Friday, February 6, 2015

A Crunchy Hippie Mama's Take on Vaccines

I don't really dig following mainstream media down the rabbit hole....but I've just gotta talk about vaccines.

I am pretty big on crunchy (non-chemical, self-sustained, environmentally responsible) living. I loved natural childbirth. I've cut the grass with a baby snug against me in her wrap. I make fire cider and elderberry syrup. We don't buy toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, or laundry detergent. I'm heading to Home Depot this weekend to grab supplies for my heirloom veggie seedlings and we're running by Farm n' Fleet to nab some items for our chick brooder. I really, really like Wallace Farms' grass-fed meat. We drink green smoothies for fun.

I've been called a hippie. Someone once told me, "She reminds me a lot of you, except not as flower-child." What does that even mean? 

I hope you get the point, here. I love living as close to the earth as possible. My ultimate goal is to never need a grocery store. I am insane (and I mean insane) about reading and pushing the limits of what I was taught in school. I fight for transparency in our food system and am oh-so-passionate about learning to live a happy and healthy life.

And nowhere in my life does that ring as clear and as true as it does in my role as a mother.

I have a primal, urgent, uncontrollable need to protect my young. I want them to be healthy. I don't want them to suffer. I don't want them to die. It's that simple. And I'm not alone, am I?

I understand you, mama. I am standing next to you, as your sister, wanting nothing more than to wrap my arms around you and hug you for caring so much about your children. Me too! I love my kids too. So let's have a discussion. Let's talk. Let's be two loving parents who share conversation over common ground. Ready? Got your tea? Mind open? Ok, let's go.

I vaccinate.

There. I said it. I hope you aren't walking away right now. I hope you're hanging with me, fellow crunchies. Like I said, I feel you. I know you. I am you. We are so, so similar.

But how can I condone vaccinations? I hate chemicals! I am against all forms of government-mandated secrecy and intervention in both our agriculture and medical systems! I wash my hair with eggs!

Here. I'm going to lay all my cards on the table. Hear me out, friend.

1. Vaccinations help us eradicate life-threatening diseases.
I think even the most devoted anti-vaxers can agree with this one. Let's move on.

2. Vaccinations do not cause autism.
They really, truly, deeply do not. I know you are looking for answers. I am looking for answers, too. Vaccinations are not the answers we are looking for, my sisters and brothers.

3. Our poor health is not because of vaccinations.
Many anti-vax sites I visit say things like, "What have vaccinations ever given us? Our population is sicker today than ever before!" It's true - we are afflicted. We are very, very sick. But let's brainstorm for a second. Can we think of anything else that may cause these spikes in obesity, diabetes, infertility, cancer, and autism?

Could it possibly be the thousands upon thousands of chemicals we interact with and consume on a daily basis? We do not eat vaccinations for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. We do eat food processed by companies we'll never see. We do eat animals not found on farms. We do use products filled with substances we can't name. And we eat these foods and use these products every. Single. Day. Do they have something to do with our sickness? I certainly think so.

But see, to admit that means we'd need to sit down and have a talk...with ourselves. It means taking personal responsibility for what we put on our children's plates and what we wash their hair with at night. It means taking hours upon hours of time to research and fully understand what we buy instead of trusting a label. It means going outside to pick bugs off our spinach plants instead of watching TV. It means absorbing the blame we traditionally push onto the government...which leads me to my next point.

4. The government is not my mama.
I don't know about you, but I am not the government's baby. They have no responsibility to execute decisions on my behalf anymore than I do over you - and please notice the word "responsibility" not, "power." We all know the government has the power to make decisions on my behalf...we give this power to them through law suits/public demand for legislature. We demand the laws. We demand the regulation.

But then we drop it. We assume they've got it. They'll handle it. They'll regulate it. They'll punish those against it. And then when things go south we turn around and say, "they were tricking us to make money!" We trusted someone else to care for us. We were tricked because we didn't take the time to become experts in the things that matter to us the most. We chose not to vote with our dollars. C'mon, people...this "awakening" is what the entire crunchy movement is all about! How about we stop citing a government conspiracy theory as a way to end vaccinations and instead look at the plentiful research in front of us....including that done outside our government? You'll find our planet's health organizations support creating healthy populations through vaccinations. It's so easy to point fingers at the government. I get it. I'm angry too. But the government is not my mama. I need to look out for me and mine. Asking (or expecting) them to intervene only welcomes additional limitations, fines, and the loss of our basic human rights. It's not about lawfully forcing people to vaccinate, dear ones. I understand why you'd want to do that. I'm scared, too. But what if instead we focus on revealing evidence and facts so strong, so irrefutable, that it makes non-vaccination impossible for mothers and fathers who love their children? We need teachers, my loves, not politicians.

