The Rhetoric of Propaganda: Vaccines and Apple Maggots

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Thinking about writing this post has kept me up at night. That happens any time I’m about to jump into a controversial issue. In my college comp course, I warn students away from controversial topics because they aren’t ready to tackle them; their rhetorical skills aren’t advanced enough yet. Heck, I’m not sure my own skills are, which is half the reason I also avoid confrontational subjects . . . until they start to keep me up at night. That’s when I know that it’s time to say something, even if saying something scares the crap out of me.

Plus this site is called “All About the Words,” and that’s what rhetoric is. Rhetoric is all about the words and how they can be used to persuade.

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Getting to the Issue

This fall, every time I go to the community college to teach my class, I pass a small poster that says this:

Your flu vaccine protects me.
My flu vaccine protects you.

At the beginning of the semester, it had the effect of a reminder. I would think to myself as I passed it, “Oh yeah. Need to check on when the pediatrician is offering the walk-in clinics. Need to get our flu shots.”

Now I think to myself, “Stupid propaganda. I can’t believe I bought into that for so long.”

Eek. There. I said it. Now you know what side I’m on, which possibly ruins all the rest of my rhetoric. As I tell my students, the trouble with controversial subjects is that most people have already made up their minds and refuse to change them, so the only audience you’re going to get — the only readers who will stick with you through the end — are the ones who agree with you. You end up preaching to the choir because the rest of the congregation fled the second you admitted you were on the “wrong” side of the controversy.

So in a way I can breathe easier now. The only people reading this paragraph are the ones who haven’t been scared away!

A few months ago I gave my intermediate class an article from Parents magazine about vaccines. As I would have suggested back then, the article waited until the very end to spill the news that they were pro-vaccine. At the time, so was I, and I applauded their arguments and used the article to show my class an effective piece of rhetoric.

Since then my life has been turned upside down.

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How Having a Baby Can Shake Your Worldview

It started with a baby — our third. With my first two labors, I’d broken down into tears at 5cm dilated, at which point I got an epidural with the first. With the second, I tried to tough it out, which involved massive amounts of screaming, both scaring and scarring my poor husband, until I got an epidural at 8cm. Needless to say, with this third pregnancy, I knew that I needed help. So we hired a doula — a birthing coach. And the first thing she did was come to our house with an enormous stack of handouts for us to read.

I read and read and read. I couldn’t get enough. I was amazed that even though we’d taken the hospital class with our first baby and even though I’d been through delivery twice, there was so much I didn’t know. Things like how laughter speeds up labor, relaxing speeds up labor, being immersed in water speeds up labor — and all of those things also reduce the pain without the side effects of drugs. Why had no one told me with my other babies?

Anyhow, I started to get excited for labor. I wanted to test out my new knowledge! And believe me, being anxious for labor to start was totally out of character for me. I’m happy to go overdue with my babies. I’m happy to be pregnant as long as my body wants to. Because babies are hard work! So for me to be excited for labor says a lot about how much I loved what I had learned.

Okay, I’m taking too long with all this. The point is, once I went into labor, no one believed me. I hardly believed me. Our doula didn’t believe me. I was too calm. It was too easy. Labor shouldn’t be so easy. I shouldn’t have been joking around. And yet when we got to the hospital I was 8cm dilated. I laughed and said, “Are you kidding me?”

Knowledge really is power!

That was what started to shake our worldview. A month or so after the baby was born, Hubby and I had a conversation about the wool being pulled over our eyes. Everyone says that birth is the most painful thing ever and you shouldn’t even try to do it without the epidural, but we’d learned that the whole experience was so much better without medical intervention. Conventional wisdom had lied to us. And we started to wonder what other interventions weren’t so good — what other things were considered normal when really the “fringe” view was better . . . if you had the right knowledge to go with it.

Think how fringe we once considered environmentally conscience people. I remember being teased in fifth grade (early ’90s) because I had a book called 50 Ways to Save the Earth. Now it’s trendy to be earth conscience.

Think how decades ago baby formula was promoted as healthier than breast milk because science had engineered it to be optimally nutritious. Now we’ve gotten smart and admitted that Mother Nature is smarter than science.

Think of fad diets — always the latest, best nutritional plan! — that later prove to be unhealthy.

If conventional wisdom can be that fickle, can we really trust it?

With that new mindset, my thirst for better knowledge has been unquenchable again, like it was with the childbirth info. I read and read and read about how herbal medicine works with the body while drugs work against it (herbal remedies cure swine flu three times as fast as the drug for it); how the best way to avoid getting sick is to avoid refined sugars and toxins (like, say, the toxins in the vaccines) and instead focus on getting enough vitamins and minerals and sleep and exercise (duh); how actual immunity is achieved by getting diseases like the chicken pox, whereas vaccines wear off, leaving adults susceptible to diseases that were meant to be handled by children. (Think how much energy kids have. No wonder childhood diseases hit adults so much harder.)

