To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate, With Mandatory Vaccines On The Rise, How Do We Decide?


To vaccinate or not to vaccinate that is the question. Every parent dreads the appointments for vaccinations! The thought of your lil one being stuck with a needle is not comforting so the question rises, are vaccinations this day in age really necessary? Modern vaccination is an exercise in trust. For a generation of people who have never seen the real impact of a disease like polio, or a deadly flu pandemic, there’s a lingering sense that vaccinations are a preventative measure against something that’s not really very like to happen in the first place, and wouldn’t be too bad if it did. We’re asked, as parents, to do something very real in order to prevent something that doesn’t feel real at all.

Disclaimer: I am not here to sway you one way or the other. I have been doing a ton of research and am only sharing what I have found. For this conversation I am only going to touch on a few diseases that currently have vaccines. The majority of my data has been pulled from the CDC. This is for comparison purposes only.

I asked several parents for their take prior to writing this piece and thank you to everyone for sending me your thoughts:

Mom of 2 CO: I did because 1) in-laws are doctors (lol), 2) I wasn’t vaccinated and was sick all the time, 3) the kids were via doctor info, pamphlets, research, and they’ve done superbly with them. Rarely ever sick here. Basically, lots of doctor info with their research, etc. behind it. They made pretty good points (though I can’t remember verbatim), and I’m so glad I did.

Jeanne of 2 NC: Why have these modern scientific, tried and true options to help keep everyone healthy if you are willing to listen to the naysayers. With all the immigration coming from third world countries, why would you risk measles, mumps, smallpox, TB, and polio? Nothing so far has been proven from the alternative approach. Which is doing nothing?

Mom of 3 SC: I believe vaccinations need to be a personal, and educated decision from both parents and physician. Everyone is unique and family medical histories need to be taken into consideration. I personally waited to immunize my children until peak brain development had been reached. My rationale? Family history of allergic reactions in infancy/ childhood to immunizations on both sides–one of which led to grand mal seizure and subsequent death. Other issues in my decision were my children are at risk genetically for neurological/ mental disorders as well.  With this decision came responsibility. I breastfed each of my children until 2 years of age so they could obtain my passive immunity. I did not put them in daycare centers, but rather had an individual watch them in my home or in their home. I kept the physicians aware of our decision and why and also utilized their help when it came time to introduce immunizations, scheduling, and what kind. My children have tolerated them well.

Michelle of 3 NC: I did because the school required. Wasn’t controversial way back then.

Angela mom of 2 TN: Because I didn’t want my children to get preventable diseases and I don’t want them giving them either.

Lily mom of 2 NC: With my first son, I was young, still in high school, and put all of my trust in medical professionals. He received all of his vaccines until he turned two years old, and then a lot changed. A friend of mine had an adverse reaction from a vaccine at fourteen years old. Thank God for this, because I decided to start researching like a mad women!  After that, there was no turning back. I discovered all of the chemicals, the side effects, and the lies that come with these horrible vaccines. I had no idea that vaccines shed. I had no idea that at the bottom of every vaccine insert, a side effect for that vaccine is contracting what it’s supposed to protect you from. When I got pregnant with my second boy, I researched the vaccines that they try to force you to get while pregnant. Did you know that the FDA has never tested these vaccines on a pregnant human, yet doctors still give them to us? So his father and I immediately made the choice not to vaccinate him or anyone else in our family. I use to question my decision often while still pregnant, but this little boy is constantly reassuring us that we made the best choice. Our now four-year old never slept through the night, had an extreme dairy allergy, and was always sick. Our now seven month old started sleeping through the night at two months old, he doesn’t have a single allergy, and has never been sick until last month when he contracted pneumonia. How does my healthy baby contract pneumonia in the middle of the summer? My sister was given her varicella vaccine earlier in the week for nursing school. Varicella is a live virus, and sheds. A simple google search will show you that pneumonia can come from varicella! God made our bodies perfect. He never intended for them to be injected with millions of chemicals. So all of this to be said, our family will remain vaccine free for years and years to come!

Vaccine Reaction Testimony: I am old enough that I got the “live” polio vaccine and I had a reaction, my left leg was paralyzed for almost 2 years. I used to ride around the hospital on a tricycle with my foot taped to the petal. I ran varsity cross-country in HS (at 15), raced bicycles at a national level for almost 10 years, raced motorcycles. From what I have been told it will probably come back but… If it kept a kid out of an iron lung or let them go play outside then I am happy to take one for the team.

