Megan Heimer, NHE, JD, ND
I am generally a nice person. As long as someone or something does not infringe upon my rights as a parent or individual I try to stay out of it. And that’s exactly how I feel about vaccinations. I encourage you to educate yourself but ultimately, you have the the final say. That’s how it is here in the United States of America, we have the freedom to choose, freedom to parent our kids the way we see fit, and freedom from government interference into the most intimate aspects of our lives whether we are religious or not.
Or so I thought…
There was a piece published by the New York Times recently written by Dr. Kristen Feemster (a pediatric infectious disease physician who profits from “professionally advising” pharmaceutical companies and feels that a parent’s decision not to vaccinate may warrant a call to Child Protective Services) that urged the scientific and public health communities to curtail vaccine exemptions. In case you’re wondering, a vaccine exemption allows an individual to forgo the vaccination for medical, religious, and sometimes philosophical reasons. The reason for trumping these rights? The public good.
I had many problems with this article, and you should too, because it infringes on your constitutional rights as a parent, blatantly suggests that “vaccines are safe and effective,” insinuates that those of us who choose not to vaccinate our children have no educated reason for doing so, and obviously assumes that the healthcare, scientific community, and parents (the most important player in this dilemma if you will) agree on what constitutes the public good.
Here is my response to this article.
Dear Dr. Feemster, the New York Times, and anyone else who thinks I don’t have a right to (un)vaccinate my child:
I am sorry to hear that you deem a parent’s choice of whether or not to vaccinate with so little regard. Need I refer you to the United States Constitution where it has been decided and upheld by the United States Supreme Court on numerous occassions that parents’ have the right to the care, custody, and control of their children, freedom to rear their children without government interference, the freedom of expression and religion, freedom of privacy, and protection under the first, ninth, and 14th amendments. The right to raise my child as I see fit and the right to decide what I do and do not put into my body or my child’s is a fundamental right granted to me as a citizen of the United States of America. (See Prince v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Wisconsin v. Yoder, Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur, Pierce v. Society of Sisters, Meyer v. Nebraska, City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health Inc., Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Stanley v Illinois, Quilloin v. Walcott, Parham v. J. R, etc.)
You claim that personal and philosophical exemptions should be curtailed because of those who cannot medically receive vaccines. What about those of us who are subjected to virus shedding on a daily basis by those individuals who have chosen to vaccinate? What about those of us vaccinated or not, who have gotten sick as a result of a vaccine induced virus outbreak (like whooping cough, measles, and meningitis). What about the billions of dollars we sink into healthcare every year to cover the rising costs associated with the surge of childhood diseases, all of which are listed as side-effects on the vaccine inserts and have increased as the number of vaccines on the child immunization schedule have increased? What about the vaccine-injured children? Should we not be worried about protecting our children from the serious and sometimes debilitating vaccine-induced conditions? Are my religious freedoms not protected when it comes to vaccinations? Is my educated opinion that vaccines are harmful to the human body of less value than yours? What about the millions of Americans and medical professionals who think the same?
You state that vaccines are safe and effective but as a member of the scientific and healthcare community I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion. You see, vaccines are not research effective because they are not subjected to double-blind placebo controlled studies using a saline solution that is the standard for evidence-based medicine. Vaccinations are tested against other vaccinations, adjuvants, and complex vaccinations – this not only yields inaccurate results but altered and inaccurate safety data. How can you know if something is truly safe if it is not tested against a placebo?
“Vaccines are safe and effective. The significant reduction in illness and death from vaccine-preventable diseases is testimony to how well they work.”
You claim vaccines are safe. Have you read the package inserts, studies, or checked out the VAERS database lately? If you had, you would see side-effects like these: (Boostrix – Tdap) blood and lymphatic system disorders, immune system disorders, myocarditis, nervous system disorders, convulsions, seizures, encephalitis (brain swelling), facial palsy, skin disorders; (Pediarix IPV + DTaP + Hep B) Sudden infant death (SIDS), death, seizures, meningitis, paralysis, anaphylactic shock, encephalitis, skin and tissue disorders; (Chicken pox / Varicella) eczema, vaccine-strain chicken pox, lower respiratory infections, seizures, encephalitis, cerebrovascular accident, transverse myelitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, Bell’s palsy, aseptic meningitis, pneumonia; (Merk’s Hep-B) Guillain-Barré Syndrome, ringing in the ears, multiple sclerosis, myelitis including transverse myelitis, seizure, febrile seizure, peripheral neuropathy including Bell’s Palsy, herpes zoster, migraine, arthritis. Merk’s MMR vaccine insert is laughable. And I quote,
“Measles, mumps, and rubella are three common childhood diseases, caused by measles virus, mumps virus (paramyxoviruses), and rubella virus (togavirus), respectively, that may be associated with serious complications and/or death. For example, pneumonia and encephalitis are caused by measles. Mumps is associated with aseptic meningitis, deafness and orchitis; and rubella during pregnancy may cause congenital rubella syndrome in the infants of infected mothers.”