And now I see the rhetoric of conventional wisdom in a new light. Think of when the swine flu hit. There was panic. Government doesn’t like panic; government likes to be the hero. I don’t blame it. It’s a perfectly rational response. And we’ve been conditioned to believe that vaccines will save us, so of course the government works as hard and as fast as it can to give us those vaccines and to promote them by playing on our fears:

Your flu vaccine protects me.
My flu vaccine protects you.

The textbook I use in my comp course calls “Appeal to Fear” a logical fallacy — in other words, bad/dishonest rhetoric. It says, “One type of logical fallacy makes an appeal to readers’ irrational fears and prejudices, preventing them from dealing squarely with a given issue and often confusing cause and effect” (Green and Lidinsky 188).

Um . . . exactly.

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The Parable of the Apple Maggots

the organic solution: an apple maggot trap!

The final piece in the vaccine puzzle for me was when an experience I had with our apple trees came to mind a few weeks ago. I had bought “fruit spray” for the trees (notice they don’t call it “pesticide” at the store — more rhetoric) because conventional wisdom said that you have to spray the trees in order to protect the fruit. But then I changed my mind and figured I would “go organic” and simply not spray. I would let those apples grow the way nature intended!

Well, within a few weeks, my beautiful budding apples were decimated by apple maggots. In desperation, I sprayed them all . . . but it was too late.

What I realized was that (a) going organic doesn’t mean doing nothing — it means actually working harder sometimes instead of going with the easy conventional method, and (b) we run to the conventional method because we’re desperate.

We run to vaccines because we don’t know how else to protect our kids from apple maggots, basically. And the propaganda reinforces that by reassuring us we’re doing the right thing. We’re protecting not only our own kids but other people’s kids, too. Until you start to read up on how pesticides on your apples equals more toxins in your body which makes you less healthy, more likely to get sick, and therefore not at all protected. (Sort of like vaccines . . .)

Propaganda plays on the fears of the uninformed. That’s why when I pass that poster at the community college I scold myself for being duped for so long. I should have known better. After all, rhetoric is what I teach!

And I teach it a little differently now, too. Our textbook tells students you can trust that .edu and .gov websites are unbiased. I tell them to scratch that out and remember that every website has a bias; they just have to recognize what that bias is. It’s the nature of rhetoric.

(When I called my doctor’s office and the nurse, worried that I’ve been duped about vaccines, told me to be sure and read the CDC’s website for unbiased information, I laughed.)

Sometimes I let myself get all dreamy and picture a perfect world where the government would promote herbs and vitamins and tell everyone,

“It’s your job to protect yourself from disease
by eating healthy, getting exercise and sleep,
and knowing what herbs to use to help your body combat illness.”

But that’s not exactly the easy fix, is it? The easy fix is to run for the pesticide and spray the crap out of those apple maggots — and right into our food, and thus into our bodies. And unfortunately easy fixes are also easier rhetoric.

It’s just too bad that I’m probably preaching only to the choir.

If you made it this far, please leave a comment. Please tell me what you think. This coming Tuesday I’m taking my baby to the doctor and will have to defend why I’m not going to let them inject one single thing into his body, so I need all the practice I can get at responding to whatever objections come my way.

UPDATE 11/13/10: After all the comments and emails I’ve gotten on this post in the last week, I realized I need to qualify my claim a little better. I am not claiming that vaccines don’t work; I’m claiming they’re like pesticides: yes, they are one way to keep the “bugs” away, but do you really want those toxins in your body if there’s an organic option? It’s like buying “conventionally grown” produce at the grocery store — if you’re okay with it, go for it. But I don’t think you should be persuaded to eat pesticides or get vaccines because of fear-inducing rhetoric. That’s all. Let’s let everyone make an educated choice.

Leave a comment!

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UPDATE: I realized I should also post a link to my doula’s blog, which has a great series of posts about vaccines that first started to convince me I didn’t know the whole truth.

  • Greene, Stuart and April Lidinsky. From Inquiry to Academic Writing: A Text and Reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.
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46 responses »

  1. Right on, I never get flu vaccines because I also don’t believe in them but, I don’t know about refusing all vaccines. I always go with the adage everything in moderation, though I’d be lying if I said I always abide by it as strictly as I should.
    By the way, thanks again for the help with my interview paper, I got 15/15 and I feel like you did more work on it than I did.

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    • I hear you about moderation. My adage is that life is about balance. But with this vaccine issue, my opinion would change with every new thing I read. At first I thought, “Well, maybe I’ll just postpone the shots since other countries don’t do any until 3mos old.” Then I thought, “Well, I’ll pick and choose and only get the baby vaccinated for the worst diseases.” But as I read all the research, I kept a chart of the consequences, herbal prevention, and herbal treatment of each disease, and by the time I finished the chart it turned out I don’t think he needs any vaccines. But I definitely think every parent should do all the research for themselves.

