Similar to my home birth journey is my vaccine journey: I was once planning on having our babies born at home, then realized I had been sucked into misinformation about home birth safety; I was once opposed to childhood vaccinations, then realized I had been sucked into misinformation about vaccine safety.
The home birth midwives I knew during pregnancy #1 brought up a few things to me that made me to start to question certain mainstream ideas and practices... one of them being vaccines. Both of the home birth midwives were anti-vaccine. One of them recommended The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears. And that's how it started for me: Dr. Sears’ book led me down a path where I started reading all kinds of material in support of skipping or delaying vaccines. His book scared the crap out of me about the ingredients and made me thoroughly distrust pediatricians, as he paints doctors out to be clueless on the matter of vaccinations.
Our first son was on a predominately delayed vaccination schedule. For a while, we had stopped vaccinating him completely. I ditched our first pediatrician because she did not support Dr. Sears’ book so I labeled her as vaccine ignorant. So I found a pediatrician nearby that was on Dr. Sears’ list of “vaccine-friendly” doctors.
That's (the long story short on) how I fell into the anti-vaccine world. And here's how I found my way out:
After my home birth midwifery wake up call, when I realized I believed a bunch of lies and misinformation about the safety of home birth in the USA, I started to question a lot of the stuff I had been sucked into (cloth diapering, super anti-formula, everything organic, non-GMOs, etc) and changed up my reading material a bit. I started looking outside of my comfort zone and started reading more material from people who support vaccines: actual experts. For a while I resisted to accept my vaccine beliefs were wrong, though... I kept thinking to myself "nooooooo... there's no way I was wrong about vaccines, too!" But the evidence was becoming overwhelming in favor of vaccinating.
Every little fear and idea and theory I had about vaccines was being squashed, one after the next: the ingredients, the toxins, the link to autism, Dr. Sears, the theory that diseases were declining before the vaccines were even introduced, the list goes on…
My reasons for not vaccinating were not nearly as solid as I thought. They were based on pseudoscience, emotion, personal anecdotes, circumstantial correlations (“my friend vaccinated her kids and they are always sick; I didn’t vaccinate mine and they are never sick”) and conspiracy theories. I realized I spent too much time reading Dr. Sears, Mercola, Natural News, Health Impact News and the like... sources I thought I were legit and thought I could trust… sites that now, when I see pop up in my Facebook feed, make me cringe. And just like pro-home birth sites, anti-vaccine sites delete comments from people who do not toe the line… it is almost cult-like how these worlds suck you in and try to keep you from hearing “the other side.”
I also realized that the very small percentage of medical doctors that are anti-vaccine make a pretty penny from their stance: office visits are insanely expensive and many of them have their own books and lines of vitamins/supplements to sell. Dr. Sears being a prime example.
Alas, I was wrong. I was wrong about home birth. I was wrong about vaccines. My intentions were good: I wanted to do what I thought was best for my child. But that doesn't make me any less wrong.
I now confidently trust the epidemiologists, immunologists and infectious disease experts around the world. Vaccines are safe and efficient. Does this mean I do “whatever the doctors tell me without questioning?” No, of course not. I discuss openly and share my questions and concerns with our doctors and other experts. And if my gut is telling me something isn’t quite right, I’ll get a second opinion… from another expert.
I no longer fear vaccines and vaccine ingredients. I confidently vaccinate my children and keep myself up-to-date with my own vaccines. I do not want my children to suffer needlessly from a vaccine preventable disease. I want to protect those who cannot be vaccinated and I want my children to do their part as well. We wash our hands, we eat healthy, we exercise, we vaccinate.