feedback requested: vaccinate?

I have three new books that will quickly fill you in on the ongoing discussion in my mind and with my husband (and you’ll probably also get filled in on where I presently fall in the vaccination debate:)

The Vaccine Book

Vaccines, Autism and Childhood Disorders

Natural Alternatives to Vaccinations

All of this was read about, thought about, and discussed prior to Jameson’s arrival. I was definitely of the “not to vaccinate” persuasion before I even began my research, but Ryan had never even considered that such was even an option — and quite understandably, since in my interactions with pediatricians and nurses after Jameson’s birth, they all present the schedule of vaccinations with such, I don’t know, bossiness, that one would never know they could actually think and decide for themselves.

You know, chipper nurse walks you to the exam room, and announces, “So, today Jameson will receive his first round of immunizations. Here’s the information on what those shots will include.”

Me, nervously mustering up the courage to put my foot down: “Uh, no, actually, I’m not going to have him get any vaccinations.”

Well, didn’t that throw a wrench in the gears. Oh well.

Anyway, our decision when Jameson was born was basically that we knew we didn’t want our infant with an undeveloped immune system getting injected with live diseases. We at least wanted to wait — so, no pressure for an ultimate decision.

But eventually, there needs to be one. So, I’m curious. Who’s been around this block before, and what are your thoughts and reasonings? Have you come up with your own vaccination schedule — one more sensitive to a child’s development? Have you decided yes on some shots, and no on others? Have you opted for the absolutely not approach?

(And if you just follow the standard shot procedure, go ahead and tell me why.)

26 Comments feedback requested: vaccinate?

  1. Quinne

    Hi Danica :) Just sharing very simply that we never felt the Father leading us differently, so we vaccinate. Both Miss M and Mr S have done very well, though we do wait until summertime for check ups and any shots needed. They are both January babies and both struggle a little in the spring time with allergy colds, and I just avoid the doctor’s office if possible during cold season :)

    On another topic…I’ve been wanting to tell you, I read your story. It is just beautiful! Love, Q

  2. Katie

    Well, you know about Isaac’s story and reaction to the MMR :-)

    I can’t remember though if I told you that over a period of years of researching and reading the girls have been on a delayed schedule. And Liam is still vaccine free, my pediatrician begrudgingly agreed that we’d discuss it at his 2 year old check up.

    I know entirely what you were feeling about trying to muster up the courage to put your foot down. I always feel intimidated when we’re at the doctor’s.

    My sister-in-law was very influenced by Isaac’s reaction to the MMR and thus chose to refuse vaccines for at least the first year of my nephews life. My mother-in-law’s response was “We just have to trust God over the what-ifs and that he’ll keep our kids safe from vaccine side effects.” I didn’t really have an answer for that to be honest. But then my sister-in-law said “How about we just trust God that our children’s immune systems will function the way He designed them to and we don’t need to force immunity on them?” She must think under pressure better than I do! :-)

    I’m sure you know that the decline of disease in the U.S. is not the result of vaccines, although that’s what most people believe.

    I’m still undecided on vaccines. See I can always choose to give them, but not take them back. So far for me I have decided 1 thing DEFINITELY :

    A child’s brain has done 90% of it’s development by age 2. So we are waiting for Liam, Shiloh, and other future children to vaccinate at earliest age 2 so that the risk of developmental damage is significantly reduced.

    So we don’t have a “NO VACCINES” policy since I feel so torn, but for our family waiting until age 2 for most of brain development to have occurred seemed to be an easy decision, especially after having watched Isaac’s developmental delays and struggles. Not to mention by the age of 2 their immune system has been developing right along.

    Here’s another question, have you considered having Jameson’s titer levels tested before vaccinating? I’m going to request that when we start to vaccinate Liam. I want to test to see if he has an immunity already to say, measles, before giving him a measles vaccine. Just because one hasn’t had an outbreak of measles doesn’t mean that they don’t have an acquired immunity from a good antibody response to exposure. I think I’m a pediatrician’s nightmare! But my opinion is it is better to be well informed!

