Vaccinations & Immunizations
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Vaccinations & Immunizations
We are traveling to Costa Rica with our 2 girls in May. Kaiser
recommends that the 4 year old have a typhoid vaccine and that
both kids take 7 weeks of an antimalarial (methloquine, I
think). Right now I am thinking they will take the
antimalarials but am iffy on the typhoid. Has anybody taken
kids to Costa Rica recently? Any advice? Also, I am looking
for an effective, but not-too-toxic insect repellant.
Check out the CDC (Center for Disease Control) website to see what they
I travelled all over Africa and did not take malarial medication. I have
heard HORROR stories, the kind of thing to ruin your trip. So, think
twice. I was very careful to apply strong insect repellant constantly,
and to keep my tent zipped up. A woman that I travelled with that took
the malaria pills got malaria.. probably when she was drunk one night and
didn't take precautions. So, in short, the pills are not 100% effective
and you still have to use repellant!
don't do it...
okay-here i go dredging up the old vaccination debate
again...my child is three now and i plan on finishing the
series of DP that she has already started. i'm trying to figure
out which of the other vaccines to do with her. i'm really
confused about the public health aspect of choosing to or
not to vaccinate. in the archives i read a post about an
''irresponsible mom'' who let her unvaccinated child play
with kids who had measles and then took her to a party two
weeks later where she created a massive measles
outbreak. wouldn't only the unvaccinated get the disease?
or do the vaccines not work that well. and then is the logic
that i should vaccinate my child because they don't always
there was another post from a mom making an
impassioned plea for folks to vaccinate their kids because
she couldn't vaccinate her immune-challenged child. it really
affected me but then i couldn't figure out how vaccinating my
child would really help her. if vaccinated kids can get the
measles wouldn't they be just as risky to her child as
unvaccinated kids would be? or is it that only unvaccinated
children can spread the disease and vaccinated kids just
get it? does anyone know how this really works? Is it really
true that if everyone vaccinated that these diseases would
disappear? what about natural immunity-would that
my plan was to wait until she was past 2 years old and she
is so now i'm just trying to figure out what to do. the public
health part is really hard for me to debate in my head and
with others because i just dont get it.
thanks in advance for your non -judgemental input.
on the fence
You asked whether vaccinated kids can catch the illnesses
against which they were vaccinated. Yes. My daughter caught
Whooping Cough (Pertussis) at age 18 months. She had already had
two of her three Pertussis vaccinations. Most likely, she picked
this up from an unvaccinated child in a public playground. Our
pediatrician, the recently highly-recommended Annemary Franks,
said that illnesses that were almost extinct like Pertussis are
back because the whole population is no longer immunized.
My daughter was sick for over a month, and coughed so hard at
night that she would vomit. She had broken blood vessels around
her eyes from coughing so hard. We had to keep her largely
isolated for most of a month, despite it being the middle of
sunmmer. It was heartbreaking to watch her go through such a
horrible illness and not be able to help her. Despite how sick
she was, Annemary told us she actually had a much lighter case
than she would have had without the two shots she received.
I'm trying hard not to be judgmental in my response and report
just the facts to you, but I think it's obvious how this
experience has shaped my opinion.
it should be mandatory
I've been reading not-so-few articles about this controversy,
and I will try to summarize (and quote) an article from May 2004
issue of Parenting magazine (that was my last article I read and
the one that I still have available). Try to get a hold of that
article would give you more complete reading and you then can
1. Yes, there is risk in vaccination, namely a allergic reaction
to the vaccine. BUT, the risks are tiny, for example, the MMR
vaccine has been linked to 1 death per 2,000,000 doses.
So, if you're rather uneasy about the potential risk to your
child, you can ask the doctor, if that particular vaccine has
been out in the market in a while and what the fatal/severe
allergic reaction rate is. Brand new type of vaccine might have
unknown side effect, for example, DTP has been replaced by DTaP,
which causes far fewer reactions.
2. There is only 1 vaccine required at birth, that is Hep B
vaccine. Since a high fever (most common severe reaction) is
much more dangerous for newborn, one might want to wait until
the infant is 2 MO-old. However, it's best that the rest of the
family members are screened for their potential to be carriers
(the test is not foolproof, though). Of course, if the baby goes
to any child care (albeit part-time), it's better to get the
vaccination (remember that the risk of reactions is such a small
3. Now, of course the questions are: Is it worth risking the
potential allergic reactions, albeit small, on your child? Are
the benefits outweigh the risks? Are the benefits only for my
child or for the greater good of the overall public health?
Most studies have shown that vaccines can prevent unnecessary
illness and tragedies. Smallpox is gone from the entire planet
(aside from what few labs might still keep), and who can argue
for the horror smallpox gave to human being. Polio is almost
gone from the entire earth (well, beside current outbreaks in
Africa due to wars). [USA: Before the polio vaccine in the
1950s, 1000 people dies and 20,000 more were paralyzed from the
disease each year; around 1980, zero]. Tetanus is also
completely useless thing to get and so easy to prevent. And so
on, so forth.
So, yes, I think the benefits of vaccination are greater than
Now, that you have taken the risk for your child, is there any
benefit for the overall public health. Or is my child 100%
immune from the disease, thus I do not have to worry about the
The answer for the later is NO. Your child might not 100% immune
because about 5% of cases -- up to 20% for pertussis -- a
vaccine does not fully ''take''. So, in event of exposure or
outbreak, there's no way to know in advance which vaccinated
child might get ill.
So you will think: ''After taking the risk of vaccination, my
child is still carrying 5% risk of getting the disease? So why
should I take the risk to begin with?''
This bring us to the topic of the overall public health. Here
what the article says:
''Vaccines are made from weakened or killed viruses (or bacteria)
that stimulate the antibody formation without the illness. Once
nearly everyone is immunized, it's difficult for the viruses to
keep the disease cycle going, a phenomenon known as 'herd
immunity'. That's why even unvaccinated kids in the US are far
less likely to contract a serious illness that they were just a
generation ago, when vaccination rates were much lower.
