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Myths About Unvaccinated Children

admin February 18, 2011

Image by USACE European District

As a proud parent of four unvaccinated children, I hear my share of misconceptions, myths, and outright lies.  Some of these are well-intentioned, from people who are unsure and want the best for everyone; some of them are just confused; and some are saying these things in order to purposely stir up anger and fear towards those who choose not to vaccinate.  I’d really like to clear up misconceptions that fall into all these categories.  I don’t want people to be needlessly afraid of unvaccinated children, or to feel like they have to vaccinate (or just avoid unvaccinated children) because of their fear.  So read on, and let’s dispel some myths!

Myth #1: Unvaccinated children are responsible for disease epidemics!

Truth: Not even close. 

Most of the recent disease epidemics have broken out in highly vaccinated communities.  They largely occur in cycles (an outbreak one year, then not again for a few years), and usually because a disease has mutated.  Most doctors and researchers are pretty sure this is what has happened with whooping cough, and that’s why it’s making such a comeback.  Since the disease has mutated, there is no vaccine to “protect” against it, so it doesn’t matter if you were vaccinated or not — you are at risk.  This is, honestly, more than likely due to the vaccine, because the disease wants to stay alive, so it mutated to a new strain in order to continue getting people sick. 

Regardless, it is definitely not the unvaccinated children “spreading disease around,” there is so much more to it than that.

Myth #2: Unvaccinated children are disease carriers!

Truth: Nope! 

Unless a kid — vaccinated or not — actually has a disease, they cannot spread it.  Unvaccinated children do not just get diseases and go spread them all around.  Many of them do not get sick very often!  The truth is, disease is spread by anyone who has it, often before they know they’re sick.  Especially if diseases have mutated (see point #1), anyone could catch a disease and accidentally pass it on before they know they’re sick, vaccinated or not. 

Many parents will keep their kids out of school if they are unvaccinated if an epidemic breaks out to try to prevent both catching and spreading the illness (which I don’t think is entirely fair, given that any kid can spread it, but whatever).  It’s important to understand: anyone who is sick can pass an illness on, and it’s not actually more likely to be an unvaccinated person.  (Shows like Law & Order, where, in one episode, they actually prosecuted a mother for not vaccinating her child who caught measles and passed it on to a baby who died, do not help this point at all!  That was blatant and unforgivable propaganda.)

Myth #3: Unvaccinated children are going to catch every disease out there and maybe/probably die!

Truth: Almost certainly not. 

I won’t lie, choosing not to vaccinate means that you are taking responsibility for your child’s health, and the possibility that your child could catch a disease.  It also means that you need to use other ways to bolster and protect your child’s immune system, like with excellent diet, cod liver oil, adequate rest and sunlight, etc.  But as most parents who make this choice are well-educated and they do these things, their children are not much more likely than any other child to catch a serious disease. 

It’s also important to understand that many of these diseases can be beneficial to children (over the age of 1 and under 12 or so) because they “train” their immune system naturally.  Most complications arise from nutritional deficiencies, namely vitamin A.  Parents whose children are healthy and not deficient, and who do not have compromised immune systems (another reason why parents may not be able to vaccinate) generally will not suffer any serious consequences as a result of any illness they may catch.  They are likely to have an uncomfortable few days, and recover with no issues.  It is important to put that into perspective, instead of fearing these diseases. 

(Rates of serious complications are 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100,000 and usually occur in third-world countries, where nutritional deficiencies are much more likely.)  There are, unfortunately, no studies on the health of unvaccinated children, nor studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated children, so there is no way to say if either group is more likely to suffer complications or be hospitalized due to illness.  (Pay attention…there are no studies.)

Myth #4: Unvaccinated children put everyone at risk because we can’t achieve the high numbers needed for herd immunity.

Truth: “Herd immunity” really doesn’t exist. 

If it did, we wouldn’t be seeing disease outbreaks in highly vaccinated communities, we’d be seeing them in communities with lower rates.  But since diseases are constantly changing and mutating, high vaccination rates can’t force diseases to go away.  Those that have been “eradicated” did not happen because of vaccines; something else was going on.  (There’s too much information for me to get into all that right now.)

Myth #5: If we stop vaccinating, then all these diseases will come back and kill us!

Truth: Probably not.

This isn’t really just about unvaccinated kids, but it’s so commonly perpetuated that I wanted to address this.  If you take a look at last week’s post on how long immunity lasts, you’ll see that many adults no longer have protection against these diseases, yet we do not see outbreaks and deaths from them!  There is also the fact that our sanitation practices are much better than they were, and nutrition is much better too (at least for those who are health-conscious, which includes most parents who choose not to vaccinate). 

