Should parents vaccinate their children?
This is one of the most critical decisions you will make as a parent. Read up and make the right one….
Most of what I’ve shared with you throughout this website might be regarded as good common sense, and an increasing number of parents share the “vitamins yes, junk food no” point of view. Now for the really controversial part: neither of our children got immunizations. My boy had two rounds of shots as an infant, but when my wife and I both saw that the vaccinations made him sick, we halted them. Maybe you are prepared to accept a meatless life-style for children, but are not ready to accept one void of vaccinations. A lot of eyebrows may raise at this point among readers, and that’s fine. Let’s raise them a bit further.
For years we have been told that without shots, our children are sitting ducks for polio, diphtheria, smallpox, whooping cough and such. This is simply not a proven fact. Dr. William McCormick, M.D., of Toronto, Canada published a series of papers (cited in my References page) showing among other things that inoculations have had very little, if any, influence on the history of these illnesses. Howard H. Hillemann, Ph.D., also published a lengthy paper (“The Illusion of American Health and Longevity”) showing similar findings (and cited in References as well). So before your heart stops at the thought of my meatless, shot-less children, read these researchers’ papers and start wondering not why my kids aren’t “protected” but if yours really are.
If you’re a young parent with young children, the question of vaccinations for your family is an important one. If you are single, or a childless couple, or if your children are grown up, it’s a purely personal decision whether you choose shots for yourself or not. You choose to remain unvaccinated or not, as you think best. It’s harder to choose “no vaccinations” when you have little children. The decision is larger because it affects the lives of others, and not just any others, but your own little persons. When it’s your very own kids you’re considering, you want what’s best. I feel that way about mine; I think all parents do. So what’s the right decision, then? Shots or no shots?
There is plentiful evidence that vaccinations are less than beneficial. The venerable British Anti-Vaccination Leaguehttp://www.vaccination.org.uk/a/navl.html (and, incidentally, George Bernard Shaw) were vociferously against them. Homeopathic medical writers frequently include passages in their texts on how to treat vaccinosis, or the side-effects of vaccinations (Clarke, 1972). Certainly the U.S. Government cannot say without qualification that shots are either safe or essential. After all, this is what was said about the infamous Swine Flu vaccine in a 1976 FDA Consumer Memo in my possession: “Some minor side effects – tenderness in the arm, low fever, tiredness – will occur in less than 4% of (vaccinated) adults. Serious reactions from flu vaccines are very rare.” So much for blanket claims of safety, for many persons well remember the very numerous and very serious side effects of Swine Flu vaccine that forced the federal immunization program to a halt.
As far as being essential, in the same memo the FDA said this of the same vaccine: “Question: What can be done to prevent an epidemic? Answer: The only preventive action we can take is to develop a vaccine to immunize the public against the virus. This will prevent the virus from spreading.”
This was seen to be totally false; after all; the public immunization program was abruptly halted and still there was no epidemic of Swine Flu. If vaccination were the only defense, literally tens of millions of Americans should have been struck down with the Swine Flu, for a large percentage of the population of the U.S. was not vaccinated.
Surely there are other factors involved in prevention of illness or epidemic. But try telling that to allopathically-oriented health commissioners and doctors. You’d think that monks and nuns who work with the sick would have to get their patients’ diseases… but they seldom do. If germs or viruses are all around us, why aren’t we all dead, or at least deathly ill? Is natural resistance more than just a certain level of injected serums that we’re supplied with every few years? Naturopaths say yes, there is much more to wellness than just collecting shots. Real wellness is the result of healthful living: natural diet, whole raw foods, plentiful vitamins, internal cleansing through periodic juice fasting, ample rest, peace of mind and appropriate confidence in Nature’s preference to keep us alive and well. If we follow these parameters, the essence of naturopathy, we find inoculations to be irrelevant.
Now if you or your kids live on candy, hamburgs, shakes and steaks, you’d best get inoculated. Just as overfed, undernourished laboratory rats get sick at any brush with disease, so do overfed undernourished people. The germ theory and the vaccination theory begin to apply as far as a body is chronically weakened by wrong diet, overwork, chemicals in foods, drugs in the body and other unnatural abuse. A weakened body, a polluted body is fertile ground for assorted microbes to multiply. To the extent that vaccines and drugs deal with microbes only, they are apparently effective.
That phrase was “apparently” effective. Like adding “Drano” to a polluted pond, the chemical intervention results in death of germs. Naturopaths feel that microbe death is at the expense of poisoning the body with the drugs or vaccines. Poison on top of poison fails to get at the root cause of all illness, which is “polluted body” or systemic toxemia. In fact, the added drugs and vaccines compound the body’s problem, for they cause side effects and new troubles of their own. The person gets more vaccines and still more drugs, to try to cover all these new illnesses, and then even more illness results. The cycle can go on and on for a lifetime, never solving the real problem.
