I wrote 33 pediatricians an e-mail asking what they would say, while in line for coffee, to the parent of a newborn when asked if they “believed in vaccines.” I wrote the e-mail not as a gimmick or a way to frame the issue of vaccine hesitancy, but because this happened to me. Rather, this happens to me. Often. When a new father asked me this question while carrying his newborn baby 2 weeks ago, I told him what I thought. I then ruminated about my response for 24+ hours and wrote a group of colleagues. How do we talk with parents we don’t know, outside of the exam room, to help them understand why we feel so strongly about protecting children with vaccines?
I’m not a believer in scripts. I’m not attempting to suggest there is one, 2 minute segment for every family that will help. I wanted to hear what these expert pediatricians would say to get a sense of their collective insight. I wanted you to see it, as well. I want to be really good at my job as a pediatrician when helping families understand the science, the evidence, and the emotion behind raising healthy kids and preventing illness with vaccines.
But I also really want families to understand why pediatricians work so hard to vaccinate children. I don’t want to increase the divide between those parents who are worried or skeptical of the possible harms of immunization, and those parents, doctors, and experts and who believe in the benefits. Rather, I want to regain our similarities.
We are all so similar.
We all want to do what is right for our children. That’s why everyone is so nuts about this. Simply stated, we all care immensely.
This was confirmed when I wrote docs from all parts of the US. I got over 20 responses.
I’ve arranged these pediatricians’ thoughts based on how I experienced their comments:
These thoughts are not mutually exclusive; you’ll hear evidence in the emotional comments, experience in the evidenced ones, and emotion in the experienced ones. Today’s post includes responses that felt emotional.
As I said in the video, it isn’t just parents who are emotional about vaccines. Read the comments to that post and you’ll see—some 30+ comments, mostly written by pediatricians, full of energy, data, and emotion. Pediatricians (and scientists/public health experts) are ultimately responsible for improving the way families understand immunizations. So this is weighty.
Most of these doctors wrote me about listening more than about talking. But here’s some of what they said:
Dr David Hill, a pediatrician in North Carolina wrote:
Boy is this an issue on all of our minds! For me this question has particular poignancy, as we all watched our partner’s (a pediatrician) 22-year-old daughter die of H1N1 last year. To see her face-down on a ventilator, bloated and pale and then to have a parent tell me, as one did last week, ‘Everyone knows the flu vaccine causes just as much disease as it prevents.’
Gulp. His response to that parent’s viewpoint:
Screaming seems inadequate.
Dr Ari Brown is a pediatrician and author of the book, Baby 411. She notes that:
The most effective [technique in talking with families] had nothing to do with science. It was all emotion (cue Jenny McCarthy’s playbook here)–‘I vaccinate myself and my family to protect them. I wouldn’t do anything differently for your child.’
Of course, nothing works 100% of the time, but I can honestly say that this message does work more effectively than all the rest, and yes, it takes less than 2 minutes.
Dr Natasha Burgert helps define the scope:
The decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate is far too important to make based on a “bestseller” or a TV special.
Dr Ed Marcuse, a pediatrician in Seattle:
I don’t have an elevator speech. My objective is not to sell immunization, but to prompt [discussing] the decision not to vaccinate.
Dr Evelyn Hsu, a gastroenterologist, now specializing in liver disease and transplants:
It’s so nuts. I like to describe vaccines as invisible helmets for our children. Given the choice, it is the best way to protect them from unexpected danger. I’ve read about and have witnessed the power of the vaccine against Hepatitis B, one of the most infectious viruses out there. Trust me, there are plenty of Hepatitis B viremic [contagious] kids out there–most that can’t yet be treated, and we just cross our fingers and hope that those around them are appropriately protected.
Pediatricians can feel frustrated with the ongoing task of discussing immunization and vaccine science in the exam room. It’s certainly our job, but it can be arduous. It’s difficult to have to defend science against anecdote. Emotion usually trumps the numbers. Which takes me back to something Dr Hill wrote about:
It’s said doctors crash three times as many airplanes as other private pilots. Why? Because we figure what we do is so hard anything else must be easy by comparison. Likewise it’s the most educated parents who think they can skim the Internet for a half hour and say, “I’ve done some research.” Whenever I hear this I’m dying to shout, “No, I’ve done tissue cultures, run gels, and crunched data. That’s research! You read some [stuff] online, okay?” The immune system is complex enough for doctors. For a lay person, even a very smart one, it’s like learning to fly an airliner. The principles seem simple enough, but what angle do you want the flaps at if you’re landing in Denver with a little too much fuel on board in a 15-knot crosswind on the southeastern approach? The difference is we assume the pilot’s interests are aligned with ours: to land safely. The educated public is skeptical of our motivations, so they figure maybe they’d better grab the stick and land this bird themselves.
Skepticism runs deep in the public. I often hear claims that pediatricians give vaccines to make money. Not true, in any of my experience and teaching. And in many parts of the country, pediatric offices lose money giving shots (it’s expensive to order, stock, refrigerate, give, and document vaccines). But anti-vaccination groups go to great lengths to confuse the public on the intention of pediatricians. With recent ads this month running in movie theaters warning against the risks of flu shots because of thimerisol (I just can’t include a link to these ads or the company who made them), we are not safe from discussion about vaccines, even while chomping on popcorn before the movie. This is everywhere.
Doctors think and worry about this out of the office, too. Dr Hsu describes feeling worried and frustrated when children aren’t protected:
[I feel] the same way I would feel when a non-helmeted kid gets hurt on his bike.
Pediatricians see children with vaccine preventable illness as missed opportunities. It can be very emotional. And the memory of an ill children lingers. I also think pediatricians get emotional partly because of the daily reminders in their work.
Dr Doug Opel a bioethicist, pediatrician, and father says:
I just came from the hospital where we have several kids hospitalized with whooping cough, some so severe they can’t even breath on their own. To me it’s just so tragic seeing these babies motionless on the hospital bed with a tube down their throat, IV’s everywhere. I have my own kids and just can’t imagine what it’d be like to see them like that…struggling to breathe and in pain.
Dr Paul Offit, an infectious disease and vaccine expert, author, and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia wrote:
I would make the case that a choice not to get vaccines is not a risk free choice. Rather, it’s a choice to take a different and far more serious risk.
Dr Bryan Vartabedian, a pediatric gastroenterologist and blogger said:
2 minutes. Tight territory for 2 generations of work spent eliminating deadly childhood illnesses. Almost too short a time to change an opinion. I’m going to take a lesson from the antivax warriors…Call it advocacy for those who can’t speak for themselves:
Your daughter has the privilege of being born into the world at a time when deadly communicable diseases of infancy are effectively unheard of. Diseases that at one time could have left this precious baby blind, deaf and retarded are now found only in textbooks…As this baby’s mother you have the sole responsibility to protect her and keep her out of harm’s way. Your baby can’t make the decision. You have to do it for her.
Dr Kronman, a pediatrician and fellow in infectious disease at the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia:
I’ve been mulling this over. In fact, two nights ago it kept me up a little bit (which nothing does, other than my daughter’s cries),
He continued with a list of evidence (which will be up in the evidence section). But also said this:
Vaccines DO have some rare side effects. The chances, on an individual level, of having one of the truly significant side effects are FAR LESS than the chances of having a car accident while driving to the office to discuss these things. They are FAR LESS than the odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime. Bad things happen in this world, and the odds of having one of those bad things happen to you are HIGHER than the odds of a bad thing happening from a vaccine. So the very process of existence in our society carries more risk.
