Natural Living · Parenting · wellness

It’s No Joke: Vaccinate Your Kids

When did mumps become a laughing matter? Last time I checked the disease is associated with significant pain and serious complications can occur. A few days ago someone uploaded The Great Mumps Scandal of Schull on Urban Dictionary, about the recent mumps outbreak in West Cork, as if it’s a big joke. Wt actual f?

On Monday I received a text from my son’s secondary school saying there was “a confirmed case” of mumps. A link to the HSE website’s Frequently Asked Questions was attached, which provides information about the potentially serious illness. Today I spoke with someone at the school to voice my concerns. I was told 3 cases have been confirmed, but I suspect the whole thing is being down played. My son knows of at least 7 students with confirmed cases. Not every parent is broadcasting to the community that their unvaccinated teenager has mumps.

What worries me is that the vaccine isn’t as effective as I previously thought. In order to achieve herd immunity, 95% of the population needs to be vaccinated, and Ireland falls below that.

One dose of MMR vaccine is 93% effective against measles, 78% effective against mumps, and 97% effective against rubella. Two doses of MMR vaccine are 97% effective against measles and 88% effective against mumps.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

The school’s receptionist tried to reassure me, saying that vaccinated children will only have a mild case if they contract the illness. I pointed out that one fully vaccinated 18 year old we know is suffering a lot and has lock jaw. Her case is far from “mild.” Her mother certainly doesn’t find the situation funny. Like her, I fail to see any humor about the outbreak.

Deafness, though rare, affects 1 in 20,000 people with mumps. My son has had unilateral hearing loss since he was 11. Doctors can’t say for certain why he became deaf in one ear, but they suspect it was due to a virus. Something might be “rare,” but believe me, when it happens to your child it’s terribly real. I phoned my GP but the line was engaged all morning. I will take her advice as to when she thinks it’s safe for my son to return to school. I’m not taking chances on his health or his hearing.

We are in the midst of The Biggest Mumps Outbreak In A Decade according to the Irish Times. In some parts of the country mumps cases increased by nearly 600% last year. The reemergence of the disease is due to the decrease in vaccinations. Some parents still believe the debunked theories about a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. Andrew Wakefield, a former doctor, continues to perpetuate his ideas online, despite being discredited for his now retracted study published in 1998.

My oldest son was born in 1998. I remember the fear, the panic when rumors about Wakefield’s report began. As a result I chose to delay the MMR, but made sure he had it before he hit puberty. I understand that there can be side effects to vaccines and that it can be a difficult decision for parents. I also think the risks need to be assessed. The diseases we’re trying to eradicate are far more harmful than the vaccines. My uncle spent his life in a wheelchair because he contracted polio as a child. Do we really want to go back to living with these diseases as a real threat? I certainly don’t. Needless to say my youngest child received all of his shots on schedule. Logic, rather than fear, must prevail.

Vaccination isn’t all about a personal choice. It’s about protecting the population.

Dr Elizabeth Ryan,  UL Immunologist

People often assume I’m an anti-vaxxer because I otherwise embrace natural living. It’s true that I used cloth nappies for 2 of my children, advocate extended breastfeeding, practice co-sleeping, have had 2 homebirths, and value holistic medicine. Some people might describe my partner and me as hippies, but I don’t like labels or conforming to any group code.

We have family members who are very vocal about the perils of vaccines on social media, and we have both had Facebook arguments on the subject. (Yeah… that old rabbit hole…) In 2019 140,000 people died of measles worldwide. When a measles epidemic killed 39 people in Samoa last year, one family member suggested it was because the Somoan children didn’t have access to the correct vitamins. Crazy as it sounds, she is a smart, articulate woman, possessing a college degree, dedicated to her cause. Every day she posts link after link from anti-vaccine websites, although the HSE is supposedly “monitoring anti-vaxxer comments on social media.” Vaccine hesitancy was among the top 10 threats to health last year. The World Health Organisation posted a list this week of Urgent Health Challenges for the next decade. Stopping infectious diseases is among the list of urgent issues.

Some of our friends and family blame greedy Big Pharma. They think vaccines are simply a means for someone to profit. Being somewhat anti-establishment, they don’t trust conventional medicine or doctors (until a surgery is needed due to disease or an accident, or someone ends up unexpectedly in intensive care with a mysterious, life threatening illness. True story). No one ever talks about or scrutinizes the Big Wellness industry.

Read about how Joseph Mercola, a major funder of the anti-vaccine movement, has made millions selling vitamins in addition to other natural health products here. While the National Vaccine Information Center does not sell or advertise Mercola’s products on its site, they do display his company’s logo on their homepage. Is it coincidence that he profits from selling the vitamins which they claim are a safe and effective alternative to vaccines?

What do you think? Some states and countries are making vaccinations mandatory. Is that a violation of our parental and human rights, or do parents have a responsibility to protect the population as Dr. Ryan suggests? Feel free to leave a comment below and share your views.