Ironically, herd immunity is also what makes it easier for
individuals to opt out. People don's see the disease that
vaccines prevent anymore, so they don't think there are
compelling reasons to be immunized.''
''But herd immunity can disappear. Last Sept and Oct, in
adjoining Westchester and Putnam counties in New York, 33
children and 6 adult caregivers got whooping cough; by Feb,
another 34 cases were reported. Health officials traced the
outbreak's origin to 4 children in 2 families whose parents
chose not to have them vaccinated.''
''Two years earlier, in a county in Germany where the
immunization rate for measles was only 76%, a measles epidemic
sickened nearly 1000 children. The rest of the country, where
the rate averaged 90%, was unaffected''
The article concludes by saying:
''So all kids - those who get their shots; those who can't get
their shots due to medical conditions that affect the immune
system; and those whose parents refuse shots - rely on our
society's near-universal immunization. When children around them
don't get sick, the won't get sick, either''.
The last paragraph can be rewording as (I'm sorry if it's too
strong to some members of the BPN): Those who chose to opt-out
are free-riders of the society since they can afford to opt-out
and most of time their kids are OK, because majority of parents
chose to take the risk of vaccinations.
Those who can not get the shots due to their medical conditions
are in the total mercy of the rest of the population. More
parents opt-out, the more dangerous situation their kids are in.
Having taking the risk
I don't know a lot about this subject but I do know when I was
trying to decide how to give my Daughter the MMR this website
was very helpful
It is a vaccine debate page. there are lots of people there
who have done lots of research on the subjects. try them to
get your answers. Good luck.
You raise some really important questions and I think you may
find it helpful to speak with the immunization nurse for the
City - she has years of experience in this community and can
respectfully address your concerns. She understands well the
public health imlications of under-immunized communities, and
can tell you what has been seen in Berkeley over the years. Her
name is Vera Labat and she can be reached at 981-5300.
Hi, It can be confusing. Vaccinations are about 90% effective.
It is the high percentage of the population that gets vaccinated
that limits the spread of the disease. Unvaccinated children
can spread the disease to vaccinated and unvaccinated friends.
If you are thinking about the best for public health your
daughter would be less likely to catch and pass on measles,
mumps or rubella if she is vaccinated. The MMR vaccination
protects against measles, mumps and rubella. If you are
thinking about the potential benefits to your daughter - Measles
can have fatal complications, Rubella can cause birth defects in
the fetus of a pregnant woman (if she were to get infected while
pregnant), mumps can cause sterility. This said, there are
reactions to the vaccine which I'm sure you know about. I hope
this helps. Good luck with your decision.
I dread responding to this issue, as it is so close to my
heart. I ask anyone worried about the small risk vaccines may
pose to their own child to PLEASE consider as well the vast
benefits they provide to his or her child and ALL children.
One of my children had a liver transplant as a baby, and so is
not able to be vaccinated against chicken pox or MMR. He is now
a thriving 5 year old, but these diseases could be serious and
even deadly to him. As you can see, we are literally at the
mercy of the community and can only hope that all parents choose
Our pediatrician has told us that no medical intervention,
Eastern OR Western, has improved health on the scale that
immunizations have. It is difficult for some parents, who have
never seen the impact of such diseases, to imagine and they
worry more about the possible reactions.
Another doctor told us that she saw a child with whooping
cough, a very rare disease, in the Children's Hospital ICU
because a significant number of the population in this area is
choosing not to immunize their kids.
By all means, find answers to your questions and concerns from
your child's pediatrician, but PLEASE immunize!
this was a tough one for us. my husband works in public health in alameda county
and has some VERY strong opions. i did some research and my mom's group
discussed this concept quite a bit. my husband and i had huge fights, sleepless
nights, tears in the pediatricians office, etc.....
Here is the bottom line of our family discussions: all of these diseases that the CDC
recommends vaccinations for have been seen somewhat recently in Alameda county.
They exist here. Period. Unless your child lives in an isolation bubble (think of that
70's TV movie The Boy in the Bubble), they are at risk of exposure. This is what got
me: the standard of care in the emergency department for an infant under 6 mo.
with a fever of 102+ and not current on immunizations - is a spinal tap/lumbar
puncture. A parent CAN NOT refuse this.
So here is what we negotiated: delay hep B until 1 yr or plans to travel out of the
country (I believe we are the only country that screens blood for hep B) and test our
caregiver. No more than two immunizations at a time and space them at 6 weeks to
try and stay in 'recommended' timeline. We started with Hib and Prevnar. Always do
thimerosal free vaccines if available. I have tried to find a separated MMR but it no
longer exists in this country, so I am contacting friends abroad. We put off the flu
vaccine last winter because by the time our daughter was old enough (my husband
wanted it twice and kept arguing with the ped's office about our daughter's weight
vs. age) the flu had already peaked. But we will be getting the flu vaccine the first
week it is available in the fall. (this is hard for me because I work with teenagers,
never get the vacccine, and never get the flu)
I wish you and your baby all the best.
found a middle ground that works
A discussion came up recently at a bday party re vaccination
for chicken pox. A parent arbitrarily thought they would get
their child immunized as a teen, if they did not become
infected earlier. A doctor made the excellent point that even
if you are willing to allow your child to have a very
uncomfortable disease as a child, they run the risk of getting
shingles, a herpes-like disease characterized by painful nerves
in the spinal area (sometimes debilitating). You can't get
shingles from the vaccine, only from live infection. From my
own point of view, I worry about the new moms that bring their
infants without full immunization to the preschool or playgroup
and are putting them at risk by being in contact with an
unvaccinated older child, even if their peer child is
immunized. I think this is something that anti-vaccinators are
not aware of -the risk to younger children they may be in
Does anyone know the official and practiced immunization policy
of UC Childcare? Does anyone have a non-immunized child that
attends, and if so, what was the process of getting them in
once you were offered a slot?