Dr Alanna Levine, a general pediatrician in New York wrote:
One of my ‘family activities’ this weekend was taking my kindergartner to a birthday party where I was approached by one of the moms in his class. She had been to my website and saw that I was emphatically pro-vaccine and asked me about it because she ‘gave her kids the vaccines in the hospital and then not again until 15 months so she would only have to give them the bare minimum’. When I asked her what she was afraid of, she replied ‘It just seems like too much. I breastfed, I let my kids crawl on the floor and eat dirt. I figured that was enough’ She seemed very proud of her decision and I of course could not resist the urge to talk her ear off for a good 20 minutes (I far exceeded the 2 minutes you proposed in your question!). I proudly explained to her that I too breastfed my kids and didn’t shield them from dirt, but that I also vaccinated them and that is what I recommend to my patients. Today I got an email from her about the class Thanksgiving party and at the end she added a PS that read ‘Thank you also for your honesty and candor about vaccinations. Living where we do it must be so hard to get your point across. And yes.. in the end I guess we are lucky nothing happened to our kids.’
Dr Natasha Burgert, a general pediatrician in Missouri said,
I do believe in vaccines. What I believe in even more, however, is my responsibility as a pediatrician to partner with a family to make this decision easier. I know choosing to vaccinate is a very emotional subject and is hotly debated in many families. But, this is not a war.
What do you think? Tell me, and then return for the “evidenced” and “experienced” portions of their (and others’) responses later this week…
Fascinating topic and approach. Thank you. This information is so helpful. I liked best the comment by the pediatrician who clarified what doing research and ‘knowing’ really means.
Kirk Cheyfitz says
This is invaluable reportage on a critical topic. And I want to congratulate you on leading with emotion. I fear that too many doctors lead with statistics when talking to their patients and this is likely a doomed strategy since these are fundamentally emotional decisions for most, if not all, people. I am looking forward to the other two parts. Thanks.
Chris Johnson says
I’m a PICU doc now, but I first trained as an infectious disease specialist 30 years ago. Bach then I saw children with H. flu meningitis every month at least. Some of them died. Others were made deaf. Last year I cared for a child (whose parents proudly did not vaccinate him) with H.flu epigottitis, and he nearly died. My emotional response is an inner scream. Then I take the approach of your correspondent above, pointing out that vaccine injury is less likely than being hit by lightning.
I think the fundamental problem is that few parents understand the notion of relative risk. They worry excessively over a vanishingly rare event, such as child abduction or vaccine injury, and think nothing of driving in rush hour traffic on the interstate or sending their child off without a bike helmet. Statistically, it actually makes more sense for a child to wear a helmet while riding in a car, since head injuries in auto accidents are more common than serious bike injuries.
I also hear from time to time the argument that pediatricians just want to make money off vaccines. If that were true, we’d oppose vaccination. I care for several children each year in the PICU with whooping cough; if I were out to make money I’d want more of them.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Thanks, Dr Johnson for this incredible comment. I got goosebumps reading what you wrote and thinking about what you see in the ICU on a weekly basis. I appreciate you wisdom and contributions immensely.
For parents reading the blog, “Hib vaccine” prevents H. flu illness (like that described by Dr Johnson. Your children get the vaccine at 2, 4, 6, and 15-18 months of age.
Because of the Hib vaccine, I have only seen one case of Hib meningitis (infection around the brain) in an infant while I was training. Lucky me. But my precursors talk to me about their residency days when they used to do spinal taps on a weekly/monthly basis and puss would come out of the tube—full of H Flu infection. Devastating.
The notion of helmets in the car made me laugh. I don’t think we’ll ever get families to believe we need to do that, but yes, your logic makes sense!
Thank you for this discussion. I am very pro-vaccination and it is nice to read an educated viewpoint that isn’t being militant about the whole thing.
This isn’t exactly on topic, but it is polite. What a breath of fresh air to see a doctor maintain a blog on such important topics. My doctor doesn’t even use email, so you’re light years ahead of him and, for that matter, the great majority of the medical community.
Thank you so much for bringing up this troublesome topic. I have over and over again argued for immunization with my pregnant friends but somehow the argument of “Vaccination is related to autism” is always brought up and even with extensive research on that topic it’s really hard to convince moms-to-be that the statement is incorrect.
With the internet being so powerful and full of incorrect information which unfortunately is very easy to search for, read and believe in, I think it’s becoming an even bigger challenge to convince the “non-scientific skeptical 5-minute websearch parents” that the easily available internet information is not always the best way to go.
Liz Ditz says
Thanks for taking the time to do this. I think you have performed an invaluable service
I particularly like Dr. Hsu’s image — “I like to describe vaccines as invisible helmets for our children. Given the choice, it is the best way to protect them from unexpected danger.”.
I’d also like to hear more from Dr. Hsu on the “plenty of Hepatitis B viremic [contagious] kids out there–most that can’t yet be treated”. Hep B is one of the vaccines that get parents steamed — they believe that HepB can only be sexually transmitted and vehemently oppose the neonatal vaccine. Could she possibly do a guest post?
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Thanks, Liz. I’ve asked Dr Hsu. She’s extremely busy so we’ll see if it’s possible. In the least, I can interview her on the topic and write it up! It’s a great idea.
Liz Ditz says
I also want to comment on “believing in vaccines”. I think it was Eric Fombonne at the Omnibus Autism hearings who, when asked if he “believed” in a particular theor,y replied (and I’m paraphrasing) that belief had nothing to do with it; the evidence would either support the theory or discount it.
That point of view — evidence over “feelings” — is something I try to keep in mind.
Chris Johnson says
The false association between vaccines and autism is like a Zombie — it refuses to go away in spite of all the research that has refuted it, and in spite of the retraction by the journal Lancet of the original Wakefield paper that postulated this discredited notion.
Retraction of a scientific paper is rare. Research gets published all the time that subsequent research shows to be wrong. After all, that’s how science works — other scientists try to reproduce the results. But for a journal to retract a paper means, in effect, that there was something fishy with it. As in deliberately falsified. In the words of the Lancet editors: ” . . . we fully retract this paper from the published record.”
But, as we all know, it’s exceedingly hard to kill Zombies.
Pennie McNulty says
As the mother of a three-year-old, I simply want to say “thank you” for this wonderful, insightful, and somewhat liberating post. And thanks to all those who made it even richer through their comments. Is a great feeling objectively- and well-informed. Nicely done.
Thank you for this! I am an infectious disease researcher and am adamantly pro-vaccine. This discussion has given me a lot of good ideas to use the next time I have the vaccine discussion with other parents. I especially love the statement explaining what research is and isn’t!
A few facts that I believe show why this continues to be such a debate:
1) Vaccines have been proven unequivocally to work to protect individuals as well as communities from infectious diseases. This is established scientific fact which I think all but the most truly unhinged science doubters would admit to, including parents of children who they believe were harmed by vaccines.
2) Autism is both rapidly increasing in prevalence (or at least recognition as such) and has no proven cause nor cure, making it justifiably terrifying to parents. And since there are thousands of parents whose children coincidentally developed/showed first signs of Autism either immediately or very soon after receiving vaccinations, this raises obvious concerns (which scientists have rightly worked very hard to dispel through numerous studies which have in fact shown no causal link)
3) That said, if a causal link *were* ever to be substantiated in any way, shape, or form between vaccines and Autism, the legal fallout and long term care / rehabilitative liability would bankrupt pharmaceutical companies, pediatricians, and their insurers.
I have two children, both of whom are thankfully healthy and happy – both received their regular vaccines, however, we both requested that they not receive multiple vaccinations on the same day (which entailed additional trips to the pediatrician) and asked and paid for vaccines that did not contain thimerosal (which cost us about $10 additional per vaccine).
I’m sure, then as now, this was viewed as reactionary and/or unnecessary by our pediatrician. It probably was. However, I have no regrets for pursuing what I saw (and see) as a prudent and responsible course.
To all the pediatricians reading this I would make this plea: understand that even if fears over vaccines and autism are 100% unfounded, you cannot prove a negative. We don’t – any of us, not you, not me – know what causes Autism. I’m willing to say that I truly believe that vaccines themselves have been sufficiently proven to not, in and of themselves, cause Autism.
