pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

Reasons Why Parents Choose Not To Immunize Their Children

Here we are, in our discussion about immunization, at the ten reasons parents don’t immunize their children as described by a colleague, Greg Barrett at Ohio State University School of Medicine.

He did something that very few pediatricians these days are willing to do: immerse himself in the wasteful false rhetoric in order to understand the dilemma the patients he cared about were in. This article is for those who are truly looking for answers (Vaccine-haters, this is not for you).

It’s best to let Dr. Barrett describe his ordeal to you himself:


How is it that so many truly wonderful parents in my practice had come to such strongly held conclusions regarding the dangers of immunizations? I had no idea. Finally, searching for understanding, I took a deep breath and descended into the world of the anti-vacciners. I researched, purchased, and read their books. I tracked down and studied their Internet sites. And for six long, depressing weeks I completely immersed myself in this subject.

When at last I emerged from the darkness I understood. Parents who refuse to consent to immunizations for their children are afraid. It is as simple as that. It is unlikely that they have extensively studied the scientific data which would demonstrate to them, beyond the possibility of any reasonable doubt, the safety and effectiveness of these inoculations. They have simply been paralyzed into inaction by a series of frightening and incredibly unsubstantiated allegations, and after the time I spent reading and studying this material I couldn’t help but sympathize.

I have to say that I applaud Dr. Barrett for what he did and what he has written. I know why he put himself through the ordeal and am envious of his altruism. Compared to many of us, the guy is a saint, full of compassion and tolerance.

In the defense of other colleagues, equally compassionate; but, perhaps less tolerant—have you ever tried to have a logical and open-minded discussion with someone who believes the US never had astronauts land on the moon? Or they saw Elvis? I’m not joking here. There are actual people who do… I have tried… it’s not fun (or productive)… and I try hard not to repeat it.

Top 10 Reasons Parents Give
Parents Unsure About Immunizations

#10. The vaccines are unsafe

The wizard Xenophilius Lovegood
The wizard Xenophilius Lovegood

In the Harry Potter Books, Mr. Lovegood (a completely deluded unfortunate whose life and newspaper revolved around the wizardry equivalent of Elvis sightings), smirkingly “proved” the existence of Crumpled-Horn Snorkacks to Hermione Granger by demanding she “prove they do NOT (exist)”.

The vaccine-haters vomit out anything that comes into their heads as being “caused” by immunizations: AIDS, asthma, eczema, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, cough, allergies, ear infections, shock, seizures, epilepsy, infantile spasms, paralysis, encephalitis, bleeding disorders, anemia, diabetes, hypoglycemia, SIDS, blindness, insomnia, deafness, learning disabilities, retardation, hyperactivity, autism, leukemia, lupus, cancer, and death; then smirkingly believe it is everyone else’s job to “prove they do not.”

The litany is enough to scare the burgeebers out of a medically naïve new parent; BUT they don’t get off that easily because just living life for at least 18 years should have given them enough life-experience to recognize a corral full of horse… clap-trap when they see it! Absolutely none of these are true; and there are loads of written material from reputable sources anyone can easily locate (no, the internet is NOT one of them).

In addition to the nearly ubiquitous and deliberate lies in their literature, the anti-vaxers misquote important people like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare and others all out of context and misinterpreted. One off-the-wall author asserts, after many pages of heinous expose, that “Ted Bundy obviously was immunized” and invented a fictitious disease for him to boot!

Myth 1: Vaccines cause autism — not only completely false but proven to be deliberate deception as described in previous articles in this series. The chief scare-monger lost his medical license for “showing callous disregard for children’s welfare.”

One of the literally hundreds of subsequent studies unsuccessfully looking for the supposed connection included over a HALF-MILLION children (82% immunized) compared with the con-man’s falsified 12 patients! The thorough and herculean effort concluded there is NO link found with Autism—we simply MUST begin applying our wasted energies looking for the real culprit.

Myth 2: Vaccines contain toxic ingredients — disproven by over 12 THOUSAND peer-reviewed and vetted articles, for 8 different immunizations, by a world-expert panel! The largest review of adverse event literature since 1994.

