Health and Science News for Parents

8 Reasons You Are Wrong About Not Vaccinating Your Daughter

written by Guest Author

When Kathy McGrath came across an article listing 8 reasons the author had not vaccinated his daughter, it reminded her of her own search to find good information about vaccines when her daughter was born. Now, years later, she fully understands how and why vaccines are safe, effective ways to protect children from many diseases. She responds here to each of the points made in that misinformative article.

by Kathy McGrath

To vaccinate or not. That is the question.

Before I had my first daughter I was a vaccine “fence-sitter.” When I first came across pro- or anti-vaccine articles on social media and blogs, I was truly looking for information.

I questioned why the hepatitis B shot had to be given at birth and wondered why there were so many shots on the schedule. I was perplexed why whooping cough is so prevalent even though babies receive several shots in the vaccine series that are supposed to protect against it. I questioned why I still needed to vaccinate for many other diseases that didn’t seem to be around much anymore. I got called a concern troll and was attacked on “pro-vax” pages for admitting I’d used complementary medicine.  Then I got called an uneducated “sheeple” and Big Pharma Shill on the “anti-vax” sites.  I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.

I was stunned by the passionate and rapid-fire judgmental comments from both camps and initially retreated from conversation as I became further alienated by both sides.

I realized it was my choice to take it to heart or continue to ask questions and learn. I realized that I couldn’t expect others to automatically know my intentions, so I decided to put on my objective glasses, see beyond the language and emotion and take on board the facts. Here’s what I have learned.

Kathy McGrath also researched vaccines after her daughter was born -- but relied only on evidence-based information.

Kathy McGrath also researched vaccines after her daughter was born — but relied only on evidence-based information.

1 A. The risk of adverse events from vaccines are greatly outweighed by the risks of adverse events from the diseases.  If you think it’s the other way round, either

  • you’ve failed at risk/benefit analysis
  • you don’t know what these diseases are capable of, or
  • you are getting your information from dubious sources.

Hands down, the risks are greater with not vaccinating. Gaining ‘natural immunity’ means putting your child through unnecessary suffering and risk of a severe or even fatal outcome.  You simply cannot obtain specific immunity to vaccine preventable diseases safely through any other method than vaccination. Natural births, exclusive breastfeeding, chiropractic visits and a well-nourished, healthy, outdoorsy lifestyle will not build specific antibodies to the diseases as vaccination can.  Healthy, robust children get sick and die from these diseases. Ask any pediatric ICU doctor.  We don’t vaccinate for trivial reasons.

For example, chickenpox is often thought of as a mild disease, even a ‘right of passage’ in childhood, but it can actually be fatal.  I’ve had chickenpox myself, and I was fine. The risk of dying from chickenpox is low, but the risk of severe effects from the chickenpox vaccine is magnitudes lower.

As I did, you may wonder why we need to keep vaccinating children against diseases like polio and diphtheria, which are rare in developed countries.  It’s because many diseases we vaccinate against are still common in other areas of the world and can easily be spread by travellers.  There have been recent outbreaks in developed countries – including the US – of whooping cough, measles, mumps and rubella. Diphtheria and tetanus are rare, but they still occur. These diseases still exist, and without vaccines, they could re-emerge.  With every disease on the immunization schedule, the risks from the disease outweigh the risks from the vaccine in gargantuan proportions. 

1B.  Your sources are key.  A decision made from Natural News articles and other pseudo-medical blogs will be poorly informed because the science is dubious and the information is cherry picked, misconstrued or downright wrong.

Every health organization of every country around the world is supportive of vaccination. And so is the overwhelming majority of the medical profession. You can trust information from legitimate medical sites and government health agencies because they are evidence-based.

And please don’t claim that “Big Pharma” are behind every study and every decision these organizations make.
Look up research in the PubMed library, where you will find scientific studies from all over the world from independent scientists, universities and other organizations with zero financial interest in pharmaceutical companies. If you exclude the pharmaceutical company-funded studies, the medical and scientific consensus still concludes that vaccinating is the safer choice over not vaccinating.

1C. Vaccine critics may worry about the long-term effects of being injected with multiple vaccines. Do they build up to toxic levels? Do they lead to chronic disorders? 

