Monday, January 10, 2011

Confessions of a Vaccinating Mom

© 2011 Catherine Dunphy

"The subject of vaccines didn’t cross my mind until I became a mother. I’d watched my two older sisters raise children, had gone with them from time to time to the health clinic down the road and had even held one of my nieces while the nurse poked her with needles. To me this was totally normal and something you just did. 

I even chose to have vaccines at the age of 19 because everyone was getting their measles vaccines updated. The reason being that the ones we’d already been given weren’t effective. I can’t believe right now thinking about this that it didn’t shock me or lead me to question what I was doing. 

When I had my now 8-year-old son I started to question. The growing trend of parents opting out of vaccines had me questioning people. Everyone simply said to do my own research. Where? I mean, sure I looked online, but I had no idea what was and wasn’t valid. I had no idea where to even begin. So when it came time to start doing the vaccine thing when my son was 2 months old I went and let them do it, no questions. 

My supports at the time were the health nurse who came to visit my home on a regular basis and ran the parenting groups I became involved in, my mother who said she didn’t care that I was breastfeeding (why would she?) or that I didn’t circumcise or even that I was co-sleeping, but that she would INSIST I vaccinate my child, and my sisters who had vaccinated their children. 

The pediatrician who was at my son’s birth and who did follow up visits with us (my son was born premature via caesarean, which was against everything I had wanted and hoped for) pushed vaccines. My family doctor tried to pressure me into letting him vaccinate my son earlier my son’s adjusted date (due to his prematurity.) My family all vaccinated their children. I didn’t have friends with children then, so while overall I had done really well at following my instinct, this just wasn’t something I ever felt certain about. The ‘what if’ factor was just too scary for me at the time.

So I followed the vaccine schedule of 2, 4, 6, 12, and 18 months. During every one of these visits after the first one I sat horrified wondering if my child would be one of the children who had an adverse reaction. It wasn’t until very recently that I learned about one of my nieces being hospitalized due to a reaction to the Pertussis vaccine. I knew she’d had a reaction because when she was 6 years old she had whooping cough and that landed her in the hospital. What I didn’t know was that her vaccine reaction was far more severe than anyone had ever led on. How my mom recounts it now is that she was hospitalized, swollen, lethargic, and nobody knew if she’d recover from it or not. 

During the 18-month visit with the health nurse I asked why so many people weren’t vaccinating and instead of answering my questions she kept telling me it would be a good idea to pay for some of the other vaccines that weren’t covered and to then bring them to her so she could administer them. 

Did I do any research or talk to other parents about any of this? No.

At age 5 I took my son for yet another booster shot. During that visit I’m sure you can guess what happened. The chicken pox vaccine had very recently become available. Was the reason I didn’t vaccinate for every single vaccine available simply because I didn’t want to pay for them? 

I was already there letting my son get the MMR booster shot. Why not just give him the chicken pox one as well? I didn’t want it. The nurse and I talked about it and finally, since she already had the needle in her hand, I let her give it to my son. What happened was the loudest red-faced scream I’ve ever seen this child have. I was so scared then, thinking how awful I was for letting this happen and that was the moment I decided, no more. Never again. 

This past summer, almost 3 years after receiving the chicken pox vaccine, guess who had a mild case of chicken pox? That’s right. I found out that the vaccine is only ‘effective’ for about 5 years and now I’m left wondering, if he had a mild case because the vaccine doesn’t really make a person immune, does this mean he’s not artificially OR naturally immune? How can I ever really know for sure? 

When he’s older will he be at risk for having it again because I didn’t let his body build a proper immune system? Are vaccines part of the cause of his allergies and asthma? I breastfed for 30 months in the hopes that he wouldn’t develop allergies like mine and that all the asthma in my family wouldn’t be passed on to him. I was certain my child’s immune system would be solid and strong. Instead he’s had flu case that lasted months, asthma attacks that required medications and days when he couldn’t even walk to school without stopping because he wheezed so badly. 

