Kicking off our first Village Conversation with something as intense as the vaccine controversy may seem as wise as me setting off fireworks in my kitchen, but there’s nothing like a good ol’ impassioned argument to really get a party started, amiright? :)
But really, I never shy away from the hard topics, and I hope this collection of information helps you if you’re on-the-fence or confused, and that it supports you to make a better informed decision about vaccines and their place in your personal life, family, and the world at large.
Obviously, this list barely scratches the surface, and there are a multitude of studies and books and experts that this list doesn’t touch on.
But it’s a launching-off point. And a pretty good one, I think. I’ve learned so frigging much from my research (big, big thanks to those of you who contributed), and I hope it serves you–and your family–well.
I’ll keep my final opinion to myself, as it’s my intention that you can use these opposing perspectives to form your own assertions without feeling like you’re being pushed around by yet another person’s agenda.
That being said, I just have to vent real quick about the frustration I experienced in putting this post together:
When it comes to making informed, well-balanced, and logical decisions, it’s necessary to be presented with fair, well-balanced, and logical information. But the reason this post took me over 40 hours (!!) of research was that people on both sides of this discussion often use hateful rhetoric, fear-mongering, and cherry-picking of specific studies to support their claims. This pissed me off greatly, because using these tactics to win people over is downright oppressive. We’ve seen similar toxic cycles play out in multiple ways throughout history, and it never (EVER) fares well for the general public.
But instead, by providing rational insight into all sides of a complicated issue, it means you and I and everyone can make the most empowered decision possible. And I am HERE. FOR. THAT.
So that’s why I spent hours upon hours just trying to cut through the bullshit–so that you could have a fighting chance at choosing for yourself what’s real and what’s right. And I hope I’ve done you justice in my efforts.
Okay! Without further ado, let’s get into this week’s Village Conversation: vaccines.
This Podcast Will Kill You
This podcast is hosted by Erin Welsh and Erin Allmonn Updyke, two doctoral students who are passionate about infectious diseases, and whose excitement about science is, well, kind of contagious (I know, I know. Dad joke much?). They recently aired a two-part pod that totals in over 4 hours of vaccine info.
I think this is a great starting point into the ‘pro’ side of the conversation, as they talk about how our immune system works, how vaccines work in our bodies, the history of vaccines, etc..
As someone who didn’t really understand the mechanism of vaccines, I found all of this quite helpful.
So, Part One goes over the following: our immune response, how vaccines work, the development of vaccines from idea to being released to the general population, the history of vaccines, consequences of elected non-vaccinations, cost, and two interviews with experts from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Part two dives in to the anti-vaccination controversy, where they aim to alleviate people’s worries about the safety of vaccines.
They talk about the history of vaccine opposition and discuss the consequences of the anti-vaccination movement in our communities. They also interview Dr. Peter Hotez (Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine; has an autistic daughter and often speaks out against the idea that vaccines cause autism [he’s written a book about this as well]) and Bill Nye (ya know, the science guy).
You could just dive right into this one if you didn’t want the history and stats overview of Part One, but I do highly recommend listening to both.
Joe Rogan + Dr. Peter Hotez + New Research on Autism
If you haven’t gotten enough of Dr. Hotez, he has a 2 hour interview with Joe, and the first hour is all about why he supports the research that vaccines don’t cause autism. He discusses with Joe what we are coming to understand about the development of autism, and how new studies are showing that it develops during the early stages of pregnancy but presents itself between the first and second year of life.
Dr. Hotez’s book, Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism: My Journey as a Vaccine Scientist, Pediatrician, and Autism Dad is available in audio format on Scribd, which has a 30-day free trial if you want to dig in (I haven’t read his book, but I did want to offer that up as an option).
For more information about the studies Dr. Hotez refers to, here’s an NPR article with a summary, here’s one of the studies itself, here’s an article on the UCLA website describing the original study that sparked interest in this subject back in 2013, here’s the original study itself, and here’s a bonus study from the same researcher regarding the gut microbiome and how the brain-gut connections may contribute to autism pathology.
Center for Disease Control + Publichealth.org
Unsurprisingly, the CDC is one of the most thorough sources for information on the pro side of things. They have various FAQ pages, a page that lists individual vaccine’s potential side effects, information on why vaccinations are so important both in the US and around the world, etc.. You do have to dig around to find their list of ingredients of vaccines (the additional ingredients are a major source of concern for vaccine skeptics), so I’ve linked it here for you.
If that ingredients list scares the crap out of you, here’s a page from publichealth.org explaining why those ingredients are necessary, how much is used in each vaccine, and why they are all deemed safe. That page also contains information on the debunking of vaccine myths, describes how vaccines work, and has external links to the research studies that support safety claims.
You can have hours of fun rummaging through just those two websites and all their external links!
Joe Rogan + Dr. Rhonda Patrick
Dr. Rhonda Patrick is a nutrition researcher and has done extensive work in the fields of genetics, longevity, and disease prevention. While she’s not a vaccine expert, I remember hearing this conversation between her and Joe (long before I ever considered the vaccine debate) and really appreciating the dialogue they have about vaccines and the pressure parents feel to vaccinate both during pregnancy and right after childbirth.
