’t available initially and my husband and I both have natural immunity. Seemed a bit designer-baby to have it just to avoid a couple of weeks of inconvenience.

    • The chicken pox immunity does seem to be hereditary – my Dad hasn’t had it either, not sure about my husband’s family…our older two boys had a very mild dose – enough to be a pain, but not like some kids get. The youngest hasn’t been exposed yet.
      And you’re right – vaccinating is up there with politics and religion as conversation stoppers!

      • …and birthing, and breastfeeding, and discipline, and medicating one’s child or not… haha I feel like the list keeps getting bigger and bigger. Or maybe it’s just Parenting. So religion, politics, and parenting.

        I can have much more decent conversations about religion and politics, it seems, though. 🙂

      • I have never heard of natural immunity to chicken pox, how cool would that be? I agree with your thoughts about “designer-baby” on that one… that’s a funny term and I like it.
        Sort of like planned C-sections just for convenience… that one stumps me! But to each his own!!

      • What about planned c-sections that are followed with a tummy-tuck? That is definitely ‘designer birth’.

  4. Well, my baby is still in utero, so we’re really thinking about this issue and don’t know what we’re going to do yet. My husband had all of his vaccinations, as did his sisters, and they were all just fine. I’ve never had any vaccinations, and neither have any of my siblings, and we’ve all been just fine too. I had chicken pox and whooping cough the year I was four, and I think I’ve had whooping cough at least once since then (in a much more mild form). I’m also very susceptible to coughs. This could be a consequence of the whooping cough, OR it could be that part of the reason I got the whooping cough was because I am more susceptible to coughs. (I have a sister two years younger than me who NEVER got the whooping cough, despite it going through our family at *least* twice. She very rarely gets coughs when she gets other sicknesses, too, whereas I get the coughs and they linger.)

    When I started college I opted *NOT* to receive all the childhood vaccinations in a short space of time. As a result, I still haven’t been vaccinated (though I will probably end up getting the MMR so that I can have immunity against rubella, on the off chance I get pregnant and then encounter someone with the disease). However, if I was to go to a country where these diseases (e.g. diptheria, polio) were actually a problem, I would definitely get the vaccinations beforehand. My hesitancy is due to conflicting information on vaccines combined with the sheer lack of most of these diseases in the US.

    If we do vaccinate, my guess is we’ll do some kind of modified vaccination schedule. We really need to work on figuring this out..! heh.

    • I think that’s a cool thing that you and your husband are on opposite sides of the spectrum, while making these decisions. Maybe the (potential) conversation here will help you guys out!

      Oh yeah, I still haven’t emailed you back about all of this…oops. Do head over to Dr Sears, although I think you already did that. I’ll probably be weighing in on this conversation soon, so what we did will be posted.

      • It’s not that we disagree..we’re not sure what to think! It’s that what our families did fell on opposing sides of the spectrum. 🙂

        I do have the Vaccine Book, though I haven’t finished reading it by any means.

      • Oh, that’s what I meant. 🙂 I didn’t mean that you and he disagreed.

  5. I have read “The Vaccine Book” by Dr. Sears and really found the information to be very helpful. I was “scared” into vaccinating my first baby by my pediatrician even though I was not entirely comfortable with it. She is 4 years old now and not completely vaccinated but has received most of them. My second daughter was born after I read Dr. Sears’ book. I followed his alternative vaccine schedule through the first 9 months to a year of her life and then haven’t vaccinated since. I am now about to deliver my third child and am leaning towards not vaccinating at all.

    I grew up without getting any vaccines until I was probably about 12 years old. My family tended to rely on more homeopathic remedies. I found some interesting information on regarding vaccines. She sells a video “Are Vaccines Really Safe?” but I found it on youtube for free and have watched about 1/3 of it. She does point out some very interesting information on how our body naturally achieves life long immunity by being exposed to diseases naturally rather that through vaccines. Do you know that the Hep B vaccine is first of all to prevent a sexually transmitted disease ( in a baby for crying out loud), second if your baby is born in a hospital and follows the CDC recommended schedule actually gets 4 Hep B vaccines instead of the 3 that are recommended and third that it only provides immunity for approximately 7 years?! How many kids under 7 are out there sharing dirty needles and having sex?! Sheesh! Anyway, I catch a lot of grief from my co-workers regarding this subject because I am a nurse but I have strong feelings about this as most everyone does on this subject. I also recently got into a debate with some coworkers regarding the Gardasil vaccine. Very scary stuff people! There are TONS of testimonial videos on youtube from young women who’s lives have been destroyed from this vaccine. A vaccine that claims it “may” help prevent HPV and some studies show that it actually doesn’t and actually increases the growth of cervical lesions.