No. Here’s what happens when you’re vaccinated.  You get injected with antigens (bits of the original disease that have been inactivated, killed or weakened) that stimulate your body to make specific antibodies (disease-fighting immune cells) to fight this disease.  Developing a good level of immunity from a vaccine can take anywhere from a couple of weeks (the flu shot) to a couple of months (DTaP given at 2, 4 and 6 months).  Once antibodies are made, the body disposes of the antigens.

Vaccines also contain inactive ingredients (the excipients), such as aluminum salts, formaldehyde and trace antibiotics. These don’t stay in the body long enough to build up and create long-term health effects.  They leave your body within days or weeks.   The excipients found in vaccines are also found in things we consume or are in our environment.  When spaced out over months on the vaccination schedule, the amounts are diminishingly small compared to what we shovel into our mouths several times a day. And please don’t worry that ingestion differs from injection.  We’re talking about infintisimally small amounts here and the calculations for safety limits on injected substances are already factored in.  The only long-term effect from vaccines is the immunity to the disease our children develop from them. 

There is nothing to suggest a “synergistic toxicity” either.  The ingredients can’t build up and cause “multiplied” harm because we are talking about tiny, miniscule amounts of ingredients and many of them are inert. And again, they exit the body.

Critics might also point out that “artificial” stimulation of the immune system could lead to chronic disorders such as asthma, allergies, diabetes and autoimmune disease. But there is no evidence of this.

Children who receive vaccines on time do not have different neuropsychological outcomes to those who are unvaccinated or on a delayed schedule.

The incidence of allergies and chronic diseases in vaccinated versus unvaccinated children is the same.

1D. Side effects are real, but extremely rare.  There is no evidence to suggest serious side effects are under-reported. 

Conversely, there is evidence that serious adverse events are over-reported.  Minimal side effects, such as swelling and a sore arm, do tend to be under-reported.  Yet, most adverse events tend to be over-reported because of the perception that they are caused by the vaccine when the adverse event’s appearance is really just coincidental timing with the administration of the vaccines. For example, there are adverse reports in the US VAERS database which list motor vehicle accidents, accidental drownings, drug overdoses, suicides and teenage pregnancies as adverse events. Each of those is clearly an unfortunate incident that occurred around the same time as vaccination but could not have been caused by vaccines. Similarly, reports such as ovarian failure, autism and multiple sclerosis are not caused by vaccines because each has been studied and found through the scientific method not to be linked to vaccines. Some people might think they got the flu from the flu shot because it developed later on that same day.  But the timing of the incubation period makes that implausible.  And so on.

When side effects are reported to VAERS, experts evaluate them and many are found to not be causally related.  For example, this study shows only 3% of adverse events reported to VAERS were determined to definitely have been caused by immunization. Further, those 3% and the 40% determined to be “probably” or “possibly” related to a vaccine “were dominated by local reactions, allergic reactions, or symptoms known to be associated with the vaccine administered.” In other words, they were the minor adverse events that we already know about and are provided on VIS sheets.

Severe adverse events from vaccines occur less than 1% of the time. We know this from clinical trials, post marketing surveillance and clinical evaluation or reports.

2.  It is very unlikely a vaccinated child will contract the disease.  If they are unlucky enough to do so, the disease will, with minimal exceptions, be very mild.  

With some vaccines, such as the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), it’s extremely unlikely for a vaccinated person to catch the disease.   With pertussis and flu vaccines, it is more likely that a person might catch the disease, but the course of the disease will not be as severe as if the person were unvaccinated. That this can occur has more to do with the kinds of vaccines and the nature of the organisms than vaccine failure.

3.  You should not automatically dismiss vaccines because you don’t trust drug companies.  Pharmaceutical companies’ vaccine manufacturing processes are heavily regulated and stringently tested. To reject vaccines on the basis that Big Pharma needs to make a profit is folly. All businesses need to make a profit, and yes, Big Pharma is heavily invested in the health sector.

However, profits from vaccines are not huge as with other drugs, such as statins, cholesterol or even Viagra.  Yes, Vioxx took a long while to recall, but the system has many checks and balances in place in order to work.  And work it did. And few pharmaceutical products have the broad evidence base that vaccines have, both in how long they’ve been studied and in how many different countries, institutions and foundations have studied them.

