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Vaccination: What’s a Parent to do?

Posted on August 16th, 2013 by | 16 views

by Adam Meyerowitz, L.Ac

Let's face it, being a parent is tough. And it’s not just the lack of sleep and dirty diapers. The tough part is trying to make all of the “right” decisions to keep your children happy and healthy. One of the most difficult, controversial, and hotly debated of these decisions is whether or not to vaccinate. As a pediatric Acupuncturist and herbalist, this is a topic that often comes up in my practice.

Now, before you read any further, I can tell you that this article will not make that decision for you. That’s right, I am not going to tell you what you should do. I will however give you all of the options, and try to help you figure out what is best for you and your children. I will tell you that regardless of what you decide; the important thing is that you make an informed decision. Do your research. Weigh your options. Make your choice. Simple right? Well, not exactly . . .

When it comes to vaccinating your child, there are basically 3 options:

Option 1: follow the recommended vaccine schedule as set forth by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you choose to go with this route, your child will be required to receive nearly 40 vaccinations between birth and age 18. More than half of these will be given before age 6. For a link to the 2013 recommended vaccine schedule of the American Academy of Pediatrics, click HERE.

Option 2: Use an alternative vaccination schedule. This can be as simple as delaying the starting age of vaccinations, or as complex as skipping some vaccines while giving others, spacing out multiple vaccines into single doses, or any combination that you might come up with. Unlike option number one, there are no “official” alternative schedules, and they can be as unique as each person who creates them. This is where research and information becomes very important.

Option 3: The third option involves not vaccinating at all. Although this option varies from state to state, most states allow parents to choose not to vaccinate their children based on religious, philosophical, or medical needs. Click HERE to see what is available in your state. This is surely the most controversial of options. This is the option where making an informed decision is so very important. You need to be prepared, because if you choose not to vaccinate your children, you will have to defend your choice. Doctors, other parents, and even complete strangers will question your decision not to vaccinate.

So, how does one decide which path to take? The answer is patience, an open mind, and an internet connection. You will need to be patient. Making a rushed or pressured decision is not the way to go. Make sure you start doing your research before your baby is born, because you will have to accept, delay, or deny your child’s first vaccine on day 1 of their adventure into being human. If your child is already with you, give yourself time to research before their next doctor visit. You will need an open mind to sort through all of the information out there, and believe me there is a lot! An open mind will allow you to move beyond what “the man in the white coat” tells you. It will allow you to find your own path, and find the information that work for you. It will allow you to ignore peer pressure and gossip in exchange for legitimate information from reliable sources. And of course, you will need an internet connection to find all of this information. Here are a few links to help you begin your search:

  • CDC list of recommended vaccinations: HERE.
  • AAP vaccination list: HERE
  • National Vaccine Information Center: HERE. This website is full of lots and lots of information. They are an independent information source and do not promote one side of the debate or the other, they simply provide ample information for parents to make informed choices. This is a good place to spend some time reading and researching.

As always, Google is a great place to search. You will need to use your judgment though. Make sure the sites where you are getting your info are credible. Is the site promoting a particular viewpoint or ideology? Is the information being provided by an individual, an organization, a medical professional, a blogger? Stay away from sites that use scare tactics, on both sides of the debate. Honest, unbiased information is best, and with just a little bit of time you will find what you are looking for.

Now that you are on your way to finding out how to make your decisions, the next question becomes why? Why choose option 1, option 2, or option 3? The answers to this question could fill an entire book, and indeed there are many. So for the purposes of this article I will give you the abbreviated answers.

Choosing Option 1: Following the recommended vaccine schedule will ensure that your child is up to date with all of the latest and greatest of modern medicine’s fight against childhood diseases. It may give you the piece of mind that your child is “protected,” but also be aware that they will be exposed un-naturally to all of the diseases that you hope to avoid. In theory this is of great benefit, however in practice vaccinations do pose some significant risks and do not provide lifetime immunity to these diseases. With each and every vaccine there are risks, possible side effects, and vaccine reactions. If choosing to vaccinate, it is important to realize that vaccines are filled with a variety of preservatives and ingredients that are used to “aggravate” the immune system and cause an immune response.  One of the main immune aggravators is aluminum, and some vaccines contain mercury as a preservative, both of which can be neuro-toxic.

If vaccinating, it is also important to make sure that your child is not sick at the time of vaccination. Make sure your child is in peak physical health before vaccination so that they are strong enough to handle the vaccine and any possible reactions. Things such as acupuncture/acupressure, Chinese herbal medicine, and certain homeopathic remedies can be used to keep your child healthy and strong both before and after vaccinations. To find out what is right for your child it is important to see a licensed practitioner.   Research, research, and research.

Choosing Option 2: Using an alternative vaccine schedule allows you to delay when your child receives their vaccines, and also how (single doses, combined doses, etc.) Delaying the start of vaccinations by 6 months to a year allows the child’s immune system to develop and strengthen naturally before introducing a handful of pathogens into their systems. An alternative schedule also allows you to accept some vaccines while avoiding others, like saying yes to the Polio vaccine but no to the Chickenpox vaccine. Giving the immune system time to mature on its own may help avoid any side effects or adverse reactions, although these are still possible. The same consideration for option one should be taken into account for any vaccines you do decide to give.  Research, research, and research.

Choosing Option 3: Choosing not to vaccinate your children allows their immune system to grow and strengthen in a completely natural progression. No artificial pathogens or chemicals are introduced into their systems and there is zero risk of any unwanted side effects or vaccine reactions. Obviously, the risk in not vaccinating is that your children may be susceptible to catching one of the diseases that vaccination exists for. The likelihood of this happening all depends on the environment you live in, the general health of your child, and a variety of unknown variables as well. Once more, research, research, and research.

Now that you have figured out how and why to make your decision, the next step is to decide. Here is the great secret of this entire process: Trust. Trust that you want what is best for your children. Trust that you have done the research, asked the right questions, and found the right answers. Trust that your decision is the right one for you and for your children. And lastly, trust in life. We humans have been here a long time. Long before vaccination existed, and long since, have we been here, and will continue to be here. So long as you do your part, and make informed decisions, the rest is out of your control. As a parent myself, I know how tough these decisions can be. As much as we would like to be able to control all of the variables and keep our children away from illness and disease, at some point we have to let go and trust in the immense beauty and intelligence of Life itself.

No matter what you choose, the important thing is to have a healthy child. Making sure that they are eating healthy, organic fruits and vegetables, spending time in nature, and just being a kid is all really important to health and wellbeing. Also incorporating modalities such as massage, acupressure or acupuncture, yoga and meditation, and herbal medicines are all great ways to help your child stay healthy and happy.

So, whether you decide to follow the recommended vaccine schedule or forgo vaccines entirely, Ancient Ways Healing is here to help.  If you vaccinate, we can provide pre and post vaccination treatments to strengthen your child’s immune system to help mitigate any possible side effects and adverse reactions. If you don’t vaccinate, we can keep your child’s immune system as strong as possible to keep them healthy as they grow and thrive. If ever you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and send an email to: [email protected]

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