    • I’m actually very intrigued by this, since you are a nurse. I love it when my friends defy stereotypes 🙂

  6. Yes, dunno if I would have immunised with HPV if we’d had a daughter.

  7. We are doing the selective Sears schedule for Annika. I understand the feelings of pro-vaccination people completely and how the risks of immunzations are small and not totally proven. BUT, I just have a general sense of wariness to trust something that seems unhealthy just because the current medical community promises that its okay. From what I understand, immunzations are monitored and studied mostly short-term through questionairres that the parents fill out. There seems to be a lack of really thorough, long-term studies to track the effects and consequences of exposure to the controversial vaccine ingredients. There are plenty of incidents in which doctors look back at common and accepted practices throughout history and say, “This is the way it used to be done, but we know better now.” ( Even just within the history of vaccines). No one can promise that doctors never change their minds about things. For me, I see the rising trends in chronic diseases and illnesses just within society in general and I think its linked to our consumption and exposure to hazardous junk thats just a part of every day lives. (from vaccines to pollution to big macs.) Its hard to know who to trust because their are “facts and studies” and statistics and numbers on both sides that are slanted to support their own position, and scare tactics coming from both sides as well. For me, when I read about how vaccines are made and whats in them, it was an easy to choice to know that I wanted to be *extremely* careful with how exposed Annika would be. And honestly, the harder that the AAP pushes and promises guaranteed safety, the less I trust them.

  8. Sorry in advance that this is so long – it seemed relevant to the friend doing research to post more detail – the more detailed websites, blog posts, message board comments, etc. helped me the most when trying to figure out this issue for ourselves.

    I always planned on vaccinating our first (who is now 13 mos) but was pretty overwhelmed at the idea of trying to figure out which ones to do and the order/timeline to do them in. We are blessed with a GREAT ARNP who looked at my proposed schedule and recommended a few modifications just in terms of the time frame and other things specific to WA state (see below).

    In terms of the theory of vaccines, I knew myself well enough to know that if we went vaccine-free across the board then I would inevitably worry more than I would about the minimal risk of side effects. However, I also felt that a few changes have been made in terms of the vaccine schedule in recent years – namely they have added more and give a bunch all at once. The research I did indicated that the only reason the CDC packed so many together for each doctor visit during the first year was for convenience for parents and to ensure that kids would GET the vaccine, sidestepping parents who wouldn’t follow through. I knew I would be the kind of mom that would bring my kid in every month just for a vaccine if I felt that was best without forgetting or putting it off, so that was what I proposed. It still seems logical to me that if I’m worried about neurological effects or the possible correlation between autoimmune disorders and vaccines that I might not want to bombard my baby’s developing system with the whole list of vaccines on the CDC schedule at one time.

    After researching WHY they recommend Hep B for infants in the hospital, we opted not to do it for the same reasons as above. Hep B used to be given much later (in fact I didnt’ get it til I was probably 12, at the recommended time) but they apparently felt like they were missing cases so they just started doing it as a catch all. Hep B is essentially a sexually transmitted or blood-transmitted disease and I knew my husband and I did not have Hep B. We added it into our modified vaccine schedule, as you can see below. We are not doing the HPV vaccine for the same basic reason. If she decides she wants it when she’s older, so be it.
    We won’t do the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine until she’s much older since it’s not a life threatening disease and if she gets it in childhood, that seems best to me. If she hasn’t contracted it by the time she’s in late childhood, we’ll do the vaccine since chicken pox is so much worse in teens and adults. It’s probable we may need to, since the vaccine is decreasing her chances of getting it naturally. That’s fine with me, I’m flexible.
    Initially I was going to do just one vaccine every month but changed it a little based on my doc’s recommendations. It’s still slower than the CDC recommendations which were way too much for my comfort level.

