Something that makes me worry

Let me write this at the very start of the day while I have some energy (although I must avoid false sympathy and say that after a very dark, difficult, and painful stretch, that this has been a far better week than the last few and I’m doing my best to enjoy it and make the most of it while it lasts).

When Nefarious was born, two things were going on in the medical world that I feel are relevant to what I’m going to admit. First, it was the height of the SARS scare, which, at least in rural Belleville, seemed like a huge over-reaction and fear-mongering blow-up. Second, it was when all the worries about vaccines potentially causing more problems than they solved were starting to be made noise about by various fringe figures that I was sympathetic to. As a result, I had a great deal of distrust of the vaccination system and for the first part of Nefarious’s life she was not vaccinated. Over time, a combination of feeling uncomfortable signing “religious exemption” forms and starting to understand the science (and seeing the anti-vax “science” being thoroughly debunked) left me with the understanding that I’d made a terrible — and embarrassing — anti-science mistake that needed correcting.

Unfortunately, even with the antivax science so debunked (and shown to be full-on evil) that all that’s left is a mix of lies and religion, I still have many dear friends who hold an anti-vaccine stance and are by their caring (and I think it’s important to recognize that people are antivax because they are trying to be the best parents they can be) but misinformed actions endangering their own children as well as other children around them. It’s hard to bring it up because people get really mad, to the point of ending friendships, when you question their parenting choices, but I think on this subject it’s worth the risk.

I’m not going to personally break down all the reasons why the antivax position is about as reasonable as creationism, flat-earth science, moon landing hoax claims, and other anti-science lunacy that stems from a weird mix of ignorance, conspiracy theories about “big pharma”, and religion, because there are a great deal of good resources out there that do it better than I could. For starters, Health Canada has a good page debunking various antivax arguments, and if you want to get more indepth — and really understand how the antivax movement is starting to willfully murder children, and the gargantuan health risk it represents — then you must keep an eye on the “Bad Astronomy” blog, which is a real beacon of light and works hard to make sure that science and reason is the voice that drives us, rather than blind fear of the night that we should have left behind in the Dark Ages. Anyway, their antivax posts are a must-read.

I’ve added both of these links to my sidebar. Like I said, seven years ago I started out with worries about vaccines, worries that were strong enough to avoid them at first. So I get how one could start there, but these are worries that I calmed with a little research. I came to understood the harm that I almost did my daughter and felt terrible about it, and, if you are in the same position I was then, please please please just read over the links above. That’s all I beg of you. Look at the sources for the various arguments and their qualifications to make the claims they’re making, make a real risk assessment (because even if the antivax fear-mongering about autism/etc wasn’t an outright lie, from a statistical point of view, you’re still monstrously safer with vaccines), and let the reasoning, conscious, and intelligent part of your mind make the decision, rather than your gut. This is pretty much the only subject on which I feel it’s worth butting ones nose into other people’s parenting, and I do feel bad doing that when I tell a friend I think they need to reconsider their stance, but I do feel that it’s important enough to take the risk.

Especially if you’re going to let your daughter in the lake…







  1. sarah wrote:

    waiting on gillian’s rebuttal!

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 7:04 am | Permalink
  2. Shannon wrote:

    I’m not hoping for a debate. I’m hoping for people to become informed, because I can’t imagine that anyone would choose to have a pro-antivax debate once they were fully informed. No “rebuttal” is needed.

    I am also not interested in anti-evolution rebuttals, the-earth-is-flat rebuttals, attempts to convert me to faith, or any other anti-science memes.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 7:11 am | Permalink
  3. Cheree wrote:

    I have to say that I am SO GLAD my kids were older when the antivax movement was really gearing up. There’s already too much conflicting information & opinions on how we should be raising our babies and what we should be doing (breast vs. formula, diapers, etc.). I can’t imagine having to try to figure this out, too. THANK YOU for putting this information out there.

    Also? I LOVE those pictures!

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 8:56 am | Permalink
  4. Pyro Lizard wrote:

    The folks who run Age of Autism have blood on their hands. They are outright liers. Every single antivaxer out there agreed in 2003 that removing thimerosal from vaccines would reduce the autism rate. When it didn’t the frauds moved the goal post, and completely ignored the facts.

    This cartoon does a wonderful job of summarizing the history of Andrew Wakefield (who first published papers describing the link), and the clear conflict of interests he failed to disclose.

    Just yesterday I read that whooping cough is now an epidemic in California. A completely preventable disease is now endangering children because of the propaganda campaign of a few high profile, well funded ideological groups.

    Let’s not forget that there are a lot of children out there who can’t be vaccinated for various medical reasons. These children depend on immunity of everyone they are around to say safe. By choosing to not vaccinate, parents are putting other people’s kids at risk as well. It’s quite depressing.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  5. Emilie wrote:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while but never left a message.