    Um.. is it OK to leave such long comments??? :-O

    Poor Jake must know how Ryan feels.. as I tend to bring up all sorts of challenging ideas all the time. At least he knew me very well before we were married to know enough that I challenge mainstream thinking almost constantly ;-) and live way beyond the standard of normal! But I think that’s a good thing ;-D hehe

  3. Keila

    To be honest, it never even occurred to me that we could “choose”. I come from a culture where doctors aren’t questioned and so I never thought there could be any disadvantage to shots. So far, my girls have done fine and they are “on schedule” as I grew up thinking that was important. I do understand the whole feeling of having to muster the courage to tell your doctor’s office about your decisions… nursing Adriana and refusing flu shots have been tough enough, I can’t imagine what kind of war I’d get if I refused vaccines!

    On another note, did you get an email I sent you via the “contact us” option of this site? Just curious.

    Love you!

  4. diane

    well, you know I’m a nurse, and so I probably fall into the “chipper nurse” category. But I definitely believe vaccinations have saved thousands of lives from these very catastrophic diseases. Of course we had chicken pox and measles as kids and survived fine. But I also know someone who has a deaf child because she caught measles in her 1st trimester. I am not totally up to date with the current debate, but it was a debate when I was having my babies vaccinated, and as I questioned and inquired, became convinced medically that the small risk is worth the bigger victory over the epidemics returning. And I didn’t conform to a lot of the “wisdom” of the time :), but that one has me a believer.

  5. Susan

    I always went along with the “schedule” because it was the norm when my children were growing up. As a mom, I want to protect them from harm, so I see vaccinations as just one more piece of protection. None of mine ever had any adverse reactions. There are too many stories of diseases that have been “eradicated” in some areas spreading in others because of the lack of a simple vaccine. My actions affect not only my family but the population as a whole. I had both kinds of measles plus chickenpox as a child, pre-vaccines, and they were no fun!

  6. Bec, Kip & Cam

    You and I have had discussions about this and though I am in the medical profession myself, I feel that you should follow what you believe to be best for Jameson when it comes to medicine and vaccianations. We have choosen to vaccinate Camryn and will likely do the same for future children. However, we did choose to hold off on certain ones until she was 2…. the most important one for me being the MMR. When I was in grad school, I did a lot of reading about the studies conducted with the link to MMR and Autism. Though there is no conclusive evidence that there is a link, there is also not conclusive evidence to the contrary. In pediatrics, I have seen many Autistic children whose parents truly believe the vaccines, particularly MMR, contributed to the diagnosis. However, many also have said that the child had adverse reactions to other vaccines prior to this one and perhaps had something else going on at the time of the MMR. Needless to say, however, I still believe that these vaccinations save lives and at the very least, prevent our children from suffering needlessly. If you can find a physician who is willing to order them for you, many of the “super shots”, such as MMR, can be broken up. Thus, giving one of the three every few months. Of course, this would make more trips to the pediatrician’s office, but it can be done. Lastly, I do feel that since Jameson will be home schooled, he is at an advantage for choosing not to vaccinate. He will not as frequently come into contact with children carrying these disases. Since Cam will go to school- public of private- we feel that her body will be better physically prepared to ward off these and other diseases and also keep those around her safe from them as well. Good luck in making your decision. It is not one in parenting that we have taken lightly!

  7. brietta

    Well, you already know that I take a delayed course of action with vaccines and avoid some altogether (many just by delaying, since there are several vaccines that simply aren’t given to children over the age of 1). But in case I’ve never taken the time to specifically mention “our” schedule:

    1. all vaccines are declined for the first 2 years (see Katie’s comment regarding age 2 because that basically sums up the decision to begin then)

    2. DTaP & polio are begun at age 2.

    3. Gabriel will probably get MMR soon. By age 5, I feel confident that my children are beyond the autism concerns. And I do want them to get this vaccine before they reach adolescence since the concerns with many of these illnesses are largely for post-adolescent young people/adults.

    4. I don’t plan on my children ever getting the chicken pox vaccine. One reason I could see for getting this is, say, Bronwyn getting married and not wanting the possibility of being pregnant and getting chicken pox (this assumes she hasn’t gotten them, which is an increasing possibility with so many other children getting chicken pox vaccines). Of course, by then she’ll be making the decisions for herself! :)

    5. Hep B won’t be given until/unless overseas missions work comes into play.

    That’s my brief summary. Let me know if you have any particular questions!

