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 Naturopathic Medicine: Shoot 'Em Up - The Debate Over Childhood Immunization 
 
Lauri Aesoph M. ND ©

Immunization adversaries feel immunity gained from an inoculation is a far cry from the natural immunity acquired from exposure or development of the disease itself. Even vaccine advocates admit shots are not 100 percent effective (10). Three years ago Cincinnati experienced a pertussis epidemic among primarily immunized children (11). In 1989, 40 percent of measles cases were blamed on vaccine failure (12).

Most diseases vaccinated against are contracted through respiration. Vaccine injections bypass important natural defense systems in the body which are never activated. The timing and amount of vaccine used may be too soon or too much, overpowering the immune system--particularly the undeveloped defenses of an infant (6). Consider too the formaldehyde, thimerosal (mercury derivative) and other hazardous chemicals added to a vaccine brew (13).

Even though immunizations for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and polio began at two months of age, a young infant is usually protected by measles, polio and tetanus antibodies from its mother for the first six months of life (10). Breastfed children are protected by immunity factors contained in breast milk (14).

The incidence and severity of measles, polio, diphtheria, and whooping cough began sliding dramatically before widespread vaccination programs or antibiotics were introduced (15). Better nutrition and hygiene, as well as the natural cyclical nature of disease, probably explain this decline. One needs only to look at Europe where polio disappeared at the same time as the United States--without aggressive immunizations--to dismiss mass inoculations' responsibility in eradicating illness (7).

There are parents and practitioners who balk at being part of a "big experiment" that does not allow much room for personal options. Sacrificing the few for the group is founded on the idea of herd immunity. Herd immunity assumes that if the entire population is vaccinated against a particular disease then epidemics can be avoided. However, this sentiment fails to consider vaccines' mediocre track record, mild and serious side effects, and the medically exempt whose health or allergy to something in shots prevents vaccine treatment. Also many people choose not to be vaccinated based on religious or person reasons (3).

Give me Choice, or give me Death...
When a child's health is at stake, it is very difficult to choose between a potentially serious disease and a possibly harmful treatment. Do you vaccinate just in case or abstain until science knows more? To place immunizations is the proper light, consider this. Why aren't vaccines forced on adults? (We get sick too.) What other medical treatment is mandated for everyone regardless of health and situation? (I can't think of any.)

If the medical side doesn't concern you, think of the freedom to choose issue. Privacy is another matter. Confidentiality of vaccination information doesn't exist. In fact in several states, including California, immunization records are open to scrutiny by select individuals like the Health Department without parental consent (1).

I don't recommend you avoid or use shots for your children. I do offer several options.

  1. Routine Immunization. If you choose to fully vaccinate your child, ask your doctor about the risks and possible side effects of immunizations. Educate yourself about situations where inoculations should be avoided or delayed.
  2. No Immunization. Some parents choose not to immunize their children at all. They try to guard their children's immune systems with healthy practices such as prolonged breast-feeding, and later a nutritious diet.
  3. Homeopathic Immunization. As a compromise, some parents choose to use homeopathic immunization instead of or together with conventional vaccinations. Individuals selecting this treatment should be aware that this form of vaccination is not proven and is not a legal substitute for state-mandated requirements (16). If you decide to go this route, seek guidance from a professionally trained homeopath.
  4. Selective Immunization-Type and Timing. Others selectively pick vaccines for their children. In a similar vein, some parents delay vaccinating their children until they are older.
Heightened awareness may turn your once sparkling clear decision to immunize your children into mud. Vaccination is a subject still bubbling with many questions. Read what various experts have to say and formulate your own opinions. The final choice is up to you.
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