Vaccination Informed Choice

This is a comprehensive detailed look at the risks of each routinely given vaccine vs. the risks of acquiring each disease and the general severity and potential outcomes of actually acquiring each disease. 

    The choice about vaccination is a very personal and individual decision. There are countless resources available for researching this topic, some of which are listed at the end of this information sheet. I strongly encourage individuals to look into the issue of vaccination in depth before making a decision. This information sheet is designed to give you an overview of this controversial issue.

    Vaccination and immunization are not the same thing although they are often incorrectly used to mean the same thing.

    Immunization is the direct result of acquiring a disease in which the body mounts a full inflammatory response to the virus. Once recovered from the disease, the body retains a memory of exactly how to fight that specific pathogen. The next time exposure occurs, the body wipes it out even before symptoms occur.

    Vaccination is artificial exposure of an altered form of the disease. The idea is to cause the body to produce some antibodies and memory cells so that if exposure to the actual disease occurs, the body will “remember” how to fight the pathogen.

Important things to consider when contemplating the use of vaccination:

    *Likelihood of acquiring the disease
    *Long-term debilitation and mortality associated with the disease
    *Effectiveness of the vaccine
    *Risks of the vaccine

Advantages of routine vaccination:

    Vaccination may prevent diseases. Some of the diseases vaccination may prevent such as chicken pox and influenza produce uncomfortable and painful symptoms for the majority of the population while only a small group of more vulnerable people are at risk of debilitating outcomes. Other diseases that vaccinations may prevent are more serious and have a higher rate of significant complications and fatality, such as, hepatitis, polio, and tetanus.

Effectiveness of Vaccinations:

    Since there have not been enough true scientific studies on the effectiveness of vaccination, the effectiveness of vaccination is not proven. A study in which the long term health of a group of people who have been vaccinated (with the newer vaccinations as well) in the same environment with a control group of people who were not vaccinated might give us more conclusive answers. Some say that the drop in the incidence rate of certain diseases such as polio after the public release of the vaccination is an obvious indication of the vaccine’s effectiveness. Others point out that diseases such as polio were already on the decline when the vaccination was introduced and therefore it only appeared that the vaccination was the cause in the dropping rate of the disease. This is also based on the belief that diseases seem to run their course through populations and then naturally decrease.

Risks associated with vaccination:  There is a problem with under reporting the adverse effects of vaccinations and the accuracy of the actual risk is obscured.

    Short Term Side Effects:

•        * Skin reactions
        * Fever
        * Vomiting and diarrhea
        * Cough, runny nose, ear infection
        * High pitched screaming, persistent crying
        * Collapse or shock-like episodes
        * Excessive sleepiness
        * Seizure disorders
        * Infantile spasms
        * Loss of muscle control
        * Inflammation of the brain
        * Blood disorders- Thrombocytopenia, Hemolytic Anemia
        * Diabetes and Hypoglycemia
        * Death and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

    Long Term Side Effects:

        * Severe neurological damage
        * Brain damage
        * Allergy and hypersensitivity
        * Immune system damage
        * Autism
        * Attention Deficit Disorder
    According to the article written by Gary Null, PhD, and Martin Feldman MD, called Vaccination: An Analysis of the Health Risks- Part 1, the previous president of the national institute of homeopathy was quoted by Walene James, author of Immunization: The Reality Behind the Myth, as stating, “Vaccines trick the body so that it will no longer initiate a generalized inflammatory response. They thereby accomplish what the entire immune system seems to be evolved to prevent. They place the virus directly into the blood stream and give it access to the major immune organs and tissues without any obvious way of getting rid of it. These attenuated viruses and virus elements persist in the blood for a long time, perhaps permanently. This in turn implies a systematic weakening of the ability to mount an effective response, not only to childhood diseases but to other acute infections as well”.

    Possible causes of the adverse effects of vaccination:

        * Administration-direct injection into the bloodstream which causes the pathogen to bypass many of the body’s normal immune defense systems.
        * Chemicals, such as aluminum phosphate (a neurotoxin)
        *Preservatives, most commonly Thimerosol, a mercury based compound (also a neurotoxin)
        * Procedure of preparing some vaccines from diseased animal tissues
        * Modification of antigen
        *Volume, the dosage of the altered antigen is immense in comparison to the amount of the natural antigen your body would naturally be exposed to.

Relevant Facts:
    Some, who are “pro-vaccine” believe that a small minority of the population should accept the adverse consequences of vaccination for the greater good of the majority.

    Adverse effects reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting Systems (VAERS), were 38,787 between 1991 and 1994. Out of these 45% occurred on the day of the vaccination, 20% occurred on the following day, and 93% occurred within two weeks of vaccination.
    Deaths associated with vaccination are most common in infants 1 to 3 months old and is usually labeled as SIDS.

    Medical practitioners are among those who are at the highest risk for acquiring vaccine preventable diseases. In an article that was published in the British Medical Journal in 1990 states that in a survey in which doctors were questioned about the hepatitis B vaccine, 86% thought that all medical practitioners should be vaccinated against this disease yet the study concluded that over 50% of the same doctors who were questioned were not vaccinated against hepatitis B themselves.

Signs and symptoms, possible complications, vaccine effectiveness and The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule:

Hepatitis B (HBV):

* Virus causes an inflammatory process in the liver.
* Transmission: Blood (sharing needles is often the cause), sexual contact (exchange of body fluids: blood, milk, semen, vaginal secretions), passed from mother to infant during childbirth.
* Signs & Symptoms/Consequences: liver failure, liver cancer, anorexia, malaise, nausea & vomiting, fever, jaundice (yellowing of the skin), and death. Hep. B is usually an acute illness that rarely becomes a chronic illness.
* Effectiveness of vaccine: According to The Merck Manual, sixteenth edition, the hep B vaccine, “gives an almost universal anti-HBs response in normal recipients and dramatic reduction of about 90% in the incidence of HBV infection.” Keep in mind also the increases of other changes such as availability and accessibility of clean needles, safer sex practices and education about the avenues of transmission.