    (Good blogging question! I’m enjoying reading!)

  8. Jackie

    I’m loving reading these responses!! We’ve just always done the normal schedule because I didn’t know any better. With Alyssa I had to do more research because some vaccines are created in an egg base. So the shot would send her into anaphylactic shock. Hmm.. no. And we won’t do the chicken pox shot again after Lael had a terribly high fever as a side effect.

    I knew nothing about the age 2 brain development facts and autism. I guess in the future we’ll see what happens.

  9. Angela

    I cringe every time I get my children vaccinated. I worry, “Are they going to get autism? Are they getting immunizations that were cultured in aborted fetal tissues? Will my child get shingles anyway with the chicken-pox vaccine?” I hate it. So you may ask why I still get them immunized?

    It’s kind of a cross between Act of Faith, Ignorance, and My-Brain-Just-Can’t-Handle-Another-Against-The-Flow-Approach! I got some of “the books” that were outdated and biased. So much so that my husband wouldn’t even read them with me. (for example, the autism debate and thermisol isn’t even an issue where we get immz because they no longer use thermisol in any of their shots).

    Cassie and Seth were immunized out of necessity so that I could place them in hourly care while I was a “single mom with no family or friends in a foreign country.” Grace screamed after her 2mos (first round) shots so we waited to resume her schedule until after she was a year old (no reactions from then on).

    I found that when I started saying “no” and tayloring my own schedule or refusing altogether it got confusing and laborious for me. Having four little children on two different shot plans (they keep coming out with new combinations of shots and schedules, etc) I just couldn’t keep up anymore. I’d go in there ready to refuse the Hep B only to find out that it’s combined with two vaccines that I feel are beneficial. I never knew what they needed and what they didn’t need, when or when not, and… ultimately WHY! I don’t have the brain space to sit down and study this huge thing out (I guess I used up all my available brain cells researching safe childbirth practices and fighting the hospitals on that). I figure if I’m going to go against the flow and recommendations of “professionals” on the issue I might as well have a pretty good foundation for my reasons. The fact is, I don’t. So I can’t expect to put up a fight in my ignorance.

    So that’s why I go along like I do. I’m uncomfortable with it, but that’s where I’m at.

    On a side note I do remember the time I refused a vaccine. Seth needed five shots but was only allowed four. I replied, “Oh, that’s easy. We’ll just not give him this one!” So I scratched off one of the Hep’s and the male nurse said, “You can’t do that.”
    “Why not?”
    “Because he has to have that shot.”
    “No he doesn’t.”
    “Yes he does. He HAS to have that shot.”
    “No (more firmly), he doesn’t.”
    “It is required by law that all children get that shot.”
    “Look, he doesn’t have to get ANY shots today. Understand me?”

    He walked away and I felt bad. But it had to be said. And he didn’t get that shot. ;-)

  10. Carole

    Hi Danica. You know how to heat up the comments section! Vaccination – what a tough decision to make – for your firstborn, especially!

    We struggled to know what to do with Ian, and basically came to the same conclusion as you – delay vaccination. He is almost 6 and still remains vaccine free. With each subsequent child it’s been easier to make the decision – our kids are very healthy, rarely go to the doctor, breastfeed for 18 months plus, etc., so the doctors now see that the risk of our kids getting measles, for instance, is extremely low. I actually remember my pediatrician saying to me at Ian’s two year old check up, “He doesn’t really need any of the vaccines now anyhow – those diseases are really only dangerous to infants.” Well then! (Our pediatrician is not anti-vaccine – he’s just flexible with us and respects our decision as parents. We did have to switch doctors because of this – our first doctor was extremely uncomfortable with the decision to delay vaccinations and would preach “hellfire and brimstone” at us every time we went in for a well baby visit.)

