A Shot in the Dark: The Vaccine Imbroglio

Multiple choice:

A) I will not vaccinate my child because, as I have carefully gathered information, I view the risks in immunizing my child to be far too great, and the benefits being uncertain at best.

B) I will follow a full-course of the prescribed vaccines for my child as determined by my pediatrician and the state, because the risks of not immunizing my child are far too great for both my child and the community.

C) Damned if you do and damned if you don’t! There are no good answers and you just have to accept that both roads are uncertain and perilous crap shoots with your child’s health.

So what is it going to be parents? A, B, or C?

But before you make a rash decision and unwittingly align yourself with the skeptics, the pragmatists or the perplexed, you might want to take a few moments to educate yourself and reflect on the choices.

These choices on when to, whether to, or how to vaccinate your child are some of the more difficult issues parents must come to terms with while considering myriad and sometimes frightening statistics, peer pressure, and potential side effects. However, for most parents and medical professionals it is a relative no-brainer and immunizations are simply a necessary evil that is above and beyond questioning or serious concern. The fact of the matter is that while many vaccines have undisputedly improved the global health situation (especially in the developing world), and to their credit wiped out virulent diseases such as small pox, the absolute safety of these inoculations remains in question.

In a recent Time Magazine article titled How Safe Are Vaccines? author Alice Park attempts to shed light on the current vaccine debate between believers, non-believers and skeptics, but unfortunately settles on thinly veiled scare tactics and a fairly cynical view of parents who opt out of the vaccine option. In her article, Park cites the case of a repentant mother whose child is infected with Hib bacteria after she had refused a full course of vaccines for her child out of fear of excessive mercury exposure. Park goes on to reveal the frightening virulence of diseases like measles and meningitis while relying on the cautionary advice of CDC (Center for Disease Control) officials and medical professionals like Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. Sadly, what is missing from this article, and to some degree from the entire heated debate, is an intrepid and thoughtful questioning of the safety and effectiveness of the current vaccine regime, and how it could be improved upon.

Allegations and horror stories aside, the big pharmaceutical companies that sell these vaccines to pediatricians around the country have not always acted in the best interest of their ultimate recipients – the children. Since the 1930’s, mercury, in the form of Thimerosal, was a common preservative in nearly all vaccines, and it wasn’t until about a decade ago that mercury was deemed too risky of an additive and voluntarily removed, as a precautionary measure, from all vaccines (except the flu shot, which still contains mercury). This was not a result of some heavy FDA ruling (The FDA rarely comes down hard on “big pharma”) or numerous class action lawsuits, it was largely an act of self-preservation and an effort to stave off legal retribution from unhappy parents. This is merely one example.

With that said, I don’t think the main problem here is the preponderance of big, bad pharmaceutical giants peddling bad medicine. We assuredly need to hold the FDA, pharmaceutical companies and doctors to the highest standards, and make certain that, IF we elect to vaccinate our children, that the vaccines are as safe and effective as humanly possible. However, I think the larger problem is that any relevant and constructive dialog about what is best for children and the larger community is too often drowned out by dogmatic and reactionary fear. This fear, sad to say, prevents everyone from moving forward and finding sensible solutions that don’t compromise personal health or personal freedoms.

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


Jeffrey Prystupa
Jeffrey Prystupa5 years ago

Here in the States, a great organization the National Vaccine Information Center is an excellent source of information. www.nvic.org
Vaccines don't do what folks hope they do and they are quite toxic. Vaccine research regarding long-term affects, dosage, safety or interaction is absent. Too many too soon. Why?
Are vaccines better for the people who give them than receive them?
What is the rate of Autism among the unvaccinated? That should tell us a lot. But why is the question not asked?
At the height of the polio epidemic, it was striking 1 in 15,000. The country was raising boots in the air for money. The President led the formation of a National Response. Now we have Autism striking 1 in 100 and there is no outcry from MSM? Why? Because polio was an excuse to make vaccines and Autism is likely caused by vaccines. That is why.

Jay Bird
joyce D.5 years ago

Obviously 'all that trash' as ANA P put it is bad.

