The measles outbreak, fear mongering, and vaccines

A recent measles outbreak, which started at Disneyland and has infected approximately 70 people, has put “the anti-vaccine movement” on the front pages of every news outlet. The media, always eager to sensationalize, has turned this into a full-blown epidemic and placed the blame on people who do not vaccinate. fear-2 How about these article headlines?

or this quotation from ABC News:

Others have delayed getting their children vaccinated because they still believe now-discredited research linking the measles vaccine to autism. “Some people are just incredibly selfish” by skipping shots, said Dr. James Cherry, a pediatric disease expert at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Like every other mainstream news story I’ve read, the ABC story above oversimplifies, discounts, and discredits parents’ views. Most people I know who do not vaccinate their children have made that choice for myriad reasons–and one of those reasons is usually not that they “still believe” defunct research. (And it bugs me to no end that the media automatically discredit that research without linking to any supporting information. It’s like they believe the research is discredited just because all the other media outlets have said so–so now it’s truth.)

Briefly, here are the reasons we do not vaccinate:

  • Vaccines contain some terrible and toxic ingredients, like human cell lines from aborted infants, formaldehyde, ammonium sulfate, MSG, thimerosal (mercury), and more. Even the CDC website lists these ingredients on its “you don’t have anything to be worried about” page (see that page or the PDF listing all ingredients also on that page). In addition, our bodies don’t know how to process the synthetic ingredients in vaccines, and so those ingredients end up being stored in our “long-term storage centers”–our fat tissue. (source and source)
  • There are lots of side effects. The CDC placates us by saying, “Any vaccine can cause side effects.”
  • Our child who was vaccinated (Nate) has a history of being affected by environmental toxins (like vaccines), and we don’t want to assault his body again.
  • We believe strongly that parents should be able to make the decision about whether to vaccinate their child.

In addition, because two of our kids do not have the MMR vaccine, here are some steps I take to help support our immune systems naturally:

  • We all take a daily dose of high-quality probiotic (good gut flora are very beneficial for immunity!) and cod liver oil
  • I apply essential oils to my kids’ necks, heads, and feet each morning before school.
  • We eat a wholesome, nourishing diet.

Finally, what if we do come in contact with the measles virus and one of the kids contracts it? Well, once symptoms arise (this article spells them out), I would help along a low-grade fever like I always do (email me for the details on how I treat a low-grade fever and the steps I take to prevent ear infection and aid the immune system). Finally, in one of the articles linked below, one researcher found that cinnamon oil made measles cases milder. I have some cinnamon bark essential oil on hand. I don’t imagine getting the measles would be pleasant at all, but at this point I still feel strongly that we do not want to vaccinate, especially with the MMR.

Here are a couple of excellent articles on this topic I’ve read:

– A fantastic article my husband Jon found with extensive research – The Truth About Measles the Mainstream Media is Suppressing

and another source with similar information by the same author: Measles and measles vaccines: fourteen things to consider

– Article written in “regular words” by a chemist – Herd Immunity: Three Reasons Why I Don’t Vaccinate My Children… And Why Vaccine Supporters Shouldn’t Care That I Use Vaccine Exemption Forms

Vaccine video

People often ask me, “So, do you think vaccines caused Nate’s autism?” But the answer to that question is tricky. While Nate didn’t have an immediate, strong reaction to any particular vaccine, I do think they played a part in the very large picture of what caused Nate to be on the spectrum. In addition to vaccines, though, I think there are/were other environmental factors (just one being my having taken antibiotics before and during pregnancy) that, paired with his genetic predisposition, must have caused his autism.

I believe strongly that parents should be able to make the decision about whether to vaccinate their child—with true, informed consent. After watching only about half of this video, I had to come on here and give the link!—it’s that good: http://vimeo.com/31036452

Temple Grandin interview

I read an interview with Temple Grandin, the noted author who has autism, here. To my knowledge, Grandin has not been an advocate for any of the “new” autism groups like TACA, groups that support biomedical treatments and research for a cure. That is why some of her answers pleasantly surprised me:

Cases of autism are rising. Why do you think that is?
Some of it is probably due to the way autism is diagnosed. I saw people on the HBO lot that probably have Asperger’s but never got a diagnosis as a child. There has been an increase in regressive autism, children who develop normally, have speech, and then lose it. I think there’s something going on with some type of environmental contaminant. Some insult is getting to the child whose genes are susceptible to autism. I think we are going to be hearing more about epigenetics and autism. With epigenetics you look at how the genome responds to the environment. How things like toxins and diet and other things turn on the switches that regulate how certain genes are expressed.

I’ve read this a few other places, and it resonates with me. Perhaps there is no one “cause” for autism, and something that contributes to causing autism for one child (e.g., vaccines) might not harm a neurotypical child at all, because that neurotypical child’s body isn’t susceptible or predisposed in the first place.

I was also pleased to read that Grandin mentioned toxins and diet. From our family’s experience, we know that diet makes a huge difference–not just for Nate, but for all of us!

“Autism pride” or neurodiversity is a growing movement. Do you think there needs to be a “cure” for autism?
I believe there’s a point where mild autistic traits are just normal human variation. Mild autism can give you a genius like Einstein. If you have severe autism, you could remain nonverbal. You don’t want people to be on the severe end of the spectrum. But if you got rid of all the autism genetics, you wouldn’t have science or art. All you would have is a bunch of social ‘yak yaks.’