      Glad the interview worked out! They were good questions and fun to answer. 😀

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  2. I hate flu shots. They make me roarin’ sick. But then, so does the picture of that maggot apple. O_o

    (Btw—didn’t comment on it but I loved the Pollyanna post! I haven’t seen that movie in ages but I love it.)

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    • I almost chose a much worse picture and then decided the trap was less disgusting. In real life, all I could see at first were the little piles of apple debris covering the holes, but then one day I saw an actual little grubby thing and freaked out. They are definitely gross.

      And I learned that the reason the vaccines can make you sick is that they bypass all the body’s defenses. Diseases are supposed to enter through your nose, mouth, skin, etc, so that your immune system can set off the alarm and start fighting them BEFORE they get to your bloodstream. (Hello!)

      Glad you liked the Pollyanna post! I love all your posts about Mary Poppins, too. 😀

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  3. POINT ONE:
    I appreciate how well-thought out your posts are. I am a purge-blogger so just about all of my posts are random ramblings.

    POINT TWO:
    I am the choir. I apologize. I almost wish I was against everything you had said just so you could have that. But I am not.

    I have kind of always have an issue with authority and the mentally of “because I said so” as an explanation. My poor father. He is from the class of you do what your parent says because they are your parent. To be honest, most of the “Why’s?” I asked weren’t because I thought he was wrong but because I wanted to understand for myself. I good word to describe me would be curious.

    So, in my life, my dad is the only authority that I have ever really recognized. And even then, obviously, I wasn’t great at being a good little soldier. So teachers and other adults and government… eh. But I didn’t really feel the need to research why a burger was bad for me because it tasted good. I was well aware that ignorance was bliss and I was more than happy to indulge in both.

    Then one of my very best friends started to get sick when she ate meat. She was a hardcore carnivore so I knew there was something wrong. Over the years she started to study the whole eating meat issue and, the more she learned, the more she shared. My interested started as friendly but distant and then increased as she lost weight and became a more energetic person. Not in a rock star, over night way but still.

    But I was never going to give up meat. I hated vegetarian meals. Gross.

    Until I had dinner at her and her husband’s house (this is a friend I have known since I was 8, by the way). And the meals were amazing. So flavorful. I was impressed. So Rachel gave me a book to read.

    It was Diet for a New America by Michael Robbins (I think).

    Sorry, there is a point… it was amazing. I learned so much about food lobbiests in Washington and how to pay attention at the end of egg, cow and dairy ads to look at who had sponsered the commericial. I couldn’t believe that so many laws were passed based on which groups donated the most moeny to the politicians in charge of deciding. I couldn’t believe the conditions that animlas were kept in. I will be honest with you. I feel no guilt about eating an animal. I do feel guilt about that animal not being able to live the life it should be able to because I want to pay less money for it when I go to the grocery store. You don’t have to feel bad about that, that is up to you, this is just one of my issues. Plus, like you mentioned with vaccines, the crap that they pump into those poor animals and the way in which they are killed leaving their bodies flooded with adrenaline. We eat fear and anxiety, which sounds hippie-dippy but adrenaline is a chemical that is left in the muscle tissue.

    I now realize how naive all of this was of me and how the information was really right there for me to find.

    I actually have a good friend (Rachel’s older sister actually) that went through a simialr experience as you with her kids. It was her fourth where she went the complete opposite route of all the medications and such and she said so much of what you did. How the pain she did feel was actually a helpful and important part of labor because it allowed her to guide her body to where it needed to be and where it was most comfortable.

    Avoidance is too common in our world. Pain is there to tell you something is wrong. Covering it up doesn’t eliminate the underlying issue. Not letting your children’s bodies learn to deal with the smaller ills of life leaves them wide open to falling victim to worse sickness later.

    In not short at all, I agree with you. And I am not spell or grammar checking this, I don’t care how many points you deduct from my final grade.

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    • Jen, thanks for all this. I love your long comments and the stories you tell in them. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way. Like you said about not asking “why” to question authority but just to better understand things, I think that’s what we’re supposed to do. I don’t think we’re meant to follow anyone or anything blindly. I’m learning that the hard way, feeling guilty that I didn’t do this research with our older two kids, guilty that I didn’t start feeding our family better eight years ago, etc. But as long as we keep learning and keep improving, I guess that’s what counts! Today I’m going in with three other families to buy grass-fed, free-range beef, and I’m so excited. Now that I understand what’s up, I’m excited to do the farmer’s market next summer and all of that. Slowly but surely I’m going to eliminate the crappy stuff from our diets. 😀

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  4. The most important thing to do when you go to the doctor is prepare before hand so they don’t catch you off guard. They may make it sound like it, but you really don’t have to vaccinate and your not a bad parent for doing so. When I was a baby I got a very bad reaction to the MMR vaccine. My mom took me back to the doctor and he surprising told my mom to not let me have any more vaccines. I am very grateful for that doctor and for my mother’s courage. (Or I could have serious problems.) Did you know that polio was eradicated before the vaccine came out? And since then the only cases of polio have been caused by the vaccine (changing dirty diapers.) Bet they’d never tell you that. This reminds me of the allegory of the cave – now how do we get the rest of the people off the wall? Anyways, I have spent countless hours researching vaccines as the subject is very personal. I feel like I’m rambling, but I have tons of information. If you’d like more we can discuss more. Anyways, I would be interested in hearing what happens at the doctors. Sometimes those things can get very ugly. Thanks.