What I’m not yet willing to say is whether or not they could, under the right (or rather, wrong) conditions be a link or a tipping point in whatever factors lead to the onset of Autism.
A simple one: I happily ate peanut butter on my toast this morning; my friend Jeff would have been dead from a severe anaphylactic reaction had he enjoyed the same breakfast. Do peanuts cause death? Test me and 99 of my friends other than Jeff and you’ll conclude that such a claim is ridiculous.
A bit more complex one: I might choose to put some cherry tomatoes on my salad tonight. I might drop one on the floor. It just so happens that the floor was waxed this morning. It also so happens that I’m wearing dress shoes that are somewhat slippery-soled, and if all those things coincide with my slipping on that tomato and cracking my head, you’ll agree I hope that neither tomatoes, nor floor wax, nor dress shoes cause skull fractures, but that in a heretofore unconsidered interplay between the three that you could indeed end up in the ER.
Take two or three unrelated medical factors – or six, or ten – and imagine that in that combination you now have an individual at a tipping point – one who, unlike the vast majority, can’t take or has exacerbated the body’s reaction to a vaccine cocktail that’s harmless in and of itself just as my cherry tomato or peanut butter is to me.
I am admittedly not a doctor, so I will put it to those of you who are: considering how fragile and reactionary our bodies can be to such things as allergens, blood pH, the production of antibodies, etc. is it entirely far-fetched to think that there are as-yet un-researched angles to Autism that in fact might one day show that while vaccines are not causal in and of themselves, they *could* prove to be an adverse agent for a subset of individuals who have other contributory genetic or environmental factors that *are* causal to a weakened or otherwise compromised patient?
I hope you’ll tell me and other parents that this *is* far-fetched…if you can, you should.
The bottom line: you’ve read a lot more of the research, know the statistics better…but if that knowledge and your professional experience leads you to roll your eyes at concerned parents instead of proving to them that you’re their child’s advocate too, then you yourselves are unwittingly contributory factors to the decline in vaccination rates right along with those parents who are searching for the right thing to do for their children.
Chris Johnson says
There’s another aspect to the question that physicians consider when we advise vaccination: we’re not just looking after the interests of your child, we’re advocating for all children. The best example of this is the DaPT shot for whooping cough, or pertussis. The children who die from whooping cough are the infants, often those who are too young to even have received their first immunization. They become infected when this highly infectious disease is carried to them by others. Often it comes from adults whose immunity has waned because they didn’t get a booster shot. But other times the infection comes from an unvaccinated child.
So these defenseless infants, whose parents aren’t even in the discussion, are stricken with a life-threatening infection because some other child’s parents elected not to vaccinate. I’ve seen more than a few such cases over my three decades of practice. Such infants usually survive these days. But they may spend a week or more on a mechanical ventilator machine, suffering pain all the while, and afterwards they can’t eat for days owing owing to their constant cough. We’re advocating for them, too.
Rachel F. says
First off, I want to thank you! Thank you for posting this. I have two children, 3 and 1yr. My three year old was born at 38weeks 4 days and my 1yr old was born at 34 weeks 5 days (after going into labor, but stopping it at 28weeks). With my 1yr old we were referred to a doctor other than our primary for the first 4months of life. Well, as it turned out we missed out on a few vaccines, mainly whooping cough. This scares the living daylight out of me. While she was born early and wasn’t on any oxygen, her lungs were still early. To this day she has been sicker than her sister (which could be due to the fact that we are out more and around older kids), but she has already had 3 ear infections and is currently battling a cold/cough/respiratory gunk. Had I known that I had to ask for the whopping cough, I would have. I don’t want my girls in the PICU, I’ve already been in the NICU, I want them home with me. Whooping cough is just one vaccine that she was not given, thankfully we were able to catch all the others. As I said on FB when I posted a link to this blog post, my girls are vaccinated, end of story. So, thank you for posting on this.
Rachel F. says
First off, I want to thank you! Thank you for posting this. I have two children, 3 and 1yr. My three year old was born at 38weeks 4 days and my 1yr old was born at 34 weeks 5 days (after going into labor, but stopping it at 28weeks). With my 1yr old we were referred to a doctor other than our primary for the first 4months of life. Well, as it turned out we missed out on a few vaccines. This scares the living daylight out of me. While she was born early and wasn’t on any oxygen, her lungs were still early. To this day she has been sicker than her sister (which could be due to the fact that we are out more and around older kids), but she has already had 3 ear infections and is currently battling a cold/cough/respiratory gunk. Had I known that I had to ask for those additional vaccines, I would have. I don’t want my girls in the PICU, I’ve already been in the NICU, I want them home with me. Whooping cough is just one vaccine that she was not given, thankfully we were able to catch all the others. As I said on FB when I posted a link to this blog post, my girls are vaccinated, end of story. So, thank you for posting on this.
While I belive in vaccinations 100%, I also believe that the problem with the emotion part of this entire debate is that NO science will argue it effectively – in two minutes or two hundred. I am looking forward to future installments of this series.
Richard, I am not a physician but became very interested in autism after working in high tech for 14 years and meeting many, many families with children — sometimes multiple siblings — on the autism spectrum. One family had three kids on the spectrum and vaccination delay didn’t help the youngest. There is an organization called Autism Speaks that funds autism research. They have funded vaccine research in the past; funded the Autism Genome project, which found genetic markers in 10% of kids with autism. Autism Speaks is currently funding research into mitochondrial disorders and metabolic disorders that occur in a small fraction of kids with autism. A small fraction of this fraction of kids with mitochondrial disorders appear to regress in their neuro development when they have a high fever. The fever could be from anything. In yet another tiny faction of this fraction of a fraction one study found that the fever result from a vaccine. In most cases, though, it was a cold/flu or unknown. So it’s possible that my kid is one of the handful of kids where this mechanism was studied and thought to be a reasonable explanation. However, a child with such a metabolic disorder appears to me to be a time bomb. You can’t protect them from ever getting a virus! FYI, Autism Speaks does not recommend vaccination avoidance or delay. Metabolic disorders are difficult to diagnose, otherwise I’d start a petition for Jenny McCarthy to have her son tested!
Another interesting aspect of autism research now is finding traits that can flag at-risk children in infancy. I hope that the autism-vaccine zombie dies so that funds for autism can be put to identifying it as early as possible to help these children.
Rachel, my second child was near-term (36 wks) and is prone to respiratory infections. Seems to go with the territory for many of these babies! We didn’t travel, take him to public play spaces, or expose him to any un-vaxed people until he could start on HIB, DTAP, and IPD (prevnar). At 4 months he caught RSV while visiting relatives and had bronchiolitis for 3 weeks. My older child (then 3.5) was sick for all of 4 days. I want to know when there will be a vaccine for RSV! 🙂
Chris Johnson, your first comment is a revelation for me. I have a family member who was born 2 years prior to the release of Hib. He nearly died of epiglotitis on several occassions as a child. Didn’t know that might have H. flu!
MamaDoc, this discussion gets more interesting in each installment. Nothing like it on the web – thanks! I’m impressed that you have Dr Offit’s email and he wrote back. Did you write other celebrity Drs like Dr Oz? (j/k :))
“What I’m not yet willing to say is whether or not they could, under the right (or rather, wrong) conditions be a link or a tipping point in whatever factors lead to the onset of Autism.”
richard, i am not a physician, but i had a friend say the very same thing as you, and here’s what i tried to tell her:
no one says that every vaccine causes autism, right? if that were true, every vaccinated person would be autistic, and obviously they’re not. so the idea has always been that vaccines trigger autism or act as a tipping point in only a fraction of the population. your question is the one that has been studied all along.
also, we don’t have to know how vaccines might cause autism in order to observe a connection. so, it wouldn’t matter how obscure the link between vaccines and autism was. if vaccines caused autism in 1%, or 0.1%, or 0.01% of the population, through 20 different chains of action, that link still would have shown up in the epidemiological research.
however, it’s still possible that vaccines are responsible for a tiny fraction of autism. i think dr. offit’s book, autism’s false prophets, mentioned the precise numbers. but if i recall correctly, the current research was powered to detect whether even 1 in 10,000 cases of autism were triggered by vaccination, and they weren’t. so could 1 in 100,000 cases of autism be triggered by vaccination? perhaps. but that would put autism as a 1 in 10,000,000 reaction.