    Other thoughts that I discovered on the way: some states, like our home state of WA, bundles a bunch of vaccines into ONE dose sometimes, so we couldn’t split some up like I wanted. It is impossible without traveling to another state (I think I could have flown to CA if I wanted, haha), to get the Dtap vaccine separate; here it’s bundled into one called “pentacel” – Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cought), IPV (polio), and Hib (haemophilus influenzae B). So those months I definitely only did that one vaccine since I felt like it was already like giving her 5 vaccines. Basically the CDC recommends adding three more vaccines that first 2 month visit. Which is fine if others are comfortable doing that, but I felt like exposing her system to 8 different diseases was too much for me.

    For those interested, here’s what we chose to do and it’s working out great for us. It’s easy to just call the morning of the day we want to stop in for a vaccine and we just walk in and are in and out quickly.

    2 months: the pentacel vaccine (Dtap, IPV, Hib)
    3 months: PCV (pneumococcal) and RV (rotavirus)
    4 months: Pentacel (dose 2)
    5 months: PCV and RV
    6 months: Pentacel
    7 months: PCV and RV
    8 months: Hep B
    10 months: Hep B
    12 months: MMR (we also did a flu vaccine at this visit)
    13 months: Hep B and second flu dose
    14 months: PCV
    15 months: Hep A
    19 months: Pentacel (I think – I will need to double check this, but based on the CDC recommendations, there is a final vaccine left for the Dtap and IPV but I’m not sure how they usually do that one…)
    21 months: Hep A
    4-6 years: boosters of Dtap and IPV, and MMR

    I actually stopped planning once I got the initial set of recommended vaccines figured out because I decided I would deal with them later once I had gotten through the first two years…
    One other thought: we didnt’ worry too much about making sure the school district requirements were met since we’re planning to homeschool, but that would be one other factor to check into for each state’s dept. of health. I think we ended up meeting the time frame anyway without trying.
    I encourage everyone to feel COMFORTABLE requesting to slow down the vaccine schedule if you’re stressed about it the way I was. There is no reason why doctors can’t let you do that – the pediatrician isn’t even the one to administer the vaccine so it doesn’t even put them out in any way\ and if you’re kid isn’t constantly being exposed to potential illnesses, then the risks are so low to putting them off a little. I may have approached this differently if Lyddie was going to be in daycare, but we didnt’ even really put her in the church nursery on Sundays until she was around 8 months.
    I’m so pleased with the way things are working out and am planning on repeating this same schedule with our #2 who will arrive in next May. It was worth all the research because I do feel a lot more peaceful about it and that first year is stressful enough – anything to keep sanity helps!

    • I’m loving this conversation, because I’m learning things about my friends. I had no idea you were doing an alternative schedule with Lyddie. We found the same thing with our Dr, in that he only had one brand of a combo shot, and we didn’t like the one he carried. So we chose to go to the county to get Emma’s shots (the few we’ve done so far). We actually sought out Pentacel, interestingly enough. I’m going to write out more of what we did a little later, but with the Pentacel (which is the only series Emma’s ever finished) we did the 3 doses every 1-2 months starting at age 6 months. I don’t think she needs another later (like you mentioned with the 19 mo) but maybe I’ll check and think about that.

      • I’m interested to find out why you sought out the pentacel rather than having those separated if possible. I was just reviewing her history the other to make sure we got everything we needed/wanted, and it felt good to see whole sections on her vaccine history paperwork complete. That must be the type-A side of me that likes to put check marks next to finished tasks. hehe
        We debated about the rotavirus but decided to go with it since there didn’t seem to be a good reason not to and it can be really dangerous if your infant contracts it. The worse reaction we have had has been just super crabby with pentacel, I think. Or the PCV… I can’t remember now, but one of them made her so fussy every time, but fussiness I can handle and expected some of.