    I just thought I would thank you because I just spent my day doing research about vaccines, since my two months old son is supposed to get his first ones in two weeks and I’m still unsure about what I want. Your link is very useful, and it really did help me to make up my mind.

    Also good to know you’re feeling better this week, have a nice week-end :)

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 11:47 am | Permalink
  6. serpio wrote:

    Which camera did you take these pictures with? They look brilliant. Glad to hear you’re feeling better. All the best

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  7. Berber Anna wrote:

    Thank you for that. I get so annoyed by the people linking autism to vaccines — I am autistic myself (I have Asperger’s syndrome), and I also have a memory that stretches farther back than most. I remember getting vaccinated as a toddler. My memories from before that time aren’t significantly different — the autism-induced extreme stress over any changes in my life (back then, even over stupid little changes like going outside the house, and then going back inside…) was there long before the vaccines were, and thus cannot have been caused by vaccination.

    The fact that these people make autistic children undergo horrific ‘detox treatments’ in hopes of curing them almost physically sickens me. And it’s even scarier that they do these things out of love for their children…

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink
  8. RSNGSTR wrote:

    I am so glad you have come to your senses. Don’t miss the Science Based Medicine blog @

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  9. Shannon wrote:

    The photos were taken on my phone using the app

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  10. Gillian wrote:

    No rebuttal from me. Vax debates are one of my least favorite things in the world! ;)

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  11. Gillian wrote:

    But I will say that I think it’s funny that there’s even a QUESTION about which is better, breast/formula and disposable/cloth. To me, those answers are so completely black and white!

    I think now that Ash is older, I am going to relook at my views on vaccinating. I think that delaying vaccinations and avoiding the [stupid] ones (ahem chicken pox) is by far the best method!

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  12. Gillian wrote:

    One more comment: for me, my decision not to vaccinate is NOT because I’m afraid of autism.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  13. Shannon wrote:

    Is breast milk vs. formula even a debate? I can’t imagine anyone thinks the latter is BETTER, even if they are forced to choose it (for medical reasons, death of the mother, whatever).

    And moreso than the debate over diaper types, the aggressive push by hospitals toward inducing, c-sections, and so on is highly problematic.

    Vaccinations are one of the few areas where I actually agree with the government stance… The government is certainly not immune to letting politics dictate scientific policy when it should (obviously I’d have though) be dictated by some sort of objective panel of scientists.

    To say nothing of my deep objections and concerns with the school system… But when it comes to vaccinations, I actually think they got it far more right than wrong for a change.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  14. wlfdrgn wrote:

    If a vaccine kills 10 kids for every 10,000 lives it saves, to the parents of the 10, the vaccine is the worst possible evil in the world. To those parents, any justification, even falsification of data, bad science, even outright lies, are justified. In the worlds of those parents, they’re right. Unfortunately, although in their world-view they’re entirely right in what they did, they’re also responsible for the suffering and deaths of thousands.

    One thing that the vaccine scare has done is force people to actually consider if vaccines are right or wrong. Safe or dangerous. It wasn’t that long ago that newborn boys in the States were just circumcised, with no anesthetic, no parental consent, because it was just always done that way. Today, they at least ask first. Most are still circumcised, frequently still with no anesthetic, but forcing people to look will hopefully bring about a better result in the end.


    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  15. Gillian wrote:

    Well said, wlfdrgn. Thermisol would likely still be in vaccinations if it wasn’t for people like me standing up and saying that maybe there’s a better way.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  16. Gillian wrote:

    As for formula, I think the uneducated women choose it because they think it’s just as good, or they don’t really care to try to breastfeed, and sometimes they think it’s “gross.” Erika on IAM used to say all the time that her boobs were for her, not for the baby and it was gross. There was another IAM member, a young mother, who said “eeewww, my breasts are leaking!” as if it was completely repulsive.

    I totally agree with you on the medical interventions concerning birth- it’s just CRAZY how many people are having unnecessary interventions!

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  17. Shannon wrote:

    Thermisol is not a convincing one to be championing as a victory, since in the end it turned out to be harmless and much ado about nothing.