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    • I learned those things in my research, too. Polio and other diseases started to go away as living conditions improved and we learned about which vitamins helped to prevent and ward off disease. Vaccines came later.

      And I’m so glad your mom had a good doctor. In the hospital when this baby was born we said no to a vaccine for the first time as parents: the Hep B vaccine. We didn’t know why at the time (before I researched), but it didn’t feel right to give a newborn a vaccine, so we postponed it. Then at his 2-wk check the doctor said, “Good. I’m glad you didn’t. Really it’s only necessary if the mother has Hep B, but the gov’t does every baby just in case.” That was when I first started to realize that I needed to know about the vaccines ahead of time and assess the pros and cons for myself.

      Over the weekend I also decided that I’m not taking him to the doctor. It’s not worth the co-pay or the fight over vaccines just to have him tell me what I already know: my little guy is plenty healthy and looks great. From now on I’m going to rely on my own research and intuition more and go to the doctor when I feel like the doctor is the person we need to see (or a chiropractor, or a therapist, or whoever the right professional is for the ailment).

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      • So now that you realize that there is two sides to everything there are many other areas of your life that can now be improved. The next area I would go is to foods. It’s amazing what is going on with food and how it is making people sick. There is a good video and I pasted the link below. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it, but when he talks about food he gives a good overview of what is going on. You’ll have to separate fact from his opinion, but its pretty good. There are a lot of things you can do to combat this, but even “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean organic anymore. There is so much people don’t know and just go along with. Fluoride is another example. Anyways enjoy.

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        • It posted weird, but there are two parts – the first one is the link and the second is the video.

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        • Thanks! It is funny how once you recognize it with one thing (like we did with childbirth), the whole world gets turned upside down all at once. I didn’t mention it in the post, but food is definitely one of the many changes we’ve been making. 🙂

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        • Afterthought: I think its really important to share these things with other people. So I thank you for opening your mouth. Keep up the good work. I actually wrote a little short story about some of these things. Trying to help some people realize what is going on around them. Anyways, thanks.

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  5. Nikki, I have a very similar story to yours. When I had my youngest I had a sudden desire to learn more about vaccines. I am ashamed to say that I didn’t research them for my first three children. But what I learned with my younges surprised me. A lot. I read books that were pro vaccines and books that were anti. I searched for middle ground, but found that hard to find. But from both sides I learned that my two middle children had reactions that were severe enough to make it so they should never have had another vaccine ever. I had questioned the doctor at the time and he assured me their reactions were normal. Not so. Anyway I digress, the more I learned the more I felt the same way you do—not a drop of that stuff was going into my new baby. And it hasn’t. She has been the most healthy of all my children. When she does get sick, she gets better quicker.

    As far as getting prepped for the doctor tomorrow, be prepared for them to try to make you feel like a bad mother. My doctor tried to get me to sign a form saying I was willingly harming my child. They will probably try to scare you and guilt you. Don’t listen. They always tell me that if there is an epidemic my kids won’t be able to go to school. I look at them and try not to laugh. Why would I send my kids to school if there was an epidemic? Seriously.

    For me, I’ve found quiet approach to work best. I just say, “We’ve decided agaist vaccines, thank you. We’ve researched it and feel good about the decision.” And leave it at that. The main problem is they absolutely believe they are saving lives, and I absoulutely believe they aren’t. Nothing I say will change their minds, and nothing they say will change mine. Good luck and stick to your guns. 🙂

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    • Leisha, thank you, thank you, thank you. You’re right: there’s no way to convince anyone who hasn’t done the research. I wouldn’t have been convinced if I hadn’t done it for myself. And I completely agree about wishing I’d done it for my first two kids. So glad to know that your last one is so much more healthy! That’s the feeling I’ve had, too — that this third kid is going to be in much better shape. He’s the lucky one. Thank you for the pep talk. I think you’re right about the quiet approach. I felt like I needed to do this post, but other than that I’ll just be saying exactly what you said: “We’ve done the research and this is what feels right.”

      This part of your comment is my favorite: “They always tell me that if there is an epidemic my kids won’t be able to go to school. I look at them and try not to laugh. Why would I send my kids to school if there was an epidemic? Seriously.” LOL. Thanks for the great perspective! 😀

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  6. Love your post, I love it every time someone wakes up and smells the rhetoric. That said, you’re probably right about loosing the part of your audience that doesn’t agree with you.
    Here’s my 2 cents. Have you considered the rhetoric involved in well baby check ups? Why take a baby in if they are well?
    Read “How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor” by Robert S. Mendelsohn M.D.
    On the Vaccine controversy, I thought
    “Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives” by Aviva Jill Romm, was one of the best books out there.

