An Unseemly Conviction

I’m starting to think I’m making a name for myself amongst the local medical community–first in the world of obstetrics with my unseemly hope of VBACing twins, and now in the world of pediatrics with my (and my husband’s) unseemly decision to not vaccinate our children.

Before Travis and I were married, I was somehow enlightened to the fact that not all parents choose to vaccinate their children.  I guess I had thought it was something that everyone just did without question and hadn’t realized that any controversy surrounded the subject.  Now knowing that it could be a parental choice, however, I made a mental note to look further into it when the time came.

The time came about three weeks after our wedding when we found out we were expecting our first child.  Knowing that an important decision lay ahead of us, I began doing some research on childhood immunizations.  It didn’t take me long to realize that our decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate could not be based solely on what I was reading, as I felt that each resource was strongly biased either for or against vaccinations.  Which side were we to believe?

Travis and I began praying that God would lead us in our decision, knowing that He would give us peace regarding the direction we were to take.  Abel was born and still we had no peace at the thought of vaccinating him.  Following God’s lead, we sought out a pediatrician who was comfortable with our decision to not vaccinate and moved forward against the grain and in faith.

When Abel was four months old we moved to a new city.  We began seeing a new pediatrician whom we liked and whom we thought understood our wishes to not vaccinate our son.  After several well child visits, however, we discovered that the doctor was actually not aware that Abel had never received any vaccinations and that we didn’t intend to start them.  When this clicked in his head, his countenance immediately changed and his words became very defensive.  Needless to say, we left Abel’s appointment that day with the feeling that we were not welcome to return.

Soon after that we again moved, this time just to a different suburb.  For a third time we began the search for a pediatrician, this time fully realizing what we were up against.  We were nearing the end of our second pregnancy and needed to find a doctor both for Abel and for the baby.  We went with the first and only pediatrician we interviewed, getting the feeling that although she strongly disagreed with our decision against vaccinations, we were still welcome in her office.

That baby–my Amariah–just had her 18-month well child visit with this same doctor this morning.  Things were going really well during the appointment; nothing was being said about vaccinations, and at one point I even thought to myself, Ahh, finally we have come to a mutual understanding.” 

But I guess that’s where I was wrong–at least somewhat.  At the end of the appointment, the doctor pulled out a piece of paper and said, “I didn’t want to bring this up, but I have to.”  She proceeded to tell me about a practice-wide vaccination policy that was written up at a meeting just after Amariah’s 15-month check-up, the last time we were in.  The new policy states, “Our doctors believe it is necessary to vaccinate children to help keep them healthy.  If you do not agree with the Childhood Vaccination Schedule or choose not to have your child vaccinated, we ask that you choose another doctor to care for your child.”

Feeling that there is a strong chance this policy was written at least in part because of my family (I have been informed numerous times that we are the practice’s only patients who do not vaccinate their children), I listened to and accepted the doctor’s words, took down her referrals for a new pediatrician, and left without scheduling our next well child visit.  I didn’t argue; I didn’t get angry or upset.  What’s the point?  How can you make a group of doctors understand a decision that is ultimately based on prayer when even some Christians don’t understand?

So here we are with two children and two on the way and once again without a doctor to treat them.  I don’t know what our quest for a new pediatrician might hold, and I don’t know what the purpose in all of this is.  But I do know that our hope is not in doctors, and I do know that no matter what the odds we won’t be deterred from following our convictions.

So yes, I do think I may be making a name for myself.  And I hope it is one that points to the Name that is above all names.

10 Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Oh my! We also don’t vaccinate and I have to drive to a doctor almost a half hour away because he is known as the only doctor in KC who is also against almost all vaccinations. What’s great is he’s also a believer! Hopefully you can find someone who will at least respect you right to make the decisions you see as best for you children.

  2. Nichole says:

    As I am sure you know, Emily and Brian do not vaccinate their children. They take their children to the same pediatrician as I take Haven. His name is Dr. Paul Rozeboom in West Des Moines. He seems to respect their decision. Good luck with the search!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I started having Jesse Vaccinated in the very begining, I don’t even remember what shots he got or when was the last one, I just remember that they refused me the one day he was suppose to have his appointment and shot, because we had not payed that month yet. After that he had one other set of shot at a local place that is free. But I have never felt good about him getting them. Only thing though is most schools too will not take a child in unless they have had all there shots. unless you homeschool them,then it seems like the goverment tries to force you hand on what you should and should not do with your own kids. Id be suprised if they didn’t eventualy force you to give your kids these shots or take them away.
    Never the less every time I have to take him in I take him to the urgent care unit. Since I have kids connection for him, it doesn’t cost us a thing, but I feel scared and half way ashamed when they ask me if hes had all his shots. All I can say is that no, he hasn’t due to problems with the doctors. Im always afraid I will get in trouble I guess that I haven’t. But I understand, It has become the public norm and is like set in stone that all doctors follow this line.

  4. Angela, our “pediatrician” is now Dr. Tammy Watkins at the Livewell Clinic (thelivewellclinic.com). With the way that our government is taking more and more control over our children, it might be good to not be “on-the-record” anywhere as refusing vaccines.

    To Anonymous, there are websites that discuss how to go about enrolling your children in school when they are not vaccinated.

    “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14

  5. Angela, I have to agree with Kelly who posted on your Facebook page that there is no where in the bible that says to vaccinate your child or not, this would have to fall under a general scripture to seek wisdom. I think it is important that believers who choose not to vaccinate their children not make believers feel like they are following the world or not trusting God in their decision to vaccinate (I’m not saying that you personally have done this).