    “Further evidence of the position of the scientific consensus includes the rejection of a causal link between thimerosal and autism by the main scientific and medical professional bodies including the American Medical Association,[36] the American Academy of Pediatrics,[37] the American College of Medical Toxicology,[38] the Canadian Paediatric Society,[39] the National Academy of Sciences,[9] the Food and Drug Administration,[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,[11] the World Health Organization,[10] the Public Health Agency of Canada,[40] and the European Medicines Agency.[41]“

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink
  18. CJT's mum wrote:

    My response to the dialogue is to suggest that people visit a home for people with severe mental retardation and who are also blind and deaf who were born before there was a rubella vaccination. Those are the kind of risks that parents leave their children open to. When I was pregnant with CJ’s older sister, I was teaching and a student came to me one day to show me a rash that she thought was measles “What do you think, Miss?” This was very early in my pregnancy and I have to say that I was in a terrible state until it was pretty clear that I didn’t catch anything from her and was still somewhat anxious then MC was born. Happily no ill effects but those who are anti vaccination need to know that they need to take a broader view – it’s not only their child who is on the line here.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  19. bonnie wrote:

    I have some friends who are not vaccinating their children and it worries me terribly…I just want to ask them to stroll thru any local cemetery and look at all the headstones for very young children. You just don’t see numbers like that now, and a lot of that is thanks to vaccinations. Not to mention that they are placing other children their kids will come in contact with at risk.

    Friday, June 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Permalink
  20. R wrote:

    You just get more awesome, Shannon. Thank you for posting this.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 2:48 am | Permalink
  21. Gillian wrote:

    “Not to mention that they are placing other children their kids will come in contact with at risk.”

    Um, not the case if they’re vaccinated- or so the parents would like to think, anyway. You get your kids vaccinated so they won’t get sick, right? So we’re ideally NOT a threat!

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 8:45 am | Permalink
  22. Shannon wrote:

    Vaccination is 90-95% effective, so if you introduce the disease into a vaccinated community, you will still have affected children. In addition, there are many people who can not be vaccinated due to allergies and so on. That’s why it’s important to be vaccinated not just for the sake of your child, but for the sake of the whole community.

    Keeping the immune percentage high is enough to stop a disease — it doesn’t have to be 100%. But it does have to be as high as possible ideally.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink
  23. Gillian wrote:

    That percentage rate isn’t correct for all vaccinations. Chicken Pox is like 80%!

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  24. Shannon wrote:

    The 80% number emphasizes the importance even more of course of vaccinations!

    Chicken pox of course one can make the argument is harmless enough, with most of the deaths (and there aren’t many — I think it’s a couple hundred a year in North America) from chicken pox coming from infections and side-effects that seem preventable. That said, the flu, which I think most would write off as harmless as well, kills 50,000+ in North America yearly, mostly children and old people — to say nothing of what a flu pandemic can do. As you know, in the early 20th Century (during WWI, which made it worse) the flu outbreak killed 30+ million in Western Nations (more than were killed in the war). When the efficacy of those flu vaccine gets better, I suspect it will go mandatory as well.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 9:30 am | Permalink
  25. Gillian wrote:

    I just hope that regardless of the decision made, that parents ACTIVELY research their choice. Read books! Read blogs! Read websites! Don’t go into this decision blindly. There are ways to vaccinate more safely (like spacing them out more, starting when the child is older) and to keep your child as healthy as possible without the usage of vaccinations, like extended breastfeeding, having a great diet, using homeopathy etc. Vaccines are not the cure-all, end-all to ending disease. And there are SO MANY RISKS to vaccinations that parents need to be aware of, instead of hearing the doctor and media do some fear mongering about what happens if you don’t vaccinate on their schedule.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  26. Gillian wrote:

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  27. Shannon wrote:

    Re: VRAN, it’s important to get the things that can go wrong on both sides, but it’s even more important to balance things out and try not to confuse the big picture with anecdotes. Multiply the risk severity with the possibility of it happening I suppose.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  28. Caitlin wrote:

    Gillian, using homeopathy for what, exactly?

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Permalink
  29. Shannon wrote:

    Homeopathy… Oh… I missed that.

    Homeopathy is the dumbest thing ever — and to be clear I’m talking about watered down magic potions, not about naturopathy in general. I’ve seen sometimes people go to a herbalist or a nutritionist or a naturopath and they say homeopath, so I think it’s important to make sure the word is being used right. Naturopathy has plenty of problems, but it also has plenty of real medicine. Homeopathy has NONE.

    There’s literally nothing dumber than homeopathy. Complete and utter nonsense… And I think that there isn’t a single person that doesn’t know that once they understand what it is… It makes MUCH MUCH more sense to believe in magic. MUCH more.

    Here’s a good start point on that subject:

    The ultimate fake:

    Overview of some of the logical fallacies presented:

    A funny “mass overdose” protest about pharmacies selling homeopathic scams:

    Homeopathy is in the same territory as psychic surgery, faith healing, and other scams.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  30. Gillian wrote:

    The only thing that I used that was homeopathic for Ash was teething tablets, and I still say they worked.

    I was referring directly to this article:

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  31. Shannon wrote:

    That article is complete BS — “Homeopathy is an effective” it says. Yeah, sure. At best homeopathy is placebo, and the same goes for homeopathic teething formula. Ash, if anything, responded to a caring parent, not to the magic water, and I suspect that there was a perceptual end as well (ie. because you believed it would work, you would have seen what you wanted — placebo effect on both parent and child). Or it was pure coincidence. Either way, it’s physically IMPOSSIBLE for a homeopathic formula to have had an effect one way or another*.