Our daughter has had most of her immunizations but we've chosen
not to do the varicella (chicken pox)until she's five. UC
Childcare required a note from our pediatrician and all it said
was ''the parents can choose not to immunize.'' I don't know if
the same goes for MMR, diptheria, etc. but that was all we had
You can still get UC childcare, even though you are choosing not to immunize.
All you need to do is sign a waiver form when you register your child. Tell
Judy Cayot that your child is not being immunized for X, Y, or Z, and that you will
sign the waiver form. It is a form saying that you recognize that your child
can and will be excluded from childcare if there is an outbreak of a disease for
which your child has not been vaccinated. It really is not a big deal to them,
though the director of my child's school once tried to scare us when a
brother contracted the chicken pox by saying my kid MIGHT be excluded from
school because he was not protected (turns
out the boy had actually been vaccinated and contracted the pox anyway!).
-Son Not Vaccinated
We have had all the required immunizations for our son, who is
in UC childcare, with the exception of the varicella vaccine.
When it was time to fill out the UC paper work (they require a
vaccination report from the doctor), I simply told them that we
''objected'' to the chicken pox vaccine, and signed some form and
there was no problem. If there is a chicken pox outbreak at the
school, however, I will have to keep my son at home (although
I'd rather expose him!). I don't know if they take the same
accepting approach with other, perhaps more important, vaccines.
I realize that vaccinations are a hot topic and I'd like to
clarify that this question concerns a child who is not able to
be fully vaccinated for medical reasons. My question is
concerning vaccines and preschools, not the pros and cons of
vaccinations. I heard that the Director at a preschool said it
is a licensing requirement that if a child is not vaccinated
and there is an outbreak of chicken pox, etc., he/she will not
be able to return to preschool until they either get and
recover from the disease, or wait approximately four weeks
until the incubation period has passed. Does anyone on this
list know the licensing rules for preschools re: outbreaks and
children who are not vaccinated?
I am a preschool teacher and a parent who chose to delay vaccinations.
preschools probably have the option to insist that you vacccinate your
child, but it is
not a licensing requirement. There are waivers that you will need to
California, you can opt out of vaccinations simply for philisophical
reasons as well
as for medical and religious reasons. On the waiver, it does say that the
exclude your child for some period of time. The key word here is ''may''.
schools will exclude your child if you don't vaccinate him or her; other
not. When my son attended preschool, there was a chicken pox outbreak. I
informed by the school of the outbreak and then given the choice to do as
A few years later, at my son's elementary school, there was a chicken pox
I was told that I could either have him vaccinated immediately or keep him
school for two full weeks. What all of this comes down to is that you
will have to
ask the rules at the particular schools you are applying to
My 2.5 yr old is going to preschool in the summer and they
want the medical forms filled out and turned in. We've
decided not to vaccinate her for MMR or Varicella. I
understand that legally we're allowed to do this, but how do
we get the forms for this? Will a preschool allow us in if we
don't do the vaccinations but have the proper forms? Any
advice welcome, thanks.
Do you feel comfortable expempting yourself from vaccines
because all the other kids are doing it so therefore your child
is pretty safe? From the point of view of families who do
vaccinate their children, this seems like a selfish motive.
If you want to exempt your child from vaccines maybe you should
accept the consequences that your child may not be allowed to be
part of a society that has decided that vaccines are best for
the greater society. i recommend you consider moving out of a
major urban area where your chances of getting a deadly disease
or passing it on will be less.
I also delayed MMR and Varicella for my daughter, and yes, you
are legally allowed to do this. There is a place on the back of
the blue state vaccination form (which schools keep on file for
licensing requirements) for you to sign a waiver. My daughter
attended a preschool in Oakland and is now at one in Orinda and
at both schools she was not the only child who did not have all
Before you opt out of vaccines consider that you can only do so
because most other people do not opt out. When large numbers of
people decide to make the choice you are making we will return to
a time when, during outbreaks of rubella, 20,000 children are
born deaf and blind. If you are particularly concerned about the
measles part of the vaccine, then why not get rubella and mumps
in a separate vaccines? Refusal of parents to vaccinate their
children has led to outbreaks of polio in India. If we do not
vaccinate our children we will see a return of deadly childhood
illness, and young men made sterile from mumps, and deaf and
blind children who need not have been. The CDC has said that
measles is not longer endemic in the U.S. ''The fact that measles
is not a commonly found illness in America is welcome news.
Recently measles outbreaks have killed hundreds in Asia and
Africa. The illness kills almost one million children worldwide
each year. CDC officials noted that measles could again become
endemic if the rate of vaccinations decreased. They also noted
that global immunization is necessary to protect Americans from
YOu can read the full text of the Immunization Safety Review by
NEW DELHI, India (AP) Polio cases in India have nearly tripled in
the first half of this year compared with the same period a year
ago, a jump that could set back the world's drive to wipe out the
crippling virus by 2005. The new figures were dismaying for
India, which only two decades ago saw tens of thousands afflicted
with polio every year, but was now thought to be on the last lap
in the race to wipe out the disease after an ambitious
In some rural areas, Muslim clerics tell their brethren to shun
the vaccine, calling it evil and part of a conspiracy by the
Hindu-dominated government to limit the birth rate of Muslims,
India's largest minority. Most of the new cases were in Uttar
Pradesh and Bihar states, according to the Indian government.
Rubella (German measles) is a mild childhood illness that poses a
serious threat to the fetus, if the mother contracts the illness
during pregnancy. More than 20,000 babies were born with birth
defects during an outbreak of rubella in 1964-65. The same
outbreak also resulted in at least 10,000 miscarriages and
Fortunately, major outbreaks of rubella no longer occur in this
country. Since 1969, when a vaccine for rubella became available,
children have been routinely vaccinated, helping to prevent the
spread of the illness to susceptible pregnant women. Most women
of childbearing age are immune to rubella because they either
were vaccinated or had the illness during childhood. Because of
widespread use of the vaccine, birth defects caused by rubella
have become rare.