Noah dad of 2 NC: We did but on the European system. All vaccinations separated to be able to do root cause analysis. US way is to do multiple vaccinations at once making it difficult if there is a reaction to determine source. We only did it because it worked well with our daughter in Germany. Our son did have an issue DTAP which was quickly diagnosed because it was a singular vaccine

Vaccine Case Studies:

Vaccines have been around for some time now and a few have successfully eradicated/eliminated diseases all together. With the elimination of these diseases comes the question do we need to continue to vaccinate against a disease if it no longer poses a threat? On the other side of that is; We need to continue to vaccinate in order to ensure that the threat does not become a problem again. This is an argument I have heard from both sides with both having valid points. The following is case studies as well as alternative approaches.

[1] In the two centuries since vaccines were first developed, over a dozen of what used to be the most common infectious diseases have practically been eradicated, according to data compiled by the Centers for Diseases Control. The dramatic impact of vaccinations on Americans’ health is illustrated in an infographic compiled by designer Leon Farrant (“morbidity” refers to the number of people getting sick from, but not necessarily dying of, the diseases):

Tara Culp-ResslerFollow Senior Editor at ThinkProgress.com Feb 22, 2013[1]

Again I am only going to touch on a few for this conversation, measles and whooping cough. Measles and pertussis (whooping cough), both highly contagious, are on the rise in the United States. Measles was declared eradicated from the United States in 2000 but has recently re-surged, with 667 cases in 2014 and 189 in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pertussis dropped to fewer than 2,000 US cases for several years in the 1970’s and 80’s before roaring back to more than 48,000 cases in 2012, a 60-year high, according to the CDC.

 The Most Dangerous Epidemics in U.S. History Medically Reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, MSN, RN, CRNA on September 29, 2016 — Written by the Healthline Editorial Team


The cases of measles still continues to fluctuate with 2014 being a record year since eliminated in 2000. Those numbers are as follows:

2014 record number is cases with 667 cases from 27 states reported to CDC: this is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documents in the U.S. in 2000

2015 a measles outbreak in an unvaccinated community and an outbreak at Disneyland.

In 2016 70 people from 16 states were reported to have measles

January 1 to June 17, 2017 108 people from 11 states reported to have measles

March 2017 1st case of measles in Michigan

“If you are unvaccinated and you come in contact with measles, there’s a 90% chance you will get it,” says Jason McDonald, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

[5]Researchers from the below study claimed that children who are not fully vaccinated are 35 times more likely to become infected with measles.

A review of 18 measles studies and 32 pertussis studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that parents who intentionally do not have their children vaccinated contribute to disease outbreaks, though other factors are likely at work, as well.

The JAMA meta-analysis, conducted by a team led by Emory University researchers, involved 1,416 measles cases and 10,609 pertussis cases across the 50 studies.

Exemptions from measles vaccination

The experts looked at measles outbreaks from 2000 until November 30, 2015, including an outbreak linked to Disneyland in 2014 and 2015 that involved 111 cases.

Of the 1,416 cases analyzed, 56.8% had no vaccination history. They also noted that, of the 970 measles cases with detailed vaccination data, 574 patients (59.2%) were unvaccinated despite being vaccine eligible, and 405 of those (41.8% of the total) had nonmedical exemptions—for religious or philosophical reasons, as opposed to medical reasons.

Those rates compare with 14.1% of outbreak case-patients having received a vaccine, with the remaining cases being ambiguous.

Whooping-cough outbreaks are thought to be spurred by waning immunity from the vaccine. However, a 2013 study published in the journal Pediatrics reports that California’s worst whooping-cough outbreak, which infected more than 9,000 people, was also encouraged by a large number of kids who were not vaccinated.

It is important to note that from the 1920’s-1947 these numbers were in the 100’s of thousands. In 1965 the number was in single digit thousands until 2003.

[3] Year          No. Reported

2000                   7,867
2001                    7,580
2002                    9,771
2003                   11,647
2004                   25,827
2005                   25,616
2006                   15,632
2007                   10,454
2008                   13,278
2009                   16,858
2010                    27,550
2011                     18,719
2012                    48,277
2013                    28,639
2014                    32,971
2015                    20,762

2010 whooping cough outbreak in CA 10 infants dead in an area where significant clusters of the population were not immunized.

[4]Epidemic Pertussis in 2012 — The Resurgence of a Vaccine-Preventable Disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States is currently experiencing what may turn out to be the largest outbreak of reported pertussis (whooping cough) in 50 years.

Pertussis opt-outs

[5]A review of 18 measles studies and 32 pertussis studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that parents who intentionally do not have their children vaccinated contribute to disease outbreaks, though other factors are likely at work, as well.

For pertussis, the researchers noted that the five largest statewide epidemics quantified among the 32 studies had 24% to 45% rates of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated patients. The team also noted that, in 8 of 12 outbreaks from 9 studies that included detailed vaccination data on unimmunized patients, 59% to 93% of unvaccinated people were intentionally not vaccinated.