    For teething, I’ll happily say “big deal” if you want to solve it with a placebo, because there’s no damage done. But when we’re talking about medical issues with real consequences, I would not be so “meh”.

    * Note though, if you mean a tincture of some essential oil, rather than an infinitely watered down homeopathic potion, then you’re talking about something closer to aroma therapy, not homeopathy.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink
  32. Gillian wrote:

    Okay, let’s drop the homeopathy then. No biggie. It’s not worth debating over.

    But certainly there are ways to boost the immune system to help aid against disease other than vaccinations. That’s all I’m saying.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink
  33. Shannon wrote:

    For sure you can’t go wrong with a healthy lifestyle and caring and involved parents, and those things go an awful long way in ensuring a healthy child.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  34. Pyro Lizard wrote:

    “I just hope that regardless of the decision made, that parents ACTIVELY research their choice. Read books! Read blogs! Read websites”

    Gillian, it’s not enough to just read about a topic. You have to make sure the information being presented to you isn’t tainted with ideology, and fraud. There is so much bad information regarding vaccinations that the average person can’t help but stumble over it. Get your information from real scientists who understand the issues. There is a very clear concensus regarding the effectiveness, and safety of vaccines.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink
  35. talby0 wrote:

    I was JUST discussing vaccinations with an expectant friend this week, and the amount of press and exposure anti-vac groups have these days is fairly frustrating, given the dearth of evidence around their argument. These links are freakin helpful for getting the message across about poor old boring science!

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
  36. bonnie wrote:

    I have heard several comments about how unnecessary the chicken pox vaccine is, and I would have to argue that. When my sister was 10 my whole family got chicken pox, her worst of anyone. I remember my Mom soaking the sheets off of her crusted body in the bath. She got so many scars they remain visible today. When she was 38 she got the worst case of shingles I have EVER seen. I will add that she is an insulin dependent diabetic who ended up with cellulitus in several of those lesions. I bet if she’d been given a choice, she’d have picked being vaccinated against it, but it wasn’t an option back then.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink
  37. bonnie wrote:

    Oh, and as far as my concern for kids being exposed to the diseases contracted by unvaccinated children, Shannon hit the nail on the head. Some kids CAN’T be vaccinated for various reasons, and they depend on everyone else to remain well! My grandchild was born 4 weeks early, at 2 lbs 6ozs. She couldn’t even leave her home except to go to the drs because it was so dangerous for her. Can you imagine if she’d come into contact with a child sick with whooping cough? It would have probably killed her.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  38. Pat wrote:

    “But certainly there are ways to boost the immune system to help aid against disease other than vaccinations. That’s all I’m saying”

    Make sure they roll in dirt and get as many diseases as possible. That is the only proven way of improving the immune system unless you are undernourished. Use it or lose it.

    Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink
  39. Gillian wrote:

    Pyro Lizard: Have you tried to research the ingredients in vaccines? Seriously, I dare you to figure out every single thing that’s in one.

    I read literature on both sides of it. I feel well-rounded. I’m confident in my decision. I may re-evaluate at some point now that my child is older and bigger, but there’s NO FUCKING WAY I would have injected my 10lb baby with a formaldehyde-filled needle to vaccinate against something that’s almost impossible to get!

    Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
  40. Shannon wrote:

    It’s not hard to find out the ingredients. They’re all extensively documented and have gone through a massive amount of testing to ensure their safety.

    Be careful you don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to something that would be toxic if consumed in quantity on its own. You have to understand its context (and quantity) in the formula. There’s little evidence that these ingredients pose a significant risk within the context of a vaccine.

    And really, who here is qualified to assess the safety of those ingredients. It takes a great deal of education to do so. I know I don’t have that knowledge base, so I’m going to find sources I trust, rather than just look up “formaldehyde” in the dictionary and imagine what would happen if I drank a bottle of it.

    Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Permalink
  41. Pyro Lizard wrote:

    The thing is, there are no two sides. There is a broad, homogeneous scientific consensus on the safety of vaccines. There is however, a small group of people actively passing on bad information on the subject.

    The anti vaccination movement has shown time and time again they have no interest in the facts. There have been numerous meta analyses, and clinical trials showing absolutely no link to autism. Thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 2003 because of the outcry from a completely uninformed group of protesters. After it was removed there was absolutely no change in the amount autism diagnoses. A fact you would be hard pressed to find on any antivax website.

    Also, formaldehyde-filled needle is a pretty absurd statement to make. The reality is that there are trace amounts. Using that phrase is a completely misleading scare tactic. At this point it seems more like an anti science smear campaign than a legitimate concern.