However, since small outbreaks of rubella continue to occur, the
potential for susceptible pregnant women to become infected
continues to exist. As many as 2 in 10 women of childbearing age
are susceptible to rubella. Women can protect their future
children from the effects of rubella by getting tested for
immunity prior to pregnancy and being vaccinated if they are not
Mumps in young adult males (and older) may result in the
development of orchitis, an inflammation of the testicles - a
condition that ultimately can lead to a decreased sperm count.
Usually one testicle becomes swollen and painful about 7 to 10
days after the parotids swell. There is a high fever (often to
106 degrees Fahrenheit or 41.1 degrees Celsius), with shaking
chills, headache, nausea and vomiting. After 3 to 7 days,
testicular pain and swelling subside, usually about the same time
as the fever passes. In some cases, both testicles are involved.
Mumps may also lead to encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation
of the brain or the lining of the central nervous system).
Symptoms appear 3 to 7 days after parotid swelling begins and may
include: high fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea and vomiting,
drowsiness, convulsions, loss of consciousness and other signs of
A good way to exempt out of vaccinations is to attend a vaccine free
preschool! That way, the risk is fairly distributed throughout the student
population, as is the burden of prevention. These schools are hard to
find however, you may have to look over seas.
In regard to vaccinations it IS legal to choose not to go
ahead. All you need to do is give your pre school a letter from
yourself stating that you have decided for personal reasons not
to go ahead. Nothing else is needed. I know this because I am
repsonsible for all health forms for my pre school and some
parents at our school have taken this option.
There is no need for anyone at the school except the pre school
Director(and person administering your paperwork) to know.
It's legal to say no to vaccinations
I am not an expert, but I believe that although you can opt out
of shots when you register for public school in California,
private schools/preschools can set their own policies about
this. In other words, they are not obligated to let your child
attend if you forgo immunizations. However, I think that most
schools around here are flexible. You should speak to the
person in charge (at the preschool) about your decision, and
find out what they say. You may find them totally flexible.
When it comes time to register for public school, you simply
sign a waiver, which should be provided on request wherever you
We did not vax at all. you can legally do this. you have to fill
out forms but i think preschools don't have to let you in. you
may have to go with home type coop preschool. Legally only
public schoools k-12 cannot refuse you because you opt out.
check out www.909shot.com
You can exempt out of vaccinations ''legally'' for schools; not
for private pre-schools, which can make their own rules.
I wouldn't want you with My child if you exempt out of MMR; it
is bad enough that my children may have to go to school with
yours. I hope you reconsider.
Cynthia Cournoyer's book WHAT ABOUT IMMUNIZATIONS and the following web site
can give you the legal information about each state. All states allow
medical exemption: http://www.homeovax.com/vaccinat.htm.
Exemptions: There are three exemptions to the general rule.
1) Any person 18 years or older, or those seeking admission to a community
college. Health and Safety 3384.
2) If the parent or guardian files with the governing board of the respective
school district ''a letter or affidavit stating that such immunization is
contrary to his or
her beliefs.'' ''However, whenever there is good cause to believe that such
person has been exposed'' to a communicable diseases ''that person may be
excluded from'' school. Health & Safety 3385.
3) If the parent or guardian files with the governing board a statement by a
licensed physician who believes that the immunization wouldn't be safe for the
along with the nature, duration and contraindications of the medical
condition. Health & Safety 3386.
Designated Diseases: Diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles
and mumps. Additionally, any other disease consistent with recommendations by
US Public Health Service, will require immunizations. Health & Safety 3380(a).
(Immunization from Rubella was effectively eliminated. Health & Safety 3381.)
Tuberculosis is added under Health & Safety 3400. A ''contrary to his or her
beliefs'' exemption is allowed under Health & Safety 3406.
Philosophical Exemption: The following 17 states allow exemption to
vaccination based on philosophical beliefs: Arizona, California, Colorado,
Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode
Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
In many of these states, individuals must object to all vaccines, not just a
particular vaccine in order to use the philosophical objection or personal
exemption. Many state legislators are being urged by federal health officials
and medical organizations, to revoke this exemption to vaccination. If you are
to vaccination based on philosophical or personal conviction, keep an eye on
your state legislature as public health officials seek to amend state laws to
Medical Exemptions: All 50 states allow medical exemption to vaccination.
Proof of medical exemption must take the form of a signed statement by a
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.
states will accept a private physician's written exemption without question.
Other states allow the state health department to review the doctor's
revoke it if health department officials don't think the exemption is
justified. [In California, DCs can]
Hi, we teach vaccination seminars each year and this is where
most parent trip up if they don't want their children
vaccinated. When you get to the school that you want your child
to attend and they don't know how to handle the issue of your
right to refuse to vaccinate, you can always write your own
document, have it signed by a notery, make a copy for your
child's health folder and give the original to the school.
Otherwise, simply take the form that they have on file for
vaccinations, turn it over and if it is the complete form, there
should be a choice for exemption on that back side. Sign it,
make a copy and give it back to them.
Now if this is a Private school, they may have made it manditory
that you must vaccinate to attend their school . If you are not
going to comply, simply let them know that you are not going to
attend this school because of their ruling on this matter and
hope that they bend the rules for you. If not, you have no
legal rights to push the issue with a private school.
Please, if you are still stuck with this one, give us a call, we
will help you. Anything to support your choice.