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    • Thanks! Yeah, I woke up to that “well-baby” rhetoric over the weekend and cancelled my appt this morning. I feel so much better already! And I love those titles; I’ll have to check those out. 😀

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  7. Well, after my comment, I went back and read the comments and realized you had decided to skip the appointment after all, yeah!
    However, I’d still recommend the book. 🙂

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  8. Nikki, lucky you…you have some great, supportive, educated blog readers! Great post, I love it. I wish everyone would “awaken to our awful state” and do something about it like you have. Ultimately, it’s always easier to do hard things like this. And yes, I kick myself everytime I think of me trying to convince you that you weren’t in labor when you called!

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    • LOL. It was funny because I would wince just to play the part and convince Dave and the nurses I really was in labor. But I’m sure you encounter plenty of false alarms, so I don’t blame you for not believing me over the phone. Thanks for being my doula and getting me through the roughest part, but most of all thanks for literally rocking my world with all your “crazy” information! 😉

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  9. Am I the only one to call “Whoa, hold up!”. There is evidence for both arguments. There’s reasoning that supports both for and against vaccines. I’m not going to get into the particulars, but I wanted to post one fact:

    Vaccines changed the face of medicine. People are healthier, live longer, and avoid many of the diseases that once commonly plagued man.

    So before you go throwing away an entire field of medicine, you should study each vaccine individually. Some don’t have a lot of empirical data behind them, such as Flu Shots, but others, such as Chicken Pox, have a whole boatload of data behind it. My kids won’t ever get Chicken Pox (unless it mutates, heaven-forbid). I’d say I loved getting it and wish my kids could go through that, but… well… the vaccine will prevent it.

    So… before making the decision to completely abstain from vaccines, consider that not all vaccines are the same, and some are proven to work.

    That’s all I wanted to say :).

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    • Thanks, Joel. I like your “Whoa, hold up!” No worries: I’ve already done exactly what you suggest. For a little while I considered doing a modified schedule where I would pick and choose certain vaccines, but I read about every single one and decided none of them are worth it.

      It’s funny that you mention chicken pox because after the research I’ve read I actually want my kids to get chicken pox. I know that I sound like a crazy psycho! But I’m quickly learning that the things I thought were crazy actually make more sense than the norm.

      Thanks for offering a voice for the other side, though. Always good to have a mix of opinions! 😀

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    • The question is: “Is it worth the risk?” There are so many side effects of taking vaccines and health problems that can occur. What’s the risk in getting the chicken pox? Your child’s sick for a week, then you move on. The body was designed for that. Your body wasn’t designed for Formaldehyde, Thimerosal, Monkey Kidney Tissue, MSG, aborted fetal tissue, aluminum, and mercury which are common ingredients in vaccines. While many peoples bodies can handle these things fine, many people’s bodies can’t. So in trying to protect your child you run the risk of actually doing more damage than good. So is it worth the risk to protect from something that is a normal part of life? That’s really your decision and I’m all for people educating themselves and making decisions for themselves. As long as your doing what you feel is right for your children go for it. I feel everyone should be allowed that right. By the way all of my aunt’s children had the chicken pox vaccine and they all got the chicken pox so don’t get you hopes too high 🙂 Anyways, consider both sides reasonably and logically and I’m sure you’ll find a solution that your comfortable with, but don’t make a judgment till you’ve got all the facts in. I’d be interested to hear any faulty logic I have here. Anyways, good luck! 🙂

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      • Thanks for adding this! It helps make me sound less crazy for opting for chicken pox over the vaccine. I completely agree that the risk of chicken pox is nothing compared to the risk of vaccine complications. My only regret is not looking into all of this sooner. I’m hoping that this post will encourage others to do the research, so thanks for suggesting that, too!

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        • We just had the chickenpox here and I was thrilled (O.k., maybe too strong a word).
          This is one vaccine that I object to on moral grounds, so when you throw in the fact that unless your child has a severely compromised immune system it’s no big deal to have the chicken pox, it makes sense to skip out on that immunization.

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  10. I’ve been following this thread, and several of the arguments posted have me somewhat concerned.

    I know that everyone has the right to make their own decisions regarding the vaccination issue, but I’m genuinely trying to understand the logic of this specific argument thread. Granted, chicken pox is not usually a life-threatening illness, but based on the posted logic, exposure also makes you stronger to something like measles or mumps? Those are drastic examples, I know, but I support vaccinations for preventable illnesses. We have the luxury of having them available to us from infancy in the U.S., when so many other place don’t, and those viruses are still affecting children and adults around the world. And as globalization continues, the world is getting smaller so it concerns me that anyone would think they wouldn’t be exposed to something.