Emotions of course run high when discussing vaccination but I think the real underlying problem here is the belief (sometimes warranted) in American society that nobody ever does anything for motivation other than money. When people tell me researchers and doctors are only in it for the money I just laugh. I work in conservation for very little money (surely not enough to justify the cost of my education) but because I truly believe that what I am doing is worthwhile and important. I can’t imagine going into medical practice and piling on all that debt, long hours, life and death decisions made every day, just for the money. The best and brightest can go to Wall Street if all they want is a paycheck. The vast majority of doctors and scientists do what they do for the love of science and to help people.
This is the disconnect. People see large corporations in pharmaceuticals, oil/natural gas, agriculture doing sloppy research, hiding results and colluding to make a profit and they just assume everyone in and related to these industries is on the same path. Unfortunately there are people out there who are out to make a fast buck – off of passing this conspiracy theory on to unsuspecting and uneducated individuals who are willing to make this leap of logic. Once that train of thought has solidified, it is very difficult to shake. Any evidence that disproves the conspiracy is further evidence of the conspiracy.
I’m not sure what can be done to combat this other than a much more concerted effort in schools to teach critical thinking skills and science to everyone, not just people who are headed to careers in the sciences. Perhaps that and a little less of a “government is evil” and worship of the almighty dollar in the media. Success in life should not be measured by a paycheck, not if we want to live in a moral society.
Keep up the good work, Mama Doc. If you can change just one parent’s mind on this it’s all worth it.
As we discuss vaccinations and child safety, we should also discuss the vaccination compliance of parents and caretakers.
Confession of a father/physician: I understand the risks of non-vaccination, yet I procrastinated for the first 2 years of my oldest child’s life before I obtained my Tdap booster. Only after my workplace demanded compliance did I get the vaccination. At the same time, my wife and I were vigilant about staying on schedule for our children’s vaccinations.
When I confess my sin to pediatricians, they assure me that I am not alone. In fact, from their clinical experiences, fathers are particularly bad at obtaining timely vaccinations.
Why? Is it a continuation of the known shot-phobia of adolescent boys? Is it another manifestation of the “over-confidence” discussed by Dr. Hill in this post? Is it a lack of understanding or education regarding the risks of transmission of pertussis to unprotected neonates (not a good excuse in my case)? Is it a reflection of our nation’s poor emphasis of adult preventative medicine?
More importantly, how do we change this behavior? When I think about the enormous guilt I would have felt had I been responsible for the hospitalization of my child with pertussis, I think the emotional angle may be the most powerful.
Jen B says
Sometimes people just don’t connect not getting the vaccine to possibly getting the disease. I once worked with two boys who turned out to have contracted mumps somewhere. They were unvaccinated. I had to explain to mom that while hopefully everything would be fine, it was possible that they might have fertility problems in the future. She was, obviously, very upset and kept saying, “I just wanted to protect them.” That’s all anyone on either side of the debate is trying to do, no matter how frustrating either side finds the other.
I think, honestly, what will happen is there will be more and more visible outbreaks of diseases like measles and mumps, and then it will be more obvious to parents that there is a monster out there that kids do need shielding from. Or, God forbid, someone will come from India or Afghanistan carrying polio, and spread it to an unvaccinated child here, and that child will end up with a paralytic disease. Or someone from Rwanda brings over some diptheria. People don’t remember what a global society we live in. Someone could come here from parts of the globe where these diseases are still alive and well, and feel just fine when they got on that plane.
I would also like to hear from Dr. Hsu. My understanding is that we vaccinate kids right after birth in case the mother had hepatitis B and we didn’t know about it.
Jen’s last line is instructive: “…we vaccinate kids right after birth in case the mother had hepatitis B and we didn’t know about it.”
Along with commending to Richard’s comments above, I would add that in my experience physicians generally apply a blanket standard of vaccinations to all persons, regardless of their circumstance. Our pediatricians have strongly urged Hep B vaccines despite our insistence that the mother, my wife, does not carry Hep B. I’ve met very few people who think Physicians are vaccinating for the money, but I know many people, myself included, who are uncomfortable with how quickly and readily any physician is to administer a pharmaceutical. I think this is where the suspicion comes from. Any attempt to scare parents into vaccinating (“Just imagine how guilty you’d feel if you child ended up in the ER”) will backfire. You can’t fight fear with fear; you can only overcome it with trust.
We vaccinate all our children, usually exactly when our pediatrician recommends, though sometimes we opt to spread doses out over a longer period of time or avoid giving multiple vaccines at once.
One more thing to consider: two of the more recent public pandemic flu scares–Bird flu and H1N1–seem to have been overblown. Fair or not, some parents will take this as evidence that concerns over other serious diseases are overblown.
Nate, I would suggest that the reason the H1N1 flu scare appears to you to have been “overblown” is because of the “hype.” I stood in line for hours to get my children and my vaccinated. Why was the line so long? Because there were so many people in it. Fear motivated a lot of people in my community to get vaccinated. Vaccinations = no outbreak here!
Chris Johnson says
Last year in the PICU I cared for several children with H1N1 flu who spent weeks on mechanical ventilators and nearly died from it. I know many of my colleagues around the country who had a similar experience. One of our own ICU nurses did, in fact, die from H1N1 flu. The issue was not overblown from my or my colleagues’ standpoint. None of us have cable news shows, though, so you didn’t hear much from us.
So many wonderful comments on this article. I read it when it was linked on the ‘Vaccinate your Baby’ Facebook page and a fantastic discussion bloomed over there in response. I will most definitely be checking back on this blog. Lovely topic! I’m very much hoping that the commenters here will check out the ‘Vaccinate Your Baby” page next time you log on to FB. We’d love to expand our community with even more thoughtful vaccine advocates. Cheers, everybody!
This is a fabulous article, and I can’t wait to read the other 2 installments. As a mom of 3 and a pediatrician, so many of the doctors’ comments really hit home. I also really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughtful comments about the article. I encourage all of you to “like” the “Vaccinate your Baby” page on Facebook – we would love to have your insights in our discussions on many issues related to vaccination!!
Wendy – Nice job with this. Lots of interesting angles but the question remains: what to do during that golden two minutes and what’s the best approach to bring that mother closer to understanding how immunization represents the best option?
I would love to see the two minute drill pulled into a video collection. Thank you for doing this in such a sensitive way.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Thanks, Dr V. As we’ve discussed, I’m planning on pulling together a collection of pediatricians recording 2 minute segments on what they believe to be true when it comes to immunizations. Or what they would say to a family in a similar scenario. I’ll aim to shoot the pilot in the next week or so if you agree to follow soon thereafter. We need to get others to pledge to contribute. I imagine it could function like a virtual quilt. Or a think tank of sorts, open for all to see.
Love the discussion, and I have to say I lean more toward Richard’s sentiment.
Wondering if there were any chiropractic doctors that responded or were included in the question?
And when I read the comment about the helmets in the car, I immediately started considering it. I am more afraid of car accidents than anything else.
I’m a family doctor. I spend a lot of time educating parents about shots. If I can save one family the heartache that these infections bring, it’s worth all my time.