Good luck. Dr. Eileen
There is an official form that schools use that list
vaccinations, and on the back of that (blue?) form is a nice
space that allows you to say you choose not to vaccinate for
personal reasons. And you sign it. Perhaps some pre-schools have
their own policies, so find one that matches your values. As an
RN who has witnessed damage from vaccinations (and the lack of
science behind all of this as well as denial of serious side
effects is astonishing) I urge you to continue to follow your
I appreciate your willingness to consider any advice. Here's
mine: As an epidemiologist, I believe your decision not to
have your daughter vaccinated against vaccine-preventable
diseases is an unwise one, and that you are choosing to put
your child, as well as those she associates with, at
preventable risk. Perhaps something in the following brief
information will encourage you to reconsider.
We, living in the US, so rarely encounter vaccine-preventable
diseases, our society has largely forgotten that unvaccinated
people are sometimes left with mental and/or physical
disabilities, disfigurement, and some die due to vaccine-
preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and
chicken pox. These and other results of vaccine-preventable
diseases occur in children as well as adults, and in developed
countries as well as developing countries.
Associations that have been made between childhood vaccinations
and chronic diseases or conditions (such as autism) have been
dispelled through solid epidemiologic investigations, and
results have been published by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), and peer-reviewed pediatric journals.
I encourage you to review CDC's website at www.cdc.gov for more
information about vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccinations,
and investigations into associations between vaccines and other
I have never used a form. I type or handwrite a letter
explaining that I have a philosophical objection to
vaccinations. A letter is what the preschools always ask for and
we have never experienced any problems with having exempted out.
I found that a note from my doctor to the preschool was
sufficient for documentation purposes. He supplied the reason
we chose to exempt. We weren't excluded in any way from
particiating in the program. By the way, we exempted out of the
same two vaccines as you have and had all the proof that our
daughter has had the other ones.
I had to respond to this one- not that I am a shrinking violet
on this issue - but because I had a good example of the problem
of unvaccinated infants/toddlers. In Sacramento, there was an
outbreak of whooping cough among the elementary school children
in a Catholic school last week where my sister's kids attend
that may have been due to the vaccine wearing out at that
point. The problem, however, is that those children should
never have been exposed to the virus if their younger siblings
were vaccinated as recommended.
I also find it incredible that parent's can opt out of
vaccinating and enter private preschools and that vaccinating
parents would not know about this. I will be certain to check
this out with my preschool and possibly boycott the school for
I feel compelled to respond after reading all the replies about
exempting out of vaccinations. First, with all due respect, you were
NOT asking our opinions about your decision not to do a full spectrum
of vaccinations, but rather how to communicate your decision to school
administration. Folks--vaccination is ultimately a personal decision,
just like other forms of healthcare and personal wellness: diet,
exercise, attitude, circumcision, family dynamics, etc. I think the
shrill and righteous tone of many replies was really uncalled for and
I am sorry that we all have to revisit this hard-line every time the
word vaccination is uttered. People can make intellegent decisions
about vaccination WITHOUT doing full spectrum ''by-the-book''
vaccinating, despite opinions to the contrary.
As for communicating your decision to schools. We did very selective
vaccinations on our son, and only started these after 8 months. He
has not had several at all (Hep, HiB and varicella). We simply write a
letter to school administation(s) (1 daycare, 1 preschool, and 1 BUSD
school, so far) stating exactly what we have done. We also state that
if our child is exposed to any of these illnesses, and if any of these
illnesses surface at school in other children, he will not attend
until there is no risk of illness. This type of signed statement is
the legal requirement. Some people use the blue form for the signed
statement; we write our own, more complete, version.
I was deeply offended by some people who replied to this posting
by stating that the poster might be selfish. If you think about
it, most people who vaccinate their children don't do it for the
good of society, they do it for the good of their children!
Conversely, a person who thoroughly studies an issue, concludes
that it's a bad idea, and then does the opposite of what everyone
else is doing, is not necessarily bad for society. For example,
Hepatitis B is not normally carried by babies and children. For
most of us, the medical establishment just decided that it was
easier to vaccinate babies for it while they were getting their
I was really surprised by all the answers lecturing the poster
for her decision not to vaccinate. Since she didn't ask what
people thought about the vaccination issue, those responses
seemed really rude to me. What if the kid had HIV, cancer, or
were allergic to vaccine materials?
Public health professional who vaccinates
To those who responded to the parent who asked about vaccination
waivers and such: I found it really upsetting to read so many
borderline-hostile replies. I myself am reading as much as I can
about vaccines and am still deciding whether or not to expose my
child to any of these supposedly benign vaccines. I see many
sides to the issue, and though I understand the public health
argument, I also see very strong arguments against vaccinating:
suppression of the immune system being just one. I think a
balance can be struck, and it's not an all-or-nothing decision.
Still, respect a parent's choice. Those of us who choose not to
vaccinate do not do so lightly or because we don't care. In
fact, I'd venture to say that, for the most part, those who opt
out have done a lot of their own research, and many people just
decide to do them all without even thinking about it because
their doctors tell them to.
If you do have your child vaccinated, know all the ins and
outs of that vaccine, and know the potential side effects of
giving them, especially when giving more than one at once. Has
anyone wondered why a Rider was added to the Homeland Security
Bill that basically protects vaccine manufacturers from major
lawsuits (I think class-action ones)? And why they do not
properly fund longitudinal studies of side effects, while
claiming that they are totally safe?
Anyhow, obviously the issue is complex. But respect those of
us who question vaccinations. We care about kids just as much as
anybody else, and want all kids to be as healthy as they can be.
I cannot believe the scathing responses to this request for
advice! So, what I understand, is that many of you would like to
see myself and my children go away, and not be a part of society
for not vaccinating my children?
Do you realize, that while vaccines are safe for most children
they are not safe for me, or my kids. We are allergic to a
component in several major vaccines. Because we aren't sure what
that is, it's safer not to vaccinate. At least not with the
normal guidelines. After my daughter almost died from the
allergic reaction, we've worked with her doctors to selectively
vaccinate. Her brother will not be vaccinated until he is 2 years
old, even then, it will be a case by case basis.