    I also worry about the arguments against medicine in general. I truly don’t believe that doctors are out to bully me or make me do something that I’m not inclined to do. I go to them for their professional advice on something that I am not educated in, and then I can evaluate that advice, but I am still going to ask their opinion because they have spent years of their lives studying the human body. I also think that it is important for children to have doctor visits so that their internal and external development, as well as their mental development, can be evaluated. Doctors are looking out for you. It doesn’t mean you cannot get a second opinion, but they are there to help you.

    Again, I understand that everyone must make their own decisions, but I agree with Joel that vaccines work. And for the record, the polio virus was not eradicated in the U.S. before the vaccination came out. The vaccination eradicated polio in the U.S.

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    • Holly, I think I’m going to need to see proof that polio was NOT eradicated before mass inoculation – something not from the CDC, in order to quantify your assertion. And as far as the theory of globalization and risk, you must be subscribing to the germ theory (which is dis proven) and not the cell theory. But vaccinations depend on the germ theory (which was accepted at the time of mass vaccine development) entirely, even though no modern doctor would say they believe in it when presented to him. The herd immunity theory has also been dis proven, but again, that is what vaccination depends on. The vaccine foundation is crumbling quite quickly based, in part, on these two theories being dis proven.

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    • First off neither measles or mumps are serious diseases. Measles has a .3% fatality and rarely someone dies from the mumps. Mumps is only a concern when a male gets it as an adult instead of a child because it can cause sterility, but if you let nature take its course and get it as a child your fine. That’s beside the point. Having a healthy child has more to do with eating right and creating a strong immune system. While I agree with you that most doctors have good intentions the people who push the tests and the vaccines don’t necessarily do. It’s all about making money. Vaccine companies aren’t there to help people, but to make a profit and they do what it takes. Unfortunately in this country they only teach doctors two things. 1 – Medication and 2 – Surgery. And that came from a friend who is currently in nursing school. They never teach diet, vitamins, etc. Why not? There is no money in that. By the way polio was on its way to extinction before the vaccine came out. Between 1980 and 1990 there was on average 8 cases of Polio a year. Almost all of them were caused by the vaccine itself. SO now that polio is gone should we still take the vaccine??? And risk getting polio. It seems to me that you haven’t done any research on the issues. Your just going off of emotion. If everyone is doing it, it must be right? Wrong. I would encourage you to do some research and educate yourself. A good place to start would be a list of ingredients in vaccines. You can see below. http://www.rense.com/general59/vvac.htm
      Did you know they have aborted fetuses in some vaccines? Do you believe that abortion is right?
      Another thing 20 years ago autism rate was 1 in 250,000. 2 years ago it was 1 in 150. Currently it is 1 in less than 100. There have been many studies that show a link between the mercury in vaccines and autism. The amish who don’t vaccinate their children have no autism. Interesting huh? In closing, I’d like to share a sad story with you about someone who’s life was destroyed by vaccines. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4MIm1mB7GM I bet she would have rather had the flu than what she now deals with. Is it really worth the risk? Have you ever talked to someone who’s child has gotten autism from a vaccination? Would you still feel the same if you did that to your child? No one has presented any real information here other than “I feel” or “I think.” Go do the research and get educated then we can have a real conversation about vaccines. And I’m just curious, who do you work for?

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        • One thing I have debated about regarding the issue of mumps is getting the vaccine at a later age, just before puberty because while mumps is still occasionally contracted as you stated if you haven’t had it as a child adulthood than becomes a dangerous time to experience this disease. And I think that a more mature immune system is better able to cope with the toxins in the vaccines than that of a young child.
          That said, I realize that all of the available vaccines vary in their level effectiveness from about 60 to 80 percent.

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        • Actually Cherie, some vaccines, like the chicken pox, is effective only about 40% of the time and others even less (like the seasonal flu vaccine – it all depends on it the scientists guessed right on which strains will circulate that season).

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        • Below is a pretty funny clip. It really reminds me of some of the conversations here. Doctor doesn’t even know what he’s talking about, but he’s a doctor so I guess we should listen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8wseIXsPmw

          My biggest problem is how to get the word out. How do we make family and friends listen? Can anyone shed some light on this? Or do they just have to learn for themselves?

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        • I think just each one teach one. I’ve been teaching a vaccine class since 2000 and before that hosting one since 1998. I’ve seen a definite shift in that time. One from, when people hear you even question vaccines that they react with a ‘you must be a child abuser/crazy person/hippie/idiot’ to ‘there are some legitimate concerns’. Very few people are holding a hard and fast party line with vaccines anymore. Not that there’s been a huge decline in vaccine rates (it fell 4% last year), but the awareness that vaccines aren’t these risk free silver bullets is there, which I think is an important step in collective consciousness. I think when people just start talking intelligently and objectively about vaccines, it’s a great thing, even if no one changes their position on anything at the time.