Body pollution from wrong diet and neglect of natural living principles is the cause of disease. How can inoculations be given for neglect? How can you vaccinate a body against abuse? How can you be immunized against bad diet and insufficient vitamins? It can’t be done. The allopathic medical establishment is looking into test tubes for answers that are found at our dinner tables. Drug companies’ chemicals and hospitals’ equipment cannot eliminate disease because they do not bring health in its place. Only you, yourself, can live in such a way as to become and stay well. Then the underlying causes of illness, including those we’re usually immunized against, are eliminated without vaccination.
This applies to children as well as adults. If children are fed vitamin-rich, raw and whole food vegetarian diets, they will not require shots to stay healthy. They will be healthier without the vaccination. We would do well to remember the examples of the Hunza (in Pakistan) and other truly isolated “primitive” peoples who are so healthy they rarely even have names for diseases that we’re seeking immunizations for. It’s because they don’t have much in the way of disease, period. They have no shots, no free clinics and no filled-in vaccination charts… until they start eating “civilized man’s” foods. When they start into a diet of processed foods, sugar, white flour and meat, they promptly contract all the “infectious” diseases.
There is proof. Years ago, Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist, went around the world to observe primitive peoples and their diet. He saw that simple, natural diet of mostly raw and always natural, whole foods was the common denominator among all healthy, disease-free primitive peoples. His book is Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (1945, revised 1970) and Dr. Royal Lee, another dentist, discusses it:
“In all parts of the globe where the native population had changed from their natural foods to the use of commercial products, there began the infiltration of those dreaded diseases, tuberculosis, pneumonia, and influenza together with a significant rise in diseased teeth exactly parallel to the increase in their use of commercial foods. Caries, pyorrhea, deformities of the dental arch, cleft palate and hairlip were all now present where unknown before. It made no difference whether the change took place in a high valley in the Swiss Alps or in an island of the sea in the Eastern or Western hemisphere. The identically same results followed the introduction of commercial foods of civilized man. (Lee, 1955)
In the same article, Dr. Lee makes an interesting point about vitamin C in relation to infectious diseases:
“Systematic diseases such as children’s diseases, fevers and all infectious processes exhaust the reserves of vitamin C and often rapid degeneration of the dental structures follow… The slow convalescence from fevers, pneumonia, etc. is mainly due to increased requirement (of vitamin C) which is inadequately supplied at this time in the great majority of cases. If the requirement happens to be greater that the intake for any reason, the patient declines into some fatal outcome such as heart involvement or a new infection is made possible by the low resistance. That is why pneumonia so often recurs several times in one winter in the same patient. It is a tragic fact that no patient is known to die until his reserves of vitamin C are completely exhausted. No vitamin C can be found in any of the tissues of a victim of an infectious disease.
This should give the parent encouragement towards using vitamin C for treating, or at least preventing children’s diseases.
It is not enough to just say “no” to shots; you must have a viable alternative to affirm. During an illness, we give our kids plentiful quantities of vitamin C every half hour that they’re awake. We have found this to be extremely successful. A complete protocol (detailed treatment plan) is contained in Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C (Smith, 1988) and in A Physician’s Handbook on Orthomolecular Medicine, chapter 10 (Williams, 1977).
I hope that it can be seen that there are alternatives to having one’s children routinely vaccinated. There is the choice of simply not having shots. No one should order you to get shots for your kids or order you not to get them. A lot of people may try, however. I believe that the parents should decide. You should know that many parents, including my wife and myself, have chosen to decline vaccinations for their children after careful deliberation.
They, and we, sometimes run into not unexpected opposition for this decision. Among the reasons people give against no-shots policy are these:
1) “You don’t care about your kid’s health. You’re only thinking of your own ideologies.”
2) “Vaccination is legally required. You must have it done or your kids cannot go to school.”
3) “Kids will get all the diseases unless they are immunized against them.”
4) “Even if you’re right, you’re taking a chance. Why not get the shots and be safe?”
Let’s consider these arguments, because perhaps you will hear them or you’ve already heard them.