This obviously isn’t a scientific paper, but for those don’t feel wildly excited about either side of the discussion, their chat–while still being on the pro side of vaccination–might be a welcome middle ground in what sometimes feels like a complete black and white argument.
If you want more information about Dr. Patrick, here’s a link to her website.
It’s important to point out that throughout my research on this side of the conversation, I found a similar thread of concerns:
Worry from parents about governmental intrusion on their rights to decide whether or not to vaccinate their children
The assertion that the harmful side effects of vaccines that can cause brain damage and other longterm health issues are being downplayed by the CDC, and that vaccines in general are less benign than the CDC claims
How the timelines of the increase of autism, autoimmunity, asthma, and allergies align with the increase of vaccine usage, which spikes concern that the toxic ingredients in vaccines are to blame
I’m sure there are more, but those are the big repeating 3 that I’ve seen so far. I’ve done my best to find and share some useful and clear supporting arguments on those issues.
Dr. Thomas Cowan
Dr. Cowan is a holistic physician, writer, and speaker. In his most recent book, Vaccines, Autoimmunity, and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illness, he argues that the increase of allergies and autoimmunity in children is directly related to and caused by the increase of vaccination doses that children now receive. His book is also available on Scribd (and again, I haven’t read it, but it’s available on their free 30-day trial).
In August of last year, he did a podcast with Wise Traditions entitled The Vaccine Tradeoff, where he spoke about how vaccines may decrease the number of infections, but that the longterm effects of vaccinations may be making us sicker as a population.
He discusses how vaccines work in our bodies and why they aren’t effective at achieving longterm immunity, and how the adjuvants (the irritant chemical ingredients found in vaccines) are toxic to our bodies and can lead to chronic conditions.
For more information on Dr. Cowan, visit his website.
Vaccine Shedding + potential side effects
Here is a list containing some vaccine informational inserts regarding the potential for vaccine shedding, or the release of the virus from a recently vaccinated person that can be contagious to others. This is possible with live-attenuated vaccines (see the difference between types of vaccines here). These inserts also contain information on other potential side effects and adverse reactions, which are worth looking at as well.
Chicken Pox (Varivax) insert - See Section 5.4 on page 3
Shingles (Zostavax) insert - See Section 5.2 on page 2
MMR insert - See Page 5 under Precaution
Rotavirus (Rotarix) insert - See Section 5.4 on page 5
Smallpox (ACAM2000) insert - See Section 5.4 on page 6
This is an anonymous blog housing a collection of research studies and articles that highlight the potential dangers of vaccines and longterm health consequences. The main focuses on this site are the effect of aluminum adjuvant toxicity, immune activation brain injury, and aluminum’s role in people with autism.
I think this page in particular could serve as a good starting point to understand the overall viewpoint of the blog, and it has many links to external studies to peruse.
This is another one of those sites you can spend hours upon hours sifting through!
Louise kuo habakus
Louise is a writer, speaker, and advocate for the freedom of parents to choose whether or not to vaccinate their children. She runs two non-profits, and she coedited a book entitled Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health, and Our Children. It is also available on Scribd.
Here is some more information on Louise, with a list of blog posts and radio shows she’s done. To understand her point of view on the government’s place on the vaccine issue, her letter to Senator Romney is a good starting point. (Side note: Just as I called out the difficulty in finding vaccine ingredients on the CDC website, I want to also note here that her statement on measles being ‘mildly irksome’, ‘not dangerous to children’, and ‘benign’ is inaccurate to the nature and history of this illness. I encourage you to learn more about it through other sources like this one and this one [yes, I’m linking the World Health Organization, which is decidedly pro-vaccination, but you can simply ignore their call to action to vaccinate and just look at the facts of this particular disease]. Burying vital information is just as misleading as downplaying the facts- and that goes for both sides of this discussion.)
In a podcast she did with Holistic Survival, Louise goes into more detail on government mandates for childhood vaccines and discusses the human right to choose.
If there’s one thing I can recommend as you go through this list and dive down your own research rabbit hole, it is to always question what you read and hear. If you hear the conclusion of a study which feels particularly alarming or absolute, do a Google search to see if there are further studies that either support or contradict that first one. Most times, there will be. It will then be up to you to compare them and make up your own mind- but at least you’ll have more than just one side of the argument to trust and believe in.
Look for alternative viewpoints to the black and white argument. Ask questions like “Why did the CDC make it difficult on their website to find out what goes into our vaccines?” and “What could be causing the increase in autoimmunity and allergies, other than the increase in vaccines?” The vaccine deep-dive can be overwhelming and fear-provoking, but just try your best to stay curious and open-minded! And don’t be afraid to take lots of brain breaks. :]
And finally, if you don’t feel super stoked when you make your final decision on this topic, don’t worry. You’re not alone. These choices are so complicated, and at the end of the day, we’re all just doing our best with the information we have. Who knows? You may end up changing your mind eventually, and that’s okay, too.
Again, I so appreciate everyone who pitched in their contributions to this discussion, and I hope this list serves you well.