Immunization Debate: A mom explains medical exemptions

National Immunization Awareness Month

whitney hickman

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of WOTV 4 Women, its staff and/or contributors to this site.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) — While my children have medical exemptions for vaccinations, even if they did not, I would choose not to vaccinate.  My two oldest children, age 10 and 8, have had vaccinations.  My oldest was previously considered “up to date” based on old CDC guidelines, my second oldest is behind according to those guidelines.  My two youngest, nearly 6 and 4, have never had a vaccination.

Related: Immunization Debate: A mom explains medical exemptions
Immunization debate: Why we chose “not” to vaccinate our children

Whenever someone asks me why I “choose” not to vaccinate, I start off by explaining it is because we have a medical exemption due to severe vaccine reaction.  Afterwards, I am always confused on whether I should continue with my antidotal reasonings or because of what I know because of my medical background.  One thing all people within the highly debatable topic can agree upon is medical exemptions.  Often you hear the quote of “people should vaccinate to protect those who cannot”.

The story of my firstborn…

Mother and baby's hands holding heart

I will start off with my long winded story about my firstborn.  My oldest son was received a round of vaccinations according to his pediatrician and the CDC guidelines.  He was a happy child, exceeding the average for developmental milestones.  Shortly after receiving his DTaP, IPV, and Influenza vaccination, he began uncontrollably crying for at least one hour.  Being my first child, I called our doctor’s office and they assured me it was probably injection site pain because I did not give him Tylenol prior to his vaccination as they recommend.

When 8 hours had passed post-doctor’s appointment, his fever was nearing 104 and he was becoming extremely lethargic.  When 9 hours had passed, he was barely responsive and I rushed him to the ER. 

As the night continued, he became very tired and started running a fever of 102.  I gave him a dose of Tylenol and waited an appropriate amount of time for it to begin to reduce his temperature.  I re-checked him and his fever was increasing.  I called the ER.  I was told that anything up to 104 degrees post-vaccinations was normal and not to come in unless it was higher.  When 8 hours had passed post-doctor’s appointment, his fever was nearing 104 and he was becoming extremely lethargic.

When 9 hours had passed, he was barely responsive and I rushed him to the ER.  They gave him an IV, gave him an infant’s dose of Ibuprofen, explaining I can “double up” on fever medication, provided me with similar paperwork on post-vaccination care, and proceeded to give me a lecture about how if I had followed the original paperwork, that I wouldn’t be wasting their time at 12:30 am.  When my child’s IV bag was done and his fever was reduced to 102.5, they discharged us.

Two days later, I rushed him back to the ER after being barely responsive but still throwing up, having a fever of 104.2, bulging in his fontanels, and not wetting any diapers within the last 4 hours.  At that point, the emergency room ran blood tests and did an EEG and MRI.  He was diagnosed with encephalitis.  The exact cause of encephalitis is often unknown, but the most commonly diagnosed cause is a viral infection. Bacterial infections and noninfectious inflammatory conditions also may cause encephalitis.

At that point, I was informed that it was fairly common prior to vaccinations to have that diagnosis post-childhood illness, but that immunity by vaccination is achieved by injecting small amounts of a killed or weakened micro-organism and that could still gave a reaction in the child’s body even in trace amounts.  Furthermore, that since the CDC had switched from the DTwP vaccination to the DTaP vaccination, there have been more cases of children who have been vaccinated still contracting the illness from their environment and/or the vaccine itself.

He suffered from a lack of eating, lack of sleeping, chronic insomnia and irritability, no eye contact/anxiety in social situations, and developmental delays.

It took a long time for my child to recover to a sense of “normalcy.” Immediately afterwards, he regressed. Symptoms of that condition are very similar to autism and often interchanged.  He suffered from a lack of eating, lack of sleeping, chronic insomnia and irritability, no eye contact/anxiety in social situations, and developmental delays. At the worst of it, his weight dropped into the 2nd percentile for his age and height and a feeding tube was threatened.

My child endured endless in home and out of home behavioral and medical treatments to try to help him be more developmentally on track. I decided to be a stay at home mom who went to college online, so I could be at home with him doing the therapies. While we still struggle with things like low immune system, irregular heartbeat, eating issues/weight issues, or the occasional behavioral issue, he is now in a regular education 5th grade classroom.