I tell families that immunizations DO carry risks (though probably not a risk of autism – boy I can’t wait until we find out what DOES cause autism so we can stop blaming the darn shots), but that the infections carry HIGHER risks. So immunization is the safer option. Protect your children.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
No chiropractors were asked because I don’t know any personally. And as I said, I wrote 33 pediatricians (I also wrote 2 family doctors but they didn’t respond to the e-mail) that I trust. But I asked pediatricians because I believe they are most expert in caring for children and have the most training–medical school for 4 years and then to specialize, pediatricians complete a 3 year intensive residency caring for children the entire time. Pediatricians have the rare privilege to care for children with life threatening disease… I think caring for children with the diseases we work to prevent really changes and shapes insight. Many of the doctors included here also have additional training. For example, those that complete sub-specialties (like infectious disease or gastrointestinal) do a minimum of another 3 years of training.
You may experience this angle as “bias.” For me, it’s simply my community. And it’s who I thought to write while ruminating on what to say. Would be great to hear comments from every level/angle of training to open the discussion. Please direct this to those chiropractors you know.
Arlo Miller, MD says
I’m frequently asked about the relationship between diet and acne, and usually respond that its complete hogwash and that the only study that has found anything showed a weak association with a low glycemic index.
This thread makes be believe that patients only remember the first part of my response (what i think) and tune out the second (what I know).
I think we don’t tell patients the truth enough about what we think. So when asked about naturopathic medicine I tell them that I think its all a bunch of made up hocus pocus that makes the supplement industry rich.
Perhaps pediatricians should be frank about what they think (vs what they know) and just say that vaccination is the only responsible thing to do, (which also happens to be true).
I tend to linger in the “crunchy” side so I know several families who have chosen not to vaccinate. I absolutely agree that fear drives the decision. Unfortunately the fear of the side effects is what is propagated and not the fear of the diseases. People truly believe they can read the Dr. Sears Vaccine Book and make an educated decision to delay or not vaccinate. That scares me. I also think not vaccinating is “en vogue” and in some circles vaccines are likened to child neglect. That scares me more.
As for the vaccines causing autism fiasco, I’ve never understood this as a reason not to vaccinate. Even if there was some sort of link (which I truly doubt) I’d certainly rather have a child alive with autism than dead of a preventable disease.
Very well written!! Thank you for the conversation!
TannersDad Tim Welsh says
I am always amazed by the lack of compassion and understanding the medical community has for parents and families. Constantly lying and minimzing side effects and collateral damage. It is disengenous the way vaccines are promoted with a one size fits all mentality. There seems to be no time for informed consent. If the pharmaceutical companies would man up and do requested studies, look after injured ( autism ) then the ” herd” would have more advocates. I know you say correlation does not mean causation but it sure raises red flags. It should be mandatory that doctors care for a low functioning individual with autism for a week or more. TannersDad Tim Welsh Autiism and vaccine safety advocate. Director Mason Allen Medlam Foundation for Autism Safety
Chris Johnson says
I’m curious — what examples of “lying” and “lack of compassion” do you see either in Dr. Swanson’s post or in the comments? I think her essay shows quite a bit of compassion, and she’s certainly telling the truth.
Physicians, being normal people, experience the same burden of health problems among their families as does everybody else. Like you, many of us deal with severe, chronic illness in our children every day. Depending upon the individual, such experiences may or may not make us more compassionate, but we still need to advise what we think is best depending upon our professional judgment. As others have commented upthread, no physician should say vaccination is completely risk-free. But, like many of the treatments we use, we believe, based upon the best scientific data, that the benefit of vaccines far outweigh their risks. It’s not a moral issue; it’s a pragmatic one.
This is a fantastic article. I love the compassion that is palpable from many of these physicians. I just feel like the ‘battle’ will not be won and it scares me. I have done research (I know…not “real” research) for hours and have come to the conclusion that there is SO much scientific evidence in favor of vaccines that if individuals choose to believe they carry more risk than communicable and deadly diseases, they will never believe the reverse. No matter how much data is presented. No matter how much the medical community tries to be transparent, no matter HOW many studies have proven that vaccines don’t cause or increase one’s chances of autism (and wasn’t it just ONE study that linked the two in the first place? One that has been revoked and largely discredited)? I do believe we should keep the dialogue going…I just wonder if you can’t answer with reason, what do you answer with?
Karen D. Delaney says
Great conversation. Let me lead in with the fact that I am the mother of fraternal boy/girl twins; the boy having sever autism. Let me follow that by saying that we’ve never missed an immunization. My kids were in the exact same environment both in utero and after birth. Environmental and dietary exposures indentical; breast feeding identical; immunizations at the same time and from the same vial in most cases.
I have numerous friends who because they “saw it with their own eyes” can not be dissuaded from believing that their chid’s autism was a direct and nearly immediate response to the immunizations. It’s hard to argue with “but I saw him/her change before my eyes!” Facts, data, numbers all do little to these families and I wish I knew the answer – as one of your posters commented “I can’t wait until they find the cause of autism so we can go on” or something to that nature.
I would suggest that the “autism” experienced by these friends who firmly blame immunization injury may in fact be a different beast altogether. In my small community with my small pool of friends and my small random group their autism seems different than that of my sons; milder usually but not always, better communication usually, little or no fine/gross motor issues, retention of emotions (either displayed or outright expressed), often the ability to perform on grade level or near grade level in academics. What is similar in my oh-so-unscientific study is that these children have: little or no ability to wait or to deal with the abstract passage of time; hyper or hypo activity, sensory issues, general disconnect and/or preference for alone play (but they DO seem to play), I’m more inclined to go with severe sensory disorder but…again, I’m no researcher nor am I a doctor.
I would again and again vaccinate my children and I knew my son was autistic shortly after birth by his actions or lack of them so I don’t feel one iota of guilt for sticking to the basic guidelines. I would however feel mortally guilty if one of my children should die from a preventable illness. I can live with autism but not with that !
Sara T says
I will reiterate that this is a great discussion. Sadly, I agree with the above posters who say that only way we are going to convince people is to see outbreaks of these diseases return and have these communities affected directly. I am an L&D nurse here in Seattle and work with a full spectrum of parents every week. We offer only one vaccine for the babies (Hepatitis B) but we offer two for the parents currently: Flu and TDap. I had an interesting interaction with one of my patients this week. I was giving my spiel about why we are urging parents to get vaccinated against the flu and pertussis. I knew my patient was the more “granola” type in her birth plan and also by the fact that she and the baby would be using a naturopath as a primary care provider. In that discussion the patient told me that her friend’s baby was currently at Children’s on a vent because of a pertussis infection. She thought about it and the next day decided to get both vaccines. I am pretty certain that this friend’s baby was what convinced her to do it. I know vaccinating yourself is different than vaccinating your kids, but I have heard other stories from moms that a severe illness in a child they knew convinced them to vaccinate their child.
I also want to make a case for vaccinating your child for the greater good – building herd immunity to protect those who cannot be vaccinated. Half of my patients – the newborn babies – cannot be vaccinated against many diseases. I vaccinate myself and my daughter not only to protect us but to protect them. In a Frontline documentary on vaccines the interviewer managed to get a group of anti-vaccine moms to admit that the small risk (in their mind) to their child trumped the risk of serious illness in the newborns and immunocompromised members of the community. If that is the case then will a serious illness to their own child be the only thing to change their minds? Perhaps.
