Vaccines (The Basics)

By: Kristy Kemp

 What is with all the fuss about vaccines?

~The other day I had asked my Breastfeeding Mama Talk members what they would like me to blog about and the winning topic was vaccines. If you are reading this blog because you want to read something that has a definitive answer on whether or not you should vaccinate, then this is not the blog for you. I’m not going to come in hating on vaccines or come in preaching that you should vaccinate. I’m coming from a non bias view and will just give you all the information that is already out there.

~I really don’t want any of my readers to read this and think that I’m shoving MY opinions or facts down your throat, because I’m really not. I honestly do see both sides to this. I can understand why someone would choose NOT to vaccinate and I can definitely understand why someone would choose TO vaccinate. I’m hoping that with this blog I can get more people to see both sides as well. I have seen many people get riled up over this topic so that is not what I’m looking to do with this blog. My 3 year old is currently up to date with all his shots except for the flu shot, but just because I chose the vaccination route doesn’t mean I think that everyone else’s children should be vaccinated too. 

*Why wouldn’t someone vaccinate their kid/s? I will be honest, until up to a year ago I thought that people who didn’t vaccinate their kids, didn’t because they were lazy or just didn’t care to either way. And that was very ignorant of me, I admit. But for most of the parents on the anti vaccine side, that isn’t anywhere near to the truth. I will talk about some of the personal reasons I have learned from just talking with other people on why they are not comfortable having their kids vaccinated. Which then sparked my curiosity to research more myself.  The main thing I hear  often on the non vaccine side is  that they argue children’s immune systems can deal with most infections naturally, and that the possible side effects of vaccination, including seizures, paralysis, and death, are not worth the risk of safeguarding against non-life threatening illnesses. They contend that numerous studies prove that vaccines may trigger problems like autism, ADHD, and multiple sclerosis. 

*If I don’t vaccinate will my child be allowed to go to school?  This question comes up A LOT! Some people will vaccinate not because they want to, but because they thought they HAD to. Depending on the state, children must be vaccinated against some or all of the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio. Although vaccination is required, all 50 states issue medical exemptions. Resource for that info. found here. So if you happen to qualify for one of the exemptions then you would fill out the form and go from there. Forewarning you that the school districts, or so I have heard, are not that friendly when it comes to giving that info. out. So I would suggest you do some research of your own for the laws in the state you live in, if you truly do want to exempt your child from vaccines. Of course most school districts would prefer no one utilizes these exemptions, but that is not their say and is not the law. The exemptions are out there.

*So tell me about the exemptions.

1.) Philosophical Exemption- The following 17 states allow exemption to vaccination based on philosophical, personal or conscientiously held beliefs: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. New Mexico’s religious exemption statute as currently (7/2012) written is inclusive of philosophical/personal belief exemption. Though technically New Mexico doesn’t have a personal belief exemption statute, it can reasonably be considered the 18th state allowing for personal belief exemption due to the flexible wording in its religious exemption statute.

2.) Religious Exemption- All states allow a religious exemption to vaccination except California, Mississippi and West Virginia. NVIC notes that California’s personal/philosophical belief exemption statute is inclusive of religious belief in wording, but not in statute definition. It is for that reason NVIC has listed California as not having religious exemption to vaccination.

The religious exemption is intended for people who hold a sincere religious belief opposing vaccination to the extent that if the state forced vaccination, it would be an infringement on their right to exercise their religious beliefs. Some state laws define religious exemptions broadly to include personal religious beliefs, similar to personal philosophical beliefs. Other states require an individual who claims a religious exemption to be a member of The First Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science) or another bonafide religion whose written tenets include prohibition of invasive medical procedures such as vaccination. (This kind of language has been ruled unconstitutional when it has been challenged in state Supreme Courts.) Some laws require a signed affidavit from the pastor or spiritual advisor of the parent exercising religious exemption that affirms the parents’ sincere religious belief about vaccination, while others allow the parent to sign a notarized waiver. Prior to registering your child for school, you must check your state law to verify what proof may be needed.