    That last comment was directed more at the Age of Autism, Think Twice Campaign, and Jenny McCarthey groups. Not so much at curious parents who are just trying to find out what’s best for their children, such as yourself.

    Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Permalink
  42. Shannon wrote:

    Thanks for that Pyro Lizard, you’re being a lot more clear than I am so I appreciate the help.

    Sunday, June 27, 2010 at 11:13 pm | Permalink
  43. DIYer wrote:

    When my daughter was born, which was before most of this hysteria started, we skipped a few of the vaccines. I think we got the polio and asked the doctor to skip the pertussis, using separate doses instead of the DPT. I can’t recall what we did on the MMR.
    Her mother’s father was a doctor, and had these studies showing that pertussis vaccine just wasn’t that effective and there was some question about the rubella. (autism wasn’t part of it)
    Her mother tried to breastfeed, but for various reasons it didn’t work out .. we ended up raising her on buttermilk, sometimes with a little honey in it.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 7:25 am | Permalink
  44. DIYer wrote:

    I might add that my father-in-law was a psychiatrist, and his whole family was given to flights of hysteria… they might have hopped on the antivax bandwagon and ridden it for a while.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 7:37 am | Permalink
  45. DIYer wrote:

    Oh, and one other thing..

    Don’t worry about it.

    The reason for universal vaccination is to stop outbreaks; as long as you live in a “civilized” area your children will have the benefit of herd immunity. This is also true of the various religious groups that do not vaccinate.

    I seem to recall an epidemiological study that was done recently, they had to find a population with naive immune systems. They managed to get permission from a group of Hutterites (as I recall) living way out in the boonies in some western province. Too many people in the populated areas had been vaccinated.

    In the end, we all depend on our deluxe mammalian immune system every day, and it does a pretty good job.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink
  46. Kyle wrote: on a lighter note. Homeopathy & Nutritionists vs Real Science

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 10:23 am | Permalink
  47. Shannon wrote:

    Re: The Herd, the problem is that in some areas immunizations levels have dropped enough (in part due to antivaxxers) that outbreaks are happening again, and diseases are coming back from virtual extinction. So the herd can only be stretched so far.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  48. Gillian wrote:

    DIYER: “Her mother tried to breastfeed, but for various reasons it didn’t work out .. we ended up raising her on buttermilk, sometimes with a little honey in it.”


    This proves that even with a doctor as a grandparent, bad decisions are made by medical professionals all the time! ;)

    There IS formaldehyde in vaccines to lower the immune system so that the vaccination will be effective. No shock language there, it’s true. “Trace amounts” regardless- it’s THERE and to serve a serious purpose.

    If you look at the ingredients of a vaccine, you will find a listing, but then try to disect those ingredients you’ll find more and more ingredients and on and on, and to inject it into a 12lb baby on BLIND TRUST that it’s “safe” because a doctor is administering it is an absolute fucking mistake.

    Again, I just want people to understand their choices fully.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  49. Shannon wrote:

    So what you’re saying is that the formaldehyde is a good thing…

    Anyway, it’s not blind trust. Vaccines go through an extensive testing procedure, it’s not as if they’re mixed up by alchemist doctors that are operating on faith (that would be most naturopaths).

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  50. Gillian wrote:

    Have you ever been to a Naturopath?! They changed my fucking life.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink
  51. Shannon wrote:

    There are good ones and there are bad ones… But if one is going to worry about blind trust, then naturopaths should be avoided, because they are operating to a great extent on folk knowledge and faith. Not to say that a lot of it isn’t “real” traditional medicine, but a great deal of it has currently got very little scientific testing behind it to determine safety and efficacy and so on (which I would have thought would be important to people who insist that decades of careful and intensive testing isn’t enough when it comes to vaccines).

    For me the key to a good naturopath is homeopathy. If they believe in homeopathy, AVOID THEM. If they tell you homeopathy is a scam, then they have a good head on their shoulders and you can more likely rely on them to make reasonable suggestions.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  52. Gillian wrote:

    I trust my Naturopath far beyond my family doctor. I really am curious to know if you’ve actually ever gone to see one before.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  53. Shannon wrote:

    Nope. Never felt the need. I have no objection to naturopaths other than what I’ve already said. There are plenty of good ones doing good work for people (and plenty of bad ones — which is a problem in a largely unregulated and “mysterious” field that operates outside of the tight restrictions that doctors work under to protect public safety).

    To be clear, I’ve got loads of problems with doctors too, but it’s a different set of problems.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  54. Alison wrote:

    Such a great post! I feel the same way around my friends who aren’t vaccinating their small children. Your arguments are excellent.

