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Why I delay my kids' vaccinations

The vaccine-autism debate rages on

by Lylah M. Alphonse  |  11176 views  |  8 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Controversy is always brewing when it comes to the Great Vaccination Debate, and actress Amanda Peet recently kicked it up a notch recently when she told Cookie magazine that she thinks "parents who don't vaccinate their children are parasites." 

Now, what I'd like to think she meant is that parents who don't vaccinate their kids are relying on the fact that other people do, so their kids are protected anyway. But many parents are on the fence about vaccinations in general, and I'll admit here and now that I'm one of them.

This September, kids in New Jersey will have to get a flu shot in addition to all of their other immunizations before they can go to preschool or daycare. Amanda Peet notwithstanding, I have a problem with this.

It's not the "Big Brother" aspect of it, per se, or the fact that the influenza vaccine isn't really that effective (it works on less than 15 percent of the people who exhbit flu-like symptoms). It's the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu shot is one of the few vaccines that still contain thimerosal, a preservative made up of approximately 49-percent ethyl mercury that has been linked anecdotally to autism.

Why do I say "anecdotally"? Because what a parent observes in his or her child, even if it's the same observation made by hundreds of thousands of parents in hundreds of thousands of children, is not technically scientific proof of anything.

Before I get beat down by angry commenters, please note this: Our 10-year-old boy was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high-functioning Autism, nearly five years ago. When he was about around 19 months old, and again just before Kindergarten, he received several vaccinations simultaneously, which is standard procedure. Some of the shots were for multiple diseases and, at the time, all of them probably contained thimerosal. He has never been the same. We don't know whether it was the thimerosal, or whether his young immune system became compromised, or whether it was already compromised and the shots made it worse, or if he had some other (maybe genetic) issue that was triggered by the shots, but after the last round of them we became card-carrying members of the Autism Community. So my calling the evidence "anecdotal" -- hey, that's just me trying to be objective here.

But if you're looking for scientific evidence, here's something for you: A study conducted earlier this year and presented at the International meeting for Autism Research in London found that infant monkeys given the vaccines officially recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics exhibited autism-like symptoms after vaccination. Medicines are routinely tested in monkeys before they are approved for public use; no such safety testing of the current childhood vaccination regimen has ever been conducted.

About the Author

Lylah M. Alphonse is a journalist, blogger, and mom and stepmom to five kids. She is a Senior Editor at Yahoo! Shine, writes about juggling full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day here at Work It, Mom!, and blogs about everything else at WriteEditRepeat.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter: @WriteEditRepeat.

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8 comments so far...

  • What if mercury-free flu vaccines were made available? Would that change anyone's mind?

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by InnovationMan on 7th May 2009

  • My firstborn had a lot of surgeries in his first year of life and because of that, his vaccines were delayed. I`m still rather worried about them, because we live in a third world country where stuff like this isn`t really talked about. But my boys are going through their vaccines at a very slow pace.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Genesis on 11th August 2008

  • Lylah: Thanks for this post. Like you, I'm vaccinating my daughter --- but not at the pace recommended by the CDC. I have a petite little girl, and it was her baby pediatrician who actually suggested that I might not want to give her so many doses at once. Yes, it means more trips to the pediatrician... but it's fine.

    Re: Jenn1125, I do believe that vaccinations are important. A school near us was shut down this year because of so many cases of whooping cough (many of the kids were not vaccinated). It got dangerous because the big kids were bringing whooping cough home to their baby brothers and sisters. Very scary.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Rachel S. on 30th July 2008

  • Sandra: I'm going through that right now. Our youngest just got his MMR last week, and I've been hyper-alert for any signs of, well, anything...

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse on 24th July 2008

  • Interesting study just released that recognizes Mercury-Autism biomarkers:

    According to a recent press release by the Coalition for Mercury-free Drugs (mercury-freedrugs.org), "A Prospective Study of Transsulfuration Biomarkers in Autistic Disorders," published in Neurochemical Research (July 2008), recognizes mercury susceptibility markers in patients diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

    The complete study is here: http://www.usautism.org/PDF_files_newsletters/A_Prospective_Study_of_Mercury_Toxicity_Biomarkers_in_Autistic_Spectrum_Disorders1.pdf

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse on 24th July 2008

  • I also have a 10 year old son whom I believe was damaged by vaccinations. I've taken an approach similar to yours with his younger siblings. They've been vaccinated, but on my schedule. I've done research and I really do not want my kids to ever suffer through measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, or any of the other diseases that vaccinations defend against. But I'm scared every time I have to help hold a child still for injections. The gut wrenching fear does not dissipate until I can tell that the child is still doing well a week later.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Sandra Tayler on 23rd July 2008

  • I did not hear this latest news, and I agree with another post, it's crap. Considering the fact that part of my job every day is to work with families with children with autism, I am pretty current on my research. I need to be careful what I say here, so I'm just going to say that this should be a parent's decision, and yes, there have been some studies to show links between mercury and autism. Is trhis just another form of governmental control?
    Kids need to be exposed to these things-how are they supposed to build up an immunity????

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Tracy Popolizio on 21st July 2008

  • I wish they would do studies BEFRORE given this stuff to kids. I am at the end of the vaccine trail. I don't know what to do. I'm scared of the vaccines. I know they are dangerous.

    As far as the flu vaccine being mandatory. That's crap. Do they know that are over 200 different rhinoviruses that can make you sick? Do they know that proper hand washing and infection control can prevent many illness? Do they know kids build up immunity by getting sick. I have tought my kids to wash their hands and not to share their drinks. They did not get sick at all this passed flu season? NOT ONCE! My son had allergies. That was it.

    I think they are going nuts with this stuff. Seriously. They wonder why these bugs are becoming resistant. Let kids get sick. You don't have to intentionally get them sick. There's nothing wrong with it. GEEZE!

    Next they'll have a vaccine against air. It's ridiculous.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by jenns1125 on 19th July 2008