Argument 1: You don’t care
The truth is, we really do care about our children and their health, and that is the number one reason why they are not getting inoculations. We want our kids to be really, down deep, totally healthy. If the extent to which you do or do not require medicines is any indication of health, then our kids have been very healthy indeed. Neither has ever had even one dose of an antibiotic, and they are now nearly grown up. They still occasionally get sick now and then, but they still get well, also. Shots have little to do with it. A well-nourished, near-vegetarian, no-drug, vitamin-supplemented child is a truly healthy child. This is our ideology: we want truly healthy children, not artificially immunized ones. We care for our children very, very much, as the vast majority of parents do. We simply take a minority viewpoint on vaccinations.
Argument 2: It’s the law
Vaccination is not legally required of every person. For entrance into public schools, yes, shots may normally be required. For certain jobs, yes again. Naturally the military requires them. There are ways of getting around these individual regulations, though.
The simplest way is to take religious exception to vaccination on personal, moral and spiritual grounds. This is Constitutionally valid; remember that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion. Of course I am not an attorney and I speak only from personal observation and research. There are two religious avenues to consider, and we have used them both.
First, you can join a religious group that holds vaccinations in disfavor. If this is unacceptable or impractical, you can start a church organization that believes vaccinations are morally wrong. You can create a bona fide religious organization by first becoming a legally ordained minister. You can become a legally ordained minister through the mail for $50 or so from various churches. If such an “ordination mill” is legitimately state-chartered as a non-profit religious organization, the ordination they confer is useful. I do not assert that by-mail ordinations put you on a par with a graduate of Yale Divinity School. I do assert that they are legal. With such an ordination you can start your own religious group with your own set of doctrinal beliefs. These beliefs may certainly “forbid any serum, vaccine, foreign, unnatural or chemical substance of any nature to be injected or ingested into a church member’s body for any avowed medical purpose whatsoever.” Remember that Jehovah’s Witnesses do not receive blood transfusions. Christian Scientists do not use medicines or surgery. Kosher dining has health benefits, and Seventh Day Adventists are vegetarian. You may help your body as well as your soul through your religious practices. In drawing up a church charter for your family, it might be worthwhile to consult with a person who has already done this successfully, or with suitably experienced legal counsel.
Personal Religious Belief
The second variant depends on your state’s laws. Some states (such as New York, where we live) no longer require a designated church affiliation because to do so would probably be unconstitutional. Instead, parents or guardians must “hold genuine and sincere religious beliefs which are contrary” to vaccinations (Consolidated Laws of New York, 1992, Article 21, sec. 2164, paragraph 9). This means that a simple affidavit stating those beliefs in one or two sentences may suffice. An affidavit is as simple as having both parents sign their two-sentence statement in the presence of a notary public. The notary will then stamp the paper, which now becomes a rather powerful document. Your bank or town clerk will likely notarize for little or no charge.
Some school districts have asked parents for additional information about their religious views, probably as a test of sincerity. It is doubtful if the Supreme Court would look with favor upon such questioning of a person’s religious conscience by any state agency. If you are contacted by the school or any other public body, it would be best to get any such request in writing. I would respond, however, orally and over the telephone. My personal response would be, “Are you questioning my religious beliefs?” It is unlikely that the school board’s attorney would want them to answer “yes” to that question. If they do, get it in writing from the school board or superintendent, as the American Civil Liberties Union might be interested. If they say “no,” then you are done.
It should not be necessary for you to attend any hearing or any other such intimidating appearance, nor should it be necessary for your children to in any way be singled out in school. My kids once or twice have been interrogated by a new school doctor or nurse. Questions included “What church do you go to?”, “How far away is it?” and “How often do you attend?” I called the principal and politely complained. Believe it or not, even though he was cooperative, it actually took more than one call before the doctor and nurse desisted. Be prepared.
A completely different way to get around a vaccination requirement might be to prove to a medical doctor that your children would suffer a great health risk by being vaccinated. A possible allergic reaction to the shot(s) would be an ideal reason, although great susceptibility to side effects or a pre-existing high-risk condition could also be given as reasons. This is hard to do, for how do you prove one opinion (yours) against a doctor’s opinion? The tendency would be for the physician to side with orthodoxy and public health policy because she might be called on by authorities to defend why she thought the child shouldn’t be vaccinated. I know of a specific instance where a school district did in fact call a family doctor and ask for an explanation. The family doctor promptly backed down to authority, saying that the parents had requested his writing “shots contraindicated at this time” on the health forms. This approach, then, puts burden of proof on both you and the doctor, and will only we as strong as the weaker link. In the USA, you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, not wrong until proven right. Such pressure on physicians shows the strong bias of the medical establishment.
Still another way to avoid shots for kids might be to enroll them in a private, cooperative, or alternative school that does not discriminate on medical grounds. It might be possible for a group of concerned parents to create such a school to ensure freedom of choice for family health decisions. However, most private and parochial schools are subject to, and in enthusiastic compliance with, the same public health regulations as public schools.
