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Think Out Loud on Wednesday: Vaccines

253665168_ccb707c49c Yikes.  Better Emily Harris than me!  Here's how they describe the show:

Whether or not vaccines pose a risk to infants and small children has been called one of the great debates of this decade. Some claim that there is a connection between vaccines and the rising rate of autism in the U.S., while others argue that vaccines are not only safe but vital to keeping kids healthy.

Oregon requires children to be vaccinated against 11 different diseases in order to attend school, but the state does allow for exemptions. These are technically religious exemptions, but religion is defined broadly as "any system of beliefs, practices or ethical values." The exemption rate is 4.1 percent statewide but Ashland has recently drawn national attention for their unusually high rate of vaccine exemptions. More than 28 percent of kindergartners there were not vaccinated in 2007. That's why the Centers for Disease Control will be hosting a public meeting in this southern Oregon city on Saturday to listen to parents' concerns and gather information for a vaccine safety study.

Are you a parent? How did you decide whether or not to vaccinate your children? Were you vaccinated as a child? How has your experience informed your medical choices? With the preponderance of the medical community in favor of vaccines, but with access to plenty of anti-vaccine information, how do you decide who you can trust?

Not able to listen in Wednesday morning 1/7 @ 9?  You can listen to the rebroadcast at 9 pm, or of course, stream it anytime, anywhere.  And to get in on the discussion, post on the show's blog (they''re open now) and maybe they'll read your comment on the air!  Happily, of the first three comments only one is blatantly judgmental, the other two actually quite useful and judgment free.  What a breath of fresh air, let's hope the show goes that way, too. [Photo courtesy cafemama.com]


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Another interesting take on this was on "This American Life" recently. The episode is: #370: Ruining It for the Rest of Us. It talks about the trend to not vaccinate and the measles outbreak in San Diego just about one year ago.

I have given my children all of their vaccines, on schedule (I had an uncle who died in childhood from polio), but I aslo though the story was very even handed and showed both valid points of view without name calling.
It's Act One:

My nephew was permanently damaged by his vaccines. He is now diagnosed as autistic.

While there are wonderful benefits to vaccinations, they also carry great great risk. Yes, most children are fine with them, but there are those that aren't, and there are thousands of mothers stories that share that.

It's a gamble, and it's the life of your child. When a child of someone else is damaged, we don't really care. When it's your child, it's completely and totally devastating. Your life instantly changes forever after that one shot. Your whole world turns upside down.

Many parents who have had their children damaged by vaccinations feel there are "too many too soon". You may choose to vaccinate your child, but after his or her immune system has had a longer amount of time to develop. You may choose to vaccinate on the doctors schedule. You may choose not to vaccinate, or not give certain higher risk shots.

I feel every parent should make an informed decision on what vaccinations they want to give their child, and when they want them given.

A great website to read about the different vaccinations is http://thinktwice.org

Whoops! Got that link wrong. It's actually http://thinktwice.com

I agonized over my decision. Read all I could get my hands on, on both sides. In the end We have decided to wait until our daughters endocrine system is better developed, at five or six.

I do not think it is fair to say that people do not care if it someone else's child.

I do think it very possible that a percentage of individuals will have strong, negative responses. If you have concerns, it is certainly valid to devise your own timetable. Between birth and five, there is a window to allow for much wider spacing of the required vaccines. At my daughter's three year check, she did not need any shots, so we certainly could have put off some given earlier on and done them then.

I have been lucky. My kids have had no adverse reactions. If, however, I had another child, and my "gut" told me to put off the shots, I certainly would. In fact, I did delay on the first shot--I cannot recall the type now--that they usually give in the hospital or the first office visit--I just didn't see the point, and as my pediatrician said, "We have plenty of time to make it up."

I think it is important to be educated about vaccinations. I hope more research is conducted in regards to the benefits and risk of vaccinations and if there is any link to Autism on-set.
With Autism, it is also important to note, that there are children who have Autism, but never were vaccinated.
Whatever causes Autism, whether genetic or environmental, needs to be discovered.
I work with children with moderate to severe Autism on a daily basis, so much is yet to be known about this disorder.

