Our fourth child, Katie, was born about the time we started to homeschool in the summer of 1998. I wasn’t totally convinced not to vaccinate, but many of the people we spent time with talked about the dangers of vaccines. I remember being impressed with the logic of one argument that we were essentially injecting poison & disease into our children’s bloodstreams as well as not allowing the natural antibodies that God created to accumulate and build up on their own.
In 1999, Katie was 13 months old and suffered a febrile seizure a week after the DPaT shot. It was a very traumatic experience! I remember carrying my blue baby upstairs, feeling like everything was in SLOW motion. The thought, “She’s not going to make it” was so prevalent as I reached the top of the stairs and placed my baby in my husbands arms. Yet, he quickly did CPR and she started breathing again. Shortly thereafter, the ambulance arrived and took my baby to the ER where they proceeded to poke and prod and try to figure out WHY this baby had a seizure and stopped breathing. After spending the night, NOT sleeping, in the hospital, watching my sleeping baby’s every move and breath, and full of fear of what had caused this horrible problem, I began to wonder if it was the vaccines. The next morning the doctor said that was a very RARE possibility and not to give it another thought. Needless to say, that didn’t satisfy my concerns and we changed doctors.
Over the next few years, we decided NOT to do any more shots for our next 3 children and found out Katie had LOTS of food allergies. I did little research about the hazards of vaccines, but mainly based my decision to not vaccinate off the reports of others who had also decided not to do immunizations. Our pediatrician was very patient with us, but constantly reminded me of the need and safety of immunizations. He did agree it would probably be best for Katie not to receive any more vaccines, but the other children wouldn’t necessarily react just because of Katie’s one time possible immunization seizure. Only God knows for sure what caused Katie’s seizure, but the decision to not immunize came under great scrutiny in September 2004.
Our seventh baby, Emily, came down with a cough when she was nine months old. I have another child with asthma, so I didn’t worry too much. I just gave her a few breathing treatments and figured the changing seasons was causing her to have a cough. Yet, after a week the cough wasn’t improving. By the second week I began to get concerned because the sporadic breathing treatments and over the counter meds weren’t working and the cough seemed to intensify. The doctor seemed to think it was just weather/asthma related, and told me to keep doing what I was doing. Yet, that night a friend commented that the cough reminded her of when her son had whooping cough. The next day I called the doctor back and asked if Pertussis was a possibility since we did not have any immunizations. They quickly put my fears to rest and said it was very unlikely and to keep doing what the doctor had recommended.
We had another sleepless night, with the cough lasting for very long extended periods. I knew it whatever it was, it was serious. My baby would turn so red trying to catch her breath in between these horrible coughing spells. By this time there was a definite “whoop” sound after each cough. I decided we had to go back and see the doctor as soon as possible.
We went to the early morning sick clinic in anticipation of them relieving our fears of Pertussis, only to have the entire family given a state mandated five day quarantine and placed on antibiotics. The doctor only had to hear Emily cough once to decide it must be Pertussis. I was in shock! What did this mean? Was my baby going to die? They quickly took a culture from the back of Emily’s nasal passage and rushed us off to the x-ray lab to see if there were any complications or possible problems.
Within moments of arriving home, the health department called and asked a ton of questions about each child’s symptoms, activities, and contacts over the 3 weeks prior to Emily even starting to cough. It became clear this was a very serious issue that not only affected our family, but our entire community. It was very tedious and time consuming to relate all that information since we are a very active family. Practically our entire church was quarantined because so many people had held Emily during that time period. We were then rushed back to the lab to have all the children that had even a slight cough to get a nose swab culture before taking their first round of antibiotics. We then settled in for a long weekend wait!
The health department continued to call several times a day to check on Emily and see if anyone else had developed symptoms. Also, they were continuing to try to track down anyone we’d had any contact with. At one point I remember explaining to the nurse why we didn’t immunize and expecting her to make me feel guilty. She was very kind in stating we all make decisions based on what we believe is best. She didn’t blame or condemn us for our decision.
Finally, Tuesday morning we got the call that Emily’s culture was positive. The next day they called to say our five year old also tested positive. He had a cough, but it never developed into as bad a whoop as the baby. Thankfully, because Emily was over 6 months old when she contracted Pertussis, she did not have to be hospitalized from the disease and recovered after several months of coughing. Five months after the disease, she still has a horrible cough whenever she gets a little under the weather.
Throughout the entire quarantine, I spent many hours in prayer questioning our original decision. I had believed it was NOT safe to vaccinate and yet, now I was confronted with the fact that it was NOT safe to NOT vaccinate. Either way, we were taking a risk. Our entire community was affected by our decision to not vaccinate! I realized I had to face my fears and TRUST that God would take care of my children. I came to grips with what that meant for me: I had to trust that the vaccines would work for my children’s good like they are supposed to.
We had to wait two months for Emily’s cough to subside enough before getting her first set of immunizations. It was a pretty emotional day with five of my seven children all lined up getting their shots caught up. As they got ready to give Katie her shots, I was shaking. I asked the nurse for confirmation as to which shots Katie had received prior to her seizure in 1999. They confirmed it was the DPaT. I just wasn’t ready to go through that again. The memory was too real. She got her MMR, but I decided NOT to do the DTaP again…just to be safe.
It’s been 3 months. There were NO adverse reactions whatsoever to any of the vaccines. It’s time to go back in for the next round of shots on all the children that were born after Katie. I’ve been waiting for many different reasons—a move to a new town, baby getting sick, new insurance, etc, etc.
While researching some questions online about our science curriculum with Apologia, I came across Dr. Wile’s research on vaccinations. I couldn’t stop reading. I clicked from one article to the next with continued amazement and confirmation that we’d made the right decision. All the lingering fears I’d had were relieved and dispelled as I read the research. All my pediatrician’s counsel over the past 6 years was repeated for me from many different sources. Even the concerns over Katie’s seizure were relieved as I realized it was probably just the anti-vaccination hype that kept me from seeing Katie’s food allergies could have been the cause of the seizure.
I realized I had bought into the anti-vaccination theory without any research or proof. I’d heard of bad immunization cases— of people who believed their autistic child was damaged because of vaccines or their child died because of their immunizations. Fear had motivated me to believe that vaccines were bad.
I can’t make the decision for any other family to vaccinate their children. It is a very personal decision we must each look at carefully. Yet, for me, I realized my decision was not based on facts or research, but fear. God says, “Perfect love casts out all fear.”(1 John 4:18) Also, “He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). I embraced that Word and chose to trust the One that loves my children even more than I do. It is amazing how He continues to confirm to me that the decision to immunize is a wise one.
Note: Mrs. Locke is not a medical doctor and does not dispense medical advice. She is a mother who understands by experience how important it is to vaccinate her children. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.