5. Choosing not to vaccinate puts you (and others) at risk.
Well, I get why those who can't receive the vaccination are worried...but your kids are vaccinated! Why should you care if my kids are not? Is it because you know vaccines don't work??!?

My response, in three simple words? Vaccines aren't cures. It's true. If a vaccine were 100% effective 100% of the time for 100% of our lifetime, we'd have a cure, not a vaccination. Vaccinations are used to develop immunity. They are not the total answer. They don't work like that.

I find it exceptionally strange that some of my fellow homeopathic medicine bloggers so easily accept the fact that herbal remedies cannot completely prevent or cure 100% of all flu bugs, yet these same, accepting, lovely people are so quick to swear off vaccines because they do not operate at 100% effectiveness. Vaccines are not designed that way. We're not there yet. Fingers crossed we will get there someday. I would love a one-shot cure for life-threatening it wheatgrass or pharmaceuticals. Until that happens, though, we might want to work the prevention angle.

I hope you can see, mamas, daddies, grampies, and grammies, I am totally with you. We're searching for the right answers and we're scared. These kids are our most precious resources. We love them. When faced with challenging decisions, we evaluate risks on either side of the debate and ultimately side with the option that we perceive as having the least amount of possible negative outcomes. This is true for both pro-vax and anti-vax parties. I know it is. I believe it with every part of my being.

And that's why I, the hippie, crunchy mama who'd rather spoon elderberry syrup into my kids' mouths than pink antibiotics, am imploring the wonderful, sweet, smart, loving, incredible parents out there to learn more about vaccinations. Read more. Watch more. Don't take my word for it. Don't take anyone's word for it. Follow the links I posted. Find your own links. But please, please, please, don't let fear and panic cloud your ability to remain objective and open to learning. You're making decisions for your kids, but you're also making decisions for mine. Follow the facts, not the panic.

We want to protect our kids. So let's use the best weapons we have in our arsenal...cited sources, documented studies verified by third parties, and global health publications. Here are some of my favorite sources (many others are linked within the text above)'ll notice I am obsessed with "Fact-Checker" Upworthy. They cite all sources at the bottom of each article. Oh, and these sources below are all videos. I am a sucker for videos.

I'd love to hear what you think. Remember - we all love our kids. Let's use that common ground to help spur some educational conversations!


  1. With my background in countries where diseases like TB, Typhoid, Japanese Encephalitis, and all sorts of horrible diseases that have vaccines are still common enough to be a real problem--I really believe in the good effect that vaccines have had in history, and still have today.

    1. I think It would be beneficial for you to write about what you've witnessed on your blog. First hand information has an impact.

    2. Hey Rach! I completely agree - I was actually thinking about you quite a bit when writing this story. And I agree with Savvy - I think people around here need a wake-up call in regards to how lucky we are to have this medicine. I would be totally interested in reading a post about the medical experiences you've witnessed overseas!

  2. I vaccinate as well. I dont like some of the ingredients found in vaccines, but I don't feel there is enough evidence not to vaccinate at least for me, especially seeing the latest Measles outbreak. I had one scare with my daughter though, but thank God that was all it was. #SITSsharefest

    1. Thank you Serena! I am the same way - show me as much evidence against vaccinations as there is for vaccinations and I will gladly hear you out. The problem for anti-vaxxers is the insane amount of evidence proving vaccines WORK. I am a very open-minded person who believes change is constant so perhaps there will be a day when legitimate studies will come out to prove otherwise. Until that time actually happens, let's do what's right for the population, ya? Thanks for stopping by!!

  3. Before my SIL retired she worked with autistic children. Over the years her job got my stressful and she seemed to have more children every year. One time I made the comment it was because of the vaccinations. Boy did she set me straight - that is absolutely not true and has been discredited. Funny how when a story is discredited no one seems to hear about it. This is such an important story - continue to get the word out.

