California has a new requirement that all students entering 7th through 12th grade get the TDaP vaccine in order to attend public school. According to the State of California, the new immunization requirement is “intended to reduce the spread of whooping cough in California. In recent years the United States has seen an increase in whooping cough. In 2010, California had the most cases of whooping cough reported in over 60 years.”
Yesterday a study was published in the peer-reviewed Pediatrics that suggests that 1 in 10 of the 748 American parents surveyed is not following the recommended vaccine schedule. Seventeen percent of those parents refused all vaccines. (N.B.: Since only 61 percent of parents surveyed responded and since people often don’t tell the truth on surveys and since we can hypothesize that many of the parents who did not respond are those deviating from the vaccine schedule, the percentage of parents not following the CDC schedule is probably much much higher.)
This study was all over the media, with “expert” doctors weighing in about how “frustrating it is” that parents don’t do exactly what they tell them. These experts contend that the scientific studies “prove” that vaccines are safe and effective. The conclusions drawn from the study are that public health officials need to better communicate their message to the public.
Why are the most educated parents the ones who are delaying or skipping vaccines?
Why are parents who read the science realizing that the science does not “prove” vaccines are safe?
Why are there no scientific studies being done with a statistically significant control group of unvaccinated children, despite the fact that there are thousands–if not hundreds of thousands–of entirely unvaccinated children in America today?
Why do so many countries with better infant health and much lower infant mortality rates follow a different, much less aggressive vaccine schedule?
Why is the American government, which prides itself on being free and fair, using Soviet-style methods to force parents to vaccinate their children?
Shari Becker, a 39-year-old mother of two who lives in the Boston Area, has been asking herself these questions.
Like so many parents in America, she’s pro-vaccine but concerned. Shari is concerned that the current schedule is not based on what’s in the best interest of her daughters (ages almost 6 and 8 1/2).
After doing a lot of research, talking to several doctors, and discussing it with her husband, Shari decided not to vaccinate her younger daughter against chicken pox.
Last week that decision came back to bite her when a frantic school nurse called her on a Friday afternoon and told her her daughter must either be vaccinated or withdrawn from the school for two weeks
Here’s Shari’s story:
I had decided I wasn’t going to vaccinate my younger daughter with chicken pox until she was older if she hadn’t caught the virus.
The more I thought about it, the more I disagreed with the chicken pox vaccine recommendations.
It seemed ridiculous to me that we would give young children a vaccine for a disease that is mostly benign in childhood and have immunity begin to wane when they are adults and the disease is most dangerous to them.
In fact, I’d vaccinated my older daughter when she was much younger and in a daycare, and now regret it.
I was purposely not giving her the booster hoping my younger one might catch the pox and then they could both be exposed naturally.
To be perfectly clear, I think there is a time and place for vaccines. When we discovered that my husband had never had chicken pox as a child, we decided together that he should get the vaccine as an adult. And he did in his late 30s.
I was in the middle of my Rosh Hashana celebration on Friday late morning when my cell phone began to ring over and over and over again.
At first I ignored it – it was a holiday, and I was with my whole family, so it couldn’t have been an emergency. But the ringing didn’t stop. It was the school nurse telling me there had been a case of chicken pox in my younger daughter’s kindergarten class. If she wasn’t vaccinated by the next day (Saturday), she could not come to school for the two-week period when she might get sick.
She explained she just learned about the case, and there is a 72-hour rule from exposure to vaccination. I tried to ask logical questions like, how do we know she wasn’t exposed Tuesday? Or what if the kid was contagious on Monday? What’s the point of the vaccine then? The nurse wouldn’t tell me anything, and she just kept repeating the 72-hour “exposure” rule.
She seemed oblivious to the fact that my daughter could have exposed far more than 72 hours beforehand.
I was horrified. I was literally with my rabbi and other people who were praying, and I had to start frantically calling my doctor’s office. I knew that I had to make a decision before 4:30 p.m. when the office closed.
I called my doctor’s office, and they suggested that I call the school and talk to the teacher.
Our goal was to find out whether or not my daughter had actually been exposed to the virus.
Apparently, it is harder to catch chicken pox than one would think. A child actually needs to cough or sneeze on another child. You don’t get chicken pox from being in the same room or from holding hands or from sitting next to each other. If she had been exposed, the doctor and I decided that we would not vaccinate. I would keep her home and see if she got sick. The teacher talked to all the staff who had been with our daughter earlier in the week, and she had almost no contact with the sick child.
So now what? She wasn’t exposed. She was not a risk. She wasn’t going to pass on the virus. But if I didn’t vaccinate I had to keep a “perfectly healthy not even properly adjusted to her new school yet” kindergartner home for two weeks.
If I did vaccinate, I lost my chance at her building natural immunities, and frankly I had to inject her with all the other chemicals and additives I have come to be cautious about.
Time was ticking away.
My husband and I felt like we had no options.
No one was going to make us vaccinate, but they weren’t going to let us come to school for two weeks.
We couldn’t do that to her. She would have to re-adjust to kindergarten all over again.
Our doctor’s office supported our point of view, but said our hands were tied. They explained that, sadly, our daughter’s odds of catching chicken pox in our community, on her own, were incredibly slim. The few cases that pop up are from new immigrants and religious groups. These few folks are interspersed in a community that boasts 98% of all students and staff in our public schools are fully vaccinated. The odds were, the doctor’s office said, that we were going to have to give her the vaccine later in life anyhow.
Still, it seemed to me that this should have been my choice. That chicken pox is not polio or diptheria or even the measles. It’s chicken pox, and it’s unpleasant and itchy, but it poses no national health threat.
When I actually brought in my forms today saying that we had gotten the vaccine, the nurse informed us we needed a booster within three months.
When I said, “That’s not true, I know for a fact you only need one vaccine by state law to go to kindergarten,” she replied. “Not anymore, as of 2011, the state requires two shots of chicken pox before kindergarten.”
There’s no way I’m doing that … until there’s another case of chicken pox in the school, I guess.
Are you following the CDC schedule or are you devising your own? Do you think we should vaccinate against a sexually transmitted disease at birth (hepatitis B), which no Scandinavian country administers in the absence of medical indication, and against a benign and routine childhood illness (chicken pox)? Do you worry about the possible long-term damage this onslaught of vaccines might have on your child’s developing immune system? Would you like to see some scientific studies done with a large control group of unvaccinated children?