Vaccines have been around for more than a century. Yes, there may be corruption and greed within big corporations – but why is Pharma any different from any other big company? Do you distrust people who manufacture your baby’s car seats, food and clothing as well because they need to make a profit?

4.  In the US, you can sue anybody, including the doctor, the nurse or the drug company, if there has been a breach of protocol. You can also seek compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) if you experience a serious side effect.

In the US, you can seek compensation through a specific program called NVICP if you suspect an adverse reaction from a vaccine.  You actually can sue the vaccine manufacturer through the civil court system for liability claims to do with manufacturing defects, such as a vaccine which is improperly made, or for warning defects, such as a vaccine which was incorrectly labeled.

In other countries, you can sue for vaccine injuries through the civil system. The US is lucky to have a specific system in place which actually tries to make it easier on people in the unlikely event they have an adverse reaction.

5. We know enough about the human microbiome to understand that it is implausible to be permanently affected by vaccines; actually the microbiome is probably not affected by vaccines at all.

The microbiota inside the walls of my gut is a separate and unique environment from what is within others’ guts, established from birth and genetic influences.  It can be affected by things I consume. Vaccines, which are injected into muscle?  Not so much.

The microbiota in my gut form part of my gut immune system, the mucosal immunity which makes IgA antibodies.  Vaccines are injected into muscle, stimulating local immune cells to make IgM and IgG antibodies.  This is occurring well away from your gut biota.

It is possible that a vaccine taken orally, such as the oral polio vaccine or rotavirus vaccine, may have a temporary effect on gut biota. But there’s no evidence these changes are significant, let alone permanent. Taking antibiotics is something that can change a person’s biota, yet even those courses do not have the power to make permanent, irrevocable changes. Eating a diet consisting primarily of heavily processed and readily absorbed food can adversely affect gut flora.

Research from Stanford University shows that we can develop immunity to microbes we’ve never encountered through exposure to gut pathogens. These findings lend credibility to the hygiene hypothesis, the idea that exposure to common, everyday germs, bugs and parasites strengthens our immune system. The study is not suggesting that we dismiss vaccines, but it’s suggesting we can make greater use of our oral immune system.

There are ways you can improve your oral immune system and develop a more diverse gut flora without probiotics or going to any great expense:
1. Avoid antibiotics (use only when necessary)
2.  Eat fermented foods and a wholesome, unprocessed diet with increased fiber intake
3. Get a pet
4. Relax the sanitary regime in your home by letting your children play in the dirt. Wash your hands when pathogens (eg, after visiting the toilet) or toxic chemicals (eg, after handling herbicides and pesticides) are likely to be present, but maybe not after patting the dog.

Meanwhile, injected vaccines target a completely different part of your immune system.

6.  Herd immunity is a real thing.  It is understood.
Herd immunity, also called community immunity, occurs when the vaccination of a large proportion of people in a community provides a chain of protection for those who cannot be vaccinated or have not developed immunity. When a certain percentage of the population has been immunized, the cycle of infection is interrupted because large numbers are immune or less susceptible to the disease and there are fewer infectious individuals. This means that any outbreak of the disease will be contained quickly. You can see a pictorial representation of herd immunity here. The CDC have even put out a chart of various herd immunity levels required for each disease (PDF, see Slide 17).

When herd immunity drops below a certain level, it fails.  Vaccines aren’t 100% effective, and some aren’t as good as others. The MMR vaccine is around 99% effective at recommended doses.  Pertussis vaccine is about 85% effective and flu vaccines range up to about 65% effectiveness. But vaccine effectiveness is all factored into the herd immunity percentages

When herd immunity drops below the needed level and an infected person enters the population, disease outbreaks occur and can spread rapidly among the unvaccinated.  Some who are vaccinated will get the illness as well (again, the vaccines are not 100% effective), but the incidence (the rate of infection, given in a ratio or percentage) in the unvaccinated will be far greater.  For example, pertussis occurs at a rate 27 times greater in unvaccinated individuals than in vaccinated ones. Similarly, during the 2013 measles outbreak in the US, 82% were unvaccinated.

