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Vaccinations: My Journey

vaccination

Over the years, I have been asked about my personal choices on vaccinations. I’ve answered privately because I believe that this is, after all, a very personal issue.  But now I think that the subject is so pressing and important that people who have gone through such a sobering process might be able to help bridge the divide and raise the conversation towards practical action, rather than name calling and blame.

The topic is a hot, highly contested one and has caused alarming division.  There is no need for me to go into the pros and cons as there is already an overwhelming amount of information out there.  What I will do is share my process and experiences and hope that it will help you with your own.

First, I generally believe that childhood diseases have a purpose: it is ultimately a strengthening growth process, which I have seen time and again in my children.  As long as the illness is properly supported, rather than suppressed, the child emerges somehow more in himself, sometimes with newfound skills and abilities.  We live in a world where illness is seen as the enemy that must be immediately annihilated, but illness does have a purpose, if we were to take a more objective and deeper look.  How many  biographical courses have altered upon the entrance of illness in one’s life?  It is something we must learn, not so much to blindly accept, but to work with more patiently and mindfully.

Next, the world has evolved from the time of deadly plagues and epidemics to one of much more knowledge, and superior health and hygiene practices.  Thankfully, not all of us live amongst rubbish and rodents.  We have decent plumbing, access to clean water and adequate, if not paranoid, health and medical care.  We can eat organic or biodynamic food whenever possible and get enough living sustenance and protection.  We have awareness of what is strengthening and depleting for the human constitution, and therefore have the choice and ability to live more consciously. The world today is so very different from the days when illnesses would wipe out entire villages and I don’t think vaccinations are the sole cause of this. There is so much more to illness than bacteria and viruses. We are more educated today and have many more options for supporting our well being.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, context is everything. What is your particular family situation?  What is your lifestyle? Do you and your children follow a healthy rhythm? How much processed, refined food and sugars are part of the diet? Are the children overstimulated by too much unpredictable moving around, electronic media, various and constant assaults to the senses, or are they generally kept calm and steady? Are you pretty good at providing boundaries? What is your personal context and is it right for you NOT to vaccinate for one illness but vaccinate for another? Could this be a way through? I definitely think so. That’s why I think one viable option is to go back to single vaccinations again and do away with the combined ones, if big pharma would only listen. So, for children who live in less than ideal areas, who are not getting adequate nutrition, I would probably vaccinate. However, I am still for going to back to single vaccines and a kinder schedule.  I do not believe in multiple vaccines given at once.  But I do stress context. Like I said, it’s everything!

Fourth, will you be able to live with your decision without becoming overly nervous, fearful and paranoid all the time?

Though my firstborn had two rounds of some vaccines, I fortunately found my inner conviction and stopped, even though I was basically fired by my pediatrician.  My little one developed skin asthma a week after his DPT shots and that gave me just the boost I needed to walk away.

After that, and for my second child, I left childhood disease vaccines alone.  I only vaccinated against Polio and Tetanus and only when the children were older. In my opinion, babies are way too young and fragile for any of the vaccines.  When we began to travel and swim in different resorts, I felt it was time.  When they were coming home with scrapes and wounds from who knows where, it was time.  If memory serves me, my youngest was about five or six when we did it and I was lucky enough to still be able to get single vaccines.  I was also able to get vaccine kits from Celletech, which prepare the body to receive the vaccine and to offer protection against its more toxic elements, through homeopathic formulations.

Because I chose to go this route, I was pretty diligent about providing a good rhythm for the children.  Healthy meals were served regularly and everyone was in bed early and getting more than enough sleep.  I shunned anything that was too overstimulating, as an over burdened nervous system taxes the immune system.  Refined sugar was not a regular part of our diet.

My children also had Waldorf Education on our side, so there was lots of everyday art and creativity, indoor and outdoor play, and a stress-free, enlivening education that supported their development.  I chose not to vaccinate, but I made sure to give them support as best as I could.

Did they get sick? Yes. One Christmas found us under self-quarantine with the chicken pox. (It was quite a treat to skip all the socials that season!)  For the younger one, it was very well expressed and he still has a few craters to show for it.  For my older son, it was so mild that it seemed to just pass through him.  Years later when other kids in school came down with it, he developed shingles. Indeed, it is a help to have a fully expressed version of the illness. You have it, work through it, and are done.

The worst illness we ever had was whooping cough.  The children caught it from another child with whom we had spent an afternoon at the beach.  We were in California then and it remains one of the toughest and most gruelling experiences of my life.  My son had never been more sick.  My older one who had two rounds of DPT didn’t suffer quite as much, though he still had it.  Would I have vaccinated against it if I had known what it would be like?  Perhaps.  But now that it’s behind me, I feel more confident that my sons have the best protection from this illness.

There is no easy way down this road.  Not if you’re a parent. Adults can do what they want with their bodies, but children cannot make this decision for themselves–a decision that they will have to live with long after you’re gone.  It is not to be taken lightly.  I salute every parent who has gone in there, read what they could, asked whomever they could, discussed, tossed and turned, and endlessly weighed their options.

We have to learn to respect each other’s choices about vaccinations as well.  No one is served by the bickering and hatred, certainly not our children.  It would be wonderful if we could have discussions on how to make vaccines safer for the human body, how to make single vaccines available and to have research funds go towards using less toxic substances.  If concern for humanity is the top priority here, then our freedom to choose which to use and which to forego must also be made possible.

I wish you all strength and enlightenment on your own journey.

5 Comments

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  1. lakenormanprep / Jul 26 2013 1:48 am

    I very much wish there were more single vaccines available. We vaccinated over many years and only did a few vaccines. I agree wholeheartedly on your point of looking at your life and what works for you and based on your experiences. We had three premies. The first two did not get the RSV shot and suffered horribly for years. When my last little guy came, that was the one vaccine he received. It will vary with every child. Terrific post on a tough topic.

  2. panjeetapales / Jul 26 2013 7:57 am

    Thank you, it is so tough because we have to make this decision totally out of ourselves, as you did out of your own life and context. It would be much easier if we could go by some guaranteed path dictated from outside. Here’s to more single vaccines!! Hats off to you and thanks for dropping in and sharing.

  3. Techie / Aug 7 2013 9:23 pm

    Thanks Panj. I’m sure glad that you wrote this. This is currently being discussed in the Breastfeeding Pinay FB group and so I forwarded your blog as reference. I’m sure this one will be of great help to the new moms there. =) keep on writing! Take care!

  4. tech29 / Aug 7 2013 9:29 pm

    Thanks Panj. I’m sure glad that you wrote this. This is currently being discussed in the Breastfeeding Pinay FB group and so I forwarded your blog as reference. I’m sure this one will be of great help to the new moms there. =) keep on writing! Take care!

  5. Julie Lapaz / Sep 27 2013 2:32 pm

    Thank you Panj. Ever since my son turned one-year-old, I’ve been in a tug-of-war with myself as to whether we should continue on his vaccination schedule. I think this is an enlightened view of a Waldorf mom as I am slowly metamorphosing into a Waldorf mom myself. I am so glad to have found your blog. It’s truly enriching and I would love to get in touch with you (I’m Davao-based).

    Keep on inspiring!

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