Home schooling is certainly an option. Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society (1971) and the later works of educator John Holt are very supportive of home schooling and other alternative education environments. There are families in your community who teach their own children at home, and there are state education requirements that they must meet to do so. For example, you need to keep a daily lesson plan book to prove you had organized learning experiences. Education can be, and is, being done without inoculations. (After all, Abraham Lincoln managed to get all the way through law school without shots!) You can keep the government happy and your kids’ minds open at the same time by home schooling. It is labor intensive, to be sure.
Argument 3: Unvaccinated kids are sitting ducks
Kids don’t automatically just “get” all those so-called diseases of childhood. Nobody just “gets” a disease, nor “catches” one, nor is attacked by any nasty microbes for no reason. Illness has been said to be the censor pointing to a malnourished body. Just as insects eat weak crops, disease thrives in weak bodies. Artificially fertilized soils and chemically sprayed plants may yield healthy looking crops, but Nature is not fooled by appearances. That’s why bugs eat cash crops so much and biodynamically, organically grown crops so little. It’s the same with people. Artificially immunized, meat-and-starch fed, vitamin-poor kids are simply not going to fool Mother Nature for long.
If an organism isn’t truly sound and thriving, nature sends disease. It’s not a punishment; it’s just nature’s way of indicating weaknesses. We can strengthen our bodies with our natural diet of whole foods, supplement it with vitamins, eat no meat, and get the rest we need. Health is a natural, unavoidable result. It is the “nature” of Nature to promote health in us. Our kids are healthy and will continue to grow in health not because of injections but because of correct eating and naturally strengthened immune systems.
It may be that the real “sitting ducks” don’t know it. According to an article (backed with 68 footnote references) by Neil Z. Miller appearing in the Spring 1994 issue of Mothering:
In 1976, Dr. Salk, creator of the killed-virus (polio) vaccine, testified than the live-virus (Sabin oral) vaccine had been “the principle if not sole cause” of all reported polio cases in the United States since 1961… According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control) figures, from 1980 through 1989, every case of polio contracted within the United States was caused by the vaccine. (p. 46)
In New Directions, Summer 1991, an article by John Riker tells us that there are actually three types of polio virus. “Types 1 and 3 were responsible for almost all the polio cases worldwide… as much as 97% of paralytic polio.” Type 2, making up the remaining 3%, seems to be the only type against which the Salk vaccine is truly effective. “In 1959 there was a Type 3 outbreak in Massachusetts in which there were more cases in the triple vaccinates than in the unvaccinated.” (p. 24) Several other studies cited show no polio protection advantage for vaccinated children. We have here evidence that undermines the well-publicized but statistically questionable merits of either the Salk or Sabin polio vaccines.
Argument 4: Just in case, be safe
Not getting vaccinations may actually be safer than getting them. Consider the DPT shot. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid out to parents of vaccine-disabled or vaccine-killed children, generally due to the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in particular. According to statistics compiled by the National Vaccine Information Center, in a 39-month period between July, 1990 and November, 1993, “1,576 children died from adverse reactions to common vaccines” in the U.S. (Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle, March 3, 1994). Most deaths were from the pertussis vaccine. This works out to 40 deaths per month. In unimmunized Great Britain, during a 24-month period (1978-1979) there were 36 deaths attributed to whooping cough itself. Even allowing for wide variation in sample dates and population, it is impossible to dismiss the fact that more American kids died from shots in one month than British kids died without shots in two years.
Why face side effects, contraindications, reactions and covering over poor health, and add toxins to the body to boot? How is that being safe? No shots results in simplicity: nothing is hidden. When our kids have a fever or cough, we know what it’s for: a warning to take better care. We put them to bed with a temporarily all-fruit diet or a mostly vegetable-juice diet, saturation levels of vitamin C, and make them rest. They got better when they were toddlers, and my now-adult daughter and son still do not get any vaccinations. And they have never had whooping cough, nor polio, nor diphtheria, nor measles. Was it just dumb luck, or was it smart eating?
Although I have offered my family’s personal vaccination viewpoint to the reader, I do not pretend to tell anyone to get shots or to not get shots. Immunizations, in my opinion, fail to offer adequate protection against illness while actually increasing the risk of mortality. Each parent must make their own decision based on all the facts they can gather. To assist in this search, I suggest reading any of the books by Robert S.Mendelsohn, M.D. such as How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor (1984) and Confessions of a Medical Heretic (1979). A Shot in the Dark by Harris L. Coulter and Barbara Loe Fisher (1991) focuses on the pertussis vaccine. I most earnestly recommend Vaccinations: The Rest of the Story (1993) published by Mothering magazine, which I think is the most valuable reference of all.