(Keep in mind: the number of vaccinated individuals who get sick in a disease outbreak may be higher than the number of unvaccinated individuals, but the percentage of vaccinated individuals who catch the disease will be lower than the percentage of unvaccinated individuals. This occurs because there is typically a far greater number of vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated individuals in a community: a small percentage of a big number (1% of 1 million people is 10,000 people) can be larger than a large percentage of a small number (25% of 1,000 people is 250 people).

Vaccinate first and foremost for your own child. And if those who can vaccinate do vaccinate, you get the bonus of herd immunity

7.  The ingredients in vaccines are not toxic in the tiny amounts they occur.

Some ingredients have scary chemical-sounding names that might concern those who don’t understand toxicology — that the dose makes the poison and it depends on the most harmful ways of exposure.  For example, did you know that inhalation of formaldehyde is generally the most unsafe way for it to enter your body?

Aluminum, egg protein, antibiotics, formaldehyde, MSG and ethylmercury derived from thimerosal exist in some (but not all) vaccines in such tiny quantities that even people with allergies to these things do not usually react. (There are individuals with allergies that counter-indicate certain vaccines. These allergies are identified in the Vaccine Information Statements provided with each vaccine.)  Whether a vaccine is injected or ingested does not matter when we are talking about such tiny amounts. Injection does not magnify the harm or the toxicity.  The body has a way of dealing with substances that enter the skin and muscle just as it has a way of dealing with substances that enter the gut. You will consume far more of these substances in your daily diet.  

8.  I am a mum.  Scientists can sometimes get it wrong.  But so many scientists are pretty unlikely to be wrong.

The “tobacco science” analogy – that something once promoted as safe is now a lie – is a poor one. Tobacco is and always was a recreational drug. Vaccines aren’t here to help people have a good time or relax.  They have a specific purpose for which they were developed and tested – to prevent diseases. And they work.

The system also works.  RotaShield was recalled and examined for reported risks.  Drugs are recalled for safety. Whistleblowers exist across all industries.  There is also not much room for conspiracy when competitors are scrutinizing your actions. Science is a constant process of fact-checking and re-checking which involves scientists from around the world competing against one another to get the “big scoop.”  They’re constantly checking out each other’s claims for accuracy and  to see if they can be duplicated. Nothing should be taken at face value.  But vaccine effectiveness and safety has been reliably and repeatedly replicated by scientists from all corners of the globe.


About the Author: Kathy is tertiary educated with a background in nutritional science and describes herself as an ordinary mum living in the ‘burbs who likes to “do her own research.” She is not related to Kathryn McGrath, who has worked at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. This Kathy is not affiliated with any pharmaceutical company, government agency or any health organization that promotes vaccines.

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29 Responses to “8 Reasons You Are Wrong About Not Vaccinating Your Daughter”

  1. Dorit Reiss

    Great post. Thank you for taking the time to address this.

  2. This is a great summary of the reasons to vaccinate! Thank you for putting this together in such a concise, easy-to-understand post.

  3. Teri

    Superbly addressed.

  4. Erin

    This is EXCELLENT, you addressed so many points eloquently and without unnecessary insult. Thank you, I will be using this a refrerence in the future.

  5. Becky Richardson

    Thoughtful post. Thank you for taking the time to truly research this issue and then follow through.

  6. Tanya Gallagher

    Thank you for your article. I didn t do extensive research as you did before vaccinating my children. But my decision to vaccinate was based on your 1st point, the risk of the disease is much greater then the risk of the vaccine.

  7. Martin Bridgstock

    Good piece. The logical next step would be to link the points directly to the medical evidence, such as the large-scale reviews which exist in the literature..

  8. Shelly Dowdle

    Thank you! My older son was born with kidney failure, but did not get his transplant until age 5 (after 4 years on dialysis), so he was able to get all of his vaccines up until that age, including the chicken pox vaccine. I ended up needing to get the chicken pox vaccine as well since I had never had it (they checked titers to be sure and they were negative). Since his transplant he is not able to receive live vaccines such as MMR, chicken pox, flu mist. Also children on dialysis who receive vaccines do not always develop antibodies. Kids with chronic medical conditions and are unable to receive vaccines depend on those around them to keep them safe. Any child can die from these preventable diseases, but kids like mine have a much higher risk.

