I wasn’t always skeptical of vaccines. When my son was born I didn’t even think twice about it. Everything was done on time and each response he had to them was explained as normal. It started with shaking. He would shake when we came home from a “well visit”. I remember my mom even commenting on it & I rolled my eyes and said no the Dr said it’s normal. He always had sensitive skin – his skin turned red and had lasting impressions with just a light touch. He would have lasting marks where the vaccines were administered but worse where the nurses held my crying baby down each time. At 6 months I remember his shots going kind of smoothly. It was odd and so I even boasted about it on LiveJournal (before the mass move to Facebook). Little did I realize that was the turning point of his immune system.
That Pesach we were at my mothers house and my son looked at my cousin’s son who was the same age and was flapping his arms & so he thought it was funny & copied him. He did it for a long while & I thought it was normal. My cousin’s son by the way does not have Autism today like my son (my cousin also later confided in me that she was warned about vaccines & so she had spaced them out & didn’t let her son have the MMR until he was 4). Soon after that my son started having a very bad cold – he was super congested & so the Dr prescribed a prescription decongestant. You can’t do that today, but at the time it was legal. He took his bottle’s worth & it went away for a week but then it came back so he was prescribed another one.. We went through several bottles.
While we were attributing his sour mood to his congestion what we didn’t realize until 10 months was that he wasn’t babbling as much . He started babbling at 5 months and was very cute & loud about it – he would wake us up in the early morning with his bababa & dadada & then he would laugh at himself. He loved peekaboo & all kinds of games but it was all slipping away. It was a slow decline. He was saying some word approximations like tzetz for motzetz (pacifier in Hebrew) laboo for la briyoot (bless you .. which I said a lot during his cold) , ma… for Ima.. but they too were fading.
at 12 months I took him in for his 1 year shots. This included the MMR which I don’t know why since at the time most of my friend’s babies were getting them at 18 months but my pediatrician thought she should give it to him then along with another Dtap, HIB, & Flu shot. That night I called her in a panic. My son had a measles like rash all over his body & a super high temperature. I remember asking her if he had the measles from the shot and she laughed and said no, you can’t get the measles.. some kids like yours are just very sensitive & its all normal. A few days later his fever passed.
A few months went by and he wasn’t doing his word approximations anymore.. I was starting to worry. The Dr said this was typical in OPOL families (I only spoke Hebrew to him while my husband only spoke English). My brother was a late talker too so everyone assured me it was fine and his congestion was just bothering him. at 15 months the Dr mentioned for the first time to me to get him evaluated. I didn’t know what this meant but of course I did.
All of a sudden there was a lot more wrong with my son than I had realized. He didn’t cross midline, he didn’t sit right, and he wasn’t responding to his name (we had though his ears were clogged up) because he did respond before. He used to also look for our dog when I would ask him to but now it seemed like he couldn’t even hear me. He didn’t do a lot of the strange things often associated with Autism- like he didn’t line toys up ever – he always played with them appropriately.. he didn’t spin or bang his head on the wall, he didn’t toe walk, & while he didn’t give the best eye contact he did at times still focus on me.. he was still partially there at the time but soon the diagnosis came anyway.
At 18 months we enrolled him in nursery school. The teachers asked me if we ever had him tested for silent seizures. I didn’t even know what this meant but once I did i could see he was having them. His neurologist told us “genetics loaded the gun but vaccines pulled the trigger” & suggested we stop vaccinating him. We were still unsure about all of this, because surely his Dr wouldn’t have told us that every reaction he had was normal.
When he was 2.5 his sister was born. We decided to still vaccinate her but pay closer attention. After all we didn’t want our kids to get polio! We decided to try Dr Sears approach about spreading them out more but she seemed even more sensitive than our son. she had Jaundice and a glaucioma.. indications that her liver was working overtime & that she had inflammation but again the Dr shrugged it off. She cried so much – colic they called it & had eczema everywhere. She didn’t projectile vomit all her baby bottles like our son did (I breastfed my daughter despite my Dr urging me to formula feed like she did with my son) so we were still hopeful things would be good for her.
Meanwhile my son started a horrible few months of constantly vomiting and watery stools. He had lost so much weight & we didn’t know what was going on. (again Dr assured us it had nothing to do with the latest vaccines). He was tested for a tumor & luckily he didn’t have one but he did end up getting hospitalized so he could be put on a fast & hydrated via IV. We never had the answer as to what happened only that it was some unexplained “gastritis”.