    1. Thanks Savvy :) I can only imagine your sister's response haha! I have a friend who works as a developmental therapist and she is the exact same way! I would love to see a blog post written by her about this topic! She doesn't have nearly as much patience for those with "blind sheep" following mechanisms. Thanks for your support :)

  4. I agree with you 10000% Jennifer.. It's not about the vaccines it's about taking responsibility for the choices we make as parents. Here's a blog post idea for you maybe: substituting normal crap we eat with easy, homemade alternatives. So let's substitute fruit cups with actual fruit and juice.. Idk.. something like that. Just realizing my son eats a lot of crap and if he doesn't eat that he won't (literally) eat nothing. It's the most frustrating thing ever and I'm not sure how to deal with it anymore since the nutritionist we went to provided NO help. Hmph. He's healthy according to bloodwork but long-term I'm petrified. I was the same and have significantly improved my eating habits but I'm not sure if he'll do the same so don't want to leave it to chance ya know? Any tips?! Have a great one and thanks for sharing your opinion Jen! You're right that by opting to NOT vaccinate your child you endanger those around you. Take Care -Iva

    1. As Jen's husband I can almost assure you this challenge will be accepted, complete with a taste-tester or 3. We have gone through a similar phase with our 2 year-old, who almost never eats dinner unless it is crap, but so far so good!

    2. I love that idea, Iva!! My youngest is very much the same - just as my husband says up there ^^^ :) She has skipped dinner many times because she doesn't like what I'm serving and when push comes to shove, that's her choice. Do I worry about her weight? Sometimes. Do I worry she will be hungry all night? Yep. Am I starving her? No way. I give he the opportunity to eat and if she won't, I let her get down and go play. It sucks to watch and it hurts my heart but she never starves. When she is truly, biologically hungry, she will eat.

      My oldest is also extremely obsessed with sugary foods. I am horrified by the way she acts when anything sweet comes into the picture. I cannot even imagine what she will be like when she leaves this house. I am so, so scared about what will happen to her body - she is going to go ape-shit on the sugar and snacks. I do have a few things I try to do to keep the sugar Armageddon from happening - your blog challenge is totally accepted! Thank you so much for caring and reading and commenting :) Love you!

  5. Yup, we also vaccinate. We feel they are important.

    1. It's true! Not just for our kids but for everyone else.

  6. I'm struggling with your intended audience here. You've used the terms 'pro' and 'anti' vaxxers repeatedly. And I think that implied dichotomy is part of the fundamental problem. I'm neither.

    Do I think parents should vaccinate their children? I believe that's their God-given choice. Do I believe parents should follow the recommended CDC schedule for vaccinating? Absolutely not. The schedule is overly aggressive, including shots at times that are completely unnecessary. They have neglected to remove vaccines which are notoriously ineffective and which treat relatively mild illnesses. And I'm not alone in my opinions. There is an organization known as: ‘Physicians For Informed Consent’. I encourage you to check them out.

    You said you like videos, I would start with the following:

    Better yet, read his recently released book: ‘The Vaccine Friendly Plan’. (It’s available on Audible so you can ‘read’ while back-yarding!) :-) The author is a board-certified pediatrician who has been using his own adjusted vaccine schedule for many years. He has done an extraordinary amount of research into vaccines, and shares his knowledge (including more than 300 research references) in his book. If I were vaccinating my children, that's the schedule I would use. And it's the schedule I recommend to all parents who choose to vaccinate their children.

    While you're at it, please check out ‘Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccine Studies’. Specifically, the foreword of the book written by Gary Goldman PhD. In it, he discusses his experiences while doing research for the CDC on the topic of the chickenpox vaccine. Incidentally, he is on the board of the Physicians For Informed Consent organization I mentioned earlier.

    There is one additional point about your post that I must address: “Vaccines do not cause Autism.” Help me understand what exactly you're saying here. Do you mean ever? Because that is grossly inaccurate. The VICP (Vaccine Injury Compensation Program) has awarded multiple families who's children developed regressive Autism following vaccination. I presume you mean vaccines rarely cause Autism. And I would encourage you to make the distinction.

    But on the topic of ‘rare’; the CDC would have you believe that your child has a greater chance of being struck by lightning then developing regressive ASD from a vaccine. Though they themselves have admitted the cases are probably underreported. Take us for example, my now 4 year old daughter developed regressive Autism after she received a delayed round of her 2 month vaccines. But we never reported her reaction in their online system. Why? Because I was a little preoccupied trying to figure out what happened to my child, how to fix it, and somehow survive our shattered lives. Besides, I knew we would never meet the burden of proof for the VICP, so reporting it seemed a futile effort.

    I couldn't begin to guess what the regressive ASD/vaccine stats actually are, but I'm certain they are higher than those estimated by the CDC. And really, Autism is just one of the risks. There is a concept known as ASIA, or autoimmune/ inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants. I encourage you to type that phrase info the search field of PubMed’s online research repository, and review the results.

    So, back to my original point: I'm not pro or anti-vaxx. I guess you'd say I'm pro-safe and responsible vaccinating, and that is NOT what the CDC is recommending. And in light of that, I can certainly empathize with a parent who decides to err on the side of caution and not vaccinate their child.