    Re: formaldehyde – apparently the amount of formaldehyde in vaccines is far less than the human body produces every day.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  55. DIYer wrote:

    I didn’t say the doctor grandparent was a wise one. Of course, by the time the antivax movement got going, he would have been worrying about trans-fats, and about five years before you ever heard of trans-fats, he’d be nurturing his telomeres or some such thing. BTW, he died of cancer in about 2002 or so…

    As for the scary sounding chemical names, it has recently been discovered that small molecules, like nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide, carry signaling information from one cell to another — it’s why they are so toxic in bulk. But minute quantities of things like formaldehyde or carbon monoxide exist in your body all the time. And the quantity that goes into a vaccine is tiny enough to be absorbed and handled by the body.

    I had a final thought on the vaccines, Shannon — you’re right, the ‘herd’ thing wears kind of thin eventually. If there were one thing I’d give Nefarious at this time it would be a polio vaccine. It’s one of a handful of diseases that gets more dreadful the later in life you catch it. If she were a boy, the mumps vaccine would be a good one as well. The others, *shrug*, probably just let her play in the dirt with the other kids ;-)

    Gillian, the buttermilk was my idea by the way. Plain homogenized milk upset our baby daughter’s stomach, while buttermilk did not. None of us ever believed in “formula”.

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink
  56. Smyttie wrote:

    @Gillian (comment 39) : “…to vaccinate against something that’s almost impossible to get!”. Well, maybe it’s almost impossible to get because most children are vaccinated?

    Monday, June 28, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink
  57. smallfarmgirl wrote:

    “which is a problem in a largely unregulated and “mysterious” field that operates outside of the tight restrictions that doctors work under to protect public safety).”

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 6:50 am | Permalink
  58. Gillian wrote:

    Smyttie: definitely! So I’ll continue to be happy to have other kids vaccinated and I’ll keep my child unvaccinated. :)

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 8:02 am | Permalink
  59. Gillian wrote:

    DIYer: Well, of course I think that cow’s milk and buttermilk are CRAZY for giving infants, but it’s moreso the honey that you gave her that made me go, “AHHHH!!”

    Cows milk is for cows! Formula is evil, yes, but far better than buttermilk. :)

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  60. Heather wrote:

    There are more reasons than fear of autism to avoid vaccines. Juniper had a horrible allergic reaction to the few vaccinations we agreed to (due to travel.) They ended up seriously affected her immune system long term. Her t-cells started attacking her gut days after the vaccines, and caused multiple food sensitivities. That caused intestinal bleeding in my exclusively breastfed infant.

    Juniper got chicken pox the old fashioned way and it was easy. I nursed her through it. She has a tiny scar on her chin, but it looks like a cute dimple, and I’ll take that over a possible reaction to the vaccine. We both had swine flu (which did suck, but we got through it) and the regular flu. The only disease preventable by a vaccine that makes me nervous is pertussis, but the vaccine gives lousy protection, anyway… no long-term immunity and a very small percentage (can’t remember at the moment, but it is LOW) for even short-term.

    Anyway, do what you want. I’m not one of those anti-vax nutcases and will not judge those who choose to do it, however, I also want you to know that there are some very real reasons to make the choice not to vaccinate.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Permalink
  61. Heather wrote:

    Sorry for the typos. My kiddo was climbing all over me as I was trying to post.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink
  62. Shannon wrote:

    Absolutely, no one denies that some people have medical conditions that preclude being vaccinated.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink
  63. Carmen wrote:

    I couldn’t agree with you more regarding the vaccines. I have been and lived in third world countries where kids don’t have the luxury of free government vaccines against diseases for which there is a cure!!! So many lives would be saved if they had access to vaccines. Anyway, we’re here, in N. America and you’re damn right I’m using the vaccines that are available to me on my kids, for them & the community.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Permalink
  64. R wrote:

    “So I’ll continue to be happy to have other kids vaccinated and I’ll keep my child unvaccinated. :)”

    For fuck’s sake, Gillian. Do you not fancy living in a society?

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 7:24 am | Permalink
  65. Gillian wrote:

    Fuck society.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
  66. bonnie wrote:

    I have to say that I find that attitude extremely disturbing…If I thought someone was doing something harmful to children, I certainly wouldn’t be content to sit back and merely protect my own children. I would shout to the skies and try to change it. Either you don’t feel that strongly about this, or you just don’t give a shit about anyone but you and yours?

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  67. leanna wrote:

    I’m so glad the anti vaccine thing is cooling down. It was so blatantly ridiculous. Beyond all the stuff thats been said a big thing a lot of people forget is those kids who can not, for various medical reasons (cancer, etc.), get vaccines and therefore rely on herd immunity. The decision not to vaccinate has potentially far reaching effects.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Permalink
  68. Joanne wrote:

    Gillian, people like you make me absolutely FURIOUS. Your belief that you “know better” than medical professionals. Your flagrant, selfish disregard for the wider community. As long as your darling child doesn’t “catch autism” from an MMR for example, that makes your stance ok, right?

