Vaccine Debate Over: Vaccines Save Lives

The title of this piece seems to state the obvious, right?  So why are the numbers of anti-vaxxers increasing?

Fear.  Misguided fear, but fear nonetheless.


From the CDC

There is no dispute over the fact that vaccines save lives.  The inoculations developed and used over the past 40+ years had practically eradicated life altering, disfiguring and often fatal, diseases.  Some kids cannot get vaccinated, the herd immunity effect helps to protect those kids, as well as those for whom the vaccine was not effective.  So why, in recent years, have the numbers of parents who vaccinate their kids dropped?


Because anti-vaxxers think the risk of getting one of these now rare diseases outweighs the risk of having their child be injured by the shot meant to keep the illnesses at bay.  I see their point.  I’ve met families with kids who had terrible reactions and are permanently, severely, disabled.  These tragedies are rare, but tell that to a family affected by one of these occurrences and you’ll get a big reaction.  I often hear people trying to help parts of the community, saying, “If I save one life because of my actions, it will be worth it.”  So, how do you tell a family whose once healthy child is forever maimed that their one child is less significant than another? You can’t.

The fear of vaccines, though, does not seem to be about these rare events.  The idea that vaccines “cause” autism is still real amongst many communities and I hear this quoted as a reason to not vaccinate.

I am the mother of a child affected by autism.  While this does not, in any way, make me an expert in the vax or anti-vax world, I do feel it gives me a bit of credibility in speaking to the issue.

Many elements of this debate upset me.  I love my autistic son.  I loved him before his brain started making some things harder for him and I love him just as much now; but when I hear other autism parents say that they wouldn’t change their kid if they had the chance, or that they believe their child is exactly who he/she was meant to be, my heart flips.  I don’t get it.  Why would anyone want their child to struggle if they could prevent it?  I repeat, I love my autistic son as much today as the day he was born, and I adore the person he has become at age 16, but if there was any way at all that I could make his life easier for him, I would… without hesitation.

But, I don’t know what causes autism.  Do you?  I don’t know what doesn’t cause autism, either, and that, I think, is the more important part of this debate.  Speculation is wide spread and conflicting.

Do toxins cause autism? Is it genetic?  Is it a reaction in the gut that starts the process?  Is it injury during labor and delivery?  Does a change take place in the womb?

I’ll say it again, because my biggest peeve related this issue is when I hear people say that X (fill in blank) does not cause autism.  The fact is, we don’t know what causes it.

Good scientific research indicates that autism may be caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors.  This makes sense to me, but the details are not clear.

So, how do I reconcile all of these conflicting forces of thought?

I 100% vaccinate my children in order to inoculate them against the harmful diseases the vaccinations protect us from, but I do not subject my children to more than one injection at each doctor’s visit.  There is no dispute that vaccines cause changes to our children’s bodies.  That’s the point.  What we don’t understand, though, is could there be unwanted effects if the immune systems of some more fragile kids are bombarded with too many toxins at a time?  Do the toxins build up in some children’s bodies?  It’s a tough question that is yet to be answered.

The cost of the extra, vaccine only, office visit is worth the peace of mind I get from taking a bit of precaution when it comes to the well being of my children.  My eldest son was vaccinated on the regular schedule, but my other three, born after their older brother stopped talking at the age of 13 months, had a more conservative vaccine schedule, slightly spread out, but close to on-time; and all were fully vaccinated by the time they entered school.


I hear the chatter on tv, online and in the papers.  I know there are strong opinions on both sides of this public health issue.  I know my path is different than most, but in my opinion, it was the right way to go for our family.  And, other than the scientific fact that vaccines help to prevent the spread of many terrible diseases, there are not facts to say what does, or does not, cause changes in our kids, only speculation and circumstantial anecdotes.

I’m ok with that for now.  I know that people, who are smarter than I, are scientifically studying autism and might figure it out some day.

I’m not ok with other people thinking that not vaccinating their kid at all, in order to prevent a possible consequence, is ok.  Anti-vaxxers are counting on my kids and others to shield their kids from exposure via herd immunity.  It doesn’t work when more and more people are going un-vaccinated, and the tactic is leading to illness and death from preventable illnesses.

This is an undisputed scientific fact.

The rest is pure speculation.

About Commander in Chief At home

Erin is a military spouse and, sometimes temporarily single mom to 4 boys. She's a writer, editor, teacher, and (Autism) mom.
This entry was posted in Autism, No Nonsense Parenting and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Vaccine Debate Over: Vaccines Save Lives

  1. Pingback: Blogelina Commentathon – Group B | Blogelina

  2. I have always had our children vaccinated… just in case. We wanted to prevent instead of chance it. I hope they discover the cause of Autism soon. Blessings!


  3. I debated over having my children vaccinated since the day of their conception and birth. However, I decided to have them vaccinated because we travel outside of the country at least every other year so it is to our family’s benefit to protect our children on both sides of the world.