TannersDad Tim Welsh says
Derogatory name calling throughout this thread (Granola etc) and questioning parents ability to read the studies are examples of the continued arrogance of the medical community. It is very interesting the conversations I have off the record. Doctors as one admitted above do not personally get the vaccines unless coerced by employer. I really do want to move this conversation forward. I do not want one more child injured anywhere. I want support for the growing number of chronically Ill. it is time for Doctors to stand with parents and take responsibility for the collateral damage. The lying and lack of compassion resonates throughout this thread. You all know the unbiased studies have not been done, you know mercury ( Thimerisal ) is toxic, You know there are side effects. To move forward we must address the needs of families. Our children are dying as well… http://Www.MasonAlert.org lists some of the young souls lost in the last few months. At a minimum I would expect the medical community to support our efforts to stop those with autism and Alzheimers from wandering TannersDad Tim Welsh Autism and Vaccine Sfety Advocate.
I know 2 families that are completely no-vax and their stance is not fear but wellness. The spiel goes something like this: babies get antibodies for the really bad stuff from breastfeeding and inutero. So baby won’t get very sick from the diseases that mom has had. Further, the argument goes, that people don’t die from the infection, they die from poor nutrition. Most anti-vax doctors I’ve encountered also peddle vitamins. If you take vits A, C, and D by the 1000x + of the RDA, then you should be fine. When my friend’s newborn, toddler, and preschooler got the chickenpox, they threw a party. I hear more and more about virus parties for other viruses, too. There’s also the belief that these diseases are a rite of passage for our immune system and that “fake” immunity from vaccines actually triggers a poor response that leads to auto-immune disease. Whereas having the infection triggers a “correct” response that primes the immune system to better fight cancer. There are people who want measels. Believe it!
Illness from abroad…
I forgot who made the comment about people from other countries… I come from another country and had to undergo a thorough medical exam to enter this country. I also had to get updated vaccines where I didn’t have a record. Finally, since there was no written record of my receiving the complete TB vaccine series, I went through a three month study with the local infectious disease dept & CDC incl repeat xrays, re-checking titers to ensure I was vaccinated and not exposed/infected. I came –> <– this close to having to do the 9-month antibiotic treatment. One of my sibs had to do the treatment because of the titer values. The USA also requires certain vaccines for visitors visas. The "hole" in the immunity from foreign travel is the locals going abroad and bringing back the bugs.
Hi Tanner’s Dad, I did a little experiment. I went to the autism advocacy website you posted the other night. I read only the scientific articles cited without reading anything else. It’s shocking to read about a child with autism having measels virus in their cerebral fluid. My instinct is to think that kid should not have gotten the vaccine. But then I got to thinking about what would happen to this kid if they got full-on measels? Would they have been the ones to get the measels-related meningitis and die? What do you think would happen to these kids if they got full-on measels and not the vaccine version? I’m glad you are posting because I have so many other questions about your position and no one to ask.
Can you please list the detailed studies that you want to see?
What does “green my vaccine” mean? What is the proposal for preserving vaccines? I’d rather get a bit of aluminum than sepsis.
What is your ultimate goal – do you want vaccination to stop? Do you want vaccines to change? (This differs from site to site, so I”m asking you specifically since you are an advocate)
As a self-identified granola mom I want to ask: have you noticed all the CRAP that has been introduced into our environment in the same timeframe that autism has increased? Pesticides, preservatives, refined foods, coloring? Preponderance of plastics and petrolium products. Industrial chemicals and polulatnts. Teflon will offgas enough toxins to kill your pet bird, but people thing it’s all right to cook on! Ever check the typical fabric softener ingredients against EPA lists? Ever look at the contaminents in your drinking water or check the air quality in your city? We eat, drink, breathe, bathe and inject toxins at every turn. I marvel that you can pick one culprit only.
TannersDad Tim Welsh says
Goal1: Support with services those dealing with Autism Alzheimer’s
Goal 2: Raise Awareness and provide support or families and siblings dealing with autism
Goal 3: Preventing the vaccine program from imploding due to nobody questioning number, safety and efficacy of the current program. Demanding honest unbiased informed consent.
We have asked for vaccinated vs unvaccinated unbiased study for close to twenty years.
No argument, I believe there are many toxins in our environment. Why focus on vaccines? Because until somebody does the study that shows in my son’s case and others that correlation did not demonstrate causation the red flag is raised.
In no way am I a Doctor, Scientist, or white coat researcher… I can read Skull and crossbones and decipher material data safety sheet that says NEVER mix Thimerosal with aluminum. So R & D is solely in the pharmaceutical and Governments realm. As a parent, Citizen and advocate it is my right,duty, and obligation to ask for safe vaccines and support for those injured by vaccines.
I hope I answered a few of your questions. I again, am not a simpleton, you are correct in stating there are a lot of places and things we need to clean up. I just work on my little patch of the beach everyday. God Bless all and Merry Christmas TannersDad Tim
I’m with Richard and Nate. While I don’t think immunizations cause autism, I know several people with autistic children who had normal children until the day after an immunization. Yes, there has been epidemilological research, but that does not mean all variables have been tested. Is there another process going on that some of these kids ARE reacting to? It’s fantastically arrogant to assert that these parents of autistic children don’t know what they are saying when they claim their children were communicative and “normal” one day, and non-communicative the next day. This arrogance is not well received, and plants seeds of doubt in the minds of some parents.
Clearly, the immunization is not the CAUSE, but it very well could be an element in a significant number of autism diagnoses. I had my boys on delayed vaccinations. They got them all. Every single one. Just not 5 vacccinations in one day. It probably didn’t change anything. But they got done. And if that’s what will assuage parents to vaccinating their kids, perhaps the medical community should look in to a means of offering a delay schedule as an alternative. I think a large part of the problem here is that parents aren’t feeling listened to, they see that other parents (people they know) being blown off, and they don’t trust the medical community fully. When parents (or any patient) feel heard, they are more likely to be compliant.
Another thank you for the discussion and I wanted to add a couple of thoughts from a parent perspective. When my daughter was young I sought to make the most educated decision on this topic that I could. I considered first that doing so was a privilege afforded me by the millions that vaccinated before my daughters birth… without them these dangerous infections diseases would not be so at bay that one would even consider “weighing the risks” of vaccination vs. non vaccination.
When I spoke to individuals (including doctors) that were adamant about vaccination – I heard great fear and while it may or may not be warranted – the fear got in the way of their position. When I spoke to individuals (including doctors) who where adamant about not vaccinating – guess what – same fear. I took it upon myself to make my own decision, trying to weed out the concerns from the fear – and spent a fair amount of time looking for those who were not so extreme in their views. When I found a doctor willing to talk it out and really listen without fear I was extremely grateful.
I also had an opportunity to see the bind doctors are in, being in an elevated position in society, wanting what they believe is best, and fearing that should something awful happen to this child that it could have been prevented if only… not to mention the whole malpractice and insurance side of the issue that comes up any time a child dies or is permanently damaged.
I think it’s safe to say no one entertaining this question wants to see harm occur to a child. We are all doing the best we can. And i think it’s also safe to say emotions run high when we think we know more than another and try to tell them so (even when in fact we may know more than the other).
My plea is for those of you with credentialed info to be patient and work to educate. Ask your patients what their fears are, ask them what they think the risks are, ask them what they want to contribute as a community as well as an individual. Treat them with the care and understanding you have for their child. Encourage them to learn more and have faith in them to make the decision best for their family.
For us it was an unconventional hybrid. My child was not in child care, her exposure risk was low, but still existed. I feel vaccinations are one tool we have right now and they have value and I wonder at the wisdom of doing them at such an early age, while the body is so busy working on other areas of development. Thus my hybrid solution for our family – I started her vaccinations between her first and second birthday. This is not a recommendation for others – simply a conscious choice I made based on many factors weighing risks (which I have not listed here) and my commitment to a picture of greater health with the tools I had available to me.
I am sorry to hear of your family and your son’s situation. I wanted to respond to your comment regarding the fact that no one will do an “unbiased” study on unvax vs. vax b/c this would not pass any institutional review board. I believe you are referring to a randomized controlled trial, where people are randomly assigned to (in this case) vaccine vs. no-vaccine groups, and followed over time for outcomes, such as autism, etc.