    You have no clue. No clue how herd immunity works. No clue how. You don’t even understand the PURPOSE of a vaccine! A vaccine is not a magic wand that prevents you from contracting an illness. At best it prevents you contracting an illness, at worst it drastically reduces the severity of that illness.

    Last week I was in a pub in London and a “yummy mummy” wandered in with her toddler and older son. The toddler was in a pram and was absolutely riddled with chicken pox. I overheard her telling her friend she was hoping the other child would catch it “so he will become immune”. In addition to this, there was a pregnant woman standing very close to her (I don’t think she had seen the very ill child nearby). I was so furious I didn’t trust myself to say something to her myself, so I went to the landlord and told him I was leaving because I was so disgusted this woman was permitted in his pub.

    I went back there a few days ago and found out he’d asked her to leave and barred her. Victory for common sense.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 1:36 am | Permalink
  69. Gillian wrote:

    I don’t care what other people do, vaccinate or don’t vaccinate. My only wish is that they research this important decision. Most people out there go into this decision with blind trust. I don’t think I know “better than medical professionals,” but I know that each child is different and not every 12lb baby can get a vaccine and not have a problem with it.

    Ash has about a DOZEN food sensitivities and I don’t doubt that it’s lowering his immune system so that he’d be more susceptible to side effects of vaccinations. This is not a risk I’m willing to take.

    And Joanne, I have mentioned before that my decision not to vaccinate my child has NOTHING to do with autism. Before you get furious with me, please don’t think that I’ve expressed all of my views and knowledge about vaccinating in Shannon’s blog comments, and please do read what I’ve said. I KNOW how vaccines work, I’ve said in here before that it’s NOT a magic wand that will protect you from an illness- they’re not as effective as what people are lead to believe.

    If anything I just recommend DELAYING vaccinating until the children are older, not avoiding them altogether. As I’ve said, I MAY VACCINATE my child now that he’s bigger!

    (And ignorance like yours, about when/how chicken pox are spread- (ie THAT CHILD WAS NO LONGER CONTAGIOUS WHEN YOU HAD A PART IN HAVING IN HER BARRED) is exactly why people need to do their fucking research.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:21 am | Permalink
  70. Joanne wrote:

    Yet again you are wrong, Gillian.
    Chickenpox is most contagious the day before the rash appears and until the blisters are all dry and crusted over. I don’t believe I said the toddler in question had crusted over blisters on his skin. He was noticibly unwell and his rash was fresh. He was clearly in the highly contagious stage of illness.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:29 am | Permalink
  71. R wrote:

    Do you know, I was all prepared to come back here and really express myself well, to really articulate to the limits of my ability, because I expected your reply to be so fluent and so impassioned and so full of the arguments you’ve apparently researched and absorbed and UNDERSTOOD, because after all you’ve made a hard descision, misled but well-intentioned, that’s borne of wanting the best for your children – which is something everyone can understand – and it’s not something you’d take lightly, out of sheer ego or some misplaced misanthropy, right? Of course not!

    I really expected to have to to try and express to you how fragile society is, how it’s made up of so many unspoken agreements between so many strangers to not fuck each other over and that yes, sometimes we’ve just got to take one for the team, for the herd, because that’s what society does for us every day, and you get that, right? It’s not like your whole argument could possibly boil down to something so inarticulately selfish, so base, so indefensibly wrong as “fuck society”. “Fuck society”!

    Apparently I gave you way, way too much credit. “Fuck society”. The attitude of an anti-vaxer laid bare, that is. That’s your argument? Go and live on a goddamn rock with your pox, then. I’m with Joanne, you people make me furious.

    “Fuck YOUR children”, says Gillian. “Fuck YOU”.

    Absolutely unbelievable.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:30 am | Permalink
  72. R wrote:

    “If anything I just recommend DELAYING vaccinating until the children are older”

    Explain why. Show your working.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:32 am | Permalink
  73. Gillian wrote:

    Why? You can do the research. There is absolutely no point; I’m not going to change your mind or anyone’s mind.

    I’m done.

    (It was more of a “fuck society” where gays and lesbians don’t have the same rights as other people, people with tattoos and piercings aren’t considered professional, where anorexic-looking women are the height of beauty, where McDonald’s food is considered a meal, where no one knows where their food comes from, where obesity is prevalent. FUCK THAT SOCIETY, and I’ll say it 100x over. Go back to your herd.

    Thanks everyone for the discussion, but I won’t be back. I’ll continue to make the best choice for my family and you can make the best choice for yours.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:50 am | Permalink
  74. R wrote:

    Indefensible choices are indefensible.


