November 14, 2013 by Kimberly Beauchamp, ND
My left arm aches so much right now I can hardly lift it. I got my flu shot there this morning.
Go ahead, call me a hypocrite. It’s OK, I’ve been called worse. (Plus, I honestly don’t care what anyone thinks of my decision.)
I’m telling you here, in this public place, why I decided to go for the jab—not to open up a giant can of controversy, but to send a reminder that we never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. So have a little empathy and remember: if it isn’t your decision, shhhhhhh.
The Vigilant Naturopath (or: The Naturopathic Vigilante?)
When I was in school for Naturopathic Medicine, I listened attentively to the lectures on vaccinations and natural alternatives to them. I vowed to never inject my offspring with the lot of toxic chemicals they contained. I graduated, set up a practice, and continued to believe (and preach) that vaccines were something to be avoided if at all possible.
But then came my sweet little daughter. For the most part, she was healthy. But when she did get sick, she’d vomit profusely (an unfortunate result of the reflux she’d been born with, which, incidentally, was not caused by something I was eating. Yup. Looked into that.). Her vomiting led to weight loss, which led to concern, as she was already a peanut.
When it came time to travel across the country to a place where pertussis (whooping cough) was endemic, I had a decision to make.
Was I going to expose this tiny being to a vaccination that:
a) could harm her in some way, and
b) might not even protect her from the illness if she were exposed? (I contracted pertussis after I was vaccinated. No vaccine isn’t a sure thing.)
In the end, I decided to get her vaccinated. It was a good choice, in my opinion. Which is what the choice to vaccinate always comes down to: personal choice.
We can go back and forth on the pros and cons of vaccinations, but ultimately each person has to make the best decision for themselves and their family based on their personal circumstances.
Here’s why I opted for the flu shot this year:
- I have mild, intermittent asthma that gets worse when I have a concurrent respiratory infection. The flu is a respiratory infection. I like being able to breathe.
- My father lives in a nursing home. If I come down with the flu, I won’t be able to visit him, probably for an extended time.
- My father lives in a nursing home. If the flu is going around there, which it often does in institutional settings, I won’t be able to visit him (the home is closed to visitors during outbreaks).
- I’ve had the flu. It sucks. My husband and I were out of commission for 2 weeks with it when I was in med school. My biggest accomplishment during that time was opening a can of dog food. It took another 4 weeks for me to be able to take a gentle walk around the block without breaking a cold sweat. Did I mention that it sucks?
- My daughter had the flu 2 years ago. She was deathly ill. I don’t use the word, “deathly” lightly. It was scary.
- I have 2 little children who depend on me to take care of them. Their father works very long hours and I don’t have family who can help out when I’m sick. I’m it.
- I’m not on salary. No work, no pay.
- I have never had any type of adverse vaccine reaction. I read the package insert in its entirety and I felt comfortable and confident in my decision to get the vaccination.
But, but, but
The flu shot won’t necessarily keep you from getting the flu!
I’m aware that the flu shot doesn’t provide complete protection from the illness. (No vaccine does.) But it decreases the risk significantly in people my age and with similar health status.
You’re a naturopath! Don’t you know how to heal yourself naturally?
You’re a naturopath! Didin’t you sign some form saying that you wouldn’t push drugs?
Not at all. In fact, part of my training included learning how to determine a person’s risk and counseling them to make informed decisions. In the states where naturopaths are licensed, we can prescribe many medications. Often, naturopaths offer vaccinations in their office. I don’t know about you, but I like the idea that I can get a vaccine from an ND who may be able to handle any potential side effects. Which brings me to my next point.
What’s that you say?
When people ask me about vaccinations, I don’t have any blanket answers, but I do have a few suggestions.
Here are some of them:
- If you’re going to vaccinate a child, try to avoid combination vaccines and space the vaccinations out over time. Ask your pediatrician about alternate vaccination schedules and if they have access to single vaccines.
- For diseases that don’t pose an immediate threat (like Hep B for a baby who will have no foreseeable exposure to the disease), wait and get it later.
- Vaccinate, then test. You can ask your pediatrician to titer your child to see if they’re immune after each vaccine. Some children may only need one or two shots of a particular vaccine to build adequate immunity. (Note that this is not a generally accepted alternative to routine vaccinations.) In general, the older a child is when they’re vaccinated, the better immune response they’ll mount. The flip side of this is that some vaccinations are used to prevent serious diseases in the youngest children. It’s a balancing act.
- Give your child Vitamin Con the day before, of, and after vaccination. This may help reduce the chance of adverse effects from the vaccine. Infant dose: 150 mg of liquid vitamin C twice daily. Toddler dose: 300 mg twice daily as liquid or chewable.
- Give your child vitamin A (at the recommended dose for age) from purified Cod Liver Oil on the day before, of, and after vaccination. This may help reduce the chance of adverse effects from the vaccine.
- Trust yourself. No one can tell you with certainty what the BEST thing to do is. It’s going to be different for every person, every family, every situation. Do your homework, make your decision, and relax and go with it.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is for educational and/or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health or that of a family member, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.