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MMR Vaccine Controversy

My younger brother Josh is a sweet, wonderful boy and I love him very much. I have heard it said about him that after he received his booster shots, that there was a change for the worse regarding his health. This has given me an interest in the MMR vaccine controversy. Before you read further, I only mention him to show why I would have an interest in learning more about this debate. I'm speaking as a former school teacher and a mother: I'm not claiming to understand this medical debate, nor claiming that Josh's condition was caused by the MMR vaccine. I do not agree with parents who choose to "decline" vaccinating their children. I think that is dangerous to their kids and my kids who attend school with their kids.
A piece of history has helped me come to my opinion on the importance of vaccines. In 1721, Cotton Mather introduced a process called inoculation to America when he learned that a Turkish physician had success when he took a small particle from a patient infected with smallpox and put it onto an uninfected patient. Then, the previously uninfected patient would develop a smaller case of smallpox, but he had the potential to survive and build an immunity to it. Mather didn't understand how this worked, but only that it did work in many cases. Many Americans chose not to be inoculated and rejected Mather because he was practicing a technique learned from a Muslim doctor. Mather's house was bombed because of the strong opposition; however, he succeeded in saving 294 people out of 300 that he had inoculated. Approximately 6,000 other people had contracted the disease but had not been inoculated and of those 850 had died. Benjamin Franklin was one of the parents who chose not to inoculate his son. His son died of smallpox and Franklin lamented that he wished he hadn't dismissed the idea and protected his son. It should be noted that Cotton Mather was also a minister in the Puritan faith, which usually pointed to sin as the cause of disease. This is significant historically because it demonstrated in North America that you can combine faith with science.
Soon after I gave birth to my first baby, I asked my dad what his viewpoint was on the MMR vaccine and what I should do to protect her. He said essentially, of course we need to vaccinate our children, but it is worthwhile to communicate to your doctor your concern and ask if a personalized vaccintaion plan would be appropriate. The MMR is a vaccination that combines vaccines for measles, mumps & rubella. You do not have to get the MMR and you can still vaccinate for these diseases, you would just vaccinate for them individually instead of all 3 combined at once.
As far as I know, most parents are encouraged to discuss a vaccination plan with their doctors. I was given a handout that charted all the vaccinations my daughter would need; it provided a "box" next to each vaccine so I chould "check" them off when each were recieved. However, because vaccinations are taken for granted and assumed to be par for the course, most parents give very little attention or thought to handouts like these that encourage them to think about the vaccination plan and just do what the doctor says is the course, which I believe in most cases is just fine to do.
My doctor told me that with the combined vaccine, or the MMR, the child only has to go through one vaccination for measles, mumps & rubella when she is still so young and almost unaware of what is going on. With the same vaccines spread out over time, the child has to go through the experience of getting vaccinated a few more times and it has the potential to get harder her and her mother because no one likes to get shots. So she left it up to me whether I wanted to put my baby through more shots, or give her the combined.
This is such a personal thing and so only read further if you are interested in what I did, but please do not think I am suggesting that this would be right for anyone else. It is just what felt right for me. The way I decided was I asked my doctor to again review all of my baby's stats or how she measured up on all her newborn tests. Gloria measured up to be essentially perfect as far as what is expected for newborns to be considered healthy. So I took that information home, discussed it over with Brandon and in prayer. And we came to the decision to vaccinate Gloria with the MMR or combined vaccination for measles, mumps & rubella.
However, I plan to discuss the vaccination plan for each child individually that I have. I will take into consideration how I feel after talking with my doctor about the child's overall health, talking to my husband about it, and talking to the Lord in prayer. If I feel that a vaccination plan that included separate vaccinations for measles, mumps & rubella instead of the combined would be better, then I'll get them separate. But to not vaccinate out of fear, I think has the potential to be devastating.


marti said...

Bravo! Perfect post. Thank you for giving vaccines the credit they deserve. Vaccinations have saved thousands of lives! That being said, we should always be cautious & aware when giving our children any medical treatment at all. It is our duty as parents to be involved in all aspects of our baby's health so we can make informed decisions for them.

kaitlyn said...

i have chosen to vaccinate both of my children. however, i took it very seriously. blaine never really had a problem with vaccines. isla has a rough time every time... for about a week after she is miserable. so for her we will do a staggered vaccination schedule over a longer period of time. with blaine, at the hospital no one asked me about the Hep B shot before they gave her the first one so she is fully vaccinated with that. had they asked me before she got that i would have said no to that shot because it is essentially an STD. being more informed, isla is not vaccinated against Hep B and i will not vaccinate either of my girls with the HPV vaccine. The only exception would be if i found out they were living a very risky lifestyle and there was nothing i could do to change it. but that is another issue all together. babytalk just did a big article on vaccines. you could read it on babytalk.com i believe.

Journey to Crunchville said...

I will first admit the bias that we no longer vaccinate our children. My daughter, born first, was fully vaccinated until after a year when she had a bad reaction and I began researching vaccines and then stopped. My son is not vaccinated at all. I just want to say that we have chosen not to vaccinate not because of fear but due to hours upon hours upon hours of research. Research that is still ongoing. I'd also like to point out that for many of the people that don't vaccinate the MMR vaccine is such a minor part of that decision and I myself don't believe that there is a single factor in any vaccine that somehow causes an issue. It is a cascade of events and a combination of risk factors. I can not tell you how very thankful and grateful I am that Garrett has NOT been vaccinated. His poor body has so many issues just coping with food that the toll vaccines would take on his body (not to mention all of the allergens in them for him) literally may have been enough to kill him. Even his allergist does not want him vaccinated at this point, however if we had been moving along at the standard schedule he would have been vaccinated with things he is allergic to before we knew about his allergies. He is of course, a rare example.

scott and tara said...

Do any of you have kids in school? How do they react when you do not have vaccinations? My first just started kindergarten and they told me she had to have all her vaccinations, which she did, but my friend's son could not start school until he had all his vaccinations. How have you gotten around this? Any experiences?

Alicia said...

You don't. Parents who don't vaccinate home school, as far as I know. Public school officials require that parents sign a form that indicates that their son or daughter is "school ready" because he has received all of his vaccines.

kaitlyn said...

not true. all you have to do is cite "religious reasons" and then you don't even have to explain further. there are kids in the schools that aren't vaccinated.

melissa ( : said...

After my experience in the public education system, the majority of parents who cite "religious reasons" actually do not belong to religions that have objections to vaccinations. So essentially - they are lying... which isn't very religious, if you think about it.

In order for scientific research to be deemed credible, it has to undergo peer review. If you do a search of Medline, which is the government's database of peer reviewed journals, you will find that NO studies have been able to establish a certifiable link between vaccinations and mental illness. There's anecdotal evidence, but as one of the earlier comments pointed out, environmental factors other than vaccines have not been controlled for in these anecdotal studies.

In the past, there has been cases of harm from vaccines (ie people getting polio from the polio vaccine) however with the rigorous screening of drugs today, it's highly unlikely to see an instance like that again involving vaccines.