It would be really nice to see more people take personal medical
history into consideration before judging others.
I would like to express my frustration with some of the
responses to the request “How do I exempt out of vaccinations?”
While the author asked for advice, the request was specifically
about vaccination exemptions and preschools; not on the pros and
cons of vaccinations.
It seems as if you are getting a lot of responses, as
vaccinations can be quite a controversial topic. I agree that
it is wonderful of you to state that you are open to all types
of advice. I really believe in parents being informed and
empowered to make decisions like this for their children, even
if they go against the norm, as long as no harm is done. That
being said, I want to add my voice in support of vaccinations.
I do have a public health background, however, long before I had
that training, I was at a gathering in Oregon of a few hundred
people from the entire state. A friend of my housemates was
there with her unvaccinated five year-old daughter as well.
During the gathering, her daughter came down with a severe fever
and became quite ill. Immediately afterward she came down with
a rash and was diagnosed with having measles. She related that
her daughter had played with some children who had the measles
two weeks prior. Because she acted so irresponsibly, knowingly
taking her exposed child to a gathering of people assembled from
a large geographical area during the time she was most likely to
develop the disease and be contagious, she started a measles
epidemic around the state. The facility hosting the gathering
was just about shut-down, almost causing them significant
economic hardship, not to mention the impact healthwise and
other on all the families affected by her negligence. Now, I am
assuming that most parents who choose not to vaccinate their
children would never act in such a grossly irresponsible manner.
However, if you choose not to vaccinate your child, you cannot
count on others who choose the same to be reliable. Also, the
disease can be spread even among responsible people if someone
is not aware they've been exposed. If you feel uncomfortable
with the safety of vaccinations, you can always choose to give
them when your children are a bit older as well as separately.
Good luck deciding. Your children are lucky to have such a
thoughtful concerned parent.
As a health care professional I shudder at the thought of not
having children vaccinated. However, I also know that there are a
certain percentage of children who have suffered ill side effects
from the vaccinations. While my oldest child did have the oral
polio vaccine and I did and so did many others - I am so glad
that the protocol was changed to use only the injectable vaccine
because the incidence of contracting and spreading polio after
being given the oral vaccine was higher than we should be
comfortable with. You have to remember though - that prior to
these vaccines, many many people contracted polio and were
disabled for life - some even confined to iron lung machines. So
if the only choice were to possibly contract polio or take the
oral vaccine - you'de have to weigh your chances heavily. I'd say
with the injectable - given that there are a number of cases
every year and that we live in an area which attracts people from
all over the world - vaccinated or not - my advice would be not
to forgo this vaccine. I won't go into
the horror stories of diptheria,or pertussis as I have never
personally known anyone who contracted these diseases, but I
have known several people - adults and children - who have
contracted polio in countries where it is still somewhat
prelavent. As for tetanus - this is one vaccine that is worth the
risk if you ever want your child to play outside in the dirt.
As for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hemophilus,
Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A - okay - well I had measles, mumps,
rubella and chicken pox as a kid. None of them were pleasant and
I was very sick from the measles. My brother was very sick from
chicken pox and so was the kid down the street who wound up being
hospitalized. I have a cousin who had the mumps who can't have
children. I had scarlet fever as a child (no vaccination for that)
and was lucky not to have gone blind.
On the con side of vaccines though - when most of us were
kids, there were only a couple of vaccinations - all I had was
polio, dpt and of course smallpox. Now there are so many more
vaccines that a baby can get - my concern might be the cumulative
effects of the thimerosol (mercury based preservative) that is in
some of them.
Anyway, it is no fun to acquire immunity to these diseases
naturally and your child could die or suffer permanent disability
by not being vaccinated. So you have to seriously consider those
risks as well as the risks your child would pose to your own
family and other children if they did come down with one of these
preventable diseases. (I was also quarantined in our home for 2
weeks or when I was in kindergarten because of the scarlet fever
- along with the other kids in my family). Please be careful
about the information you read - there is a lot of misleading
information circulating (on both sides of the story).
We are not doing any routine vaccinations on our 4.5 month old
son for the time being. I am interested in an alternative,
homeopathic nosodes. If anyone has done these in lieu of
traditional immunizations or who knows of a reputable
practioner, please let me know.
I am reminded of a post that appeared a couple of years ago from
the mother of a child whose immune system is extremely damaged
and for whom any contact with an unvaccinated child is an
enormous danger. She asked us to consider the dangers to her
child of diseases as common (and seemingly benign) as chicken
pox: your decision not to vaccinate could result in her child's
My first baby is due shortly, and I am wrestling with the issue of
whether or not to vaccinate (and if I do, which ones might I want and which
not?) The fact that people are so polarized on this issue makes the
decision(s) that much harder. I know where to find plenty of info at the extreme
ends. Does anyone know where I could find a resource who discusses BOTH pros
Re Balanced Resources on Vaccinations, I doubt there are any. It is
such a contentious issue. For a list of vaccine related links, try
http://www.access1.net/via/ . This is the "Vaccine Information
Awareness" and the links on this page are sorted "pro-choice"
"pro-vaccine" so at least you have access to biased information from
There was a mothering magazine special issue on vaccines which is
worth reading. They had a panel with 3 pro and 2 con interviewees.
It's worth reading this as well as the letters to the editor which
There was also a misc.kids faq on immuniztions a while back. I don't
know if it's been updated. I found it quite interesting to read plus
it had indivuals describing their own decisions and how they made
Good luck in your pursuit of info.
I would like to suggest you check out the MOTHERING issue Summer 1996
(No. 79). Also, a book written by a mother of 3 children researched the
problem and wrote the book WHAT ABOUT IMMUNIZATIONS (by Cynthia
Another good resource is IMMUNIZATION Theory vs Reality, by Neil Z. Miller.