    Way back when we were trying to decide what to do about Ian, I remember reading through a book by Aviva Jill Romm, “Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide.” Honestly, I feel I need to borrow that book from the library again because this is not a decision that’s made without periodic reevaluation. I am open to a select few vaccines – I think – but the difficulty is in finding out how and when to administer single vaccines in an older child. My doctor doesn’t know how. I’m not interested in him guessing as to which dosages are appropriate for a 6 year old. And so we continue to wait.

    As far as putting others at risk by not being vaccinated? I believe that’s a myth that is perpetuated by fear and unwillingness to make lifestyle changes. I also think that exposure to germs is important for a healthy immune system to develop. We have a warped idea of what constitutes “healthy” here in America. We’ll do all we can to avoid getting the chicken pox, so instead of dealing with a couple of weeks worth of illness, we inject our children with toxins, aborted fetuses and aluminum and then hope for the best! What are our kids going to do when they’re adults and they’ve forgotten to keep up with their chicken pox booster shots and they contract shingles? This is frustrating to me because I actually want my kids to get chicken pox and for their immune systems to tackle it and move on.

    Also, as a strong proponent of breastfeeding – exclusive breastfeeding for the first 8 months or so – I trust in the goodness of the milk which provides amazing nutrients and even confers immunity to the baby. (Well, really, I trust in the goodness of our Maker whose design is incredible, don’t you think?)

    So – you can see this brings out strong feelings from me. Feed Jamison good food. Keep up the nursing (if you still are……). Read informative books. Get adjusted regularly by a chiropractor. If need be, switch physicians. And reevaluate from time to time. That’s my perspective. :)

    Oh – and by the way, I think that oatmeal cookie recipe is the only baking recipe I have that uses honey. I am terrible about sugar! (In other words, I love sugar) (okay – so I think I should take some of my own advice from up above as far as eating healthy!) If you have any healthy snacky recipes please do share!

  11. Katie

    A side note to Brietta – many doctors are now carrying MMRV which is the MMR vaccine with the Varicella (Chicken Pox) vaccine incorporated. When Giovanna got her MMR they neglected to tell me until AFTERWARDS it contained Varicella. Talk about one angry, hormonal, pregnant Mamma…. :-D

    For those who are following a delay or refuse certain vaccine schedule – how do you feel about the decline in chicken pox and children being able to catch it? Actually, I know chicken pox were on the decline anyway before the vaccine.. but, needless to say it makes catching in naturally before they become teenagers more difficult. I’m debating with the idea of giving it at age 10 if they have not yet caught it naturally. My only issue with this is that there is no proof of long term efficacy and thus my giving a vaccine to prevent age related side effects may only prove to make that a certainty (ie, they find out the vaccine wears off when my daughter is 25 and pregnant)

  12. Lynsay

    We are “on schedule” with both kids and just do what they tell us…I have heard that they don’t vaccinate with a live virus..but I haven’t done any research…on any part of this subject….

    My mom’s philosophy is “It’s better them get vaccinated than get the disease”…and I was vaccinated and am okay, as well as Trevor.

    But reading all the other comments…I am curious to know what the statisics are on children with Autism…and if I should be worried…???

    Maybe I’ll just stick with the schedule we are on and trust God that His will be done…

  13. Danica

    Lynsay — although there are question marks about autism and vaccinations (specifically MMR), certainly don’t worry! I think that with all of this, it comes down to trusting God — whether it be to keep our children from disease, or keep them from bad reactions to vaccinations.

    It is, however, something worth at least thinking about. While the theories go around and around, with “proof” on both sides, it’s becoming more of a questioned practice, and I think it’s worth asking why.

    So I’m enjoying reading all of these comments — thanks, everyone!!

  14. LisaCriscitello

    Dearest Danica,
    I know you don’t particularly like the phone.
    Is it possible that you could get over it for a half hour some night after J. is in bed?
    I really, really want to talk to you about this!
    I promise I’ll have mercy on you and not torture you for hours on end with my valid points and research findings, but if I happen to break my promise maybe you could just cut me off.