  9. Sara

    Great post! I might just add, as the author is clearly too kind to point this out, that the number 1 reason this guy doesn’t vaccinate his daughter is no doubt because he makes his money flogging snake oil. As a shill for Big Quacker there’s no way he could be seen supporting the enemy!

  10. What a great breakdown and honest appraisal of the vaccine situation. I wish others would look at it so objectively and get the facts straight. This is great!

  11. Thankyou for writing this in such a clear, factual and easy to absorb manner. I feel strongly about this as I have a 6 month old niece who is at risk of catching diseases which her 4 and 8 year old sisters were not. This is because of a net reduction in herd immunity amongst supposedly well off educated people in urban Australia. I also feel very strongly about my fiends in the disability community whose children are compromised like Shelly Dowdle – and who rely on the rest of us to be fully protected. I will add one thing: people my age can do something to help. We all got our pertussis jab 40 odd years ago and it has probably worn off. So get your D-TaP booster and tell all your friends why you are getting it. Be a good Aunty or grandparent or doting friend and get it before you go anywhere near a newborn.

  12. Linda

    Thank you for this article! And thank you for being nice. I do not have children yet, but have been on the fence as well and have read articles of pros and cons. I’m curious and want to be informed. It’s amazing how mean people can get when you ask questions.

  13. Shelly

    Thank you so much for writing this. It gives a better understanding of why people vaccinate. I fully support vaccination, I would rather vaccinate than risk my children becoming ill from a disease that could have been prevented.

  14. Sullivanthepoop

    I really like this article. I think it has something that could appeal to other fence sitters and that is the most import thing because the die hard antivax people cannot hear dissenting opinions.

  15. Jon

    I’m a scientist, and I’m in favor of evidence-based choices. There is plenty of evidence that one of the flu vaccines has caused several cases of narcolepsy, a very serious, permanent condition, in children. If you want to be through, you need to mention serious situations such as narcolepsy and others, otherwise you may be accused to be a cherry-picker too.

    • Jon

      Please note: I’m in favor of vaccination, but as a scientist I can’t say that all vaccines are safe. Long-term side effects are never tested in vaccine trials, and there is no way we can know what they could be for the new generation vaccines – we may well say that there is no evidence related to effects that can be seen only after years or decades following vaccine administration. Think of molecular mimicry and induction of autoimmune diseases, for example. You need to discuss evidence, or lack thereof, for both sides – safety and “unsafety”.

      • Tara Haelle

        As noted previously, “safe” is a relative term. There is no such thing as 100% safe for anything in our world. Vaccines, as with everything else, involve a risk-benefit calculation. The consensus of evidence in peer-reviewed studies makes it clear that the benefits of all FDA-approved vaccines outweigh the risks for those who do not have the contraindications for particular vaccines. Long-term side effects are not, as you noted, tested in vaccine clinical trials because it would be impossible: you would have to wait for a complete lifetime of those study participants before you could use the vaccine for anyone else, which would be unethical when the trials reveal the efficacy of the vaccine in preventing disease. However, the fact that long-term risks may exist is the reason the U.S. has such extensive post-licensure safety monitoring through the passive surveillance of VAERS and the Vaccine Safety Datalink program. These, combined with studies conducted in the U.S. and overseas, are continually assessing and reassessing possible undetected risks, and policies about vaccines reflect those findings. The question of vaccines’ influence on autoimmune diseases, however, has been studied extensively and continues to be. Reports at the independent Institute of Medicine have consistently found no link to vaccines for autoimmune disorders as a whole. The only autoimmune disease that has been clearly linked to a vaccine is Guillain Barre syndrome, for which there is an increased risk among those who receive the flu vaccine. However, the risk is tiny (again, see the flu vaccine myths post), and the risk is several times smaller for GBS among flu vaccine recipients than it is for GBS among those who become infected with the flu.