Hope this helps!
Perhaps the person requesting information on immunizations saw the
articles in the Sunday, October 10, 1999 issue of the
Examiner/Chronicle. If not, they can be retrieved at:
http://www.sfgate.com. There are several articles(Who Should Call the
Shots, A Push to Return to Injectable Polio,A Gift of Health ); The
following Sunday, the 17th, there are several letters to the editor.
These were some of the onlne resources listed at the end:
HAVE YOUR SAY
--To reach us: Respond to THIS WEEK'S TOPIC at sunday AT sfgate.com,
or join the discussion at sfgate.com/vent/ sunday. For other ways
to reach us, see Page 5. See inside for feedback to recent
--To learn more about the medical arguments for vaccines, visit
the web sites for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control at
www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe or the World Health Organization at
--To read more about criticisms of vaccines, visit The Global
Vaccine Awareness League at www.gval.com.
--To read more about vaccine requirements for California
students, visit the California Department of Health Services at
Tim Vollmer is a medical anthropologist and writer based in the
My partner and I, after some reading and much agonizing, decided on a
course of action that we're still feeling very good about 14 months later.
I haven't seen anyone talk about it as an option, so here is the basic idea.
There are many problems with vaccinations, but even though we felt
very concerned after reading a book about vaccinations from a homeopathic
perspective, we agreed that we couldn't live with the possibility that
our son would die from an illness we could have vaccinated him against.
Once we decided to vaccinate, we focused on HOW to do it. One of the
problems with vaccinations is that they are given so early -- earlier than
(in some opinions) the baby's own immune system is ready to handle them.
A second problem is that they are given in groups, which makes it hard to
know what the baby reacts to if there is a reaction.
To address both these problems, we decided to start vaccinations a few
months late, and stagger them so he only got one shot per visit. The
decision when to start and in what order can be made based on: 1) discussion
with your doctor, 2) information about the risk from the illness vs. the
risk from the shot, 3) your own anxiety/gut feelings about how long you can
wait, and which illness you're most afraid of. We factored all these in and
decided to start at 4 months and add another shot every few weeks thereafter.
A couple of the vaccinations our doctor agreed are unnecessary for infants
altogether so we're skipping them.
The only thing I'd do differently is that I may start a little later.
At the time, however, we got anxious about winter coming and potential
As an unexpected side benefit, I found giving the baby one shot at a
time much more humane than three shots. From friends' stories, I got the
impression that it's the second and third shots that really get the babies
scared, as opposed to the pain of one shot that does not induce the same
Lastly, make sure you have a flexible, knowledgeable doctor who can
accept and support your decision even if he or she does not agree with it.
One doctor's office told us on the phone that the doctor would not agree to
us not vaccinating our baby -- needless to say, we chose another
doctor. We wanted to make sure that whichever way we decided to go, we'd
have the doctor's respectful support.
Good luck to you, whatever you decide.
Mothering magazine has a 1997 publication entitled
Vaccination: The Issue of our Times, A Selection of Articles, Letters,
and Resources, 1979-1997. (phon: 888-984-8116). It includes the "Experts
Forum" (of 3 pro and 2 con) which a previous reply referred to. I think it
is a fairly balanced view, although I haven't read the entire book.
Thought I wish we'd read it, before our child was born, it helped us to decide
to continue to vaccinate, but to slow down the vaccination process, and
omit some of the vaccinations. It's also good to keep up with current
research findings as much as possible, and probably to hold off on newer
vaccinations. (For example, had I known more about hep B, I would not
have had it given to our newborn right away or perhaps at all, and when we
asked our pediatrician to hold off on the hep B follow-ups, she said that
there was research showing that waiting a long time, meaning even years, for
the 3rd shot had more protection; had we not brought it up she wouldn't
nave even told us that, as that is not the "recommended" schedule.)
Support for LONG-TERM (longitudinal) research on vaccinations is essential
for us to really know what is effective and what the risks truly are, so I
would encourage all of us to find ways to support efforts to encourage this
type of research, as well as wide dissemination of findings to the public.
I would like to suggest you check out the MOTHERING issue Summer 1996
(No. 79). Also, a book written by a mother of 3 children researched
the problem and wrote the book WHAT ABOUT IMMUNIZATIONS (by Cynthia
Cournoyer). Another good resource is IMMUNIZATION Theory vs Reality, by
Neil Z. Miller.
Worried about Vaccinations
Is anyone familiar with the theory that vaccinations for early childhood diseases (measles,
mumps, chicken pox) may be linked to cancer in children? A friend has passed along some
articles from periodicals (The American Chiropractor and Townsend Letter for Doctors and
Patients) rasising this possibility, which is not part of the standard disclosures given by my
pediatrician. My son just had his first birthday and got all those vaccinations, so now I'm
worried. Has anyone evaluated this theory?
I don't know if you've been reading Mothering magazine, but they've run
several articles on vaccintion, and I highly recommend the latest issue
(there's a special report on a worldwide vaccination conference and an
article about mercury in vaccines). You can buy the magazine at natural
food stores and/or read it online at www.mothering.com. The magazine's
editor, Peggy O'Mara, also has a book called Natural Family Living (I think) and I'm
sure she talks about vaccination issues there.
Pre-birth, I wasn't going to get vaccinations for my child because of all the rumours
about autism. After birth, my husband and I left our great pediatrician because he
would not support our decision. We finally found a pediatrician that is very informed and
supportive of our decision. She recommended that if nothing else, we should get the HIB
shots (which we are doing). But, after further reading, I'm still open to researching and
discussing whether to vaccinate further.
There are two publications I know of that are good resources along with a past discussion
on this network from a mother who went to the first international conference on vaccines:
1)the latest issue of Mothering magazine (March/April) has a summary of the second
int'l conference on vaccines along with lots of reference material in the articles. It's great
and should be read by everyone! It talks about mercury levels in vaccines and
combinations of vaccines being linked to the rise in autoimmune disorders (autism, ms,
chronic fatigue syndrome, lupis, asthma, etc...), AND that there just haven't been good
science to disprove these connections.