  15. Lori

    I think I was basically in the same boat as Angela. We have gotten (I think) all of the normal vaccines (except chicken pox and I think one other “new” one….I get confused), but I really think if I had known to do ample research ahead of time, I may not have. In general, though, I feel like there isn’t really much harm in vaccines, since Tim and I and all of my siblings had the usual immunizations growing up, without any negative side-effects. I had actually never heard of aborted fetal tissue being used in vaccines…that really disturbs me and I think I will have to research that some, but I have also heard that themerisol (sp?) is no longer used in vaccines, which is why I haven’t been concerned about autism. And, I think the chicken pox vaccine is much too recent (only around since 1995) to really trust it, and I am a bit confused as to how they can say it prevents shingles, too, when shingles is a later-in-life sort of disease. Still, if my kids don’t contract chicken pox, I might consider the vaccine when they are teenagers, but then I suppose they could have a say in it, too. All that to say that I think it is a very confusing issue, but that no matter what, God is still omnipotent, so I try not to worry about it too much.

  16. Judy T.

    You may want to consider the chicken pox vaccine. Mike got the chicken pox in his late thirties (you may remeber) and it was awful. He was sooooo sick! It is amazing that he never got the virus as a child/teenager. I think the chance of getting the virus later in life is much higher now due to the vaccine and I would not want any of my boys to go through what Mike went thtough-especially after seeing it firsthand.


  17. Judy T.

    The boys love showing off the pictures of their dad with the chicken pox. Next time you visit be sure to ask them about it…they will be thrilled to show you! What my family does for entertainment!!!

  18. Katie

    I’m keeping up with the comments here, as this is a very strong interest of mine…

    to Lisa : You won’t share your research with the rest of our inquiring minds???? ;-D

  19. Abby


    So, we have done some different things. First of all, I think that vaccinations are a good thing. When I look at things that I have seen first hand as a nurse, I realize why they were created. I believe that overall the risk of the vaccine is less than the risk of them getting the disease and having serious side effects.

    With the older two children I did a delayed schedule. I basically talked to Dr. Dewar about what he saw as the most threatening here in our area and for my children. My plan has always been to vaccinate, just at a slower pace than most people. I have waited until 2 years for MMR. I’ve really debated over it at that point too.

    With the plan to move to a border town, I have felt that the vaccines are even more important. Because of that, we chose to follow the normal pattern with Riley. The older two are all caught up except for hep A & B and varicella. I plan to get the heps soon, but I need to get those scheduled. I think that I might need to wait now until after we move because of the timing.

    Anyway, I am fully convinced that the Lord can keep our kids safe with or without vaccines. Pray, agree with your husband and trust the Lord!


  20. Sarah

    We decided to wait on all vaccines till our kids are school-age, and reconsider then. So far, all is well. Our oldest will be 5 this summer, and we’ll probably start his shots next summer. (Even though we haven’t decided if we’re homeschooling yet or not!) As far a chicken pox goes, I had it as a kid, but due to all the kids getting the shot now, it isn’t around much. And I’d rather them have the shot (maybe at 10 or so) than get it (or shingles) as an adult!

    My parents are very strong anti-vaccinaters, even to the point of not having my sister, who is 16 and traveling to Ethiopia getting any at all. None of us kids have had any shots our entire lives. I am somewhere in the middle, as you can see. My husband was a cop for years, and got the hep shots as adult to protect against catching it from his many “clients” who had it full-blown. So… yeah, that’s my 2 cents. :)

  21. Margaret

    Hi Danica, I found you from a friend of mine and wanted to comment (with all the others) about immunizations. My children are adults now but have all decided that they are NOT going to get their children immunized. I totally support them. My one child has been overseas twice to study abroad and did not get any extra immunizations. When she attended a private college, she just had to sign a form because she hadn’t had the 2nd round (as a teenager) of Hepatitis shots. If I had to do it all over again, I would not have them immunized. I remember WELL how hard the MMR shot was on her as an 18 month old (I understand they do it later now). She was not herself for 2 weeks!! We have friends, whose father is a doctor, and all 3 children (now adults) were not immunized and are fine! I don’t want to scare you (and everyone can tell you stories) but I know first hand a young boy around age 2 who was very sick (fever, seizures) who kept being taken back and forth by his parents to the hospital. They could not figure out what was wrong with him until he could no longer walk, talk, or eat on his own. He, unfortunately, has never recovered. The doctors, surprizingly, said that they think it was from his recent immunization. My suggestion and advice… don’t get them! My daughter researched them extensively and found that there are NO cases of autism in the Amish! They don’t get immunized! I have also learned that we don’t have to worry about these “diseases” here in the U.S. like we used to especially with the security of foreigners coming into the country these days, we are not having “epidemics” that we need to fear. Trust the Lord with your little one(s) and leave it with Him. God bless you and guide you as you continue to come to a decision in all of this.

