One MD threatened me, saying he would call Social services and take my baby away.
When my son was born, I just wanted to be the best mother for him. As a new mom, I followed the doctor’s advice and vaccinated my little boy. It was 1994 and the first vaccinations he received were two shots, one on each thigh. I am sure he was 2 months old. He was a bit cranky and had a mild fever, so I followed advice and gave him Tylenol. He had a red mark on the injection site that went away within a few days. When he was 4 months old, he received five different vaccines in a single shot. His reaction was more intense. I started to worry, but I followed – like a good mom – the doctor’s advice and kept vaccinating my son.
Fast forward a few years. I was a few months pregnant with my 2nd child, when my son started to have a red rash all over his body. He was 5 years old and in kindergarten. When I was a kid, adults kept saying, “Before you start school, you have to have all the kids’ diseases, so you will be healthy and you will not miss school”. So I still remember how it is to have whooping cough, where the coughing would take your breath away. The mumps made you look like a guinea pig, with swollen glands and it was hard and painful to swallow. I still remember when my body turned red with measles. There was some itchiness, but most of all, it was the heat that I remember. With chicken pox, boy was that itchy or what? Scarlet fever was another disease that we have to have, again another disease that makes you turn bright red and the throat was very painful. The memories of being sick with childhood diseases, include a caring mom giving a healthy broth and homemade ice cream or frozen juice. Most of all she was there reassuring me that I would feel better, and she was right. After every disease, I would feel stronger.
The vaccines then were diphtheria, small pox, polio and tetanus. I recall clearly the polio vaccine, where we had to eat a sugar cube. It was so strange because we never had straight sugar like that before. Small pox is no longer in the list of vaccines given to kids these days. I recall the small pox jab because it was on the top of my arm, and within a few days I developed, a pox or a large protruding growth that was very painful and I remember so clearly that I had to lift the sleeves of my t-shirt to give it room. It was there for a long time and when it fell off, it left five dots on my upper arm; if I look carefully, I can still see them.
When my son was 5 years old and I saw his rash, I was almost sure it was measles. However, I wanted a confirmation and I took him to our doctor. I must say I was surprised that she did not recognized the disease, but tried to convince me that it was an allergic reaction and I should give him Benadryl. I was not convinced. However, it is understandable that an MD could not diagnose measles, as they don’t have experience seeing it.
I was early in my pregnancy then and I was due to see my midwife that day. She confirmed that my son’s rash was measles and told me there were several cases of it among vaccinated children in the nearby town. She wasn’t worried about my son, but she was worried about my pregnancy and arranged for me to be tested for measles antibodies. Sure enough, those antibodies were still there, because the only way to have lifelong antibodies is to have the disease. I was relieved, as my pregnancy was not at risk.
It occurred to me that I was lucky to have had all those childhood diseases, and the way we thought about it in the 1960’s made sense. Let us consider a young girl who is vaccinated, and like my son’s case, the vaccination did not “take” – that is how the MD explained to me what happened to my son. While pregnant, she would not be able to protect her unborn child, because she would not have her lifelong antibodies. What would happen to her unborn baby? What is the future of all those vaccinated girls when they become pregnant? I started to wonder about vaccination in general, and stopped vaccinating my children and continued to support their health with homeopathy.
Here in Canada we still have the option to not vaccinate, but MDs make you feel very bad about it. At some stage one MD threatened me, saying he would call Social services and take away my baby. He was just bullying me, and we had a heated argument. I walked out saying that he could not force me to vaccinate my baby and he should look up the legislation. As for school or daycare, all you have to do here is to write a statement saying that after an in depth consideration, you decided not to vaccinate your child, and sign it.
I know now that the decision not to vaccinate was the best for my children. Both of them had chicken pox and my son had measles and scarlet fever. I was there to help them through the disease which letting their body build antibodies for life.
The vaccination debate is about more than whether we should give many vaccines to a baby with an immature immune system. It has to do with the value society places on parents and children. In the 1960’s when I had those childhood diseases, women worked mostly in the home, or they had part-times jobs. Their focus was on being a mother and available for the children. Fathers would go to work and there were fewer luxuries and vacations, but less was actually more. Families spent time together and also knew their neighbours well. Children would play outside and go home muddy and happy with a healthy appetite. It was the time before electronic games and isolation.
These days we have so much more, but it seems to me that we live very isolated lives. Children go to daycare when they are one year old or less. A family need two salaries in order to meet the demands of the expected lifestyle. However, what happens when children are sick? Daycare does not cater for them, as other kids may get sick too. If you are a working mother or father, you have to take time off your holidays in order to care for your sick child. Childhood diseases can last two weeks, and you do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure that you may run out of vacation time if your children have their childhood diseases. Therefore, it is convenient to vaccinate, and we convince ourselves that the vaccine will save our children from all sorts of diseases that would use up our vacation time.
I went to a small elementary school that had only five classes of 30 children. The school had 150 kids, and only one child with a learning challenge. Everybody knew that his mom had a drinking problem. He was my friend and in today’s classification of disease, his diagnosis would be Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In those days he was just a naughty kid. He was rarely disruptive and we all learned without interruptions.
One of the main differences in children’s lives from 1960 and today are the number of vaccinations the children receive from birth. It is well known that viruses and bacteria can mutate very fast. Even assuming that the whooping cough vaccine works, the bacteria can mutate and the vaccine is not “protecting” kids from the new mutations. Therefore, I was not surprised when I heard of outbreaks of whooping cough in schools where all the children were vaccinated. Of course, you do not read this in the newspapers. You hear it from the moms at soccer, commenting that there were only a few children at school because of whooping cough. If they are vaccinated, why are they sick?