I feel responsible and I feel like a hypocrite. My child has been vaccinated for HepB, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella, Meningitis, Hi-B, Polio, and honestly, it’s possible there are one or two I’m missing here. While I was having him vaccinated I considered updating my own. Now, today, I know there is no way either of us will be injected with anything other than love. Any future children of mine will not know what it’s like to be vaccinated. Neither of us has ever had a flu shot and never will. 

I admit that I feel guilty. I admit that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I doubted the process. I didn’t want my child to have to suffer from any illnesses that could be avoided. Instead, when he’s had the flu for months on end, when he’s red faced and wheezing or his lip is swelling because of something he just ate or he’s scratching because his eczema is flaring up I wonder, could this have been avoided? 

Did my choice to vaccinate compromise my son’s immune system? I think I know the answer to that question and I think it is a yes. I can’t change what’s been done, but I can make better choices in the future and I can do whatever possible now to lessen any impact of what’s already been done. 

I feel so very blessed every day when I see my son reading, hear him telling me in great detail about the characters in Pokemon, or see him running and jumping and laughing as we walk down the road to the beach. I will never be 100% certain as to whether or not my choice to vaccinate really did compromise his immune system, but when I meet children who’ve never been vaccinated, who don’t suffer yearly from the flu, and who don’t have asthma, I feel that pang of guilt."


  1. ((((((hugs)))))) Catherine. My oldest was vaccinated through 15 months (he had MMR at 12 and 15 months) and he's autistic. Every time I see him struggling to make his muscles cooperate with his brain and get that word out, I feel the same guilt. Every single day.

    My youngest - not vaccinated. All we can do is do our best and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  2. I've been following your blog for a few days now. I found it on facebook on TLB page. You're spot on. Spot on. I am pregnant with our seventh child and am grateful to be able to say I was "enlightened" years ago about so mch of the stuff you talk about. I just wish it had come years before it did. My first three children have had vaccines. None of them are fully vaccinated and it's interesting to see the decline of illness and issues as the number of vaccines administered goes down. My last three children have never had anything other than strep a few times(combined even). Two of the first three have had tubes and their tonsils removed. Two of the three have allergies and behavioral issues. One of the three was thought to have autism( by his ped at the time). I'm assuming that if I had continued on the vax schedule, we'd most certainly be dealing with something on that spectrum. I am amazed and astounded at the medical world here in America. I trust no one in the industry and only rely on them in emergency situations.

    I'm grateful to have found your blog. It's always a wonderful thing to find someone who is as "weird" as we are. It gets lonely sometimes.

    Please keep it coming!

    Beth F

  3. Love your blog, I'd love to look at the source of the New Zeland data, can you give us the source please?

  4. Hi Sandra,

    I googled and found this to be the simplest b/c it discloses the restrictions of the survey:

  5. As far as I am concerned, vaccination is an organised criminal enterprise dressed up as disease prevention.

  6. I think I could've written some of this. I never questioned it with my son, and so he got the jabs (we're in England, so he didn't get as many as in the US, thankfully). With my daughter I'd researched a little more, and so she started the jabs later and only got one at a time. She hasn't had all of them, and I doubt she'll have any more, because I've looked into it more now. I feel betrayed by the medical professionals, and angry that I didn't question sooner. I've developed quite a distrust of doctors over the years due to misinformation and the like. :-(

  7. Don't feel guilty. You do what you know. And when you know better, you do better. :) All you can do is help educate others like you are doing now. Thank you.

  8. I am in the same boat...vaccinated for years bc everyone told me to. When my oldest was 8, she was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome ( a high functioning form of autism). I started looking at vaccines then. We made our doctor switch to Thimeresol Free shots...felt like we were doing well. Then I started reading more and more. My 2 oldest girls were vaccinated straight thru on schedule - both had to have adenoids and tonsils removed. My third one was vaccinated nearly all the way thru - he has ADHD and a lot of nager issues. My youngest was only vaccanated about haflway thru and has no health issues or behavior issues at all. I too feel guilt...but I didnt know and was taught not to question. Loved my pediatrician and trusted him. For three years we have decided to go all natural...let our kids build up their own immunities. We are very happy...thanks for sharing!