My second child’s vaccination experience…

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To not bore you with my experiences, I will keep this part brief.  My second child was an infant and receiving his vaccinations on time as well.  While receiving those vaccinations, at his young age, he had contracted both pertussis and rubella, both within his first 8 months of life. He had developed pertussis at 6 months old, which turned into RSV, within a week of receiving his vaccination. He had developed rotavirus, after receiving all of his doses for the vaccine, after being around my step son who was vaccinated two weeks earlier.

While I should have done my own research, I was unaware at that time and uninformed by my doctor that both vaccines (DTaP and MMR) do in fact “shed”, meaning the vaccinated individual can spread the “wild” version of the illness to another person within 30 days of receiving the vaccine.

Educating myself on vaccines

mom working from home

If my personal experiences and medical exemptions were not enough to keep me away from vaccines, I took independent studies courses online through Johns Hopkins on clinical trials, vaccines, and cdc recalls.  After those courses, I continued to look further into court documentation/records from the federal government regarding vaccinations and the latest studies from the National Institute of Health.

Let’s just list a couple of the (many) times over the past 10 years where a drug or drug regimen has been deemed unsafe and downright dangerous and yet the pharmaceutical companies covered it up FOR YEARS in order to continue raking in the profits for as long as possible. This should be an easy task. Turn on the television at any time and you will be confronted with numerous recalls and lawsuits on pharmaceuticals that were once approved for the FDA.

The standard of care for a menopausal woman for over 40 years was HRT. Even women with no complaints were advised that this treatment was helpful as it reduced chances for a heart attack and cancer and even helped them feel younger. Were any, I repeat ANY of these claims true?  Not a whit. Breast cancer risk is doubled for women on HRT, 41% increased risk for stroke, 29% increased risk of heart attack, and the list goes on and on.

How about Vioxx?  Before this dangerous drug that caused thousands of deaths from heart attack and stroke was finally removed from the market, evidence surfaced that Merck had withheld information and even doctored reports on its dangers years before. As of November 2007, Merck had agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle approximately 27,000 cases from victims claiming injury or death of a family member using Vioxx.

While this is a huge sum of money, in reality it represents less than one year’s profits for Merck. The risk of payouts to victims from getting sued is lower than the lure of huge and long lasting profits while a drug’s patent protection remains in effect.

In the United States, over half of the 2,480 compensation awards made under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which total more than $2 billion dollars, have involved brain inflammation and encephalopathy resulting in permanent brain damage associated with whole cell and acelullar pertussis vaccine in DPT and DtaP shots. I could cite other examples, but I’m trying to keep this post as pithy as possible. Remember the old proverb, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me”? These corporate behemoths have proven themselves to be completely untrustworthy based on past behavior.

The Debate

Stethoscope and medical data

I often hear the debate that someone’s unvaccinated child is going to somehow magically contract an illness and spread it to their vaccinated child, someone who is immunocompromised, or too young to receive the vaccination.  While there is always a risk of any child contracting an illness and spreading it, I am unsure if those same adults are aware of the new CDC guidelines for adult vaccinations and boosters. Childhood vaccinations, if you believe they work, do NOT provide lifelong immunity from the illnesses.

The CDC recommends that the flu shot (which is proven to not work every year) be received every year, the DTaP should be given as a booster every ten years (unless you are pregnant and then it is recommended that it be received during the third trimester with EVERY pregnancy), the pneumococcal vaccines (yes, there is two) should be received in one to two doses, possibly one of each vaccine, after the age of 19.

Meningococcal should be received in “one or more doses (ask your healthcare provider how many you personally should receive)” after the age of 19, the MMR should be received in one to two doses in between 19 and 50 years of age, the HPV vaccine should be received in 2-3 doses by the age of 27, depending on gender, with the CDC quoting this “There are two HPV vaccines but only one HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) should be given to men.  If you are a male 22 through 26 years old and have sex with men you should complete the HPV vaccine series if you have not already done so”, and the Haemophilus influenza type B to be given in 1-3 doses from the age of 19-death, with your doctor telling you how many you should receive.

Also, if you did not contract chickenpox or hep B as a child or had the vaccinations as a child, it is recommended that you receive 2-3 doses of each after the age of 19.  Being undervaccinated as an adult is just as likely to “spread the illness” as children who are undervaccinated or unvaccinated.

There are no studies comparing the health of unvaccinated children to the health of vaccinated children.  However, vaccinated children are found to be more chronically ill than unvaccinated children with rates for ear infections, ADHD, asthma and allergies as much as 30% higher than unvaxed children.

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