    • Tara Haelle

      This blog frequently addresses the risks of vaccines in addition to the benefits. If you use the search function, you will find the post on 25 myths about the flu vaccine specifically addresses the narcolepsy risk, which is real and appeared only in the 2010 H1N1 vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline in Europe. No other vaccines, flu or otherwise, have been linked to narcolepsy other than the European GSK 2010 H1N1 flu vaccine. Another post on rotavirus and intussusception clearly discusses the risks and benefits of rotavirus vaccines.
      It is impossible to cover every risk in every post, just as every benefit is not addressed in every post. Reputable sites such as those at the CDC and the WHO also provide clear information about the risks and benefits of vaccines.

  16. […] How does this apply to vaccines? I have no doubt that many parents that choose not to vaccinate believe their decision is the best way to protect their child. Many of them may be swayed by anti-vaccine rhetoric including stories of harm from a vaccine, even when the evidence disproves those stories. Some fall prey to the notion that vaccines contain harmful toxins. Some have a general distrust of the medical establishment.   Fortunately, there is extensive evidence debunking each of the claims. […]

  17. […] among other alt med industries exploit those who don’t know the science behind vaccines (and how they work), clinical trials or what exactly goes into creating a new drug – all by offering a quick treatment […]

  18. Katie

    It’s really disappointing that you don’t cite sources for many of these reasons. You expect people to take your statements at face value, with no backup whatsoever. This could be such a powerful article if it was carefully sourced and cited.

    • Tara Haelle

      Much of the comments are cited with the embedded links. Are there specific ones that you want sources for that do not have embedded links? It’s not difficult to add links for certain ones. A lot of this, however, also refer to basic immunology, so the source would be an immunology textbook. You would not do a study to show a basic immunological or toxicological concept. But I’m happy to add citations if you have specific questions.

  19. Jonell

    Good post, and very needed for a vaccine fence sitter with a newborn like myself. The only point I think is forgotten is the matter of choice of vaccinations for the parent. As a parent who does not want to use Human cell line vaccines and wishes to avoid vaccines with aluminum as much as possible(Europe does not use aluminum in vaccines), I’m surprised to the limit of Licensed vaccines in the U.S. currently. With the vast amount of products out there, there should be more choice allowed for U.S. parents. Pediatrics should be prepared to have an alternative schedule for Human Cell Free/ALuminum Free vaccines for parents who are concerned about such. That way it won’t feel like you are playing russian roulette with your child’s health when looking at side effects.

  20. Caroline

    Thanks for writing this! I always enjoy your blogs and this one is excellent. I believe in vaccination! My daughter is fully vaccinated and so am I. Just had my Tdap booster.

  21. LIz Ditz

    The post is going around again on Facebook. This thorough debunking is excellent.

    Here is what the author of “8 reasons I’m not vaccinating” has to say about himself.

    “I am a passionate advocate the Evolution of Medicine.

    Since I was a child I have been under the care of holistic medical providers. I was adjusted by a chiropractor at age 15 minutes and very little ‘Western Medicine’ in my childhood.

    I studied health economics in the UK and traded on the world’s biggest trading floor for a year before I decided to follow my interest in healthcare, moving to Gainesville, Georgia in July 2005.

    Since then I have have the pleasure of working with some great mentors and help build some excellent businesses in the field, from medical spas to professional supplements. Since 2009, I have been building an engine capable of significant change, while gaining experience in digital marketing, sales management, business coaching and communication skills.

    This engine works to empower both patients and practitioners to play their respective and important parts in a truly evolved medical system.

    It includes:

    Revive Primary Care: A patient portal teaching the four causes of chronic disease and find a functional or holistic provider in their zip code”

    In other words, the fellow has no medical or scientific training and is making his living being a woo profiteer.

  22. Bob K.

    As a scientist who has worked in medical research for 12 years, thank you very much for this article. It is very well written and very factual. One commenter mentioned that she had the same experience researching this topic but only decided to vaccinate because of your first point (that vaccines have less risk than the diseases they prevent). That is the only point that matters (after all, everything else is just supporting that point). You’ve made a real difference with this article. You’ve inevitably saved lives! Again, thank you for fighting the good fight.

  23. […] want to find out, and are buried in insults for even asking questions, like Kathy McGrath who wrote about her vaccine research as a guest at the parenting blog Red Wine and Apple […]

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