As a mother of an Autistic son I cannot express how painful this topic is for me. To watch your once vibrant child lose eye contact, verbal skills, and watch them struggle every day is beyond words. Then there is the road to recovery. My son has made phenomenal strides but it is an ongoing battle for him and the rest of our family. I have every faith that he will overcome any challenge. Let me just note that he was always on schedule with his immunizations. I only wish that as a new parent I would have questioned the Doctors more about vaccinations. I appreciate the posting of this issue.

Parents also have the option to wait a few years before they vaccinate. Just one more thing to consider.

Oh Heidi... I'm so sorry. Even though I'm not a parent of a child on the Autism spectrum, watching my sister and her son struggle is extremely painful. It breaks my heart when she's crying and saying that her biggest wish is to one day have a conversation with her son. I'm glad your son is doing better. Do you live in the Portland area? My sister is considering moving here with her son, and isn't sure what resources there are available for children with autism.

I just had to throw this out:

While no one knows what causes autism, and that vaccinations have no proven link, there are many parents who took their baby in for a routine vaccination and shortly after their baby behaved completely different. (and yes, most babies and children who are vaccinated are fine and experienced no side effects)

No mom can "prove" that the vaccine caused autism. And by the time the baby is actually diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum it could be years later.

But moms know. They know what baby they brought into the doctors office. They know when their child has suddenly changed, even if they are brand new parents and people are telling them not to worry, that babies change really fast... a mom knows that something has changed and is "just not right". And she will never be able to prove it, and every doctor will tell you there's no link. Because aside from parents testimonies, there's not a link... yet.

Waiting, as Teresa mentioned is an excellent option. Educating yourself on the risks is so important.

Many people take this subject very personally. Many parents claim that vaccinations are perfectly safe, that their children had all of them on schedule and are fine.

Then I hear from the other side, and the stories are beyond tragic. No one thinks that if you vaccinated your child you did something wrong. So stop taking it personally if a parent of a damaged child says that the vaccinations hurt their child. Believe me, they made the same choice you did, but the outcome was different. They want to be heard and validated, they are not lying. Their stories are true. Please listen to these parents! They honestly aren't looking for somewhere to place 'blame' for their child's illness. They are just telling their story. They don't want another family to suffer what they are going through. Trust me, their lives are not easy, and if they are brave enough to say that the shot was when their baby changed... well you should see the reaction some of them get. Trust me, these mama's are beyond brave for speaking out.

They are not trying to jeopardize public safety, they are sending out a warning that we need to take a better look at what we are injecting into our babies. (I know my sister feels extremely guilty for not questioning that needle) They are not judging. Please ask them questions. Talk to them about their children. Tell them they are doing a good job. Don't shut them out. Learn to be comfortable talking with them about their kids too.

Here's a link for an alternative vaccine schedule:


Lisa, thank you so much for being a strong, educated and above all compassionate voice for Moms who are living this. Your sister is so fortunate to have someone like you to support her and her family. A support system is important for all parents but in my personal opinion extremely more critical when raising a child with special needs. Yes we do live in Portland. We relocated from Washington state last July from a very rural are. The primary reason we decided to move was for more resources for our sons. I am still trying to familiarize myself more with what is available. I was a bit nervous initially about placing our son in a big city school but I have been very pleased with the Teachers who work with him every day. He receives OT, speech therapy and math. His primary Teacher is compassionate and aware and keeps me updated on his progress daily. I feel that all of them genuinely care about his well being and progress. At his old school we had to have several face to face meetings with the staff because there was just so much ignorance about Autism. At one of the meetings (with my son in the room) the school Psychologist not subtly suggested we have him put on medication because he fidgets a little in his chair. Don't get me started!!!! Never in all of his evaluations , including Children's Hospital or by his wonderful pediatrician was the need for medication ever indicated. We are going to look into private OT because writing is still very frustrating for him although we have seen much improvement this year. Social skills can be tough for our son. We had him in Kung fu where we used to live and he is in a Kung fu class here in Portland now that he seems to really enjoy. It's good for him to be around other kids in a safe and structured environment and he gets an hour of exercise as well. One huge change we made this year was to have him on a gluten free diet. My husband bought a bread maker and makes him bread for his school lunch. It has been kind of tricky but we saw immediate change in his behavior and focus. We also do a smoothie for him every morning, all natural. Fish oil is also great and helps immensely.

Anyway sorry for the rambling. Your sister and my son are in my prayers and thanks again for your support.


I'm sorry I had meant to say your sister and her son are in my prayers.


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