* After Note: My son informed me that the Scandal of Schull is satire. He thought it was funny. Apparently my generation doesn’t get things like the Urban Dictionary. LOL… I stand corrected by my 17 year old. It’s surprising someone as old as me knows how to use the internet at all…

Featured Photo by CDC 

11 thoughts on “It’s No Joke: Vaccinate Your Kids

  1. I’m actually a RN that has been working in the pharma industry for years. But I am also a huge supporter of natural health/natural living. From a person that works on both sides, I can say that I don’t know if we are getting all the information that we need to make the best choices. That is something that I have been wanting to look into and I will do it very soon. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts as a health professional. I’m not suggesting that we stop thinking critically and accept all of the new vaccines without question. The swine flu vaccine was suspended in Ireland in 2011 because it was deemed harmful. There are 100 cases currently before the high court in relation to it. See this article here for more information: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/high-court/test-case-over-alleged-link-between-swine-flu-vaccine-and-narcolepsy-to-open-1.4041903

      In this post I’m referring specifically to the MMR and also the 6 in 1 (vaccinating against polio, etc). What I object to is the spreading of false information. These vaccines are deemed safe for the vast majority of people. I am, however, disappointed that the MMR isn’t more effective at protecting people from mumps.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I agree. There should not be spread of false information. Information should not be witheld either. I haven’t made up my mind on the issue yet as I want to do some more digging. Thanks!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What an exceptional post, thank you for taking the time to put this together. I vaccinated all 4 of my children. I struggled with it because with each vaccination my kids ended up with raging fevers, runny noses etc. My youngest had food allergies even though I nursed him, and he suffered terribly after each vaccine. Thankfully everyone is healthy today. ugh, it’s such a difficult topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mare. I’m glad they’re all healthy now. Did your youngest eventually outgrow his food allergies? It’s not uncommon for babies to get fevers and runny noses after their shots, but I agree it’s stressful. It must have been tough continuing with vaccines when you saw your youngest’s reactions.

      I passed on my allergic, asthmatic genes to my oldest. We had a bad experience too. We moved to Ireland (the first time) when he was 8 months old. Before we left Ohio, his nurse thought it was a good idea to give him 2 doses of his shot at the same time, just in case he wouldn’t get the follow up shot abroad. BIG MISTAKE.

      A week later he developed severe infectious asthma. We spent his first birthday in the hospital. For the next few years he was constantly getting sick and was hospitalised again at age 3 when we lived in Santa Fe. My homeopath at the time blamed vaccines. We avoided preventive inhalers the whole time but did have a nebuliser at home. Our paediatrician started pressuring us about the inhaler. It was so hard to know what to do because of the side effects.

      Eventually we took him to a renowned Chinese doctor who practiced both acupuncture and was qualified as a western doctor. He prescribed Chinese herbs. After a summer of taking them my son was cured! It was truly incredible after everything we’d been through. He was almost 4 by then.

      Did the vaccines cause his asthma? Did he have a predisposition for asthma that was triggered when his immune system was overloaded? Would he have been fine if the nurse had given him the correct dosage? Would he have outgrown the asthma without the help of alternative medicine? I have no idea. I’m just thankful he’s healthy now. I do know that as an adult he is very scientific and would not have respected our decision not to vaccinate.

      It’s interesting to see how the unvaccinated teenagers are currently responding. My friend’s son took matters into his own hands now that he’s old enough and got vaccinated. Another one is upset his parents haven’t vaccinated him and he plans to go to the GP himself. Others (like my bonus daughter) say they “don’t believe in vaccines.” (Her mom won’t consent to getting any of them). I hope she’ll stay healthy as she attends the school with the current outbreak. It’s a tough and divisive subject as you said…

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      1. Wow! You’ve been through so much, I’m glad your son is healthy and doing well. So scary when our kids are ill.
        My youngest did outgrow his dairy allergy. I’m the one that figured it out when he was 3 months old so I cut all dairy out of my diet since I was nursing him. He out grew it by the time he was 6. To this day he doesn’t eat much dairy though. He remembers how scary his reactions were to it when he was younger.

        Sending love to the schools out there. I truly hope everything clears up. Such a scary situation.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As a health care worker myself, I understand the need for vaccines and have vaccinated all my kids. I also know that we are not privy to all the necessary information and not necessarily all truth surrounding pharmaceuticals. I stand wary of medicines, will not take unless I must. Like all parents I have worried and prayed while vaccinating my kids. Mumps as you pointed out can have serious consequences, and can cause sterility. This year I chose not to give my kids the flu shot, so far they have not gotten sick. I received the flu shot and yet was sick as a dog with respiratory issues needing antibiotics and steroids. My kids have all been fine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same. My first choice is natural remedies whenever we need them. However, I recognise and value the benefits of conventional medicine when necessary. I think a healthy dose of skepticism is no bad thing. I’ve never had the flu vaccine and neither have my kids. In this post I was focusing on the tried and tested childhood vaccines which have benefited society in undeniable ways. I’m not advocating getting every new vaccine on offer. Has the chickenpox vaccine become routine in the states? Here you have to pay for it. I think it’s designed more for convenience than necessity. Three of my kids contracted chickenpox naturally and it was no big deal.

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      1. Yes it is routine now. Since I grew up in South America I actually got chicken pox as a child myself.
        Yes I understand only the heavy hitters like polio, mumps and such.

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    2. Sorry to hear you ended up so sick. Hope you’re feeling better by now. It’s been a long winter… We’ve had lots of viruses at our house this year. More of my kids’ friends caught mumps but we thankfully dodged that one at least!

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