Ethical Debate: Should Pediatricians Treat Unvaccinated Children?

December 13, 2011 · 19 comments

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innoculations, vaccines

Sunday is my day to relax and read the paper. We read the New York Times and I love the magazine section. I especially love Ariel Kaminer’s The Ethicist column. However, this week I was really peeved at the way she handled the “Armchair Ethicist”  (December 5, 2011), which is an online debate that is subsequently published. The ethical question posed was whether pediatricians may refuse to care for families that don’t vaccinate their children.

I take exception to the entire premise of the ensuing argument. Ariel Kaminer is clearly in the camp of vaccine supporters, by her use of the term “free-riders” to describe people who make a personal choice to forgo vaccination, as well as her description of people who (in her opinion) just make “unwise decisions about their own health.”

For some people and families, making the difficult decision to forgo vaccination can be a very wise decision. Some children are simply not healthy enough to receive vaccinations and should not do so. Vaccinations are made for healthy children with predictable outcomes. Unfortunately, many children today are born with compromised immune systems that can be further damaged by the insult of a vaccine or they may experience serious new problems triggered by the shots. A protocol needs to be created to properly evaluate all children to determine if and when they are ready to receive vaccinations. (See Gut and Psychology Syndrome  by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride pp. 60-62.)

Since children are all biochemically different and develop at different rates, it is inappropriate to require that a rigid vaccination schedule must be followed by every child. Not to mention that children today receive over 45 different vaccines if they stick to the recommended schedule. In certain children, the undeveloped or compromised immune system has difficulty dealing with all these strains and with toxic adjuvants like aluminum and mercury (yes, there is still mercury in vaccines), and other additives that may be potential allergens in the vaccines.

While some people believe that we “benefit from the retreat of childhood epidemics” we have traded in epidemics of acute diseases for epidemics of chronic childhood illnesses. Just 15 years ago we did not see the numbers we now have of children diagnosed with adult diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and other autoimmune disorders.  Additionally, there is an autism epidemic where one in 80 children are on the spectrum. Numerous parents have reported to the National Vaccine Information Center and to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) regression and other serious complications in their child after vaccination.

Holistic medicine teaches that when children experience their childhood illnesses and recover, their immunity is much stronger and healthier. Similarly, when a fever is let to run its course the child is stronger and healthier because the immune system did what it is supposed to do — protect the body with a fever. If we constantly reduce the fever with medicine the body never gets its chance to work properly. Similarly, if we never give the child the opportunity to get sick by using vaccines, their immune system will not develop properly.

I also take exception to the statement that “not even their most vocal critics claim that inoculation is more dangerous than measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, influenza and so on once were.” There are many people who would rather have the child get the disease instead of the vaccine. The vaccine lends only temporary protection while having had the disease gives lifetime immunity.

Our government formed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 which created a federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Over 2 billion dollars have been awarded to vaccine injured children and adults since this program’s inception. This legislation protects the pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits. The pharmaceutical companies are responsible for proving to the FDA that their vaccines are safe. Ask the parents of children who died or were seriously injured after inoculation if they think vaccines are safe.

Granted, some of the diseases are serious, however many are less virulent and are milder then they were years ago. Now that they are protected from lawsuits, drug companies are rushing to make as many vaccines as they can. For example, chicken pox in a child is a mild illness — more of an inconvenience to working parents. But chicken pox as an adult can be dangerous. We need to allow children to get their childhood illnesses as children when they are needed for the development of the immune system — not as adults, when getting childhood illnesses can be more virulent.

The most troublesome part of the article is in the comments of “how best to influence the child’s family.” As if all the “good” parents vaccinate and all the “bad” parents do not.

Parents should do their homework and not rely only on the doctors and the states’ recommendations. After all, these recommendations come straight from the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture these drugs. If you think the pharmaceutical companies are looking out for the best interests of the children, I have a bridge to sell you.

Parents should be encouraged to read the package inserts from the vaccines and see exactly what can happen to their child.  They may decide that it is in the best interest of their child to not receive these vaccinations or at least to follow a different schedule. Some parents decide to spread them out more so that their child does not receive three, four, five or six strains of pathogens at one time. That would be a major strain on a child’s immune system.