  9. My husband had all of his vaccines, I had most (maybe 1 or 2 I missed), my parents stopped vaccinating when My younger brothers were little. One had a few, the other, none.
    When I was 15, my 16 year old friend had a beautiful, healthy baby boy. A few weeks later, he had some of his shots, contracted meningitis and died, it was one of the most tragic things I’ve ever seen.
    My midwife has 5 children, the 1st was brilliant and then at close to 2, the day she was given some of her shots, she reacted badly and lost many motor skills. She had been able to talk well off the charts for her age group, and lost all speech, and also completely reverted to crawling. It took her six months to two years to get these basic skills back and she never recovered from some of her other issues from being vaccine injured. She is now 11 and has learning and social problems. They haven’t vaccinated since then.
    When we were expecting our 1st baby, we did a ton of research on the subject, and decided that for our family, we felt the risks outweighed the benefits. We are very happy with our decision. Our children have never had any unwell episodes other than a rare cold, or teething fever.
    *I would like to note that I may or may not have have decided differently if they didn’t have the immune benefits of nursing, knowing they did, made me less concerned about illness.

  10. I have 3 sons, ages 7, 5, and 3.
    With the eldest – we did the recommended schedule until he was 3, then stopped completely (he was not speaking and was “on the spectrum” for Autism… since stopping and with regular chiropractic treatment, and now at age 7, he is completely fine).
    With the middle, he received vaccinations until 9 months, and we then stopped.
    My youngest has had no vaccinations, no over-the-counter and no prescription medications, nor has he received any through breastmilk, as I do not consume that stuff either.
    I care for my children all day, so they have never been in daycare or public school; otherwise our decisions might have had to be different. I do not feel guilt necessarily at giving the first 2 vaccines, but I am much happier allowing and being responsible for my children to build their own healthy immune systems the natural way. They are rarely sick and are in excellent physical health (and they were big babies, all around 10 pounds).

  11. In general, my husband and I are pretty AP, in case that is relevant. Our older children are all fully vaccinated. Both my husband and myself vaccinated our older children because they are now 10, 9,8, 6 and it was just something it seemed everyone did with no question much as we were vaccinated by our parents and information was not as readily available especially back when I had my daughter. However, with the new baby, this topic has come up frequently.

    There is the autism argument, my 10 yr old daughter has Asperger’s which is an autism spectrum disorder. She was diagnosed at 7. Having said that, my belief on the matter is that I do not know what caused this in her. Looking back I do not remember a moment like some people (Jenny McCarthy, for example) describe where suddenly my daughter was different. Looking back, I see things that could have been signs practically since birth so part of me believes she was born this way and it was genetic in our case. The thing is it seems to run on my father’s side of the family, my nephew who is 11 and my youngest cousin who is 12 also are on the autism spectrum one having autism and the other being diagnosed with PDD-NOS. My aunt believes the vaccines are the cause. While, it does seem odd that there were no other documented cases in our family prior to these 3 children born within a 3 yr span, it still seems genetics played a role to me, but I think this is why my aunt believes it was the vaccines.

    Both myself and my husband have fears in regards to vaccines not just related to autism. Our current pediatrician office has an policy against declining/delaying vaccines that we had to sign. My husband and I agreed to proceed with the standard schedule on the baby at this point. Neither of us, of course, are sure it it is the right decision, but neither of us were sure that delaying or declining vaccines would be the right decision either. With all the information we have read, at this time our son is fully vaccinated because we are more afraid of what could happen if he does not get vaccinated since we already deal with on a daily basis what some people fear the vaccines are causing.

  12. I’m firmly in the no vaccine camp.

    I believe that God created our bodies to be largely self-healing. With good food choices, enough water, enough sleep, and some basic cleanliness (I’m not a fan of the antibacterial culture, but that’s another discussion) I believe that we can avoid most illnesses/diseases.

    My children are breastfed, and we limit sugar consumption for everyone in the family, but strictly with our 2 year old (I’m sure that we will have to make some concessions in this area as the children grow older).

    We use natural forms of medicine whenever possible, though I do believe that there is a place for conventional medicine, and would not hesitate to take my child to a doctor in an emergency or for an illness that fails to respond well to natural treatment. We get regular chiropractic care, and are seldom ill, even with colds.

    We do intend to homeschool, though health is not the primary reason for that decision.

    I’m sorry if this is poorly organized… I don’t have much time to write, but I did want to add my two cents. 🙂

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