What Is A Vaccine?…Question, Question, Question…Then Question Some More.

What is a vaccine? What’s in it? How safe it is? How does it work? What does it do to the body? What are its long term effects? These are some questions along with many more you should ask yourself when you are planning on getting your child or yourself vaccinated.

what is a vaccineIn my last blog ‘Vaccines, if only I had of given it some thought’, I wrote about my personal experience with vaccinations. I described how four years ago, I started vaccinating my first child without a second thought. It did not enter my mind to question them. It was not until my daughter developed eczema and allergies, and not being able to find relief for her continual itching, that I started looking into what could be the root cause for her suffering. After numerous doctors visits, which resulted in only being prescribed creams and ointments. After the explanation time and time again: that its hereditary. And after being told that all I can do for her is to apply creams to make it less severe, did I start to question vaccinations.  Was there something in them that had interfered with her immune system to cause her to have allergies? Where they given to her to young, which caused her immune system to falter? And why is it that so many children and babies suffer from allergies these days?

We had no allergies in our family, so the doctors telling me it was hereditary just did not sit well. When I began to research vaccinations in depth, I decided not to continue with the vaccination schedule for her, and not to vaccinate my two children born since (they are allergy free so far). I did not take the time, or put the thought into if I should vaccinate my child or not…I did not ask any questions, why did I need to ask questions?

My daughter was born in Australia, and I went through the public hospital system for her birth. Apart from being given a form to sign during a hospital midwife visit, I was not given a choice as such, for if I wanted to vaccinate or not. I feel like the choice was made for me. It was made for me in the way, of first, giving me the option if I wanted Vitamin K injected or given orally. Orally was advised against, as it was hard to ensure they would get the required dose, and it had to be given three times. I choose the once only easy option. And then, because they were already getting one injection, why question getting another (Hepatitis B). Again, why question that I am not a ‘high risk’ mother for being a Hepatitis B carrier. To be perfectly honest I had no idea what Hepatitis B even was. So why would I question it? Then when it came to the eight week vaccinations, I did not question them either. I just turned up to the vaccination clinic at the time given in the back of my child health record booklet. I grabbed my number and waited in line with the thirty other parents and children for our turn. I did not question if perhaps six vaccines in one injection was to much for an eight week old baby’s body to handle. I did not question if polio was really a threat to my baby. I did not question if tetanus was really necessary. I did not question anything. I did not even give it a thought. I was just told when the next rounds were due and I complied (without a question).

Since coming back to New Zealand and having my next two children born here, I have found that the system is far more personal (from my experience). I wonder if I would have had the midwife I had here, over there for my first child, if I would have given vaccinations some thought. I was given a page with the arguments for and against the Vitamin K injection, and thankfully New Zealand does not do a routine Hepatitis B at birth (yet). I am under the impression that midwifes are not allowed to give you their opinion on vaccinations. I know doctors can though. But in all honesty I still think I would have been just as naive.

It may sound obvious to you to question vaccinations. But for many others (including myself four years ago) it is not so obvious. Its easy to be convinced by the mainstream media, doctors, nurses and the government that vaccines are as safe as can be. Its easy to be convinced that the diseases they vaccinate against are a real threat for you or your children. Its easy to be convinced that the good they do do, far outweigh any ‘adverse effects’. Its easy not to question a television commercial or brochures with pictures of sick and terminally ill children and babies, listing diseases and their horrific effects. Its also easy not to question these diseases, when a lot of the information is left out.

I have compiled a list of questions that may help you think about the ‘behind the scenes’ of vaccinations.

1. What are the ingredients of the vaccinations on the schedule and what are the possible side effects of these ingredients?

2. What are the chances of catching each illness/disease?

3. How effective are vaccines…do they mean immunity

4. What are the side effects the illnesses/diseases can cause, and what are the actual statistics for these side effects? (Statistics can easily be swayed for or against an argument so its important to get original statistics, or from an independent source).

5. If i don’t vaccinate, what does this mean for myself or my child…what are my rights?

6. If I or my child is not vaccinated, are they placing others at risk?

7. Can I break the vaccines up so only one is being given at a time, and can I delay childhood vaccinations until my child’s immune system is better able to cope with them?

8. Is an unvaccinated child at a greater risk of catching childhood illnesses?

9. Am I comfortable with the quality and safety tests required before vaccines are deemed safe?

10. Do we know of long term safety studies showing the effects of vaccines on overall health?

You could find the answers to some, or all of these questions. Look for the answers in both independent sources and government, medical and pharmaceutical funded ones. Compare them, then come to your own conclusions, rather than having them made for you. When you can answer these questions, then you can feel confident in your decision. You will then know that you have the full story, and can stand up for your choice with confidence. No one, no doctor, no pro or anti vaccine person can make you feel guilty with the decision you have made, when you have made an educated decision. An educated decision in turn gives you strength and power, because you know that you are taking an active role in deciding on the health of yourself or your child. That decision is one of the biggest you will have to make, so please put some serious thought into it.

Thank you for taking the time to read ‘What is a vaccine‘. For my next blog, I will write about the link between allergies and vaccines.