Thimerosal (ethyl mercury) was mentioned previously, is NOT the toxic form (that was methyl mercury), was never even in MMR, does NOT bioaccumulate, is no longer in almost any immunization and only ever was used in production steps of some compounds therefore only leaving smaller traces than in a can of tuna.

An entire country (Japan) withdrew MMR deciding to yield to the scare and found that autism DID NOT go down, instead it actually went up during that time.

Debunking myths about vaccination

Myth 3: Vaccines are not pure — Just like the fictitious diseases thrown out by the anti-vaxers, they do the same thing with things supposedly adulterating immunizations: anti-freeze, formaldehyde, aluminum, phosphate and human fetal tissue, monkey kidney and lung cells—all of these are either complete lies, or without exception, misrepresentation of facts.

If the original source of the virus came from a fetus who died of the disease, only a misguided fool would claim that many years later in development, after years of re-culturing and purification, the immunization contained the original fetal cells!

That’s like saying there is dirt in apples since they were once grown on a tree that grew in dirt. It’s misleading, scaremongering and simply not true. As for formaldehyde, there are trace amounts of formaldehyde in vaccines but much less than what your own body naturally produces everyday.

Myth 4: Too many, overwhelming — Actually, my biggest beef with the pharmaceutical industry is the extortionary prices they want, not the immunizations! In order to believe this myth you must know nothing about the immune system.

The immune system is active all over the body to EVERY foreign substance EVERY day. It responds to around 2,000 antigen exposures every day and either rejects the foreign matter or develops antibodies to them—viruses, bacteria, food, skin contacts—all without fanfare or making a fuss.

It’ll make its antibodies to the actual Whooping Cough disease if you force it to; OR, you can skip all the side-effects and risks of the disease and get a DPT shot and let the child make 1739 responses one day instead of its normal 1736.

Even the publicity-seeking McCarthy and Spears couldn’t get away with pushing people to have their son’s tonsils taken out on Monday and his adenoids on Friday, like they want you to believe with immunizations; or your daughters three cavities filled on three separate trips! Could they? So why would you believe anything else they say?

Their so-called “alternative” plans not only have no basis in scientific fact they have undergone intense and detailed scrutiny by scientists looking for evidence that immunization is linked to a whole list of diseases (including immune, neurological, developmental and learning, including autism) and confirmed what multiple others have found, the existing childhood schedule is safe.

Nobody knows the exact causes of autism, we are looking like mad and one thing we can be extremely confident of is that: it’s not vaccines.

#9. The vaccines are ineffective

debunking the vaccine-haters

Assertion 1: many recipients have low or no antibodies after the shots – OK… So What?! That’s the way things work with some immunizations and some people. BUT, they are still able to recognize a foreign antigen and mount an increased response to thwart the disease. And, a small percentage of people don’t obtain immunity BUT the vastly, overwhelming majority do.

Assertion 2: we don’t know how they work in the first place – Huh!? Like everything else in life, there’s a lot we don’t know; but, this is one of the most heavily studied aspects of medicine (has been for hundreds of years) and we’ve got this immunization thing pretty well deciphered.

Assertion 3: the diseases were all going away on their own anyway – utter and total nonsense! THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND cases leading to 7,000 DEATHS in the US EVERY YEAR pre-DPT dropped to 20 deaths per year after the vaccine was introduced!

The incidence of Hemophilus influenza B (the cause of septic arthritis, epiglottitis, and meningitis) declined 98% after the initiation of the HIB vaccine!

2.7 MILLION deaths per year globally are prevented by the MMR vaccine! To waste time in listing more would be catering to utter foolishness! Compare the headlines for diseases we’ve got immunizations for with those we don’t. There’s a boatload more HIV in the world than smallpox or polio.

#8. The diseases are no longer a public health hazard

As even a fool should be able to guess, “hazard” must take into account the deadliness of the disease, its sheer existence and its likely mobility. Thank God immunizations were developed before air travel became prevalent!

Japan, 1974: nearly universal vaccination with the DPT, only 393 cases of pertussis and no deaths. Same country, 1978: suspension of the vaccine, and 13,000 plus cases of whooping cough with 41 deaths!