    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 5:10 am | Permalink
  75. bonnie wrote:

    I’m going to add just one thing in the hopes that Gillian is still reading this, if not actually posting anymore. I understand that you are concerned for your child’s well-being. I get it, I really do. But let me make an analogy for you. I get every animal I’ve ever owned spayed or neutered even though there are risks. Even though I end up scared sick they may get hurt or even die during surgery. It’s the right, responsible thing to do, correct? So how would it be if I decided NOT to do it? Because I was afraid. Because I knew that there was a chance, even a small chance, that something bad might happen. Say just 200 people in the very large city I am from decided that they too would no longer do it. Can you imagine the EPIDEMIC of unwanted animals that would be born? The numbers swelling the ranks at local pounds? The number of young animals euthanized? Sometimes you do things because in a society it’s just the right thing to do. You can’t just say “fuck society” because you are a part of that society, whether you embrace all it’s ideologies or not! I would hope that you are not really as “every man for himself” as your posts would have you sound.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Permalink
  76. bonnie wrote:

    P.S “I always said the worst reason to not do something is because you’re scared. ” Those are your own words.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Permalink
  77. DIYer wrote:

    Gillian, in my opinion formula is more evil than buttermilk — our baby got some breastmilk too, but the quantity was not sufficient. Lot of variables there. Buttermilk is very low fat. And so on.
    Far as I know, it worked out, she’s 30 now and in good health. She was weaned at a pretty young age, and went on to other weird food favored by her mother. She recently told me she doesn’t ever need to see another sardine.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 5:38 am | Permalink
  78. DIYer wrote:

    Haha, reading through the comments from the beginning again, I find this:
    “No rebuttal from me. Vax debates are one of my least favorite things in the world! ;)”

    The actual science behind vaccines is quite mature, starting with cowpox more than 200 years ago. I won’t quote you the Wikipedia page, but vaccines do work best when given at the recommended ages — very young children have extremely powerful immune systems. One example is the polio vaccine, which is made up of live virus. It would kill you or me if we hadn’t already been exposed to it.

    At her age, Nefarious might need an attenuated vaccine, and I’d definitely consult with the physician about available options. (if she hasn’t already had that one)

    Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 7:01 am | Permalink
  79. FETRET wrote:

    Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  80. Yes, the MMR _does_ cause kids to be Autistic. That’s why Autism and Asperger’s were identified in the 1940s, over 20 years before the MMR vaccine was created!

    Friday, July 23, 2010 at 12:41 am | Permalink
  81. Merideth Cooper wrote:

    Natural products are a dime a dozen, but this mist spray by Dr. Shawn Mueller is amazing.

    Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
  82. Heathre wrote:

    You don’t need a fancy degree to know that formaldehyde is bad for your health. Hang around people with health problems from formaldehyde and you will understand.

    Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Permalink
  83. Joanne wrote:

    Heathre, you expose yourself as a typical, ignorant anti-vaxxer!

    Formaldehyde is an ORGANIC CHEMICAL comprised of oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. It is also PRODUCED BY the human body. The amount of formaldehyde contained in a vaccine is tiny compared to the amount of self-produced formaldehyde in the bloodstream of a baby/child.

    It’s interesting that many antivaxxers i’ve encountered have been smokers. And thus are imbibing more KILLER FORMALDEHYDE than they’d ever receive from a vaccine.

    Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 2:01 am | Permalink
  84. Erika wrote:

    “Erika on IAM used to say all the time that her boobs were for her, not for the baby and it was gross.”

    Oh, really? That’s interesting. Way to misquote me, Gillian. I would never say breastfeeding is “gross”…it’s just not for me. I have no desire to ever breastfeed (I would be uncomfortable with it and have no desire to be tied down in that way, especially with my career as it is) but I wouldn’t call it gross. And what do my (misquoted) personal views about using my boobs to feed my child (or not) have anything to do with this conversation? I find formula to be an acceptable alternative. A happy and mentally stable mom who uses formula and lovingly feeds her child is better than an unhappy mother who possibly resents having to feed her baby.

    My child, by the way, is 7.5 years old. NO ONE CARES about whether or not your child was breastfed when they’re 7.5 or 6 or even 5. Moms seem to snap out of that BREASTFEED OR YOUR CHILD WILL DIE mindset when their kids are a bit older and they get some perspective.

    Also note that breastfeeding or not breastfeeding only has an impact on me and my child, unlike your choice not to vaccinate, which impacts everyone around you, especially those most vulnerable (infants too young to be vaccinated, pregnant women and their fetuses, people with compromised immune systems, the elderly, and those for whom immunization did not produce sufficient immune response). I have made a career out of examining parental beliefs and attitudes and the ways they impact the health care interventions they choose for themselves and their children. Hopefully my research will have the end result of more families trusting science and doing what is best for their children and society as a whole.

    Friday, August 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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