An issue of major concern here is the issue of a parent’s right to make informed medical decisions for their children without the pressure or influence of a medical professional, the state or the school district. With new vaccines becoming mandated each year children have become the largest marketplace for drug companies. We need an open conversation about risk versus benefit.

Interestingly, as I read through the debate comments, many were made by medical doctors, pediatricians in particular. As it turns out, this was not much of a debate at all.

Finally, and this is the only aspect of the article with which I agree with Kaminer, the doctor should treat the unvaccinated child. Furthermore, every pediatric practice should isolate the newborns and infants from all the other children, vaccinated or not, as they all may carry many infectious agents.

What are your beliefs about this controversial issue. Please leave a comment and let me know!

For more information about this topic:

National Vaccine Information Center

SaneVax.org

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nicole December 14, 2011 at 4:31 am

I would just like to add, in case anyone doesn’t know, Big Pharma uses the term “thimerosal” now instead of “mercury”, but it’s just the same. The spelling can sometimes vary. Thimerosal is essentially mercury and you need to know this if the vaccine is marketed as “mercury free”, it has what is considered by “experts” to be a “trace” or “insignificant” amount of “thimerosal”. In other words, it is NOT “mercury free”! I know this from working at a Big Pharma corporation a few years ago in the vaccine department. Haven’t gotten vaxed since!

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2 Heather December 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I would like to thank you for the respectful way you wrote your post.  Vaccines are a very hot issue and I’ve seen many on both sides take the stance that if you don’t do what they do you are harming your child.  The problem, in my opinion, with the debate is the focus on absolutes rather than individuals.  In wellness and with medicine we treat the individual needs.  Somehow in the vaccine discussion we often forget that each child, even within the same family, is different and we must make decisions based on their own needs, risks and benefits.  It’s the parents’ responsibility to do their research and make those decisions because no doctor or policymaker will ever know their child better or love them more. 

Sadly until it becomes possible to identify which specific illnesses will cause great harm to specific children if contracted and to inoculate them with specific, safe vaccines I don’t see the debate become any less contentious. 

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3 Bethany December 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Your article is very well written and I wholeheartedly agree. Before this article goes viral I recommend fixing the use of its and it’s so that you appear as properly educated as the rest of the article would suggest.

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4 Grandmareb57 December 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm

I agree with all of the above comments–you treated the issue fairly and respectfully.  So many parents, sadly, don’t even think about it, but just do what the doctor says.  Individuality is the key–for your family as well as each child

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5 Christine December 15, 2011 at 1:54 am

The topic of vaccines is so contentious.  It doesn’t seem like most people can have a discussion on this with any amount of level-headedness.  Our pediatric practice sees patients regardless of immunization status but there is definitely a strong bias towards vaccination.  I tried to opt out of the influenza vaccination this year – the hospital instituted a policy last year that requires masking during the locally-identified flu season.  Our clinic instituted the same policy.  I received flu mist last year and got immediately sick.  I’ve learned a lot about vaccinations since last year and didn’t want to get the shot or the mist this year and was perfectly willing to wear a mask.  My partners were very uncomfortable with my decision and my take on immunizations in general.  I agreed to get flu mist this year just to decrease the amount of drama I would have to withstand this winter.  It’s frustrating for me to attempt have a reasonable discussion with my colleagues on this topic; I can’t imagine what this discussion is like for parents with their child’s physician.  Thanks for writing on this.

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6 Jill December 15, 2011 at 2:27 am

Hi Christine,
Thanks so much for your comments. I guess you must be a doctor. I would imagine it is very hard to speak with your colleagues about this much less try to avoid mandated shots. It is a topic that really needs a rational conversation instead of being forced down people’s throats with fear tactics.

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7 Jen December 16, 2011 at 2:47 am

This is so thoughtful and insightful!  It bothers me to see the MSM propagating these lies from the industrial medical complex without checking the facts.  I know many parents (even outside of the real food world) who are questioning the use of vaccines.  It is a hard choice for a parent to make and they should be supported by their pediatrician who has pledged to do no harm!  I am not sure what it accomplishes to have a patient refused treatment especially when it has nothing to do with a vaccination itself.  It only hurts the child who did not make the decision in the first place. This world is crazy.

