Which brings us to the second question, namely, how to protect your unvaccinated child from an acute out break of one of these illnesses in the vicinity. The first priority is clearly to know the illness--its signs and symptoms, its natural history and vehicles of spread, its prevention and treatment.
Rather than reading this information from a pediatrics text and the passing it along to you, I suggest that you read up on these diseases. Even more importantly, meet with your local pediatrician or primary healthcare provider and plan a course of action. If you cannot immediately find someone whom you can work with or relate to, keep looking. Your local support system is too important to be left for the time when you need to call on it in a hurry.
Taking responsibility for not vaccinating is no different from taking responsibility for a homebirth or any other form of alternative health care. It calls for not a substitute for conventional care, but rather a different relationship to the healing process and the health-care system, based on personal choice and direct participation. We still need help when our children get sick, and we need to know that this help is available to us.
In the event of an outbreak, a great deal can be done to minimize the risk to those exposed and to treat those who actually fall ill--much of which does not involve chemical drugs or vaccines of questionable safety and effectiveness. The homeopathic method, one such approach, uses minute doses of natural substances to stimulate and enhance the natural defense mechanisms of the host. The homeopathic prevention and treatment of specific acute diseases are discussed in detail in the highly recommended book Homeopathy in Epidemic Diseases, by Dr. Dorothy Shepherd, a prominent English homeopath.'
The homeopathic approach to epidemic diseases in general was first employed by Hahnemann in 1799, during an extensive scarlet fever epidemic in the province of Saxony.2 After he had treated a dozen or so cases in the usual homeopathic fashion, giving small doses of remedies capable of producing similar illnesses experimentally, Hahnemann realized that one remedy helped to cure at least 75 percent of the cases, a second remedy covered another 15 percent or so, and the remaining 10 percent required a variety of different remedies corresponding to the unique features of each case. The principal remedy, which corresponded to the genus epidemicus (the main characteristics of the outbreak as a whole), was then given out prophylactically to people exposed to the disease, and also to patients in the early stages of illness--before the critical point, when other remedies would sometimes be needed, was reached.
The results were quite dramatic. Those so treated either did not get sick at all or suffered much milder illnesses, on the whole, than their compatriots who were not treated or who received the drugs and other heroic measures in standard practice at the time. Hahnemann became justly famous for this exploit; and since this time, his method has been used with equal or greater success throughout the world in treating numerous outbreaks of cholera, typhus, smallpox, yellow fever, influenza, and other acute diseases of similar type. Why it has not been more widely influential in this country is a great mystery, and clearly has to do with the historic decline of homeopathy as a thought form until the advent of the alternative health and self-care movement of the past 10 years or so.