Dose #1) At birth before discharged from the hospital
Dose #2) 1-4 months
Dose #3) 6-18 months
Dose #4) 2-18 years

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis:


* Transmission: Coughing, sneezing, saliva
* Possible Consequences: Breathing and heart problems, paralysis (rarely) and death.


* The tetanus bacteria is found in the ground and is especially concentrated in dirty metal where rust is found (ex: rusty nails). It is acquired when the germ enters the bloodstream through a wound.
* Possible Consequences: Stiffness of the jaw, muscle spasms, breathing problems, heart problems and death.
* Vaccination in Pregnancy: Transfers the vaccine to the fetus.

Pertussis: (whooping cough)

* Transmission: Coughing, sneezing, saliva.
* Possible Consequences/Signs and Symptoms: Very long coughing spells that may interfere with eating, drinking and even breathing. Rarely it may cause long term lung problems, seizures, brain damage and death. Infants less than one year of age are more likely to be affected by serious complications.

Dose #1) 2 months
Dose #2) 4 months
Dose #3) 6 months
Dose #4) 15-18 months
Dose #5) 11-12 years
Dose #6) Booster shots every 10 years

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib):

* Transmission: Coughing, sneezing, saliva
* Possible Consequences: Can rarely cause meningitis (inflammation of the brain), infections of the joints, skin and blood, brain damage and death. Infants under one year of age are more likely to be affected by serious complications.

Dose #1) 2 months
Dose #2) 4 months
Dose #3) 6 months
Dose #4) 12-15 months

Inactivated Polio:

* Possible Consequences/Signs and Symptoms: Fever, meningitis, chance of developing life long paralysis.

Dose #1) 2 months
Dose #2) 4 months
Dose #3) 6-18 months
Dose #4) 4-6 years

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR):


* Transmission: Highly contagious and air borne. Virus can remain in the air for up to two hours after an infected person has left the room.
* Possible Consequences/Signs and Symptoms: High fever, rash and cold-like symptoms. Rarely results in hearing loss, pneumonia, brain damage and death.

* Transmission: Coughing, sneezing, saliva
* Possible Consequences/Signs and Symptoms: Headache, fever, swelling of glands of the jaw and neck, swelling of the testicles in adolescent boys and adult males, swelling of the ovaries. Rarely can lead to hearing loss, meningitis, and brain damage.

Rubella: (German Measles)

* Possible Consequences/Signs and Symptoms: Slight fever and rash on the face and neck. In pregnancy it can lead to miscarriage, premature labor, still birth, and birth defects such as hearing loss, heart problems and mental retardation. This is known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
* Effectiveness of Vaccine: According to the Merck Manual, sixteenth edition, “Rubella immunization programs prevent some of the catastrophies associated with congenital rubella, but the most successful policy for immunization is not yet known.”
* Vaccine in Pregnancy: Contraindicated (not recommended), women who receive the vaccine are recommended not to become pregnant within three months following the vaccine. The Merck Manual recommends routine vaccination immediately following the birth of infants born to susceptible mothers.

Dose #1) 12-18 months
Dose #2) 4-6 years
Dose #3) 11-18 years

Varicella: (Chicken Pox)

* Transmission: Very contagious; spread through coughing, sneezing, saliva, direct contact with drainage from the rash.
* Possible Consequences/Signs and Symptoms: Usually only results in a rash and fever and sometimes a bacterial infection of skin lesions. In rare cases may lead to meningitis, pneumonia, gangrene, staphylococci, heart problems, arthritis, blood diseases or death.
* Effectiveness of Vaccine: The Merck Manual states “Their use is primarily for exposed susceptibles with leukemia, immunodeficiency syndromes, or other severe debilitating illness.”
* Vaccine in Pregnancy: Not recommended, however, it is recommended that infants whose mothers developed chicken pox within five days before the birth or two days after may consider vaccination.

Dose #1) 12-18 months
Dose #2) 1-18 years

Pneumococcal: (Causes Bacterial Pneumonia)

* Transmission: Coughing, sneezing, saliva, and respiratory droplets.
* Signs and Symptoms: Leading cause of meningitis in children under the age of five. Also may lead to arthritis and heart problems.
* Effectiveness of Vaccine and Risks of Vaccine: According to The Merck Manual, “Most children 2 yrs. or older show antigenic response within 2 to 3 weeks after the vaccination.” and “About 50% of vaccinated patients develop erythema and/or pain at the injection site; about 1% develop fever, malaise, or a severe local reaction; and 5 million develop an anaphylactiod or other serious reaction.”
Dose #1) 2 months
Dose #2) 4 months
Dose #3) 6 months
Dose #4) 12-15 months
Dose #5) 1-18 years

Hepatitis A:

Dose #1) 1-18 years


Yearly starting at 6 months


1)Plain Talk About Childhood Immunizations, put out by Public Health of Seattle and King County
2) Vaccination: An Analysis of the Health Risks-Part 1, by Gary Null, PhD, and Martin Feldman, MD.
3) The Merck Manual, sixteenth edition, published Merck Research Laboratories
4) Vaccination? A Review of Risks and Alternatives by Isaac Golden
5) Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule, United States, 2002, by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
6) Controversies in Immunization Practices: Vaccine Safety and Implications for Midwifery Practice, by Barbara K. Hackley, CNM, MS.

By: Joy Jech