Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Vaccinations in Washington

The law about mandated vaccinations for children entering school in Washington State changed over a year ago.  Prior to 2011, Washington was one of the easiest states for parents to refuse vaccinations for their children.  In 2011 the state legislature acquired the belief that all parents who don't vaccinate do it out of some kind of negligent ignorance.  So, the law was changed for parents who choose to waive immunizations that they must get the signature of a licensed health care professional to prove that the parents were properly informed of the risks (and benefits) of not vaccinating.  Apparently the new forms are available, and to get your child into school next fall without shots you will need a doctor's signature on your child's form.  You can get that done at my clinic.

The issue of vaccinations is a complicated one and crosses into areas of physical health, morals, ethics, public health, religion, and parent rights.  Unlike what the public health officials preach, getting your child's shots are not as simple as they make it sound.  Each child (and family) has situations unique to them - biochemically, immunologically, sociologically, and religiously.  The decision needs to be informed of course, but those decisions need to be made on an individual basis, rather than the herd mentality public health espouses.  Parents from the first day of human existence have had to make difficult choices regarding the health of their children.  Too frequently life and death decisions face parents caring for their children. Sadly, it is not an infrequent situation where there is no guaranteed right answer in medicine.  With immunizations, there can be bad outcomes (though very rare) regardless of which decision is made regarding them.  So parents must choose which way to go on shots based on their best information, intuition, knowledge of their children, and health paradigm.  About the only bad parent decision here is to be negligently disengaged with all of it.

Nobody can tell you, as a parent, what the right answer is for your child.  That is a choice for which you, as parent, have to bear the weight of responsibility.  In your struggle to find the right answer I offer these questions to help guide your information gathering:

  1. How likely will your child contract the illness?
  2. How is the disease transmitted?  Contracting a disease through sex or intravenous needle is a lot different than by getting coughed on.
  3. What are the risks of complications from the illness in well nourished children?
  4. Can you afford to take off a week or more to stay home and care for your sick child?
  1. What are the risks from the vaccine?  (Check a number of sources, including the National Vaccine Information Center.  The public health orientation downplays these.)
  1.  What preservatives are used in the vaccine?  (Many still use a form of mercury.)
  1. How is the vaccine manufactured?  (Cultures are grown on eggs, monkey cells, kidney cells...etc.  Does your child have an allergy to these hidden proteins?) 

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