  9. I'm curious about other factors in this study, like were the children breastfed?
    I'm on the fence with vaccinations and have been trying to gather as much information as possible! :)

  10. My oldest got one tetanus shot at 17 months or was it 19, because we were scared into it because of the flooding on the Ohio river when he was 4 months old. We lived right on the river and there had been several cases. He had a horrible reaction and almost died. He has Aspergers. Allergies and Asthma. I wonder daily as I know he changed after that reaction. My youngest is unvaccinated. He has allergies, asthma, and tubes in her ears and developmental delays. He was NOT vaccinated. Sometimes these things happen and we cannot go on beating ourselves up or we will never come to terms with their illness and be able to become proactive and help heal them. We didn't cause it, we can't fix things we didn't know better for. but sometimes even when you do it all right these things happen.

  11. I am truely moved by your blog. Its amazing how blind we can be and just follow what is considered the norm. I remember getting my mmr etc while at intermediate and wondering why but because everyone was doing it to I didnt want to be the odd one out.
    It takes huge guts to be the one to stand up and say "whats in that" or "Tell me about the risks and effectiveness" And im glad that you have done that now. My son(2.5yrs)he is such a healthy child and I have always treated him with homeopathic treatment if he does get sick. He is one of the healthiest kids I know...and the only vaccine free one.

  12. I think this is a really important subject. Thank you for sharing your story. For those who have had negative impacts to vaccines I suggest looking into the GAPS diet. It was created by a UK doctor who's son was diagnosed with autism but was cured by the diet.

  13. such a good story (sad your child suffered) but happy you realized what poison the vaccines are... we don't vax and after all the research I have done there is NO WAY I could even consider it...

  14. Breastfeeding is another thing. It boosts their immune systems so much, it's amazing. I definitely credit breastfeeding with why my son had such a mild case of chicken pox (he was around 17-20 months when he got it).

    I know part of it for me is that I grew up trusting doctors and therefore didn't question them. My grandfather and uncle were doctors; my grandmother and SIL were nurses. So I grew up with this trust, that you didn't really question what the doctor told you, so if the doc said something was necessary, then you did it. I've since become very distrustful, after realising that some of the things I was told were wrong, or that some of the meds I was on weren't necessary and didn't actually treat the problem, just some of the symptoms.

  15. I just happened upon this old blog, but I find it interesting how many people comment about tonsils and adenoids. My ASD son who was definitely immune compromised as an infant and got every vaccine they wanted him to have.. stayed sick for the first 2 years of his life.. went on to have his adenoids and tonsils out around the age of 6... I know vaccines are unnatural, yet I let my 2nd child have 6 vaccines already... shes almost 2 and our ped told me after 7 years of being a patient there, that I cannot bring her there unless I plan on keeping her up with vaccines. It was kind of a relief, no more pressure to vaccinate my 2nd baby now.. we go to the E.R. as of now when I feel we need medical advice. But forced medication and my children do not go hand in hand.. and again I go back to the 6 I gave My 2nd.. She did get 1 ear infection around the age of 1.. that is when I quit giving her the vaccines and nothing else since.. I could go on and on, but won't.. thanks for sharing.. sometimes I feel so alone and like everyone thinks I am crazy.

  16. This is ridiculous. People like you are why diseases that were irradicated in our county are coming back. Oh, your kid developed autism/aspergers/etc and you're blaming vaccines? Did you ever stop to consider that vaccines weren't the cause? Just because you really believed your baby's immune system would be strong doesn't mean that it was. Belief in a thing doesn't make it true, research and scientific facts do. The idiot doctor who wrote the paper linking vaccines to autism has been discredited over and over and even the doctor who wrote it confessed to fudging information for his own purposes. You're a mother, not a doctor. Where do you get off thinking you know better than someone who spent the better part of a decade or maybe even more learning about health? People like you and all your readers that agree with you are endangering the lives of other children as well as your own. The next time a kid gets the measles, you should all blame yourselves.

    1. I posted this comment simply for the word irradicated. I don't think the comment needs any kind of response lol. I just couldn't delete it. Carry on.