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        • Lord Rockwell, thanks for that video. I don’t know how I’ve never seen it and I didn’t know that the NVICP was playing a semetantics game with the filed cases. Of course, they did this in the early days with polio, where after the polio vax was introduced, all of the sudden the definition of polio changed and scores of people were suddenly being diagnosed with meningitis instead, which is how they pulled a lot of numbers out and labeled the vaccine a success. The NVICP is a criminal organization, imo – how are you suppossed to get a fair trial when you are forced to use lawyers hired by the very organization you are suing and there is no jury? And now it comes out that they will award people who claim brain damage but NOT autism? It’s all a PR marketing scam. UGH

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        • That’s really really neat you teach a vaccine class. You seem very knowledgeable and I bet there is a ton I could learn from you. 🙂 Seriously, that’s really cool. I’ve always felt the way I do and am now learning all the details so I can better help others understand too. It’s really hard though. I recently got married and while my wife is somewhat supportive on many of the issues, she just doesn’t quite get it. It’s a totally different thing when all the sudden it’s not a personal choice, but your and your wife’s kids. I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to my kid’s(which I don’t have yet) health. It makes it kinda hard. You should pass that along in your class. Talk about it before you get married – then at least I would have had a warning and realized the challenges that I would face. I guess in the end everyone can choose for themselves and everyone will take the consequences. Anyways, I’ve learned a gripe from the few things you have written. So thanks.

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    • Holly, thanks for being brave and posting this. I know it’s hard to be the dissenting opinion. I’m glad that you’ve had good experience with doctors and haven’t felt bullied into decisions before you had a chance to evaluate them. Unfortunately I have felt bullied, and I’ve had friends bullied into vaccinating their kids, or bullied into unnecessary C-sections, etc. Sure the doctors are doing what they think is best, but it’s made me realize that you have to research for yourself and decide for yourself and seek second opinions, like you said, since not all doctors agree.

      What I’ve decided is that if I need an expert on drugs or surgery, that’s when I’ll go to a doctor because those are their areas of expertise. My husband isn’t going to stop going to his nephrologist (kidney doctor) since in his case, with a kidney transplant, that wouldn’t be wise. But I think we’ve gotten carried away into thinking that doctors know everything about health, and unfortunately they don’t. Who could? We expect them to be medical gods, and that’s just not realistic for anybody.

      Thanks again for adding to the discussion! 😀

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  11. To those who have brought up objections, thank you again for being willing to post here. I’m sorry that those of us on the anti-vaccine side have been a little overzealous in our rebuttals. I like for this to be a place where we can debate issues without offending those who disagree with us.

    I think the bottom line — the common ground we have on both sides — is that we probably agree no one should make this decision out of fear. If you research and feel good about vaccines, then you aren’t vaccinating out of fear, and I applaud that! What I hate to see is when some parents don’t feel good about them or aren’t sure and are pressured into the decision — which could happen from either side, either being pressured against out of fear of autism and other risks or being pressured to get shots out of fear of the diseases.

    What’s fantastic about knowledge is that it eliminates fear. I’m not afraid of vaccines or diseases right now because I understand my options: I know that vaccines are one possible prevention of disease, but I’m choosing alternative prevention measures that I believe are safer. So long as everybody takes the time to look into it and come to their decision through knowledge rather than fear, I think both sides can live together and still be friends. 😀

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  12. Pingback: Undigested Beef? Or an Undigested Idea? The Physical Manifestation of Words « All About the Words

  13. I am one of the non choir members that didn’t leave the post partway through. As with many people, I had a very personal experience with vaccines and I am pro vaccine. My baby @ 6 weeks old contracted Pertussis. It was the worst 3 months of my life where we almost lost him several times and even now at the age of 12 he still has residual effect.
    He was too little for the vaccine and I cried at nights wishing he had been a little older. I know the pain of slapping and pinching my baby trying to get him to breathe. And listening for every breath out of his mouth. I spent countless nights listening to his oxygen monitors go off every few minutes and drs rushing in to save my son.
    I believe that there are hundreds of thousands of articles in defence of both sides. And I believe that everyone needs to make their own choices, but I stand FOR vaccines. I have seen the horrible side of the defenseless.
    The medical field is amazing and wonderful! People that have devoted decades of their life to health. Lives have been saved from something as simple as a well check.
    Yes, be informed – but don’t look at the drs as the Big Bad Boogieman. Find one that will be open to honest communication. Don’t just read articles (it’s the preacher preaching for the choir). Talk to drs you trust. Be informed in both areas.
    I am sorry to put forth such an opposite point of view. I had my world turned upside down and formed my ideas from that. (I will add that I will not be getting the flu shot and neither will my children). We believe in a healthy body fighting things like that.