3.)Medical Exemptions-  All 50 states allow medical exemption to vaccination. Proof of medical exemption must take the form of a signed statement by a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) that the administering of one or more vaccines would be detrimental to the health of an individual. Most doctors follow the AAP and CDC guidelines. Most states do not allow Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.) to write medical exemptions to vaccination.

Some states will accept a private physician’s written exemption without question. Other states allow the state health department to review the doctor’s exemption and revoke it if health department officials don’t think the exemption is justified.


4.)Proof of Immunity- Some states will allow exemptions to vaccination for certain diseases if proof of immunity can be shown to exist. Immunity can be proven if you or your child have had the natural disease or have been vaccinated. You have to check your state laws to determine which vaccines in your state can be exempted if proof of immunity is demonstrated.

Private medical laboratories can take blood (a titer test) and analyze it to measure the level of antibodies, for example, to measles or pertussis that are present in the blood. If the antibody level is high enough, according to accepted standards, you have obtained proof of immunity and may be able to use this for an exemption to vaccination.

All about the exemptions and the source for this info. found here.

*The Hepatitis B shot is given at birth & they feel since a child can only get the disease from IV drug abuse, sexual activity with an infected partner, a blood transfusion using contaminated blood, or from the mother that the risk the shot can pose verse actually catching Hep B at that age is greater.

 *Some believe that autism is linked to vaccines, although The scientific community has reached a clear consensus that vaccines don’t cause autism. 

*Numerous side effects- such as fevers, headaches, loss of appetite, Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. All about side effects source found here.

 * someone who is vaccinated can still catch the disease, no vaccine is a 100% assurance that you won’t catch the disease so they feel why force the risk of the actual vaccines if there is still a risk they will catch the disease they are getting vaccinated for. So they view it as putting their child at risk not once, but twice.

*Why should I vaccinate my kid/s? Well it’s pretty self explanatory, we all know the reality that these diseases DO exist and the vaccine is supposed to help prevent you and the others around you from catching a dangerous disease. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Physicians recommend that children be vaccinated against fifteen different common childhood illnesses. This information came from here.

 Here is a list of diseases in which vaccines are recommended for which is, Chickenpox, Diphtheria, Hib, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Flu, Measles, Mumps, Pertussis, Polio, Pneumococcal, Rotravirus, Rubella, Tetanus. 


The “PRO SIDE” arguments to vaccines. Stated below:


*Vaccines are also believed to help boost immune systems. 

Although it has been argued on the anti Vaccine side that there are ways you can boost immunity, without the need of vaccines.

*According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most childhood vaccines are 90-99% effective in preventing disease. When children who have been vaccinated do contract a disease, despite being vaccinated against it, they usually have milder symptoms with less serious complications than an un-vaccinated child that gets the same disease.

*Even when diseases seem to no longer exist, outbreaks can still occur if children are not vaccinated. In Boulder, CO, fear over possible side effects of the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine led many parents to refuse vaccination for their children causing Boulder to have the lowest school-wide vaccination rate in Colorado for whooping cough and one of the highest rates of whooping cough in the US as of 2002.

*I hope I did a good job in making this article as neutral and informative as possible and that I did both sides justice in the information I chose to include. Please remember there is truly two sides to the vaccine controversy. If you find yourself irate over a vaccine debate, just log off and take a walk. As long as you’re making informed choices for your kid/s then you’re doing everything in your power to protect them. Don’t ever let someone make you think otherwise!


~They say that vaccines are perfectly safe, but I have heard many stories in which children have suffered some serious side effects. I guess with any medical procedure there poses some kind of risk. I’m no expert on vaccines and I’m learning more and more everyday. I have given the basics of the info. That is already out there, it is up to you as the parent to go with what you feel in your heart is the best way to protect your kid. Sorry I can not give you a blog that tells you definitively what you should do.