  4. This thing about vaccinations is a dicey one I guess. Back in my day, there wasn’t a debate or question; you got your shots and that was that. I had some of them twice because we lived out of the country for 3 years; shots in, shots out, just like a lot of military families. And, from what I can tell, there’s no higher incidence of issues for us than there were for anyone else.


  5. Victoria says:

    Vaccines are definitely an often-debated subject, but I like the way you explained your position and beliefs. You have given me some things to think about. By the way, I also have a 16yo child with autism. She was vaccinated, and I believe the vaccines played a role in triggering her autism (not causing it, but triggering it), but I have no Scientific proof of that.


  6. C. Lee Reed says:

    This is a difficult one. We chose to vaccinate our daughter as she was living overseas and exposed to many different diseases; but had we been only in the US, I would have given it more thought. I have seen both sides of the spectrum having been in healthcare. I think we should respect parents choices but at the same time, in places where choice is given; they are prone to many more illnesses. Difficult controversial subject.


  7. Crisi Willis says:

    I like how you explained your position on such a controversial issue. I gave no thought to have my son vaccinated. As a child I got vaccinated, so he did as well. In light of the discussions about to vaccinate or not, I would not have done anything differently. Yes, my heart goes out to the families who have special need children as yourself but losing my child over something that I could have prevented would rip my heart out.


  8. concertkatie says:

    I certainly hope that a cause and cure for autism is found soon. It seems to affect so many children.


  9. Karmen says:

    I like your post but you should include the fact that the original study making the link between vaccinations and autism was retracted:

    No study since has been able to find any link between autism and vaccinations. Both the CDC and AutismSpeaks, the top proponent for autism study, vehemently insist that there is no link.

    It doesn’t make sense for people to still be against vaccinations- at least not for that reason.


    • Karmen, I respect your opinion, and I’m aware of the retraction of the study, but as no one can say what causes autism and many circumstantial evidence indicates that sometimes autism is triggered following vaccines, I preferred to err on the side of caution.


  10. Patricia says:

    One of the best, and most controversial posts I have read in awhile. My granddaughter is autistic. Her mother ( my daughter) and I both agree that if something could be done,it would be done. But we don’t KNOW what the cause is.I think your approach to vaccinating at your preferred rate and discretion is terrific. There are so many other kids..that will benefit…. or at least not be harmed, by NOT getting vaccinated. Kudos to you for having the gumption to post this!


  11. Susan Lower says:

    I had all my children vaccinated. I’ve met so many kids and their moms with children who have autism. We can’t stop something that’s invisible to us anymore than we can stop people from other serious aliments.


  12. Meagan @Life in the Between says:

    Thanks for sharing such your viewpoint with such great information. I had never heard of the idea of spreading out the vaccines before. I like the idea. I know I feel better knowing that I am vaccinated against certain things, and when I have children I fully plan on vaccinating them. However, it is really nice to know all the options when the time comes.


  13. Sherri says:

    I think every parent needs to educate themselves and make the best decision for their family. That’s what freedom is, no matter what we decide. The minute someone (like our government) tries to force something on me is the minute the red flags go up that freedom is at stake. I respect your opinion and your right and others to post it. Thanks!


  14. yumeating says:

    I don’t really know enough about either argument to make an informed decision. I think the whole ordeal with Jenny McCarthy is what really made a lot of people open their eyes and see. She made the choice against it very public. I think each person though, should have a right to decide whether or not their child is vaccinated, just like we have rights to abortion and things like that. I don’t think choices should be taken away from us.


  15. Laurina says:

    I think this is a tough choice for any parent. There are pros and cons to be weighed. With my oldest son I did exactly what the nurses and doctors told me to do and got his vaccines. At the age of 18 months, he got vaccines one day and ended up in the hospital the next day with the beginning of a lifetime of serious illness. And yet I still got my next two sons vaccinated, because it was the thing to do. They were fine and didn’t suffer, while their older brother was still suffering from those vaccines. When my fourth son also got ill from vaccines, I stopped and began to think. But this is a tough personal choice for a parent, who has to weigh the health and welfare of their own child against what others want (who don’t care about the well being of that one individual child). I don’t think there is one single right answer in this dilemma.


  16. camilleduqueaguila says:

    I’ve heard about this debate every where but haven’t really gone deep in the issue as I had vaccinated my kids early on. Now, this made me think. But still, I will vaccinate my future (if ever) kids. I see your point and I am glad I’ve read this. I learned a lot 🙂


  17. There is a lot of debate in the news about vaccinating our children and the public school has taking a stand by requiring vaccinating our kids is requirement. Some parent are on the fence and it is a difficult personal choice . I understand your point and sharing the information.


  18. Hannah Fellows says:

    While I disagree, I appreciate your thoughts.


  19. Missy says:

    I’m still learning both sides of this debate. But for now I am vaccinating until I can be convinced that NOT vaccinating is better. Right now there is just so much uncertainty.


  20. I agree with a lot of the comments here. I do not know enough about the issue to be anti-vaccine and I do vaccinate my child. I appreciate your well-written (and not slammy) post.


  21. Lexi says:

    Thanks for sharing your view on this heated, confusing issue. I would also do anything I could to make my child’s life easier. I will research this idea to space out vaccinations, very interesting!


