How to Make Tough Choices: Immunization

Recently, we had the chance to interview Dr. Rachel Orscheln, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease doctor regarding vaccinations and their impact on childhood diseases. Her research is compelling. She describes the significant decrease in childhood illness and death due to common infections attributable to vaccination. She also explains how those that choose to selectively vaccinate pose a risk, not just to themselves but also to their community… because they are often the cause of outbreaks.

On the one hand we have Dr. Orscheln’s research and on the other, the links between toxicity and what Dr. Kenneth Bock calls the “new childhood epidemics” of autism, ADHD, asthma and allergies.

Dr. Kenneth Bock is the author of Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies. I bought Dr. Bock’s book because my son has severe food allergies and Bock asserts that the exponential rise in life-threatening food allergies as well as the 1,500% spike in autism in the last 20 years is due in part to the assault on our children’s bodies of “deadly modern toxins.” These are toxins that are found in our food supply, our environment and in vaccinations. Dr. Bock says, “Genetics alone don’t cause epidemics. Genetics are essentially constant from one generation to the next. Epidemics occur when genetic vulnerabilities are assaulted by environmental changes — introductions of a new virus, a new bacteria, or a new toxin.”

Dr. Bock’s position is not unique. Parents are taking a very proactive approach and educating themselves on this issue. Christine (@wyndsong) has some excellent points and helpful resources:

I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to vaccinate my sons, long before I even had them.  As a baby I was born with extremely severe allergies and was put on a delayed vaccination schedule by my pediatrician.  My older sister started her research on vaccines when she had kids, and since I was a teenager at the time, I read the articles and books she had to make my own decision.  Knowing that my children would have a high probability of having severe allergies as well, I knew that at the very least they should have a delayed schedule.  As I got older and read more about vaccines, and with the internet having more and more information so readily available to me, my decision to not vaccinate at all was confirmed.

There are many reasons not to vaccinate, but mostly it comes down to the idea that the risk of vaccines killing a child, or worse, out ways the risk of my child coming down with one of the diseases and it causing serious harm to them.  Some of the diseases that they want to vaccinate for are simply no where near as dangerous as the vaccine, such as the Chicken Pox. This is a relatively harmless childhood disease.  Yes, a child can have serious complications, but those complications are far less likely than the vaccine causing problems with your child.  At least as far as I am concerned.

Here are some excellent links that have helped me to make my decision not to vaccinate my children. – A Dr. in Australia dedicated to getting the truth out about vaccinations. – The National Vaccine Information Center – America’s Vaccine Safety Watchdog – a Site with tons of links and articles on the dangers of vaccinations -Vaccination LIberation – a national grassroots network dedicated to providing info on vaccines not often made available to the public. – One of the first sites dedicated to getting out the uncensored infomation about vaccines. Vaccine Truth – another great site with lots of information about vaccines.

So what’s an expecting or new parent to do? You can opt for thimerosal-free vaccines. You can request to see the vials for your child’s shots. You can choose to amend your child’s vaccination schedule or selectively vaccinate. Of course, I would advise that you weigh the risks and benefits and make all of your decisions with the counsel of your pediatrician. If you have any concerns regarding autism, ADHD, asthma and allergies… if your family has a genetic predisposition for any of these conditions, like @wyndsong’s, I strongly urge you to read Dr. Bock’s book.

I have to admit, I am really grateful that my kids are past the age when I have to decide on whether to vaccinate them as I did when they were babies. I myself was not as educated about this issue and yes, I followed the standard immunization schedule. Personally, my hindsight is NOT 20/20 on this one! Although we continue to battle with environmental and food allergies, I am grateful that my children are otherwise healthy.

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.


  1. Since ADHD, bipolar disorder, allergies & asthma are common in our family, I did a significant amount of formal “scientific” research as well as interviewing older family members before deciding to follow the standard immunization schedule.

    There were ~44 children born in our direct lines between 1900 & 1990. Four died before the age of 10, all of diseases that immunizations prevent in modern populations. Three more bore lifetime disabilities–reduced lung capacity, disabled limbs–as a result of these childhood diseases. Among the 11 of us born between 1950-1990, after immunizations became common, none died before age 10, none were seriously injured by disease, and we have a similar proportion of “crazy” aunts, uncles, & kids, and a similar proportion of people who have serious allergies–but no asthma, from which 3 of the previous generation suffered. The odds looked better to me with immunizations than without them.

    Another factor in my decision making: my husband by some fluke didn’t get all of the usual immunizations as a child, and somehow missed getting chicken pox, which is often deadly in adults. I didn’t feel like I could risk his health–and my family’s livelihood–in that way.

    It may be that our family is more susceptible to viruses than some, but I would really advise doing a little informal genetic/genealogical research as part of the decision making process.

  2. I want to thank both Christine and Lisa for adding their thoughts to this debate. I love and appreciate how knowledgeable you both are and the time you took to investigate your own situations fully before making choices for your families.

    For me, Dr. Rachel’s point about the seriousness of these illnesses is well taken. The scare about vaccinations has almost upstaged the fact that some of the diseases they have helped to eradicate are serious and deadly too.

    Dr. Bock’s point, or at least, my takeaway is that there is no simple answer. Genetics does play a part, which is why I want to highlight that both moms who have contributed here were smart to factor in their own family’s predisposition to react negatively to vaccines. Bock’s regimen not only includes an adjusted vaccination schedule but also changes in diet and providing patients with ways to increase their bodies ability to detoxify itself.

    As I read your stories, it strikes me that after “going deep” and doing the due diligence, weighing the risks of both options, there is a point where you have to make a call. I don’t regret my decision… and yet realize that’s because we were fortunate enough to not suffer any negative consequences from them.

    Does anyone else have any thoughts?

  3. Ria, I want to personally thank you for taking such a wonderfully refreshing and objective view on this highly charged issue. So few people and websites have done that, which often makes parents on one side of the argument or the other feel as if they are some how “bad” parents for whatever choice they have made. This article did not do that, and it is greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!