Assuming for a moment that the MMR vaccine actually works, the above sounds pretty good…until you get to the bottom of the insert where you see that the vaccine is associated with the same side-effects of the disease it’s designed to prevent:
“Panniculitis; atypical measles; fever; syncope; headache; dizziness; malaise; irritability, vasculitis, pancreatitis; diarrhea; vomiting; parotitis; nausea, diabetes mellitus, thrombocytopenia, purpura, regional lymphadenopathy; leukocytosis, anaphylaxis and anaphylactoid reactions have been reported as well as related phenomena such as angioneurotic edema, arthritis, myalgia, athralgia, encephalitis; encephalopathy; measles inclusion body encephalitis, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE); Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS); acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM); febrile convulsions; afebrile convulsions or seizures; ataxia; polyneuritis; polyneuropathy; ocular palsies; paresthesia.”
I’m sorry, I’m vaccinating against a rash that has a less chance of causing death than you falling out your bedroom window, being struck by lightening, and drowning in a puddle, so that I can increase my child’s chance of getting one of the side-effects listed above? No thanks. I don’t gamble (especially with those odds). That’s not safe or effective.
And of course, all of these inserts say the same thing: “This list includes serious events or events which have causal connection to components of this or other vaccines or drugs. Because these events are reported voluntarily, from a population of uncertain size, it is not possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to the vaccine.”
Does this seem like evidence-based medicine to you? Do you think this pharmaceutical company can’t establish a causal relationship between vaccinations and side-effects because of the poor manner in which they conduct their studies (and because they do not want to insinuate fault)? As a parent, don’t you think the wisest thing to do is to make sure these substances are held to the highest testing and safety standards before they’re injected into children? Are you really making me choose between a measles rash and brain encephalitis?
And I love how the package insert insinuates that the vaccine some how played a role in eradicating measles, mumps, and rubella:
“For measles, 894,134 cases reported in 1941 compared to 288 cases reported in 1995 resulted in a 99.97% decrease in reported cases; for mumps, 152,209 cases reported in 1968 compared to 840 cases reported in 1995 resulted in a 99.45% decrease in reported cases; and for rubella, 57,686 cases reported in 1969 compared to 200 cases reported in 1995 resulted in a 99.65% decrease.”
I find this correlation (that the vaccine eradicated or reduced these illnesses) interesting especially because the first measles vaccine wasn’t even put on the market until 1963. So we have twenty years unaccounted for here and the actual data shows a stark decline in mortality of measles before the vaccine was introduced. Isn’t that convenient? The same is true for polio, pertussis, diphtheria, and the rest. (Here’s a good read on that).
Vaccines did not eradicate these diseases. Quarantine programs, sanitation, clean living conditions, and clean water did. If you look at how these viruses are transmitted (dirty water, poop, unpasteurized milk from infected cows, etc.) and the time frame during which these diseases actually decreased you’ll see this occurred during a time in both Britain and United States History where our society became more industrialized as a whole and access to clean water, clean food, and public health services drastically improved. But we’ll just pretend that the high prevalence of these diseases in other parts of the world like Africa and India have nothing to do with the fact that there are millions of people living in poverty without access to clean living conditions or water.
But wait, what about whooping cough?
Not only was the mortality rate practically nonexistent before the introduction of the pertussis vaccine, the actual prevalence of pertussis was relatively unaffected by the vaccine until 2003-2004 when the outbreaks doubled. Of course this was attributed to “better diagnostic and reporting methods” which is code for “the new vaccine we created to replace the old vaccine has failed miserably and has made the vaccinate dasymptomatic carriers that can infect anyone in the population…Oops.” I know, the unvaccinated are easy scapegoats but according to the science, we’re not the carriers causing the outbreaks here.
The Era of Chronic Disease
I have to agree with your article, we are fortunate to live in an era where we rarely see polio, small pox, diptheria, and other major illnesses. I certainly am not a fan of paralytic polio or any sickness for that matter – what parent is? But to say that these diseases are “vaccine-preventable” or that the vaccine eradicated these illnesses is a stretch at best (you can look at other countries who have comparable vaccination rates and see the failures here).
Do you really think that the increase in chronic disease in this country has nothing to do with the massive amount of vaccines being shoved at the American people? If you can’t see the correlation…please read the vaccine inserts here.
No, what I see around me is a new generation of disease. We have a 1 in 50 autism rate – the highest in history and of any other country. We have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Crohn’s disease, eczema, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, seizure disorders, birth defects, psoriasis, food allergies, thyroid conditions, and outbreaks of vaccine-strain disease like pertussis, measles, shingles, and mumps. Does this seem like a win to you?