  22. MomMaven says:

    There are 2 sides to every debate. I struggled with the choice myself especially after having 2 friends have sons who became 100% different people after having their MMR vaccine. I witnessed it myself and it really scared me watching young vibrant boys become trapped inside their own bodies and minds days after receiving the shot. Some call it coincidence but there are no coincidences only consequences. We opted for a more drawn out or delayed vaccination schedule that our doctor was happy to work with us on, but that was 20 years ago. If I had to make the decision today I really don’t know what I would do.


  23. anislandfamilybygrace says:

    Our children have been vaccinated, but I certainly know I fair number of parents who have chosen not to. Interesting discussion of the issues 🙂


  24. Howard @ Backroad Planet says:

    Divisive issues like this make me so sad. I am not a parent, but I am a veteran public school teacher, and I think I tend to side with you . . . .


  25. Great post on a controversial subject. While I appreciate a parents’ rights to choose whether or not to vaccinate, there might need to be consequences of that decision, such as being barred from public schools, to preserve the rights of others not to be exposed to preventable disease.


  26. mellissaa says:

    I don’t really know enough about the debate to make an opinion – if I had children I would do my research and decide on a solution. But for now all I know is that Autism is something that effects your own child – it can’t catch – while not vaccinating your child can spread diseases and effect everyone. So I guess you have to decide if your own child is more important than all the other children out there as a whole. I’d be heartbroken if my child got autism after a vaccination, but I think I’d be even more devastated if someone else’s child died because mine gave him a disease. A child with autism is still a live, beautiful person.


  27. mbunthank says:

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. My 3 kids all followed the “recommended” vaccine schedule with no issues, I am just now starting to question that schedule for my 4th child that is due in August. Maybe it’s because of all the anti-vaccine chatter lately, or maybe it’s some sort of intuition or discernment… He will definitely be vaccinated, but the timing is a question in my mind. Praying to make the right decisions without fearing possible outcomes!


  28. I like the way you’ve presented both sides of the story and your decision. I’m not a parent, so I can only guess at how difficult all these decisions might be especially when there’s so much of information. Living in India, I know how hard the government and non-governmental agencies work to spread awareness and to ensure that children have access to vaccines. For us, there is no such debate for now, at least.


  29. It’s sad when young children are hurt. It’s a sinful world. I have 5 children, and pretty much did the schedule, and there were no side-effects; so I cannot really have an educated discussion on the issue. If I did not vaccinate for polio, I think my mom would have hysterics as her cousin died from polio and was in an iron lung first.


  30. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this very controversial issue. You have a special perspective so I can only imagine how difficult it is to decide which side of this issue you are on. I appreciate your article.


  31. Michelle says:

    Very informative article. Vaccination is one of those topics that can definitely become very debatable. I have a relative with autism and is parents are adamant about not vaccinating their younger children. I can respect their choices based on their personal experience.


  32. Jennie says:

    I feel guilty when I get my kids shots and guilty when I don’t, even though I consult with their doctor for every decision. Sigh. 😦


  33. This is such a devisive issue. While my children are vaccinated, I have often delayed their vaccines for different reasons and sometimes the delay was up to a year. I know of several families with autistic children who still vaccinate, but spread out the vaccines so that each child is getting no more than two shots at any given time.


  34. emma says:

    I love your perspective on this issue. There are a few vaccines I’m still on the fence for: the flu, chicken pox, and HPV. Things like polio, MMR and the others that children get within the first two years I 100% pro-vaccine.

    I think our current pediatrician does a slightly spaced out schedule. I know for sure our oldest was vaccinated for measles at 12m and my youngest won’t be vaccinated until 15m. My mom did a spaced out schedule with us, and I definitely don’t see a problem with that. I had read that some doctor offices were going to turn away patients who wanted to space out their kid’s vaccines due to the measles outbreak, and I find that very wrong. As long as we’re vaccinating close to the “recommended” schedule I don’t see why that would be a big deal.


  35. blessedfe says:

    While my children were vaccinated in the 90’s when we did not have as much to worry about, I can honestly say I would not do the same now. I also did not have my daughters finish out theater vaccine because of the research I did on the site for that specific vaccine. I believe that it is a personal choice and each person should respect the others decision. Unvaccinated children cannot spread a disease they don’t have just as vaccinated cannot. But like you, I don’t look at the autism report, I think that was just to scare, my opinion. Thank you for your honesty and candid words about your choice! This is what we should all be about! 🙂


  36. So important to spread awareness of this topic and to get parents to be informed without only relying on certain groups of peoples advice. If non vaccinating parents were given a chance to research Whooping cough and the number of deaths incurred in babies from not vaccinating would at least get some to reconsider.


  37. Ellie Murphy says:

    I love your view on this and definitely agree. I will vaccinate my kids!


  38. Angela says:

    Great post on a very controversial subject. We all need to be educated about this exact topic. The decisions we make for our own children can affect others and vice-versa. Thank you for talking about the elephant in the room.


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