2) the second is a book Vaccinations...the issue of our times. a Mothering publication full
of research and references. 888-593-2784.
Unfortunately for our children, there is a great amount of controversy that results in
many pediatricians taking a defensive posture in favor of vaccines. At the very least all
pediatricians should be up on the latest reports. Do you know if your Pediatrician is? We
asked our first one and he said he didn't know about the international vaccine
conference. Go figure!
I decided to consider vaccines when my kid might be in danger of contracting that
particular thing. There is no reason to give a newborn Hepatitis B for
convenience-especially when there is no science proving it is safe and evidence to the
Good luck and read! read! read! take responsibility.
I would like to note that parents who decide not to vaccinate would
likely be quick to get a vaccine if they were to visit a country where
polio, measles, whooping cough, mumps, etc. are rampant. The diseases
themselves are much more dangerous than the vaccines. Children who
are not vaccinated are protected from disease only because other
children are vaccinated. Below is a reference to an article on the
October 3, 2000, Tuesday
PERSONAL HEALTH; For the Vaccine-Wary, a Lesson in History
By JANE E. BRODY
Source: The New York Times
Section: Health & Fitness
Abstract Jane E Brody Personal Health column says most
parents now raising questions about safety and wisdom of
childhood immunizations have never seen a case of whooping
cough, polio, measles or mumps, having been protected
against such serious infections by series of vaccinations
administered early in life; warns that ill-informed
hysteria about safety of current vaccines could once more
bring these awful childhood diseases to the fore (M)
See Does MMR cause Autism? for a continuation of this discussion ...
Vaccinations for trip to India
We are going to be traveling to Dharamsala, India, in late May with
our two year old daughter and staying put there for up to six
months. Does anyone know if Malaria is a risk in Dharamsala? For the
most part it seems like it's not, but if anyone has any personal
experience with this I'd appreciate hearing about it. Currently we are
giving her all the regular childhood vaccinations as well as Typhoid
and Hep A for our travels. Does anyone know if the meningococcal
meningitis shot is safe for a child just turned two? Is there any
protection from tuberculosis available? Lastly, if anyone has traveled
to this area with a small child i'd love to hear about your
For the family traveling to India, you can go to the Centers for
Disease Control website @: to obtain
disease and vaccination information for travel to a foreign country.
I haven't been to Dharamsala specifically but our son (now 3yrs old) was
born in India and we travelled back and forth (US, Delhi, Bombay,
southern India) for the first 18 months. I had a very good pediatrician
in India and he strongly suggested that we give malaria medication to our
son after he was about six months old. Most malaria medication has side
effects and our doctor gave medication for short periods of time (2-3
moths after which we took a break for a while before restarting--he also
made us get the pediatric dose from the US, which can be a pain because
once mixed the medication must be refrigerated). We also followed
preventative measures: closing our doors/windows during dusk, clearing
all drains and standing water around the house, mosquito netting, burning
a particular herb (not with teh baby in the room), long cotton clothing,
insect creams etc..
Some Indian pediatricians still suggest BCG vaccine (for lung TB) but I
was told that it didn't prevent all strains that are prevalent. You
didn't have Hep B on your list ... and I'm pretty sure our son had that.
In any case, while the vaccinations are important I think there are a
bunch of other issues relating to general hygiene/food preparation and
other related stuff that are equally, if not more important to make sure
your baby and you remain healthy and fine.
I did not see the initial request for advice, so I don't know
specifically what you were asking. We travel to Calcutta every
year and get the following innoculations: thyphoid (available in
a five-year pill); malaria (pills that you have to take weekly
beginning four weeks before the trip and ending three weeks after
the trip); hepatitus A (now one shot with a booster); and tetenus
(always a smart thing to be innoculated against). Other shots are
recommended for other parts of India (eg., I think they recommned
cholera for northern India.)
Travel medicine seems to be an unstable line of business. Every
year I've had to go to a new physician because the one I went to
the previous year had stopped doing travel medicine. It's very
frustrating and not always easy to feel really clear about what
you need, particularly for a child under the age of two.
Vaccination Exemption for Green Card?
Would anyone be able to help with this question?
I have young children and we are about to apply for green cards. The
medical exam has recently started to involve compulsory vaccinations,
not just for DPT, Hepatitis B, but also some that are not required for
schools, such as Chicken Pox, Pneumococcus...
We had most vaccinations back in England, but I have become increasingly
aware of the dangers of vaccination, and want to avoid giving my
children any more.
Does anyone have recent experience of claiming either 'religious' or
'moral' exemption when applying for a green card?
I'd be very grateful for any advice on this...
I recently went to a doctor to take my shots for the greencard and he gave
me a list of the shots that my age group needed to take. All the
vaccinations that re listed in the INS papers are not for everybody and if
your children kept up on the shots in England and you have their vaccination
cards you might not have to take any. I went to a doctor in downtown SF I
can't remember the address but he was on the list from INS. You can call a
doctors office and ask them which shots that your children would need to
take. Good Luck.
I recognize that people have strong feelings about the
vaccination issue. While you may disagree with the author’s
decisions, it seems disrespectful to use this forum to advocate
your uninvited opinions. She states, “We've decided not to
vaccinate her for MMR or Varicella.” She clearly has already
made her vaccination choices and is only seeking advice on
The Parents Network rules and policies state: “The newsletter
should not be used as a vehicle for broadcasting a personal
message to as many people as possible. . . ‘Advice Given’ needs
to be an answer to somebody else's question. . .” I would
appreciate if people honored the Parents Network’s guidelines in
[Editor Note: yes, we made a mistake allowing postings that did
not answer the question, as that is not the policy of the
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