Dear Readers: It was a nice challenge to answer one of your questions this week, and I’d like to do more of it! Email your thoughts or queries to MamaGreenest@gmail.com and I’ll answer with a blog post. See below for this week’s question — thanks for reading!
Dear Mama Greenest: “Could you write more about your decision not to immunize? I’ve been back and forth about this issue and haven’t made a decision yet. I’ll be having my baby in September. Thanks!” —Jenn
I’ve shied away from writing about vaccinations on this blog because it’s such a hot button issue; I don’t want to offend anyone or end up defending myself. So it’s my hope that my opinions are taken as just that, and not a criticism of anyone who has chosen to vaccinate.
While many would argue that it’s irresponsible not to vaccinate your child, I would argue that our responsibility as parents lies not in blindly doing what we’re told by someone else, but in educating ourselves so that we are equipped to make informed decisions. Whether you decide not to vaccinate, or to do so partially, on a delayed schedule, or by the book (as recommended by the CDP), it should be a decision based on well-rounded research and one that honors your personal beliefs.
The main reason why we agreed we wouldn’t vaccinate Coraline now (I say now because it’s an ongoing dialogue) is this: While vaccines inarguably have tremendous public health benefit, they don’t really jive with our beliefs about health and wellness. Since natural immunity is stronger and longer-lasting than that from vaccinations, we prefer that Coraline’s immune system be allowed to build naturally, a process we try to support with all our lifestyle choices.
In The Vaccination Book, Dr. Sears repeatedly says that babies who are breastfed; do not attend daycare; and eat a high-organic, plant-based, whole foods diet should have strong immune systems and be at low risk for contracting infectious diseases; Coraline meets all of these criteria. This idea was echoed in Vaccination: The Issue of Our Times, where a number of doctors stated that the unvaccinated children they saw in their practice — who also met the aforementioned criteria — were generally healthier than the vaccinated children.
Another prominent factor in our decision was the manufacture of vaccines. For example, I don’t like that you can no longer get the mumps, measles, or rubella vaccines individually; why that is the case is suspect to me. And it’s no secret that many vaccines contain ingredients like formaldehyde, preservatives, antibiotics, fetal bovine serum, and aluminum (some, like the Hepatitis B vaccine, used to contain mercury). The amount is said to be trivial, but for me it’s still too much. I don’t even use chemicals to clean my bathroom, so why would I want them injected into my daughter, in any amount? Even Coraline’s doctor — who is supportive of our choice not to vaccinate — said: “You just don’t know what’s in them.”
I guess the bottom line is this: There are plenty of doctors, religious groups, public health officials, and parents who believe that not vaccinating your children is dangerous and silly. But there are also plenty who believe that to do so is dangerous and silly. That’s why it really is such a personal decision: What do you feel is right for your baby? Go vaccine by vaccine and asked yourself three questions — What is it? What is it for? Are they really at risk? See what you come up with and take it from there.
Green Living Tip of the Week:
If you’re looking for a way to freshen the air at home without using chemical air fresheners with overpowering scents, check out Moso Air Purifying Bags. They’re filled with bamboo charcoal (a completely sustainable resource) which naturally draws odors, bacteria, allergens, mold, mildew, and moisture from the air. So not only do they fight stink naturally, they make the air you and your family breathe cleaner. Not even a dry bag full of dirty cloth diapers can stink up a bathroom with one of these little guys around!