At 7 months our daughter hadn’t even tried to babble so we took her to be evaluated. They told us she seemed fine but to kept monitoring her and we did. When she was 9 months old, my son came home with the chicken pox from nursery school. How did he get it? He had the varicella vaccine. He passed it on to my daughter who was to young for that one (my husband & I both had it as kids so we were immune). The Pediatrician literally said .. oh well some vaccines just don’t work for everyone and your kids are so sensitive. At that moment my husband & I looked at each other & thought .. why are we doing this? The vaccines don’t even work for all people? you mean they possibly aren’t even working for our children? we decided then to stop – at least temporarily to see how things went.
A few months later our daughter was no longer “colicy” and was talking in full sentences & walking! Today she is “quirky” but not on the spectrum & I have no doubt that if we had continued with her vaccines she would have been on the severe end. Both were tested for MTHFR variances & they do both have it. My son is heterozygous & my daughter homozygous for one of them. This means that both have a slow detoxing system & so its more difficult for their bodies. It doesn’t qualify them for a medical exemption though. Both have been dealing with an ongoing Bartonella infection as well but again.. it doesnt exclude them.
My kids are now 11 & 14. They were at Jewish preschools, Jewish camps, Jewish Hebrew school (for my son that couldn’t be in a full day school due to his needs) and a Jewish day school. We had a religious exemption. while medically several doctors have told us that we shouldn’t vaccinate our children and we have a letter from one of them , no one would actually give us a “medical exemption” – each doctor said it didn’t really exist in NYS and only those literally dying in their office would be eligible.
I had consulted with my local Rabbi who shared with me that he didn’t vaccinate his own kids & that religious exemptions are valid based on guarding our souls .. and I also contacted my Rabbi back home who knew me well & said if I believed this was hurting my children (which I did) then I knew what the right thing to do was.
This past summer everything changed. Before the law removing religious exemptions was even passed our local Jewish camp that both my kids attended told me they had to protect the community. A community I thought I was part of but apparently now that there was a measles outbreak hundreds of miles away in NYC I was not. I begged them to let my kids go.. my son lived for camp – he sang their songs every day & counted down days he could go again. He was treated so well there.. something he was not used to, & he was with typical kids which was something that made me so happy. I used to cry during Onegs as I went & saw him dance & play in a skit. They stole that away from me and made me feel horrible. They told me that I could just vaccinate them & then they could go .. the cruelest thing was that every year they had him choose the camp colors for their T-shirt & they had him choose it again this year.. AND they showed it to him just a few days before they pulled the rug out from under us.
I was left to try & explain to him & to my daughter why they were no longer allowed to go. Then of course things got worse. The law to repeal religious exemption passed & the day school threw my daughter out. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand I know they had to, but on the other, they wouldn’t fight for her, they wouldn’t even write a letter to the judge or to the state on our behalf, and they certainly have not helped us with any curriculum. the law also allowed for them to have her for any public events but they have never reached out to us. I’m not all that surprised to be honest. while they had been good to my daughter I always felt so sad my son was excluded from everything. again while I understood they couldn’t handle his needs.. originally they had set it up with me so he could go there on Fridays for Oneg to feel a part of the community but then that fell through.
Once teh school year started & i started homeschooling, I reached to the hebrew school my son used to attend to see if they would take my kids. My kids attended preschool there for 4 tears each & my son attended their Hebrew school for another 4 years. We were also once members of that shul. the law didn’t bind them to not accepting us but they refused as well. My kids are no more dangerous than they were last year or the many years before. They are no more dangerous than all the older people that haven’t had a fifth of the vaccines kids are required to get today. they are no more dangerous than all the congregants & visitors that show up at all times with no vaccination proof on them, they are no more dangerous than any kids that have medical exemptions, they are no more dangerous than any other person but we are treated like they are.
Recently the shul where we are members held a medical ethics lecture series. I’m so sad at the amount of people that do not know anything about our vaccine program today. Most didn’t know (& some refused to even believe) about the aborted fetuses used in production of these and many still in research vaccines. They don’t know how whole DNA is found from those aborted fetuses in our bodies. They don’t know that while we are supposed to do everything we can ti protect ourselves, the risk of vaccines is so much higher than they believe. Unsurprisingly, the lectures were all biased towards one side.
The Rabbi whom I do plan on approaching about this soon said that he believed it was totally fine for Yeshivot to not let the unvaccinated into their schools. this is so sad to me. that means he is OK that my kids got kicked out? I guess they can’t pass on the diseases they don’t have at shul, but they can at school? I am actually surprised we haven’t been kicked out of shul yet. This is also my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah year. Another hard thing for her to go through. she should have been with her friends every day talking about the plans & the party & learning together. I can’t even get myself to plan anything because I work full time, & I have to teach both my children .. there’s just to much to do and no village or community to help. We are wavering between staying here & moving. I don’t want to stay at all, & neither do my kids. I am to hurt. My husband though loves his job, and loves the area and so it’s a lot harder for him to leave.