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I am a new parent. My interests are secularism, learning, parenting, religion, career planning, and adult education.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Context is Everything

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist or health professional - these are just the ramblings of a soon-to-be-parent. I plan to follow the recommended vaccination schedule for my children.

So this weekend I was visiting with a family member and the topic of vaccines came up. This family member, a fairly new mom herself, said that she tried to read a link I posted on facebook regarding vaccinations but it wouldn't open for her and asked me what it was about. I explained that the links were about the common concerns that many parents, who choose not to vaccinate, have about vaccines and the science that addresses these concerns directly. The links are as follows for anyone who is interested:

A short video on "Dangerous" Vaccine Ingredients

A blog post: Skepticblog: The Long Awaited CDC Trial on Thimerosal and Autism

We spoke bit about the contents of the above video and she shared an anecdote about a friend of hers whose six-month old baby had had a seizure after his vaccination. Having recently reading a blog about a doctor who witnessed a baby seizure right before giving a vaccine, I knew that it was possible that the vaccine may not have caused the seizure. The doctor in the blog post could understand how convincing it would look to a parent that the vaccine caused the seizure had the needle been given just 5 minutes sooner. So I asked my friend what the doctor said about the seizure - apparently the doctor said that seizures happen about 1 in 30,000 children.

Now I have to admit that this piece of information was new to me - and it seemed high - high enough that surely someone in the medical field would be studying it and explaining it (scientists are, do a google scholar search on the topic, the results are interesting). For the first time in about two years, since I started looking into vaccine safety claims, I actually questioned whether or not I would vaccinate my child. It just didn't make sense to me that the government and public health authorities would continue to recommend something that caused seizures in small children so I did a little digging and thought I would share my journey.

The first thing I did was do a little digging to find out if the information in this anecedotal tale was reliable. It turns out that in Alberta, the vaccines recieved at six months are DTaP-IPV-Hib to protect against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, Hib and tetanus (for more info see: It also turns out that one of the reported uncommon side effects for 1 in 15,000 children is seizures (yikes, that sounds scary). But then I discovered that seizures are actually quite common in babies and have numerous causes but are most likely not connected to vaccines (see: and

Febrile seizures (seizures caused by fevers) occur in 1 in 30 children over the age of six months. Fever is a common side effect of vaccines and I think it is safe to say that most seizures associated with a recent vaccine is probably caused by fever. When I read how common febrile seizures are in the general population of infants and children (1 in 30), and that there are no long-term, harmful consequences for febrile seizures, all of a sudden a 1 in 15,000 chance of a seizure from vaccines didn't seem as scary.

Resources I've Found Helpful as a lay-person trying to understand vaccine safety.

Alberta's Immunization Program

Public Health Agency of Canada

Vaccine Section of the Science-Based Parenting Blog

Vaccines and Autism: A Deadly Manufactroversy

And if you are not a reader - I thought these two podcasts were excellent!

Parenting Beyond Belief Podcast Episode 8: Vaccines

Parenting Beyond Belief Podcast Episode 9: Vaccines (Part 2)


  1. love this post. love your other posts. love you!

    yer a smart cookie who expresses herself well - i am glad you are having fun with it. i especially liked the glee-referenced post. there is another scene between burt and kurt early in the season that blew me away ...

  2. We need more Burt's in the world :o)

  3. Dea,

    One can debunk anything by picking holes in parts of what people say. But what is the point? Being a skeptic on any subject, by searching for skeptic information on that subject, one will surely find the reassuring information they are looking for. The very definition of being a skeptic is questioning the majority, not questioning the skeptic with so called skepticism… Debunking skeptics is what you are doing. Debunkers are just people who can’t let go of what they have been conditioned to believe their entire lives.

    The truth is, you are born a human being, and are taught who you are: I.E., wheather you are good or bad, if you are right or wrong, or if your are smart or stupid. It's all learned along the way. But, you are really just a human being. You were taught everything else. The true awakening of consciousness is when you learn that there is no other, and that we are all one. What is essence in me, is essence in you. There is no other, we are all one. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, rich or poor….its all made up along the way. Vaccines are just something we have been taught to believe will save us or not along the way. But who is really one to say they know for sure or not? The chemist who designed, the sales man who markets it, the person who had no effects from it, or the person who suffered from taking it? When there is no clear answer, nobody is right and everybody is wrong. Too often, everybody is busy listening to bullshit from everyone else. But, The choice to give or to take anything is a only personal choice. Who is more important than another, to say who is right or wrong about that? That answer is nobody, because we are all the same. We are all one. The struggle between who is right, and, who is wrong, is not something to focus on because it’s really all made up along the way. Ultimately, who really cares who is right or wrong? Only those who believe they are right because they have been taught to think so are who.

    The struggle that every new parent deals with is whether the choices they make will protect their children. But, we all soon learn, that we all just do our best, and the single choice does not matter. It’s just one of many choices we have to deal with. Soon enough, the child will be bumping their own head and making their own choices in life. We are just here to teach them what we have been taught (and hopefully more in order to evolve). But, we can change the ride anytime we want. We can start by changing what we teach, and what we allow our selves to be taught. It's simply a choice. Keep believing in what we have been told to and keep telling others, or, make up our own minds and switch the ride up. We have the choice to evolve or the stay with the status’s simply our own human choice. Ultimately, it’s just a ride for all of us to enjoy. We are only here to have fun enjoying the ride along life’s path. People who worry about life’s encounters are clinging to that which they have no control over in the first place. It’s really just a ride, so don’t worry. You and your choices are insignificant to the human races existence and the evolutionary path it will take in the first place.

  4. Anonymous,

    You said:

    "Vaccines are just something we have been taught to believe will save us or not along the way. But who is really one to say they know for sure or not? The chemist who designed, the sales man who markets it, the person who had no effects from it, or the person who suffered from taking it? When there is no clear answer, nobody is right and everybody is wrong."

    Being a Skeptic is about looking for evidence to support claims. There are thousands of studies done all the time about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Questioning is good - and I did question at first - but I rely on reliable evidence before making a judgement. I think this is the best way to move forward. I don't doubt that every parent makes what they think is the best decision for their child - and I have yet to meet a parent, regardless of the vaccination choices, who does not love their children. I was just sharing how I have come to my conclusions. Yes, I rely on science to make my decisions and science sometimes gives incomplete answers - but the data (evidence) to this point weighs heavily in favor of vaccines. It's not just something we have "been taught to believe" there is ALOT of evidence to back it up. I find much less evidence and even outright lies on the other side.


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