A Great Way to Choose a Pediatrician: Talk about Vaccines

Choosing a pediatrician was one of the most challenging decisions I had to make before our baby was born. I would soon have a very small and precious bundle of life who would depend on me to take care of him. So it was vital for me to find a doctor who had the same philosophy when it came to prevention and how to keep my child healthy.

I grew up in a family that used alternative medicine as the first line of defense against illness. Mom’s mantra was, “Let thy food be thy medicine.” Or alternatively, “You are what you eat, so you are going to eat good, healthy food!” I rarely used over-the-counter medication and don’t actually ever remember being sick enough to go to the doctor. I wanted a pediatrician who was open to alternative therapies and looked more toward prevention than prescribing medication every time I made an appointment for our sick kid.

I checked out the doctors in our area and set up a few appointments. The interviews were a bit awkward because I really didn’t know what to ask. All the doctors gave the same general answers – they were against over-prescribing medication, they agreed a healthy lifestyle was important, etc. I glossed over the topic of vaccination because I hadn’t really formed an opinion on it at the time. Little did I know that was the MOST important topic to discuss with the pediatricians.

I had already decided on a pediatrician when I started looking into vaccines. What I discovered about vaccines absolutely astounded me. It was definitely the first thing I wanted to discuss with our doctor on our baby’s next visit.

I wanted to understand the sheer amount of required vaccines – a total of 48 doses of 14 vaccines by the age of six under the current schedule. That’s about three times as many as I had growing up. Where did all the extra vaccines come from? The diseases they were supposed to protect against were not new, so why were they suddenly needed? And why so many at such an early age? A child is growing and developing at an rapid rate between birth and two years of age. It doesn’t make sense to me that children are required to take so many vaccines before their brains are fully developed.

The day of our child’s checkup came and it was going so well – at first. The doctor came in, checked out our son and pronounced him healthy and thriving. His next statement was when things started to go terribly wrong.

He said, “Here’s the list of vaccinations your son will be receiving today.” I said, “Hang on, I don’t plan on giving him anything today. I have several questions regarding vaccines first.” The doctor put his head down to his chest, took a deep breath, and pleaded with us get the vaccines now. I refused and before I could get my questions out, the doctor stormed out of the examination room. He looked visibly angry like he wanted to hit something.

After my initial shock at him leaving the room, I got very angry. It is OUR responsibly to ensure our son’s health and wellbeing, not his. I am not going to blindly agree with any doctor’s recommendations without being fully informed of the risks and benefits first. That was the last time we saw that pediatrician – it was then that I realized I should have spent more time discussing vaccines and the pediatrician’s philosophy before selecting one for our child. Needless to say, I quickly found another who would listen to my questions and work with me.

Ironically, the first pediatrician’s response to not following the current vaccine schedule caused me to really start researching the subject. And what I read shocked me –  starting with the lack of safety testing. Vaccines are usually tested for only 30 days – not nearly enough time to ensure there are no long-term side effects or that they actually work as expected. Additionally, there have NEVER been any tests to verify the safety of giving multiple vaccinations at the same time. We should at least KNOW what the potential side effects are for the cocktail of vaccines our children are required to take. Without long-term testing, how are we do know that vaccines are safe and effective? The scary answer is that we don’t, but we are told to give them to our children anyway.

The lack of long-term testing was a real eye-opener for me. How in the world do vaccines, a fundamental practice of Western medicine, get approved by the FDA without long-term testing that proves dangerous side effects are indeed extremely rare? It makes me wonder what else the medical community isn’t telling us about vaccines. Because if vaccines did work, there would be scientific studies conducted by an unbiased agency to prove it. Instead the pro-vaccine camp is doing what it accuses alternative medicine of doing – making claims of safety without the scientific evidence to back it up.

Vaccines have become a very emotional and highly controversial topic in this country. Most of the time if I mention the words “revised” or “delayed” with vaccines I am immediately thought to be an ignorant person who is doing harm to my children. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am continuously reading new reports, recommendations and information regarding children’s health. I consider all the facts and make a decision based on the benefits as well as the potential side effects. While I can find a plethora of reports and articles on problems with vaccines, I haven’t found a single, unbiased study showing that the current vaccination schedule makes my children healthier. Without proof vaccines work, I see no reason to give them to my children.

And I am in good company, studies have shown that parents who have at least some college education are LESS likely to vaccinate their children than parents with just a high school education. I am optimistic that we are close to a tipping point with vaccines. In 2008, 39 percent of parents delayed or refused vaccines for their children. That number is up from 22 percent in 2003. So many more parents are asking questions that can’t be currently be answered. Many more are choosing to either delay or not get their children vaccinated at all. Independent agencies are running the much needed long-term tests that will hopefully finally provide conclusive answers as to whether the current vaccine schedule helps or harms our children. Until that time, I will continue to “delay” our children’s vaccines and “let thy food be thy medicine” to keep our kids thriving.

I encourage everyone to read the Vaccine Dangers section of this site and take charge of your family’s health by saying no to vaccinations.