#7. The disease is less serious than the vaccine

Forgive me, but this one passes from the land of “gullibility” into clear stupidity. The DEATH rate from diphtheria: one in twenty (5%); The DEATH rate from tetanus: one in thirty-five (3%); DEATH from whooping cough for an infant: one in two hundred (0.5%); DEATH from the immunization: nonexistent.

That’s DEATH mind you, morbidity and suffering are added to that figure; and that’s just for the one immunization, the DTaP. Similar values can be obtained for every vaccine in the schedule.

#6. Resentment of government interference

debunking vaccine-haters

This argument is the one I can have the most understanding of. It seems we are legislated over our heads in some areas; AND we have example after example where the legislated solution is even worse than the original problem.

BUT, it makes absolutely NO sense to hold your child’s health and well being hostage to an argument with the government (even on moral principle). To carry it to the absurd: the government demands that your neighbor does NOT hit you in the head with a hammer – are you going to ask him to do it just to spite the government?

Over time, multiple incursions into our lives and freedoms tend to add up. It seems to me however that we should choose battles though that aren’t so overwhelmingly in the realm of public good and designed to protect innocents without any other way to protect themselves.

Do you not remember when car seats were invented? First it was an exhausting educational effort by physicians and then hospitals. Then there were catchy ad campaigns (perhaps even funded by car seat manufacturers). Then governmental statistics. Then state by state legislation and finally federal laws.

The shakeout was unanticipated as substantial expense was added to the already burdened parents. Cars had to be redesigned and retrofitted and habits had to be massively altered. Even people’s vacations had to be canceled because they couldn’t fit all the car seats in their car or even afford them. It was no small incursion into people’s lives.

#5. Choosing a holistic, natural approach to child-rearing

It seems there are those who have substituted the use of alternative medicine for the designer clothing they used to make their parents buy them in high school so they would be in the “cool crowd.” Espousing “alternative medicine” seems to be the “in” thing to do or talk about to give an air of pseudo-sophistication.

Perhaps the faulty thinking is that “diseases are ‘natural'” and that immunizations are unnatural or something. The anti-vaxer literature claims that: immunizations are only important for the unhealthy and healthy people can fight off disease when it does occur (if they get it at all); because, eating wheatgrass (or whatever agenda the article is promoting) conveys some ethereal, undocumented, preferential treatment by bacteria and viruses.

To quote Dr. Barrett: “But, I don’t see anything “natural” about your unimmunized daughter giving birth to a baby decimated by congenital rubella or chicken pox. And likewise, no matter how healthy you think your college-aged son may be, meningococcal meningitis is fully capable of leaving him dead in his dorm room within hours.”

#4. “Hot Lots.”

Debunking the myths of vaccine-haters

An ongoing measure of safety in the production of ANY product is to take the quality control measurements necessary to make sure that the millionth product you make is as good as it’s supposed to be. In the US, the FDA carries this to the Nth degree.

Let’s say you purchase a carton of milk and that the next day, after being opened and in the fridge for only 12 hours, it’s spoiled. What recourse do you have? Take it back to the store or just dump it out and go buy some more?

Let’s say you take it back. What chance to you think the dairy or even farmer has of ever being told about it? Let alone going to check for why it happened so they can go check their machinery or cows. Next to ZERO until whole neighborhoods get sick and it makes the news.

For immunizations there is the VAERS, vaccine adverse effect reporting system, which doctors everywhere are mandated to use when they see patients with odd symptoms or complaints which may be related to any immunization product – no matter how unlikely they may be.

If an immunization lot is not good more than one patient will have an odd symptom. The VAERS is able to track other patients receiving that same lot wherever they are around the country. Not one single lot in the modern reporting era has been found to be unsafe based on VAERS reports. That’s a lot better track record than, let’s say: what they sell us for “hamburger” or imported produce.

#3. The diseases are more common in vaccinated persons than unvaccinated

To understand most medical concepts one has to at least make an effort to learn and apply logic. Understanding immunization concepts is not hard but it does take some logic.

First, you’ve got to know that unknowledgeable people have a few names that they use for multiple illnesses; like the term “flu” for just about anything that makes you feel bad—whether it makes your nose run, or bowels leak or chest cough, they call them all “flu” without any rhyme or reason.