  22. Jackie

    Well I have to tell you that all these comments have pushed me to do more research. Lauren will not be getting the MMR at her one year check-up next month. Alyssa never received it because it is one of the shots made in an egg base. And any other children we have will be on a delayed shot schedule.

    Thanks Danica! This was great information. :-)

  23. Wendy

    Good for you to research this issue for yourself! The difficulty I found was in finding *balanced* resources. One side says “your child will DIE if you DON’T vaccinate!” and the other says “your child will DIE if you DO vaccinate!”. My oldest is 7yo so it’s been a few years since I’ve done most of my reading about vax and there may be newer books out there, but the one I found to be the most balanced is What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave

    She explains each disease and vaccine in detail. In the back she provides a delayed vax schedule for parents who decide to vax.

  24. Stacie

    Oooohhh… I’ve been missing all the fun!

    Well, so far, we haven’t had any vaccinations here… However, we probably will go ahead with some in the next few years. (We may have already done a select few with Joel, except that he seems to react to almost everything with a very high fever and we’re going to wait until his little body is a little bigger. ;)

    I was actually much more open to vaccinating before Mariah’s trip to the hospital last year with bronchiolitis. While were there the attending Doc suggested that we catch her up on ALL of her vaccinations at one time before she left the hospital (!!!) Red flags were going up everywhere. I mean they had just told me that she shouldn’t be exposed to cigarette smoke because she was not well yet and at great risk for respiratory distress! (Half the vaccines suggested listed respiratory distress as a possible side effect!)

    I asked her, in the case that Mariah had a reaction to one of the vaccines, how would they know which one it was in order to treat her and my question was returned with a blank stare and then finally “I don’t know.”

    SO, the Dr. printed out an exemption form for me to sign and it was about 4 pages long, but I read every word and I was just blown away! To this day, I still think she must have printed the wrong sheet by error… With all the convincing she trying to do there’s no way she read that material before handing it to me. It was full of statements like “I understand that in order to prevent possible side effects, this vaccine has been diluted so that it is now rendered clinically ineffective.”

    If I find it, perhaps I can remember to send it to you? (Fat chance, I know…) I have wanted to bring the form to my pediatricians office to get some insight into the info because some of the included stats were shocking to me as far as side effects, adverse reactions, etc… )

    That said, we hope our children will bring the gospel to other nations and so some vaccinations will be necessary, and yes, perhaps in some cases, the benefits do outweigh the risks. (Joe and I had already come to a similar conclusion as Daniel and Brietta in reference to the chickenpox vaccine in relation to daughters…)

    Ok, lots more to say here, but I’ll give you a break! ;)

  25. Mary

    Hi, Danica! I don’t have a lot of time but I’m not a fan of vaccines. I grew up, so used to getting all of the regular vaccines plus going to my allergist once a week, to get 2 shots, for years, that I didn’t know any different, when I had Wes. I knew that some people got some vaccines for their kids, while others didn’t and I asked around but it seemed like most people didn’t know why they vaccinated or didn’t vaccinate for all or some diseases.
    Sign up (it’s free and they don’t sell your info. or spam you) at and their is a plethora of information on there about pretty much any health question, that you could have.
    I talked to our kiddos’ pediatrician, Friday, at Wes’ appointment about stopping the immunizations with a couple exceptions (one being the anti-polio vaccine) and he was so kind and understanding. He was actually impressed with all of the research I had done and totally backed me up, on my decision! What a blessing! (I seriously think that he’s the best pediatrician ever!
    You know you can always drop me an e-mail if you have any questions or would like to chat. :)


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