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    • Stephanie, please don’t apologize for an opposite point of view! I am a teacher and discussion is important for everyone’s learning — mine included. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, which sounds heart-breaking. No one should have to go through that with a baby. I no longer advocate against vaccines altogether because for most people avoiding them completely would leave them as defenseless as your baby and my apples. I did find a doctor who recommends only the important vaccines, like pertussis, measles, etc, and who is okay that I skip all of them so long as I have read about each disease and feel confident in dealing with it. I think the majority of the population would not be confident enough to deal with those diseases, and your experience shows exactly how scary they can be. My recommendation to people now when they find out we don’t vaccinate anymore is that they read about each disease/vaccine, get the ones for the diseases they’re truly worried about, and skip the non-essential vaccines, just like you opt out of the flu vaccines. So really, we’re on the same page! Thanks again for being willing to leave a comment. 🙂

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      • Thanks for the sweet reply. 😉 this same discussion came up on a FB page I belong to for essential oils and I posted a comment similar to this one. It amazed me how closed-minded people can be sometimes. I love that you found such a good Dr! That is awesome! I really think its about making informed choices. I also realized that there’s “propoganda” on both sides of the issue and some people cling to those ideas without thinking it through for themselves. It’s a hot topic and I really do like discussing ideas and thoughts like this. Thanks for the refreshing open-minded discussion. 😉

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        • I’m so glad this has felt like a good discussion. I know how tough it can be to talk about these controversial ideas. Thanks again for being willing to share and willing to see both sides!

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        • Having 5 kids who all got pertussis one right after the other last fall (you can read about my adventures in pertussis here http://www.birthologie.com/parenting/adventures-in-pertussis-whooping-cough-x-5/) I personally understand just how nasty and risky this illness is. Luckily because my husband and I were both naturally immune, we were able to handle it all. I think it’s important to remember that vaccination does not necessarily equal protection, though, and that we still need to be educated in how to reduce symptoms and handle this illness in addition to or in absence of the vaccine.

          One reason why pertussis hasn’t been eradicated via the vaccine that we’ve been giving since the 70’s is because it mutates and outsmarts the vaccines regularly. In fact, the most newly redesigned pertussis vaccine actually played a role in the virility of the most recent outbreaks over the past year (http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/03/21/3460304.htm). And the fact that the illness mutates so quickly and effectively is one reason why the pertussis vaccine is to date the most deadly and ineffective vaccine on the market – they just can’t make it strong enough to be effective enough without injuring the recipient and they don’t have time to do proper safety testing of the vaccine seeing as how they have to change it so often. It’s a catch twenty two.

          One area where I think parents are severely misinformed is the extent to which they can protect themselves in addition to or without the vaccine. A mother who is naturally immune to pertussis (ie contracted the illness naturally herself sometime before pregnancy) adequately protects her baby from severe side effects of pertussis (if not contracted pertussis at all) through breastfeeding exclusively. See article here http://www.examiner.com/article/whooping-cough-vaccine-controversy-intensifies “Our vaccination program seems to have produced generations of mothers whose poor quality vaccine antibodies are unable to protect their babies from whooping cough.
          “They are contracting it and dying of it at less than eight weeks old. Placental antibodies from natural infection should protect children for that vulnerable first year, particularly if combined with breast feeding. Our one to four year olds, without the benefit of ‘natural’ boosting of their immunity from circulating wild disease are catching vaccine modified disease in increasing numbers.” This is one reason I am such a breastfeeding, and extended breastfeeding advocate. And if mother’s milk isn’t an option, to get donated breastmilk from a woman who has had pertussis.

          When one begins to introduce solids, etc, the protection begins to wane. Additionally, boosting our immune systems naturally and cleaning up are diets is key as Nikki pointed out in the article. And being prepared for it when it does come as I detailed in my article. While this illness is horrible and can be fatal to the immunologically weak, I think it’s important to remind ourselves that nature hasn’t left us completely helpless with pertussis. And I think it’s critical to admit that after all these decades of vaccinating against it that if it isn’t eradicated by now, it may never be eradicated and it’s dangerous to run on the assumption that if we vaccinate we are protected. In many respects vaccination has made us more vulnerable, not only clinically but in terms of our expectations and preparations. Despite the media’s portrayal of the unvaccinated being responsible for the outbreaks that cyclically happen every 4 years on nature’s timetable (just like the flu comes around every winter, the chicken pox every spring, and polio ever 50 years), the truth is that vaccination rates haven’t fallen below what the CDC considers the ‘herd immunity’ rate (which is a flawed theory) since mass vaccination was employed in the 50’s and the only thing to attribute outbreaks to is mother nature herself. Medicine has not been able to conquer this disease since the vaccine came out in the 70’s and research indicates that it’s still no where close to trumping it.

          Additionally, on the flip side of anyone’s experiences in being affected adversely by whooping cough, we have to remember the ones that are affected by and are killed by the vaccine itself (which you can see the self admitted, under reported numbers for pertussis vaccine compensations – which are almost exclusively given when a child dies – on the government’s National Injury Compensation Fund’s website). There is no one size fits all to this question, unfortunately. It’s just as devastating to lose a child to pertussis as it is to lose a child to the pertussis vaccine, which statistically happens more often, unfortunately.

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