So, when someone tells you they’ve got the “flu” you truly have no clue what they really have; and when they say they “got the flu from the flu shot” they actually have NO CLUE what they are talking about! The immunization is made against “influenza” (a deadly respiratory virus) NOT the “flu.” It contains only completely NON-LIVING portions of the influenza virus and CANNOT give you influenza.

Second, it’s common knowledge that almost nothing is 100% effective 100% of the time. Immunity is an individual’s personal response to an immunization and some do it quicker, easier and more complete than others, and there’s a range everywhere in between.

Even following everything perfectly to the letter there will always be those who don’t quite have enough response in them to completely fight off chicken pox, for example, even though they tried. That really doesn’t take much knowledge to understand that.

The lie that the vaccine-haters hope you’ll not think clearly about is “more kids who got pertussis during an outbreak had previously had the shot than not.” In any ONE epidemic there will always be some immunized children who contract the disease. And in any ONE epidemic there might be more by sheer volume.

faces of vaccine denialism

BUT, what the haters are betting you won’t use logic to understand is that: ALWAYS, the percentage of non-immunized children who will become infected is greater than the immunized. AND, even if a child’s immunization isn’t 100% effective, they nearly always have a milder and more benign illness.

#2. Herd immunity

This rationalization I have a bit of intolerance for. It’s the same moral inadequacy that says: “My house is two blocks from the river, I’ll just let those next to the river do the work to put up the sandbags.” My generation would find that excuse unconscionable.

It should really take only the most minimal of thinking to understand what happens if everyone thinks like that; or, if something completely unanticipated happens.

Again, using Dr. Barrett’s words: “And, in the final analysis, don’t we have some societal obligation to those compromised members who dwell among us who can’t be immunized for a variety of reasons and are susceptible to being infected by your unvaccinated child? Is your decision fair to them? Aren’t you being just a little bit selfish, with possibly disastrous, even fatal, consequences to others?”

#1. The conspiracy theory.

This, the most bizarre of all the excuses, is the most offensive to me. I can’t help but take it personally.

Basically what is being said by the vaccine-haters all over the internet is: “All of you pediatricians and drug manufacturers are involved in a collusion whereby vaccines, which you know fully well are not only ineffective but are dangerous and harmful, are given to innocent children.”

And our motivation for doing this: “Because of the huge profits both of you are making from the vaccines—it’s a billion dollar industry.”

The fact that someone could even think this disgusts me as I think back over the thousands of things I’ve given up in my life in order to choose caring about someone over personal convenience or enjoyment.

And yet, with only a minuscule amount of thought, even the most medically naïve should be able to see right through this. Even if it’s a billion dollar industry, by the time the hundreds of millions of physicians, administrators, researchers, accountants, medical assistants, nurses and anyone else who needed to be ‘paid off’ in this complicated and convoluted system were identified, just how much do you think we would all get for our silence? A penny?!

Just as when I started this article, I think it’s best to let the doctor who undertook the ordeal through the vaccine-hater world explain our findings and feelings.


I am going to close by making a statement which some readers may find disturbing, outrageous, and quite possibly shocking, so prepare yourself in advance. Are you ready? Okay, here goes: Immunizations are safe and effective. I understand how uncool and offensive that sounds to many of you, and to you I do apologize. But I want to be truthful. Are pediatricians ignorant about the studies on the safety of immunizations? No, we are not. Do I love my own children? More than life itself. Did I have them vaccinated? Without a moment’s hesitation. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. There is no conspiracy here. In spite of what you may believe, we physicians are not intentionally and knowingly trying to harm your children. This subject is not even worthy of being termed a controversy, for there is none.

The conclusion derived from the scientific data is undeniable. Immunizations do not cause seizures, diabetes, cancer, autism, SIDS, hearing impairment, hypertension, criminal behavior, or ADHD. They are not only in the best health interest of your own son or daughter, but also for society as a whole. It is the right thing to do; it’s as simple as that. And hey, if you can’t trust your child’s doctor on a subject as straightforward as the proper timing and choices for childhood immunizations, how on earth could you trust him or her on anything? Think about it. Try not to be so afraid.

[If you’d like to read Dr. Barrett’s full article, it’s here]

 

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