The Vaccination Debate


My Background

I don't share this with people often because it's such a heated debate. The tendency seems to be that admitting this means being judged and treated like a social pariah. But the fact is, I've never been vaccinated. It doesn't come up a lot so people don't treat me any differently really, but now that it has come time to make a decision about whether or not to vaccinate our children I'm feelin' the heat and condemnation raining down from both sides.

My parents took religious exemption from vaccinations. My lack of vaccination was technically their decision, not mine. However it honestly wasn't as big a deal back 'then'. For starters, the vaccine schedule was a lot lighter. You were given less than a third the number of vaccines when I was growing up compared to today. Additionally, the culture war over vaccinations hadn't really gained public momentum yet. It was considered much more of a personal choice that it is those days (not to say they didn't run into some opposition).

A New Culture War

Things have changed. Now if you take exemption from vaccines you are often accused of being a terrible parent who is putting not only your own but other children at risk. You are met with harsh criticism, anger, and even aggression. Strong advocates of vaccines want you to be forced to participate and if you don't, they seem to prefer you to be punished. Apparently, being unvaccinated is reason enough for your children to be denied good healthcare and education.

And don't think I'm letting the anti-vaccine camp off easy either. They often clump all vaccines together as all bad and latch onto propaganda that has very little backing. Most of the research is based on personal stories rather than actual scientific research---so it's hard to verify. Even if the evidence points to the contrary, those opposed to vaccines seem unable accept it and will only accept the evidence that supports their own conclusions. They too judge people who vaccinate in similar ways to the pro-vaccine camp.

Here's the thing. I want to make my own informed decision on vaccines. I want to do my own research. I don't want to do what my parents did just because they did it, and I don't want to cave into the opposite just because I'm being pressured to (and honestly I have considered doing them solely just to avoid the confrontation with doctors and schools).

There is something profoundly disturbing about the whole debate to me. No matter which side you are on, you can't respect the other side because you have something to lose. One side stands to lose individual liberty, one side stands to lose herd immunity. Therefore, neither side can be truly unbiased or fair in their research or treatment of others. And neither side is.

The Truth About Vaccines

I get how vaccines are suppose to work. And here's the kicker, it's not really about individual protection. It's about mass protection. It's not about giving yourself immunity (you can still get a disease you've been vaccinated for), it's about the rates of diseases going down over all in a community. There ARE individual risks just like with any drug or medical procedure. You can have reactions to vaccines that can result in illness or injury, sometimes permanent. If this was not the case there would not be CDC/FDA regulations/warnings for vaccines or a Vaccine Injury Compensation fund set up to pay out claims for vaccine-related injury.

It's similar to taking any medication. There are risks (and in rare cases injury or death) but for the average person the chances of injury are so low that it doesn't make sense to lose the benefit of the medication which could be life altering. It's the same with vaccines. The point is that the risk is suppose to be a small risk that outweighs the benefit of having disease rates drop overall.  I get that. But I also don't think anyone should be forced to put anything into his/her body, especially things that are potentially harmful. Like with any drug, you need to be informed of the possible side effects and make an informed decision for yourself.

But you aren't allowed to do that with vaccines because of the culture war that is raging. Usually, it's all or nothing. Most doctors insist they are safe and want you to take them on the approved (bloated) schedule. Dozens are administered now during childhood. They are given multiple at a time. The schedule is driven by pharmaceutical companies. Whether it's a vaccine for an animal or a person, the schedule has as much to do with the industry as it does research.

And in most cases if you want out of them you have to be 100% out. You cannot research them individually to see if the preservatives and binders in that particular vaccine are safe. You cannot ask to delay starting vaccinations in your children until they're older or to receive them on a more spread out schedule. It is all or nothing with judgement on either side. In a way, vaccine advocates are actually hurting themselves more when they make the regulations stricter. They're making it so that you have to make a choice, and some people would be more likely to participate if they were more flexible.

How This Effects the Parents Choice

This issue has become so heated that sometimes legitimate and serious health exemptions are ignored. NY State is on a mission. They've launched an intense vaccine ad campaign and many pediatricians in the area will refuse to see your child if you don't vaccinate. Our pediatrician's office is plastered with failure to vaccinate notices.

I know a woman who lives here locally who was basically forced to pull her son out of public school because he was unable to have certain vaccines. But here's the kicker, it wasn't a personal or religious choice. He was unable to have vaccinations because he had a condition that left him with a weak immune system that was unable build immunities. His doctor advised against vaccinations because he was unable to build the immunity to them (defeating the point) and because his risk of reaction was much higher since his immune system was so low. Now, there were other factors that complicated the situation between the school and the mother like the fact that their doctor was out of state...I don't mean to over simplify the situation. I imagine most schools would honor a doctor's wishes, but the point is that schools are definitely playing offense when it comes to vaccine requirements. At the end of the day this mom's choice was to either pull him out of school or to fight the battle (possibly all the way to a courtroom). They chose pulling him out because honestly, the latter would be exhausting financially and emotionally. 

Additionally, there are legitimate religious reasons to be opposed to vaccinations. For example, some vaccinations are produced in the fetal tissue of electively aborted babies. For someone who is strongly opposed to abortion this creates a huge conflict. They cannot in good conscious take that vaccination as it would be in violation of their personal belief system. And they shouldn't be forced to.

Individual Liberty

Even if vaccines are safe and even if they only work when the majority of citizens take them, I don't believe it is ever okay for government to be allowed to impose things on people against their will no matter how well-intentioned they are. Maybe you disagree with me. Maybe you are a "greater good" sort of person who believes the of the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. But as of right now our constitution still protects individual liberty and choice. 

A government who rules their people in a controlling/regulatory way is also a government that can create mass genocide, who can take away your freedom to exercise religion, who can imprison you for having an opinion different from their own. A government like that is dangerous.

I'm not trying to create a conspiracy theory about our current government. I am just saying that we have to fight to protect our government from corruption. One of the ways we do that is to protect individual freedom an not allow the government to slowly take away our rights one at a time. And the historical trend is usually that when we're afraid of something we forfeit our rights in exchange for feeling safe. We have to respect the right of others to choose for themselves even if they put themselves at risk in some way. It's not freedom if you cannot make the choice for yourself. 

Lastly, when it comes to medicine, we are notoriously trial and error. A lot of lives can be lost while things are experimented with. Medicine is improving but it is not perfect. Every person should be informed about risks and able to choose whether or not they receive specific medical treatments. 


I have strong feelings about this subject, obviously, but I feel I've always taken a pretty moderate view on vaccinations and am trying my best to research them and make an informed decision for myself and my family.

I suspect few will agree with this post because it's such a polarized issue. But that is what bothers me. It disgusts me how poorly we treat each other about this issue. It shocks me how much judgement there is on both sides. The whole thing honestly makes me sick to my stomach.


  1. Well written/thought out post. It is a tough topic and one I struggled myself. I def did a lot of reading on the various ones and talked to my pediatrician about any concerns I had. I hate that it's so polarized. There are valid points on both sides, and I wish people wouldn't get so bent out of shape over it.
    I wish you the best in your research and decisions, it's a toughie. :-/

  2. Thank you for your post. I have been researching and it's difficult to find a moderate view on the subject. It's so nice to see a post that talks about the good/bad of both sides of the issue. It's a tough decision to make. I wish I would have done this research 13 years ago before I vaccinated all of my children with all recommended vaccines & schedule. I wish I would have put some thought into it. I may have done things differently.