Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why Vaccine Choice Should Concern You

Why Vaccine Choice Should Concern You

By Rev. Kathy Rateliff; CCD, CCCE, SM
Author & trainer, Titus 2 Birthing Curriculums http://www.geocities.com/titus2birthing

Every state in America has exemptions written into their immunization policy that allow parents to choose whether to vaccinate their children and themselves. Those exemptions may include medical, religious and/or philosophical reasons for delaying or refusing immunizations. Additionally, the US Supreme Court has provided legal support for those choosing a religious exemption.

Unfortunately, most parents are never told they have an option and, for many of them, it never occurs to them to look at the issue. Many parents are unaware of the possible side effects of immunizations, toxic substances included in the immunizations, contraindications for various immunizations, or what after effects may appear. Additional concerns may include: how the immune system works, what effects immunizations have on the immature immune systems of babies, at what age the immune system is mature and how that maturing occurs, how reliable immunization efficacy and safety studies are, and how decisions about what vaccines to recommend are made.

Every time I hear a parent express remorse for vaccinating because they didn't have all the facts or because their child was one of the unlucky ones to suffer a serious side effect, it makes me mad that more parents aren't being informed about their choice. I do not believe anyone should live in fear - either of vaccine side effects or disease side effects and complications. Part of my motivation on this web site and in much of my writing and workshop presentations is to provide as much information as I can to as many people as I can.

I often talk to parents who are reluctant to immunize, but feel that they have no options. These parents deserve to be told that they have options, what they are, and how to take advantage of those options. One way of accomplishing this task is to provide parents some ideas about how to find out what the law in their state says and how to fulfill the legal requirements of whatever exemption they may choose to use.

Another way of accomplishing this is to help parents who are willing to take the harder road of vaccine refusal and help them learn what rights they have. Many parents are given erroneous information when they decide to take a religious or philosophical exemption. They may be told that they have to fill out an approved form when there is no such form. They may be told they must submit their religious exemption on church letterhead or with their pastor's signature when they law does not require it. They may be told that they can't take the exemption unless they belong to a specific faith group or if they have ever vaccinated this child or any other child in their home. Generally, none of these things are true, although some states may offer pre-printed immunization exemption wavers if asked.

Some parents who have chosen to vaccinate in the past decide after education to refuse some or all of the vaccines or to pick and choose which vaccines their children will get. Many parents believe it's "an all or nothing" deal. Current religious and philosophical immunization exemptions allow parents to choose to refuse some immunizations while accepting others. These exemptions also allow parents to delay immunizations for a time and allow their children's immune system to mature before joining the ranks of the immunized.

Additionally, as pharmaceutical companies work to create more and more vaccines, the number of shots children are likely to receive increases every couple of years. Guidelines on approved vaccines may change to target a different population to increase the number of possible recipients. So, parents may be confronted with decisions for their own health and that of their aging parents. The possible number of immunizations a person could receive over a lifetime may surpass 100, including original doses, boosters, new recommendations, and annual immunizations like the flu shot.

Most parents don't realize how experimental some of these vaccines are. Most parents would not choose to enroll their children in a treatment that is not adequately tested. They assume these vaccines are proven safe and effective. The controversy over side effects and removal of some vaccines from the recommendation list in the last two years proves that parents aren't getting the whole story. Couple that with the ridicule and pressure that many parents get when they decide to either refuse or delay vaccines, and the support they get from most of the medical community is sadly lacking.

So why is there such furor over the right to choose? Surely if the medical community and the government believe that all vaccines are 100% safe and 100% effective in stopping all incidences of a specific disease in the immunized individual, the only person at risk is the person who is not immunized. Right?? Wrong!! The medical community and the government admit that there are side effects to vaccines, although they would have you to believe that these almost never happen. They also admit that some individuals who have been immunized contract the very disease they have been immunized against. In fact, most of the individuals who contract a "vaccine preventable disease" during an outbreak have been immunized.

As a parent, I am aware of the risk I take in not vaccinating my children or myself! I've researched the data, checked out the risks of both the disease and the vaccine, prayed about it, talked it over with my husband and my children, discussed the issue with more than one family doctor, and finally reached a decision I can live with. We have even had a "where the rubber meets the road" experience where our children have contracted a "vaccine preventable disease." We've also had experience with vaccine side effects from the years before we decided not to vaccinate. I have a much easier time living with the way we experienced the disease than with the way we live with the aftermath of vaccine damage!

And, that really is the final issue! If after all is said and done, can I live with the consequences of my decision? Yes, some people die from disease and some die from the vaccines. Some people sustain life-long damage from the disease and many more sustain life-long damage from the vaccine. As a parent, and as a health-care professional, I have to decide if I can live with the decision I have made when I or my child becomes ill with any of the diseases that currently have vaccines.

Each parent should have the same right to choose. Medical professionals should respect a parent's right to choose and not treat them like they have no brain or like they are trying to hurt their child. Each parent should be provided with both sides of the issue and encouraged to do their own research. Each individual who makes an informed choice to refuse should get the same courtesy given to the individual who decides to vaccinate. And, each individual seeking information on how to claim an exemption should be given accurate information instead of rhetoric and, in some cases, outright lies.

If you decide to fully immunize your child according to the recommended schedule, it's important to realize everyone deserves the right to choose. Whatever consequences, good or bad, occur because of your decision are yours. You, and your child, will be the ones to live with the consequences. Neither your doctor, the pharmaceutical companies, the CDC, the policy makers at the FDA or the officials at your state and local health departments will have to live with the outcome of your choice. Therefore, the choice needs to lie with those who will most experience the benefits and risks of whatever choice made.

There is a quote from World War II in Nazi Germany that seems appropriate here.

In Germany, they came first for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists but I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time nobody was left to speak up. --Martin Niemoeller, Dachau, 1944

The right to choose whether the risks of immunization outweigh benefits must be preserved. Regardless of what choice you make, you have determined which benefits and risks you find most important. Education provides the best and most reliable medium of making choices for you and your family. Make your choice and let others make theirs. Preserve the right to choose by supporting legislation that protects exemptions in all 50 states.

by Kathryn E. Rateliff, CCD, CCM, CCCE, GSM, PE, BFE

Questions and comments can be addressed to her at: Titus2ed@aol.com.

Want to know more about the issue of vaccine choice?

Titus 2 Birthing has a booklet that looks at some of the issues regarding vaccine choice. This booklet includes : vaccine safety, disease frequency in the US, Vaccine Refusal Form, exemption information, religious concerns about vaccines, immunization registry information, vaccinations and premature babies, vaccines and immune suppression, toxic chemical in vaccines as of Sept 2004, the use of aborted fetal tissue as a vaccine medium, vaccination and US government policy in the armed forces and in Homeland Security, the rise of autism and other learning disabilities which may be attributable to vaccine damage, genetically engineered foods containing vaccines, the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons policy on mandatory vaccines, what is informed consent and informed refusal, how vaccines are sold and how vaccine policy is decided and additional resources.

If you are interested in getting a copy of this packet, contact Kathy at Titus2@aol.com and she will be glad to give you all of the details. Please note there is a charge for this booklet.