Some Horse-sense about Tetanus
Tetanus bacteria are found naturally, and always, in the bowels and droppings of horses. When deep wounds in humans (or even horses) are infected with tetanus bacteria, a toxin is produced which causes the illness also known as “lockjaw” Tetanus has nothing whatsoever to do with rust, by the way. You could go into a chemistry lab, open a jar of iron oxide (rust), rub it on your arm all day and not get tetanus. You could have pure iron oxide injected into your bloodstream or even eat it, and you would likely get sick. It would not, however, be tetanus.
The only reason an old rusty nail is associated with tetanus is that it might now be where horses had once been. Encased spores of tetanus bacteria can survive in a dormant state, like seeds, for eighty years. Stepping on a nail delivers the tetanus bacteria spores into the body as if from a dirty hypodermic needle. So tetanus shots are given to this day, even though horses are so rarely around us any more.
During the Civil War, horses were like trucks and cars are today, performing the same function of personnel and equipment transport. Wagons, cannons, ambulances and officers were all horse powered. Confederate cavalrymen J.E.B Stuart and Bedford Forest had thousands of horses with them at a time. Union cavalry forces were even larger. At the time of the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, Union cavalry general GeorgeStoneman had some 9,000 horses at his command (Furgurson, 1992). Can you imagine what their camps must have been like?
Why are we horsing around with all these numbers? Let me get to my “mane” point: it is remarkable that there were so few cases of tetanus during the Civil War. Battlefield wounds were very numerous, very severe and very dirty. Blood and tissue and horse droppings were everywhere. Lockjaw cases were not. During the 1860’s, surgeons did not even wash their hands, let alone their instruments. Tetanus bacteria must have been literally everywhere, with countless infected, ghastly wounds to match. After a typical battle, thousands of men might lay with their innards on the ground. Forget your visions of neat uniforms and waxed mustaches and glory. Pain and disease and mud and filth and horses were this war.
In the course of the Civil War, medical records and statistics were maintained and published. This is how we know that many more soldiers were killed by sickness (fever and diarrhea in particular) than by bullets or cannon. Of the over 600,000 soldiers who died in the four years of conflict, at least two out of three died of disease.
We know the death rates from various types of amputation, which ranged from 20 to nearly 90 percent, depending on location. And, we know that “lockjaw” cases placed far down on the casualty lists, and numbered surprisingly few: 2,050 cases per 100,000 wounds, a rate of just over 2 percent (Miller, 1994). That, with no sterilization of medical instruments, and not a pair of clean hands in sight. And with all those horses around.
There were still one or two Civil War veterans alive when I was a very little boy in Rochester, New York. There also were just a few working horses left. I can remember horse teams drawing the huge rakes that swept the public beaches clean along Lake Ontario. The degree of tetanus exposure on that beach never occurred to most parents. When we cut ourselves, barefoot boys like myself often didn’t even tell our parents. Who wanted to be stuck with a hypodermic needle? A lot of the kids on those beaches had not had tetanus shots, and yet (as in the Civil War), the number of tetanus cases was near zero. I never even knew anyone who had had tetanus. It was, I think, more than just a matter of luck.
When it comes to eradicating tetanus, I think you could make as glowing an argument for the internal combustion engine as you can for vaccination. As gasoline powered vehicles totally replaced horses, there must have been drastic reductions in our exposure to tetanus bacteria.
To bend the needle a bit further, let’s look at another kind of injection against tetanus. Over forty years ago, Frederick R. Klenner, M.D. cured tetanus with massive doses of vitamin C (Klenner, 1954 a, b). In some treatments, Dr. Klenner used as much as 250,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day, most of it intravenously. Between 350 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C per kilogram body weight per day was his standard therapeutic oral dose. (Klenner, 1979). While he was indeed in favor of vaccination, Dr. Klenner described tetanus fatalities as being due to conventional medical treatments for the disease and not due to tetanus itself (Smith, 1988).
I offer neither an argument against horses nor against those who freely choose vaccination. This chapter is presented, like one side of a good debate, to get you past the sound bytes and to look into the subject yourself. The human body is almost unbelievably resilient. Perhaps a bridle needs to be put on over-praising or over-using the tetanus shot. Today, horses are rare and shots are the rule. Let us take a moment and accurately recall the days when it was the other way around.
Copyright C 2003 and prior years Andrew W. Saul.
Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews athttp://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed athttp://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )
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