Our bodies can and do fight off illnesses all the time.  We will not see a resurgence if we stop vaccinating; and if we see some, we won’t be seeing high death rates.  Many illnesses were over 99% gone by the time we introduced the vaccine.  For example, looking at measles on the WHO’s site, where the chart is only from 1980 – present, it appears the vaccine had a huge role in getting rid of the disease.  But if you look at it from 1940 – present, you’ll see the vast majority of cases had dropped off by 1960 (the vaccine was introduced in 1963).  This is a huge scare tactic but that is all it is.  We will not see a bunch of people in iron lungs from polio (do you know that only a very tiny percent, less than 1%, of people who get polio ever got paralytic polio?  Most were asymptomatic!).  It just doesn’t work that way.

Myth #6: Unvaccinated children can’t go to school. 

Truth: Total lie.

Do not vaccinate your kids just for this!  I have heard so many parents say “I am worried about vaccines…but if I don’t do them, my kids can’t go to school, so I did.”  This is a lie.  In 48 states you can obtain a medical or religious exemption, and in several you can also obtain a philosophical exemption.  This means you basically sign a paper saying that you are against some or all vaccines for medical, religious, or personal reasons.  If you sign this paper, your child can attend public school with no vaccines or only some vaccines.  (Bad news for all those “I don’t want your unvaccinated kid sitting next to mine in kindergarten” parents!) 

Please learn your state’s laws and do not let anyone bully you into getting vaccines because “if you don’t, your kid can’t go to school.”  It is a a complete lie!  Some people will tell it because they believe it and they are concerned for you; some people are just misinformed about the laws or unaware; and some will deliberately tell you this to try to intimidate you.  Do not let them.

What myths about unvaccinated children do you frequently hear?  

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22 Comments

  1. Hi there! Great post! I just wanted to also mention, particularly in regards to your myth #3, that this is assuming that vaccines actually WORK! There are some schools of thought out there that say,aside from the extremely toxic ingredients in a vaccine, that the vaccine itself doesn't work at all the way it was intended. Any thoughts on that subject?

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  2. Just wanted to throw out a fun little story about the going to school part. I took my daughter to kindergarten screening, and while I was actively filling out the vaccination exemption form I heard the superintendent say into the microphone, "Be sure your child's vaccinations are up to date and recorded, because he/she cannot attend if they aren't!" Really?!? I snickered and explained to everyone within hearing distance of me that I was filling out a vaccination exemption form and that yes, an unvaccinated child COULD go to public school. Jerks.

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  3. Thank you for addressing this sometimes controversial subject. Parents need to have the information to make informed decisions in such crucial areas. I am the mother of seven very healthy unvaccinated children. We never had to worry about the school issue as we homeschool, but parents need to know that they do have the choice. I found your site only a couple of weeks ago and am enjoying it greatly.

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  4. hmmmm you've given me much to think about.

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  5. I think it's a real shame how people assume that unvaccinated kids are Petri dishes full of germs. I've read a book where the mom says, "Oh, there might be unvaccinated kids there with measles and smallpox and scarlet fever!" Which is ridiculous, not least because we no longer vaccinate for smallpox and, as far as I know, there's never been a vaccine for scarlet fever! And yet, we don't see people losing sight and hearing from scarlet fever anymore. Occasionally people still get it, but with modern medical care, it's really not a big deal.

    Medicine, nutrition, and sanitation have developed in leaps and bounds over the past 100 years, and yet some people seem to think ALL of the changes in that time are due to vaccination. It's just ignorance … even the medical establishment wouldn't claim that.

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  6. What has ALWAYS made me giggle is why are vax'd parents so worried? IF their child is vaxd….how will my unvax'd child bother them? Seems like even they know it doesn't work/last…

    Also..my FAVORITE… I got the flu shot…why do I have the flu?!?!…
    ..it's often followed by me saying…
    I didn't get the flu….you didn't? ….nah, I prefer not getting a flu so I refuse a flu shot…

    You just see the confusion and questions on their faces and it's really kinda sad.

    Momma to 1 with a few..1 with a cocktail & neurological reaction to cocktail vax and 1 natural as the day she was born.

    Honey

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    • Vaccinated children can still get diseases because they are vaccinated for different diseases at different ages. For example, a little boy I knew got sick with the measels when he was 10 months old. He had been vaccinated but not yet for the measels, which is given at 12 months. That is why parents who vaccinate worry, because not all vaccines can be given at the same time and age.

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  7. Honey,

    They care because they say it is a public health threat — that we need "herd immunity" to actually protect all kids.

    But what is a bigger public health threat, really, is junk food. Artificial colors, dyes, sugar, HFCS, refined carbs, and so on. Pretty much all processed foods, especially those marketed at kids. THOSE are causing lowered immunity, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and all manner of other REAL problems, not just imagined ones. Maybe those parents who are so pro-vaccine (and feed their kids garbage) ought to think about that.