I agree that not every minute autistic trait should be erased. Any “autism” still left in Nate is at the “quirky personality trait” level, and I wouldn’t change those traits. (I am instead trying to help Nate learn how best to deal with some of the quirks, like when he gets super upset if he doesn’t win a board game.) For children whose autism is more severe, I believe in embracing the child and working to help that child be able to function in society through language, understanding social cues, and improving what’s going on inside the body to heal what might be hurting.

Easy exemption!

Yesterday, I brought all of Nate’s registration paperwork to his new school. To my surprise, they put up absolutely no fuss about his not having any immunizations after 18 months. I had brought a letter stating the state law that he can’t be denied entrance into the school, but I didn’t have to bring it out; I just signed their exemption request. Woo hoo! He starts this Friday, May 2, the day after his third birthday.

Here are some helpful links I used in the past few weeks:

Vaccines: some things I’ve been learning (originally written 10/8/07)

There are those in the autism community who believe certain vaccines like the MMR caused their children’s autism. I am not one of those. Nate’s was not a regressive case, where he was “fine” and then, one day soon after a shot, lost skills, language, etc. Looking back, we can see signs all along in Nate’s development. However, I agree with the experts (like in the book I’m currently reading, Changing the Course of Autism: A Scientific Approach for Parents and Physicians) who posit that autism is not merely a genetic disorder, but a disorder perhaps involving some genetic predispositions (in the brain? gut?) that are triggered by environmental factors that affect the gut, brain, and other areas of the body. One of those environmental triggers might be some of the ingredients in vaccines.

Some studies have found that children with autism are unable to process certain metals, like mercury and/or other vaccine ingredients, properly. Their bodies hold onto these materials, sometimes to toxic levels, which can then manifest in “autistic” behaviors. I’m being as careful as possible with Lucy’s vaccinations since 1) autism tends to run in families and she may also have those “genetic predispositions” and 2) I’ve been finding out what’s in these vaccines (a lot of junk, including aluminum, formaldehyde, and human tissue!).

Lucy got her first shot, the Hib (prevents Haemophilus influenzae type b bacteria, which causes bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, and other infections) at five months. Babies’ immune systems often aren’t ready for shots by two months, so we gave Lucy’s body more time to develop. I’m getting her vaccinations one at a time (more spread out), so she only gets one shot at each doctor’s visit, as opposed to the four or more that is standard protocol*. Also, she won’t get the combination shots like the MMR; instead she’ll get separate measles, separate mumps, and separate rubella shots. Here’s how I plan to do all of her shots (probably not exactly to this schedule, but in this order and not any sooner than the ages listed):

  • 5 months: Hib
  • 6 months: DTaP
  • 7 months: second series of Hib, IPV (Polio)
  • 8 months: DTaP
  • 9 months: third series of Hib, IPV
  • 10 months: DTaP
  • 15 months: measles
  • 17 months: fourth series of Hib, IPV
  • 27 months: rubella
  • 39 months: mumps**
  • 4-5 years: boosters for the measles, rubella, and mumps** shots (if possible, though, you can check for “titers” before giving boosters and may not need to give the boosters at all)
  • 4 years: Hepatitis B

I haven’t listed the chicken pox (varicella/varivax) vaccine because I may not get it for the children at all. I may file exemptions for both Nate and Lucy for some shots. Several states, including California, allow parents to file “philosophical exemptions.” This way, they can still attend any school. FYI, California’s school immunization record form has space on the back for a “personal beliefs” exemption request.

The book I’ve gotten most of my information from is What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations by Stephanie Cave. I like that the author, a doctor, isn’t completely anti-vaccine; she just gives a fuller picture about what’s in each vaccine, possible side effects, how best to protect our children, etc.

* More information on why I’m spreading Lucy’s vaccinations out and only getting one at a time: “Marcel Kinsbourne, M.D., a pediatric neurologist and research professor at the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, expressed his concerns about multiple dosing to the House Committee on Government Reform when he was asked to speak on the subject of vaccine safety. Dr. Kinsbourne told his audience that ‘when several vaccines are given at the same time, they may have adverse effects that none of the individual vaccines have when they are given by themselves….’ In addition to the added assault on the immune system when more than one vaccine is given, injecting several vaccines makes it virtually impossible to know which one is responsible for any adverse reactions that may occur” (Cave, 2001, pp. 33-34).

** I keep thinking of more stuff to add! Lucy might not get the mumps shots at all. The major threat of the mumps disease is male sterility. (In addition, the rubella disease is rather mild except in cases where a pregnant woman contracts it; it can kill the baby. So girls don’t need the mumps vaccine as much as boys do, and boys don’t need the rubella vaccine as much as girls do.)

Edited to add: The book I’m currently reading presents evidence that the main issue with the MMR is the measles portion, and even separated out, the measles vaccine has caused problems.

2008 update
I have since decided not to get any vaccinations for Lucy. She has gotten the Hib (once at 5 months and once at 9 months), so I will probably get the other two rounds of that shot for her, but nothing else right now. I’m finding more and more reasons not to put all those weird/foreign things into my baby.