This is simply not possible. It’d like trying to get a study funded on how adequate maternal caloric intake vs. maternal starvation effects babies in utero. It’s unethical to withhold a treatment in any type of research if it will result in well-known harms, and despite the anti-vax supporters, the medical/research world accepts vaccines as safer than placebo in the case of preventing many serious communicable diseases. This is the case for research funded in the USA and other western countries.
I wish you and your family, and the families affected by wandering, all the best in these difficult times.
“Likewise it’s the most educated parents who think they can skim the Internet for a half hour and say, “I’ve done some research.” Whenever I hear this I’m dying to shout, “No, I’ve done tissue cultures, run gels, and crunched data. That’s research! You read some [stuff] online, okay?”
REALLY? I’m so glad that because you went to school and work in the field you think you should dictate how I raise my kids. By your logic I should let a teacher tell me the best way to educate my child and a McDonalds employee how to feed them? Don’t assume that all parents who elect to modify/change our immunization program are just casual about it. Many people we know spent weeks/months figuring out our facts.
More than that as a doctor who is faced with the patients who don’t immunize you are LESS impartial to the issue. You have emotional ties to the outcome of this discussion and as a result your feedback is biased.
Instead of complaining about parents not doing enough to educated themselves, become the champion to helping them do so. Don’t just push one agenda but give them the ability to make sound research. Point them at Dr. Sears and then point them at published journals like Dr. Offit and Moser who contend his logic is incorrect. Let them hear from leading scientists in the field – show them the research done by Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and other agency – and then show them a list of who funds those groups to see if their results will be based on an agenda.
Saying I’m a doctor, I deal with it daily, and I know best is condescending at best and tiresome at least. Help parents become a better advocate and not just a sheep to your opinion.
My friend developed Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) from the TDAP (the collective vaccines preventing tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis). This was confirmed by her Dr. I wont get it because of this. I would like to just get the pertussis vaccine, but this isn’t possible. This is why I hesitate. I do believe that the MDs are acting in the child’s best interest. I also believe that the pharmaceutical companies are simply trying to make money.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Thanks for your comment, Paula. GBS is a side effect seen after vaccinations, although it is very rare. I have had a patient who had GBS as a child although the cause was unknown and vaccines were ultimately not thought to have caused it. But it is always hard to speculate and his family is cautious, as they should be. We certainly use his history of GBS when making decisions for immunizations at each visit. Some are contraindicated, of course.
Just to clarify, Tdap is a booster given to children over at 11 (age 10 in some cases) and not the same immunization as DTaP given to infants and toddlers and children prior to kindergarten. Tdap is recommended for adults to protect against both tetanus (the “tetanus booster” now) and also whooping cough (pertussis) because of recent increase in whooping cough cases and potentially life-threatening illness in infants 6 months an younger.
I, too, believe that MDs are acting in the child’s best interest. And I also believe we can always learn more, improve the way we communicate, and continue to hone our understanding of how to prevent illness and injury in children.
Clayton Morrison says
Thanks so much. I am a father of two boys, 2 1/2 years (up to date on all shots) and 6 mo (on his way). We don’t have a choice for the baby and I actually have a little anxiety knowing that their are parents with older kids who have decided to expose my baby to these risks. My emotional reaction is that parents who do not immunize are at the least reckless and at the most criminal. People who make selfish choices need to be confronted as such. I encourage all medical practitioners to present the decision not to vaccinate as a selfish decision.
Rachel F. says
Viki – funny you should mention the RSV vaccine. Since my youngest was a preemie born under I did talk to my doctor about it. But she was not eligible for it, due to the fact that she was born at over 32weeks and didn’t require any oxygen at birth. Basically what I was told is they break it down into two sections, under 32 weeks and between 32-35 weeks. In the second category they seem to have needed oxygen at birth (more than the normal they give to every baby) and a few other reasons. I have some friends who had 28week twin preemies last year, got the RSV vaccine, but were not eligible for it this year, because their babies were healthy and in the 50percentile – all wonderful things. Personally this was very frustrating. So, we are still waiting to see what transpires with this vaccine for this year.
I oppose present day vaccination because of the materials in the vaccine and how it is made. I have done a lot of research on this, and frankly, the cause of many diseases is nutrition, or rather, lack of it. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of sugar, excess starch, fats and is of little nutritional value. No one can stay healthy on a diet of garbage. When we have a food industry deliberately milling needed vitamins and minerals out of our food, when we cook our food to death so it just rots in the body’s intestines, how can anyone stay healthy? As an example, there are antifreeze chemicals in most ice cream. These chemicals are poison! Why would you want to eat them? Why would any food manufacturer want to put them in food to begin with? Why would anyone want to eat or produce GMO frankenfoods, and then force us by law to eat them? Why would anyone want to spray toxic chemicals on our food and then convince us to eat it?
The Senate has already passed S510, the phony “food safety” bill. One of the provisions of this bill is to put aspartame into ALL processed foods, all restaurant foods, i.e., all foods we consume in this country. Are you, as a pediatrician, going to tell parents that aspartame is okay to eat? That’s it’s safe, like vaccines?
The United States is the sickest nation in the world. We eat garbage, then we inject poisons into our children, and yes, thimerosol (mercury) is a neurological poison, and you know this, or should know this. Read information on vaccine additives like squalene oil, which is in the flu vaccines and many other vaccines as well. Back in the 1930’s, when supposed scientists were experimenting with squalene oil, it killed the animals they injected with it. Can you really tell peple and parents especially, that vaccines are safe for children when they contain additives that cripple and kill?
Watch the video of Desiree Jenkins, the cheerleader who nearly died from an ordinary flu shot. She became unable to eat, speak, and walk normally with weeks of getting the vaccination, and she’s not the only one. Get on YouTube and watch the videos of teenagers who have become paralysed after getting the HPV vaccination, and read of the deaths in Great Britain of young girls who died after getting the vaccine, some dropping dead within minutes of getting the vaccine. Desiree was fortunate, however, because on the verge of death, she was taken to a doctor who spent 36 hours detoxing the vaccine materials out of her body. Take a few minutes and research that before you talk about vaccine safety.
Educate yourself on creatures like Billl Gates who advocates using vaccines to reduce the world’s population. Watch some of the videos on YouTube from similar monsters who advocate elimination of the world’s “useless eaters.” Vaccines are a tool of destruction, pushed on us by those who desire to cull the world’s population. Vaccines do extensive damage to some children, and in others, they dull the intelligence level. I, as an older adult, have only had a few vaccines when a child. The damage I sustained came mainly from mercury and other heavy metals in dental fillings, which somehow prevented me from being able to communicate, to think and express my thoughts verbally. Once I had the fillings removed six years ago, my ability to think and talk normally developed rapidly. I ate plenty of sulfur containing foods to try to detox the mercury from my system, as I experienced allergic reactions to other detox methods. I have lost a large part of the life I should have had due to toxic dental fillings.
When mercury-containing vaccines are pumped into children at ridiculous levels, 35 mandated vaccines in New York State, for instance, what do you really think happens to our children’s brain and body cells at the microcellular level? Vaccines are now being linked with juvenile diabetes, autism and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. How is it that only the USA has such high levels of autistic children? How it is that some parents have detoxed their chidren of heavy metals and had the autism reverse itself. Have YOU ever researched it? Try reading the internet article, “The Scary World of Vaccine Adjutants” and maybe you will think twice before advising people to be injected with toxic vaccine poisons. There is plenty of information on the internet for people searching for answers.