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  8. My daughter is sick. A lot. She has a mitochondrial disease that was induced/triggered by her initial Hep B vaccines at ten days old and the disease has made her very sick at times, picking up every infection out there. I do worry about her ability to fight off any disease, let alone a cold, but I refuse to do more guaranteed harm to her body and brain with vaccines that may only possibly help keep away very specific diseases she might never be exposed to.

    I've been told that if I had put her in school earlier (meaning daycare at 18 months and preschool at two) that she wouldn't be sick so often in elementary school and not miss her first year and a half because her immune system would have had a chance to fight all the infections off already. Really? So, all those years she went to the library, grocery stores, parks, theme parks, the zoo, the malls and those nasty, germ-filled play areas there, play dates with friends, regular and constant ER visits, surgeries and hospital stays, etc,. there were no germs there? The only place she could develop immunity is in a small classroom packed full of other sick kids? And I don't remember me or any of my other classmates missing the first year and a half of sick because we were constantly sick (like most kids are these days) and none of us had daycare or preschool back then, so I'm not buying this ridiculous argument that school is my child's savior for…well, anything really.

    Also, because my daughter is sick so often, we're around medical professionals a lot. I get asked by numerous people in every stage of an ER visit or hospitalization if she's up to date on her shots. We stopped when she was 18 months and I stopped believing our pediatrician, researched myself why this all started with her Hep B vaccine and after vaccinating my second child at his one month visit (skipping the Hep B vaccine) and he reacted very similarly to my first child, we were done with vaccines. I used to answer honestly and tell them no. The lectures got old. So now I just say yes and no lectures and they move on…as they SHOULD given that she doesn't have measles, whooping cough, polio, etc.

    I do answer when asked if she's allergic to anything with "vaccines" and they look at me strangely but all seem to want to stay FAR away from the conversation with me.

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  9. Can you please direct me towards your research? Thank you very much!

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  10. Hopefully more people will learn the truth. It's not the disease (virus, bacteria…) ITS THE HOST!!!
    When the vessel in unhealthy they will catch the disease and take longer to get over it. If the vessel is Healthy they will be less likely to catch disease, and if they do, they will get over it faster!
    Vaccines DON"T = Health…….. Excellent nutrition, emotional balance, & Physical activity = HEALTH.

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  11. Thank you for such a concise and truthful look at non vaccination. I try to explain to others and find myself tongue tied and trying to defed myself against well meaning (mostly) family and friends who are more focused on the fear than the facts. Thank you again for a great resource!

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  12. ah boy its so sad just because the girls are not vaccinated one of my friends do not want to see them thinking they will spread the desease though my daughter had the worse allergy after vaccination. Docs here think that it can spread a desease.

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  13. Great post. My only “complaint” would be this part: “Almost certainly not.  I won’t lie, choosing not to vaccinate means that you are taking responsibility for your child’s health, and the possibility that your child could catch a disease.  It also means that you need to use other ways to bolster and protect your child’s immune system, like with excellent diet, cod liver oil, adequate rest and sunlight, etc.” (Because parents who choose to vaccinate *should* be doing all those things too and not just relying on vaccines…cos let’s face it, vaccinated kids get sick all the time (sometimes with the diseases they were vaccinated against). =)

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  14. Thank you! What a great resource and informative post!

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  15. Thanks for this…unfortunately, my kids were all vaccinated because I didn’t know better…however, i’m not doing anymore boosters etc… thought I would share we live in WI and my son is in 6th grade and at public school this year (we’ve previously homeschooled) and we didn’t get them the vax records on time so were given numerous notes about how he MUST be vaccinated etc…and one note even said that they would charge us $10 for every day that the records were late! …we obviously had the records but really, i would like to know what they would have really done if he had never had his shots…ridiculous!!!

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  16. I live in a state (MS) where I only have medical exemption. Do you have any tips in this situation?
    I am going back to work and she is 2.5 yr old. Is it possible to get a medical exemption from your doc
    if you dont believe in shots? I really doubt that they will do this so I am worried.
    thanks for your help.

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  17. Great article and appreciate all of the posts. My kids are unvaccinated, and as most, sometimes I feel alone. It’s great to connect on sites like this and in groups on Facebook, but I’m wondering how can we all connect in real life. I live in Dallas, and would love to join a mom’s group with fellow like-minded mothers. Does anyone know if groups like this exist? If not, I think it would be great to start one!

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  18. […] post is a follow-up to the post I did a few weeks ago on Myths About Unvaccinated Kids.  It’s not intended to convince you one way or another on your vaccination decision, as I […]

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  19. […] Source: Myths About Unvaccinated Children – Modern Alternative Mama […]

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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