However, simply increasing vaccination rates would not solve the pandemic, the authors wrote. “We also found reports of epidemics within populations with high rates of vaccination coverage, illustrating the important contribution of waning immunity to pertussis to disease epidemiology.”

The authors also note that better diagnosis of the disease and the switch from whole cellular vaccines to acellular ones could be contributing to increased pertussis cases in recent years.

The researchers said that 7 of the 32 articles back up the possibility of waning vaccine immunity, but because of the varying operational definitions used in the studies, they were not able to investigate the matter further.

As one Colorado study in the meta-analysis that involved cases from 2004 to 2010 said, under-vaccination increases the chance for infection; the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice recommends seven DTaP (the acellular version of the vaccine) doses throughout childhood and adolescence as well as a booster shot as an adult.

Immunization Side Effects

Common side effects of any vaccine can include:

injection site reactions (pain, swelling and redness) mild fever, shivering, fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain

“Rare vaccine side effects”

A far less common, but serious, vaccine side effect is an immediate allergic reaction, also known as an anaphylactic reaction. These are dramatic and potentially life-threatening. However, they are very rare – occurring in less than one in a million cases – and are completely reversible if treated promptly by healthcare staff. To have a balanced view, potential side effects have to be weighed against the expected benefits of vaccination in preventing the serious complications of disease.

Natural Immunity

Is natural immunity better than vaccination? A natural infection might provide better immunity than vaccination — but there are serious risks. For example, a natural chickenpox (varicella) infection could lead to pneumonia. A natural polio infection could cause permanent paralysis. A natural mumps infection could lead to deafness. A natural Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) infection could result in permanent brain damage. Do you take preventative measures and vaccinate in order to reduce the risk of potentially serious complications?

I have never personally had the flu shot or pneumonia shot and have never been sick with either. I will also note I have never had chicken pox or the vaccine. I have been exposed to all of these and have not contracted any of them.

Delayed Immunization Schedule

Far more parents delay vaccines or chose an alternative schedule than refuse them entirely. I am sure all of you have heard of Dr. Sears by now. He has a delayed immunization schedule which spaces out and breaks apart vaccines. I have learned recently Europe also breaks apart vaccines. This helps knowing how to treat a possible reaction. I have also been told many manufacturers are not making the shots separate so please talk to your doctor if this is the route you wish to take.

CDC Immunization Schedule

I have included an easy to read that I found online here. This is still the tried and true method for most parents. The purpose of the recommended immunization schedule is to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Each vaccine is tested during the licensing process to be sure that it is safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages.

Note: The U.S. childhood immunization schedule is reviewed and approved by CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Academy of Family Physicians. The alternative vaccination schedule has not been tested, reviewed, or approved by any medical authority or public health group.

There continues to be diseases in population with high rates of vaccination coverage, granted the numbers are significantly lower, so what is the answer? Do we continue to be preemptive in the fight against disease and immunize or do we allow nature to take its course? I have personally delayed my lil one’s immunizations. His six month check up is next month and I will begin vaccinations with the European methods of breaking the shots down. It will be more shots unfortunately and will have to go to the doctor more often but to me this is the correct approach. I also have started him on Mommy’s Bliss liquid probiotic to begin reinforcing his immune system. He is still exclusively breastfed which he gets my immunity passively and I will not do a flu or pneumonia shot. I hope this post helps give you a bit of insight on vaccinating and if you have any thoughts/comments please feel free to share them!

[1] Tara Culp-ResslerFollow Senior Editor at ThinkProgress.com Feb 22, 2013

[2] The Most Dangerous Epidemics in U.S. History Medically Reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, PhD, MSN, RN, CRNA on September 29, 2016 — Written by the Healthline Editorial Team

[3] Center for Disease Control Pertussis Cases by Year

[4] James D. Cherry, M.D. N Engl J Med 2012; 367:785-787August 30, 2012DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1209051

[5] Study relates vaccine refusal to rise in measles, pertussis Phadke VK, Bednarczyk RA, Salmon DA, et al. Association between vaccine refusal and vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States: a review of measles and pertussis. JAMA 2016 Mar 15;315(11):1149-58  Davis MM. Toward high-reliability vaccination efforts in the United States. (Editorial) JAMA 2016 Mar 15;315(11):1115-7 [Extract]


  • Megan Smith

    Very interesting and well written article. It’s very informative and helpful to view both sides of it.

    • themamalife

      Thank you! I tried to put a ton of info and keep it interesting as well as neutral.

  • nursing informatics

    Not sure how I just didn’t see this before. So thankful for you writing.

  • Tresa | The Mom Blog WI

    Wow! This is an amazing, and very well put together article! Love touching on controversial topics! I hope this gets a lot of traction for you! Congratulations and great work! I’m so impressed and overwhelmed with knowledge, lol!

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