You might even go a step further and research the global depopulation agenda and who’s involved in it. Try researching the United Nations Agenda 21 and sustainability, which advocates removing up to 95% of the world’s population. Are you going to be included in the 95%, Doctor? Try reading about the Georgia Guidestones in our very own State of Georgia, which pronounces the goals of the world’s controllers, which state, written in stone in eight major languages, of the desires of the globalists to reduce and maintain the world’s population at 500 million. Do you think that vaccines might somehow be connected to this global depopulation agenda? The Guidestones are real, in Elberton, Georgia, ahd these nutjobs are in power for the moment.
I also suggest you remember that God forbids us to do self-injury, to damage our bodies which can cause death. God is about life! He states in the Bible that we are to reproduce and multiply, and fill the earth. He provides for us, and the earth is capable of holding many millions, even billions, than it does now.
Evil comes in many forms, Doctor. God will hold you responsible for the damage and suffering caused to children and adults by vaccines and toxic medications which you prescribe. I’ve read and researched ingredients in vaccines, and most adults never do this. They just blindly accept what a doctor says, because they don’t want to think for themselves beyond the next beer, TV show and football game. I say to the parents, WAKE UP AND PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN AND YOURSELVES. Demand safe vaccines, if there is any such thing.
I frankly don’t believe most Doctors think for themselves, either, as you just blindly accept the pharmaceutical companies BS line. Do you take your vaccines, Doctor? Many physicians refused the swine flu vaccines last year. I wonder why.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Yes, I got my H1N1 shot last year. And as I wrote, my children did, too.
There actually has been a long term study started that is looking at the long term effect of “pediatric vaccines on [brain development] of rhesus macaque infants”. The results of the pilot study can be found here (https://www.ane.pl/showarticle.php?art=7020). I’ll let you draw you own conclusions from it since all of the Doctors here are surely better at interpreting all of that confusing medical jargon than myself.
Can one of the learned Doctors here please point us to the studies that have shown how safe the combination of the different vaccines are when administered together? Surely that type of study has been done, has it not?
While I understand that the author’s initial request from Pediatricians was done amoungst a closed community, I would also be interested in hearing from other Medical Doctors who associate the Defeat Autism Now (DAN) association. If I could hazard a guess, they probably see a higher percentage of autistic kids than most Pediatricians. What are their thoughts on vaccine safety? Since they have as much education as other Doctor’s, their opinion must be equally as valid, should it not?
I am only a simple Computer Programmer, so I’ll admit that deciphering long strings of text that appear to be in a completely different language may be beyond me, but fortunately, they are not beyond my wife who is Doctor (8 years of medical training for her degree and specializations). She has read a lot of studies and books on the subject. And she sees big issues with how vaccines and other environmental toxins are impacting kids today. She also doesn’t trust the impact that pharmaceutical companies have on the medical community and governing bodies.
In my circle of influence, I am very outspoken on vaccines, autism and environmental toxicity. I have had more than a few people ask me if I think they should vaccinate. I always explain that for that majority of the population, there will be no real issues. Unfortunately, there appears to be a subset of the population that cannot handle the combinations of toxins that we have in the environment, food, and medicines. They are the ones most at risk, and they won’t know if their child is one of them until they fall over the tipping point.
As a parent, that is horrifying scary. Do we really live in a society where we knowingly throw some kids “under the bus” so the rest of the kids can carry on?
(Since this is the internet and all, I feel I must point out that my comment is RIFE with sarcasm. You can decide where.)
The study involving rhesus macaque infants is quite flawed. I’m sure as a computer programmer you have already realized this, but in case you haven’t, some problems are as follows:
1) the study is based on the vaccine schedule from 1994 – 1999 (not that this really matters since subsequent studies have shown that thimerosal poses little to no risk, but this was prior to removal of thimerosal from all vaccines except the multi-dose flu vial).
2:) there were a total of 16 male infant monkeys in the study. 12 were in the “exposed” study group and received the “age-adjusted” childhood vaccine schedule (age-adjusted means that they gave the vaccines at birth, 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 12-18 weeks, and 52 weeks as opposed to the actual human schedule which is 2 mos, 4 mos, 6 mos, 9 mos, 12 mos, 15 mos, and 18 mos) and 3 were in the “control” group – there had been 4 in the control group but one had to drop out because of scheduling issues. This does not allow for enough power for any conclusions to be drawn and the groups are not equal so by random chance alone, it is more likely that one would find “changes” on MRI in the study group because there are more monkeys in that group.
3) no where does it even suggest that researchers were blinded, meaning that the radiologists interpreting the MRIs knew which monkeys received vaccines and which didn’t. Thus if the intent of the researchers was to find a difference in the study group, they could since the study allowed for that.
Honestly, I could go on and on about the problems with this study, but those first three alone make the study useless.
Frankie Milley says
This is an awesome blog. Thanks to all the docs who took the time to post.
As a mom who lost her only child, Ryan to a vaccine preventable form of meningococcal meningitis and my mom to HIB pneumonia, I am grateful for this discussion.
Prior to vaccines several of my family members died from vaccine preventable diseases. In the early 1900’s my grand father died from tetanus, my uncle from diphtheria and a second cousin in an influenza outbreak.
In our organization we have infants – young adults whose lives were taken or whom have been left severely debilitated by meningococcal and pneumococcal meningitis.
I hope this excellent blog will help parents make the right decision about vaccines.
Frankie Milley, Meningitis Angels, Founder/National Executive Director
Visit Our New Parent Website https://parent2parentonmeningitis.com/index.html
Sara Chrisman says
I always remember what Ed Marcuse said in his lecture to us about vaccines. it sums up the issue for me:
\People overestimate the risk of doing something and underestimate the risk of doing nothing.\
Sadly I’ve never found that any 2 minute comment will help. Changing someone’s long held opinion is too hard–it requires trust.
Kudos to you for opening up the box though. It’s a heavy issue.
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Thanks, Sara. That’s an honest quote from Dr Marcuse.
Yes, I agree, I don’t think 2 minutes is everything but I do think it can be the beginning of something. And can certainly help frame the issues well for families searching for answers if we’re articulate, passionate, truthful, and learned. But, yes, a heavy issue, indeed…
Unfortunately I don’t believe in vaccines anymore. If I had known back when my children were young, I would’ve refused them then too. Too much of what I have read tells me the fillers aren’t safe and the vaccines aren’t either anymore. When I had custody of my grandson, I refused to get him vaccinated. I asked them one question……….Why were there vaccines that were tested on Native American and Black Children but no other race?She stumbled on her next words and said well that was done in the 70’s. not now. She knew what I had been driving at. If they were so safe, why not test them on all children. She then handed me the papers to sign refusing getting my grandson vaccinated.
When you hear of vaccines being pushed that are tainted or sold to some other nation, It really makes you stop and think what is going on. When drug companies push vaccines so hard just to increase profits and kids are being damaged, it makes you stop to think . Why is there such a rise in autism. I mean we hardly heard of that when measles and the like went through the schools, it was childhood disease and the body built up the immunity. Now we have so many autistic children and kids dying from the vaccines themselves.
BEsides they have proven now that when the polio vaccine was coming out, yes polio decreased but it was already decreasing before the vaccine…In other words it had ran its course.
I dont think our bodies are meant to have those chemicals put into them. So many pregnant mothers lost their babies getting the H1N1 vaccine.
Too many lies over too long a period. I dont trust any of it now
It is all too true unfortunately: anti-vaccination proponents are scaring parents away from live-saving vaccines. Unfortunately they have the ear of the likes of Oprah and Larry King Live and their use of emotional arguments makes for a far more convincing “argument” than the science. That is why we came up with something like The Vaccine Times to try and fight fire with fire, but the going is definitely tough.
Please keep educating the parents as much as possible, but if I can add my 2 cents in: nothing will be more effective than stories of children being hurt by vaccine-preventable diseases. It is impossible to fight an emotional argument with anything but another emotional argument. That is the approach I’m taking and I’m hoping to one day have my publication prominently visible in every pediatrician, or family doctor office in the US.
The Vaccine Times