I have had a lot of phone calls about measles being in Pennsylvania, fear of measles, fear of vaccines, having to leave school because of not being vaccinated, etc., etc. I have also watched a lot of segments on the news about measles and read online, from ABC to NPR. I have been unable to find a report detailing the outcome of the more than 600 cases in the USA in the last year.  The warning of complications from measles are not stressed by demonstrating how many of these 600+ are hospitalized or have died. NPR did mention in horror the idea ( they never heard of this before) of a measles party.  The CDC, WHO, MMWR are all the major resources for providing this information on a local and global basis. The NJAICV is providing information to the non-vaccinating community particularly about the political environment and associated issues with the measles outbreak.

As most of you know I am a strong believer that you are your own health care provider and should be responsible for health care decisions involving yourself and your family. I do not take a stand for or against vaccines as this is not my decision. The other important reason is that there is no one single reason why people vaccinate or do not vaccinate. We are a wondrously diverse world.

I am in the unique situation of having lived and experienced most of the communicable diseases. Born in the 1950s, vaccines were just really coming in to universal use. Deaths at that time were not caused as much by cancer and heart disease as communicable diseases. Parents bought life insurance when their child was born (I had a policy taken out for me) as burial insurance. Now college funds are started at birth. It was not fear but acceptance in that time: that we all have a certain time on this earth and birth and death both exist as part of the cycle of nature.

First, vaccines do work. Second, there are risks to vaccinating and there are risks to not vaccinating. This is not a black and white, positive and negative issue. These issues fall in the every shade of gray arena. There are no easy answers and there are no permanent answers. When your junior in high school may not be able to finish his year as he will not be able to attend school due to being unvaccinated and being a potential risk to other students, what is his biggest risk? Is it the stress of the vaccine or the stress of missing school which he loves, excels at his work and cannot afford to fall behind at this time? When a family for the first time is going to be able to travel to visit relatives that they have not seen for years due to war and migration as refugees, will they vaccinate their children as the camp has multiple communicable disease outbreaks or will they not go as the vaccines are required for entry into the area? If you had a 2 month old who had a lot of issues of breathing and then nursing  and there is a possibility of behavioral/development issues and you really are not sure what they are yet, would you get Hep B, Rotavirus, Polio, Prevnar, HIB, Dtap at this visit?

Lots of shades of gray.

The homeopaths felt that the fever diseases (not cancer and heart disease) were what helped to exercise our immune system (if you don’t use it , you lose it). The challenge of these communicable diseases were important for future health and well being. I am more concerned about the health of someone who tells me they never get sick, then for someone who has at least one “good” illness a year.

Steps to decision making:

  1. think about or write down how you see your child, their strengths and weaknesses, their highs and lows, and family and cultural history
  2. research the “disease” that is a source of fear, for yourself or those that make/develop the vaccines – yes, I do believe that not everyone who is in the vaccine business is just out for your money and power. I do believe most of them truly believe in the benefits of their work
  3. research the vaccines – make sure you truly look at research from both sides of the controversy
  4. are you blaming the vaccine, the manufacturer, the additives, preservatives, the expression of the disease – scarring, brain changes, bacteria or virus manifestations (remember my belief is learning to live and learn from all our neighbors on this earth)
  5. think about how you would feel/manage your child or you, getting complications from the disease and/or the vaccine.
  6. Try to be as objective as you can. Often gathering all the info, sitting with it and then putting it away for 24 hours before you look at it again. No decision is set in stone. Things change.
  7. What are the “positives and negatives” of your decision for yourself, your child, your environment, your community, your world – be thoughtful
  8. Recognize your purpose and intent
  9. Embrace your decision
  10. You are wonderful and have done a very good job