Ask any parent with an autistic child if they’d rather choose a simple fever and rash that lasts for 3-5 days that gives their child life-time immunity or the life-long condition of autism (which is listed as an adverse reaction on page 11 of the Tripedia DTaP insert which is now discontinued, but not before millions of children were injected). I think WE as PARENTS owe it to our children to make sure these vaccines, with absolute certainty, do not cause these diseases before we inject anything and everything into our children on a whim. Oh, but how can we do that when vaccines are not research effective?
Herd immunity does not exists when it comes to vaccines.
Herd immunity is this concept that a certain percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated in order to eradicate a disease. Herd immunity does not exist with vaccines and here’s why:
Herd immunity only applies to those diseases that are naturally derived that confer lifetime immunity. Vaccine manufactures promise to introduce an antibody. They do not promise the antibody will work (e.g. MMR vaccine insert) and if it does work it only confers temporary immunity for up to 4-10 years. Chicken pox vaccine gives immunity for “unknown duration” but no more than 10 years, MMR is unknown, Pertussis “protection” is a joke, Hep B is a maximum of seven.
So my child could get the simple childhood chicken pox as a child and have lifetime protection, or she could get vaccinated, get sick anyway (by chicken pox or one of the many other diseases associated with the vaccine), have only temporary (if any) immunity, and increase her chances by 50% of getting shingles as an adult?
But wait, I should be happy that my infant is at least getting some protection from the mean hepatitis B that is transmitted via sex and dirty needles. I was really worried about that one. Good thing she’ll get another booster when she starts school to prevent that risky kindergarten behavior.
So we have a bunch of vaccinated people out there who may or may not have developed antibodies and if they have, will have “worn off” in a period of days, months, or years. How many people in their 30s and 40s do you know who have been vaccinated lately? Why do we not see these “vaccine preventable” outbreaks in this age group? Why are the outbreaks occurring among the most heavily vaccinated population and in the vaccinated themselves? And is it safe to get continuous boosters of these vaccines throughout the course of one’s life? Has anyone done a study on the long-term effects of repeated vaccines? What about the accumulation of heavy metals like mercury, formaldehyde, and aluminum that have an affinity to the brain and intestines and accumulate in toxic levels in the body? What about the DNA of the cells (of aborted fetuses and animals) and its ability to interact with our own?
Don’t you think these are questions that need to be answered before we go “curtailing” a person’s exemption rights?
Dr. Feemster, please let me tell you why I as a parent and educated individual have chosen not to vaccinate my children:
Vaccines have not been proven safe. They are not effective. They have not eradicated any diseases. They cause illness including the ones they are designed to prevent. They cause viruses to mutate and strains of what were simple childhood diseases to become more virulent. Vaccines assault the immune system, contain additives that are deemed harmful and toxic by the EPA and FDA, and are responsible for the most recent outbreaks of pertussis, measles, mumps, and meningitis. The CDC’s response to their failed vaccine? Get more boosters because somehow getting more of something that didn’t work in the first place is logical.
My decision to “unvaccinate” my child in no way affects your children or anyone else’s children. If anything we should protect the people who cannot be vaccinated from children who are, since many of the vaccines cause virus shedding for six weeks or more. In addition, my unvaccinated child does not put anyone else’s vaccinated child at risk. If their child is vaccinated then shouldn’t they be protected?
And finally, please tell me how my child, who has never has measles, whooping cough, (or any other sickness for that matter) is responsible for the recent outbreaks of these diseases – in the almost exclusively vaccinated population no less. Blaming an unvaccinated child for the spread of a disease they’ve never had on a population that is almost entirely vaccinated is like you blaming a random person’s cat in Oklahoma for the grey hair you found on your head. Exactly. It’s ridiculous at best.
Until doctors receive training in medical school on the subject of vaccinations (that goes beyond the viewing of a child’s picture in a third world country who has the rarest and worst case of polio known to man), and start reading the package inserts, educating patients on the potential risks, are knowledgeable on the history and “science” of vaccines, and are willing to accept the liability for my child becoming injured as a result of what comes through the needle… I will always… ALWAYS… question my doctor.
Until the media stops promoting agendas from financial backers, I’ll question them too. And until a pharmaceutical company decides to properly research the product they’re promoting and puts the welfare of the people over the buck, I’ll question them too.
Until vaccines are properly tested, proven to be safe, proven to work, not exempt from liability, free of harmful additives, and proven to be incapable of harming my child…I will not be vaccinating. And as a parent and citizen of the United States, as an individual who has done their research, as a professional married to a physician – it is my right to say no. For the sake of the “public good,” let’s start asking questions. You don’t have to have a degree to read a package insert or to understand what it says.
Until then, hands off our exemptions.
Megan Heimer has a bachelors in political science, a law degree, and is a naturopath, registered yoga teacher, and certified natural health educator. She’s married to a Physician and blogs about all things alternative medicine, whole foods, healthy living, and attachment parenting at www.LivingWhole.org where this article first appeared.