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8 Jill December 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Hi Jen,
Thanks for your comments. Well put!

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9 Guybrushlives December 17, 2011 at 10:09 pm

I commend your encouragement of informed consent and research, however I noticed the sources used to write your article were precious few. The National Vaccine Information Center is well known for it’s bias……

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10 Jill December 18, 2011 at 3:07 am

Hi Guy,
If the National Vaccine Information Center is biased, then they are biased towards the truth. They are an organization that collects the true facts of incidents of vaccine injury.

The drug companies would have you believe that their vaccines are safe for everyone. However, that is clearly not so. Why else would the government be forced to create the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program? Why else would 2 billion dollars have been paid out? This is just a fraction of what should be paid to the families of vaccine injured people.

The National Vaccine Information Center is a fine resource with plenty of primary sources to back up the information on their website. It is more than adequate for researching the truth about vaccines. Parents already get plenty of marketing from the drug companies in their doctors’ office and in the media.

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11 Montana mom December 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm

We are of the opinion that we would rather have our children get the disease than the vaccination. Yes, we did our homework. Yes, we love & care about our children’s health more than anyone in the entire world.

It is comforting to know that our children’s attention span, learning capability, personality, etc. is how God made them. I don’t wonder if it’s because of a vaccination. With both myself & my spouse being veterans (which came with a multitude of vaccinations) we can’t help but wonder what would be different in our own mental functions had we not been vaccinated. 

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12 Cheryl December 30, 2011 at 4:34 am

As a parent who made the choice not to immunize my children for their sakes and actively sought out chicken pox this year, it disturbs me to see immunizations forced in other sectors.  I was investigating colleges and my favorite required current immunizations — no wavers accepted.  That is only one example of what I’ve seen.  Sad to have our choices taken away…

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13 Jill December 30, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Hi Cheryl,
I thought colleges had to abide by the state laws and most states have some kind of waiver.Contact the National Vaccine Information Center for questions about that.

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14 Cheryl December 30, 2011 at 4:41 am

One last thing — my daughter who contracted Group B strep after being born was rushed to the hospital with breathing difficulties.  The hospital contacted a children’s hospital with a wonderful NICU unit to transport her.  Meanwhile, they felt that it would benefit her to give her a hepatitis shot and her first round of immunizations — less than one day old and fighting for her life.  She lived, but she has terrible food allergy issues that just continue to get worse.  I don’t know if it is related at all, but I still harbor resentment about their giving her those shots without our permission.  Talk about lack of ethics.  They didn’t know if I had hepatitis, so they were trying to protect her is what they told me.  What?  Terrible decision and they very easily could have asked about my health.

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15 Jill December 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Yes, in their eyes, the “standard” approach is safe. I think it is abusive to inoculate a new born.

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16 Ashley January 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm

I want to say first that I absolutely respect every person’s right to choose what they think is best for their children, and I do think that the amount of vaccinations that children are required to get has become a bit extreme and I also understand the point of letting the body’s immune system work on its own, but I think that there are many vaccinations that are important and children should get. I also agree that it seems like the amount of children that are diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, autism, etc. has definitely increased, but is that because it is being caused be vaccinations or because doctors are over diagnosing these illnesses? I know someone who has a 4 year old little boy that was diagnosed at autistic about a year ago because he would not speak and because of certain behavior, but now behaves just like a normal 4 year old, so since the are all diagnosed be observation and testing based on someone opinion, maybe children that are not “normal” are being quickly misdiagnosed. I think that vaccines should be required for illnesses that can be life threatening and for illnesses that are not should be left up to the parent to decide. It’s very scary because it’s so hard to know what the right thing to do is and there are things that scare me about vaccinations, but ultimately I think that I would rather vaccinate my children than take the risk of something happening and regret it later.

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17 Jill January 7, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Hi Ashley,
I’m sure many parents weigh the risks versus the benefits for their children as well. Some find the risk of the vaccine too much.

Some children are not healthy enough for a vaccine at the time it is “supposed” to be given. There needs to be a screening to ensure these children do not get injured from the vaccine.

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