PLEASE LOOK INTO SHOTS FOR YOURSELF. PLEASE find the family of an autistic child-there are so many it's not hard- & ask WHAT THE CHILD WAS LIKE BEFORE & AFTER THE SHOTS...like night and day, healthy and normal & afterward BROKEN - and if you don't heed the warning, and give in to the propoganda, and your child has to face this disability for the rest of their life, YOU are responsible for your choice. LOOK AT ALL THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE, ABOUT EVERYTHING, ABOUT EVERY ONE OF THESE SHOTS - some of them aren't even proven to influence the very thing they purportedly prevent! In some cases known to cause cancer, etc. So many things to LOOK INTO, for yourself. CONSIDER the source of any research that you don't entirely understand yourself (& how many of us could disseminate the scientific research?) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE look into it before you condemn your child to face the choice you made for them. YOU have the power, and the responsibility. You know there is a real reason for concern, so look into it yourself... because you and your child, your whole family, must face the consequences. Don't regret not looking into it more.

Dr Josh A.
Dr Josh A.6 years ago

A all the way. Vaccines cause more damage than they do good.
If people knew what was really in the vaccines, they would run for the door at their doctors office. Swine flu VACCINE actually caused more damage than the swine flu itself.

Norman J.
Norman Jacobson6 years ago

I am in favor of "B". However, I believe that we should have the right to safe vaccines without the poisonous additives. The government is beggining to understand. They have set up trust funds to pay the medical expenses of those brain damaged by the additives: Mercury and aluminum hydroxide. I don't know about the other poisonous additives.
I just saw on the news that they are recommending full strength vaccines for seniors. (Full strength means no additives.) I wrote a letter to the Texas Medical review board complaining about the additives and the lack of pure vaccines a few weeks ago. I believe they are listening if your letters are worded correctly.

Norman J.
Norman Jacobson6 years ago

Ps. I didn't get the flu shot. I haven't had a vaccination of any kind since I got out of the Marine Corps in 1967. I am in excellent health. I consider my health better than the average person 30 years younger than me. My health is better than the health of my children.

Norman J.
Norman Jacobson6 years ago

Vaccines will be safer without the brain poisons, Mercury and aluminum hydroxide. They are merely added to increase big pharma's profits. It is possible to get the vaccines without the poisons. I asked my doctor what was in the flu shot. The doctor didn't know and the Nurse didn't know. However the had the side effects literature packed with the vaccines. It listed both mercury and aluminum hydroxide in it. It had been tested on 60 people in a two week period and therefore was considered safe. mercury is known to cause permanent brain damage. Aluminum hydroxide is known to cause permanent brain damage and is linked to Alzheimer's disease and aluminum damaged brains occur in all cases of Alzheimer's disease. A 2007 Scientific study of the Gulf War Syndrome showed that Aluminum hydroxide in the anthrax vaccine was what caused the Gulf War Syndrome.

ana p.
ana p.6 years ago

Autism from vaccines? I don't know what causes autism; even scientists don't know yet. BUT with all the poisons we eat,drink,breathe, put on our faces and bodies, "clean" our houses, wash our clothes,the plastics we are drown in,the lots and lots of mercury in the seas...well, it seems to me all that TRASH have to be much more dangerous than a vaccine!

ana p.
ana p.6 years ago

Of course everything holds secondary effects But there are those who can kill you and those who does not. Use your common sense. JUST to be alive its a risk,still humans have children....so why not take the lesser risk if we can PREVENT diseases?

ana p.
ana p.6 years ago

i was educated on a private school from 6 to 17 years old. We were about a thousand children, we all have to get the vaccines. During the eleven years i frequent this college NOBODY get sick in result from the vaccines!!
And of course nobody got the diseases the vaccines prevent!
If you are concerned about the dangerous substances in it you can be sure they are nothing compared with the amount in Babies ,Children and adult hygienic items you use everyday! Big PHARMA don't need the vaccines to take profit - They already take profit of many other things they sell us everyday and we took and give to our children! NOW A DAYS DISEASES TRAVEL FAST FROM COUNTRY TO COUNTRY, FROM CONTINENT TO CONTINENT.....

Charlotte S.
Charlotte S.6 years ago

s a child who grew up during the polio epidemic I watched as friends were crippled or died from the disease.I watched as my mother worried about both of her kids. We were kept at home so we wouldn't be exposed to polio. The vaccine to prevent polio was seen as a gift from God. It's sad that vaccines are now seen as the enemy with many people making decisions based on fear not fact. Thank you for this article. Polio was wiped out once and it has now made a comeback along with other diseases. Yes there are risks to using vaccines but there are also risks to not using them. Remember LIFE is a risk and you have to make decisions based on fact not fear.