    This is a very touchy subject. When we got pregnant with Isaac, and several times in the doctors office since he has been born I have also raised my questions at vaccines. When it comes to the safety of our children it would be irresponsible not to look at both sides of the coin. We personally decided and felt led by God that it was in the best interest of our children and other children that we vaccinate. I have a good friend who was a pharmacetical sales rep for vaccine companies and I have asked many questions and especially the ones surrounding many myths and I feel comfortable with the information I have received. But more important than the information I had to follow what I was comfortable with just like you and many others.

    I think that needs to remain the point no matter which side we stand on. When we were making the decision about vaccines a family member had told me about a friend of his that had gotten polio as a child and he lost his arm because of this and was left to live his life with one arm because his parents chose not to vaccinate him. It was at that time that I knew I could never live with myself if something like that happened. I feel bad if my child spreads a cold to someone because I have taken him somewhere, how would I even be able to handle it if my child contracted meningitis or measles and spread them to someone else.

    From what I have researched the risks associated with diseases is far more than the vaccines. When Isaac got Roseola Virus I honestly thought he might have measles so I researched it and never knew that measles is spread through the air and can be carried contagiously in the body for up to 20 days before symptoms appear. If I rethought the last 20 days that’s a lot of places to infect and it includes 3 states. People are much more mobile now, 50 years ago people didn’t travel like we do now, just imagine how fast it could spread if it wasn’t controlled through vaccinations. I guess I just don’t see what’s so bad about trying to protect our children with the resources we have been blessed with, these vaccines weren’t created without the help of God’s hand and wisdom.

    In my personal opinion I am grateful for vaccines, if it wasn’t for vaccines we need to remember that we would still be living in a time period where the diseases we have vaccines for would still be running rapid. Life has improved from 50 years ago, but there are still outbreaks of these diseases mainly in those who haven’t been vaccinated but they have been extremely irradicated because of vaccines. I have sometimes felt like those who don’t vaccinate think we are doing something evil to our child but in my opinion I think those who don’t vaccinate should be thankful for those who do vaccinate because it is a big reason that the risk for children contracting these diseases (unvaccinated) is far decreased. While these are my personal beliefs I also believe in parental rights and for less control with the government; I can understand why doctors are requiring vaccinations but because I feel these decisions should be left up to the parent I don’t think that doctors should refuse your children for health care. I do hope that you can find a provider you have peace of mind about. Sorry to make this so long, but this has been on my mind all day.

  6. Sorry Angela to post again, I just wanted to clarify something. I just want to be clear that even thought I vaccinate that I do not feel that those who do not vaccinate are making a wrong decision. I take the position on this issue that no matter what side we stand on neither of us are right or wrong in our decision, we all are doing what we are comfortable with. Jesus Christ didn’t die on the cross so that we can stand here and argue who’s right or wrong over this, he painstakingly died so that we could be saved- that has been done for us!

    Therefore, there is no scripture that we can throw around at each other- believers or non believers to prove our correctness in this issue, this especially is an area of free will. I just wanted to make sure that no one felt by reading through my last comment that I was condemning or judging peoples decisions.

  7. Angela says:

    I thought maybe I should make some follow-up comments on this post. Obviously it’s an issue that most people are pretty passionate about, and I honestly didn’t think about that when I told my story. I didn’t intend to “open up a can of worms,” but I have appreciated the opinions expressed. I realize that some people feel very strongly in favor of vaccinations while some are strongly opposed to them; and both groups have good arguments behind their stances. Perhaps maybe I can better explain my and my husband’s stance in our decision against vaccinating.

    First of all, I don’t want anyone to get the impression that we haven’t done our research. We have. We’ve read from the sources doctors say are “reliable,” we’ve read books/articles written by doctors who don’t support vaccinations, we’ve read horrifying stories from parents who claim their child’s health (and sometimes even life) was forever lost as a direct result of childhood immunizations, and we’ve even heard a few personal testimonies–some pointing to the dangers of vaccinations and some pointing to the dangers of the diseases they are supposed to prevent. All of this information, much of which I felt was extremely biased one way or the other, left us with less than a peaceful feeling about vaccinations. FAR less. Even the pro-immunization resources left us without peace of mind. I’m not trying to over-spiritualize myself or this issue, so let me say honestly that if I had to make a well-informed decision based on the information alone, I would decide against vaccinations.

    However, this is not the way Travis and I make decisions for our family. This leads to my second point: we sought out not only man’s counsel but also God’s. Having read the information that made us think twice about vaccinating our children, we took the issue to God in prayer. We asked Him for His leading and for peace concerning our decision. Where that left us is where we are today: the peace that we have is peace in NOT vaccinating our children.

    Let me say, too, that in our minds this is not necessarily a closed case. We continue to inform ourselves as well as to pray. We continue to seek God’s wisdom as we repeatedly decline shots and as our decision continues to resurface with each new addition to our family. This does not mean that we are praying for an answer that we’ve already received. It just means that we are staying attentive to the Lord and His will for us in this situation.

    Thirdly, I would like to clarify that I am aware that there is no such scripture as “Thou shalt not vaccinate thy child.” (But wouldn’t this be a much easier decision if there were?!) I am not trying to make this a sin issue or even a moral issue (because it isn’t). However, a verse does come to mind that reminds me, “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). Based on this principle, I believe it would be wrong for me at this point to vaccinate my children because I would not be doing it in faith. I would be doing it with doubt and in opposition to what my conscience is telling me (that being, ‘God has not given you peace concerning this, so TRUST Him.’). I have to believe that God alone knows what’s best for my children–after all, He created them and knows everything about them!

    Thanks to all for your contributions to this discussion. I hope that my inadvertent “can opening” has not placed an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way (Romans 14:13). “For the kingdom of God is not [vaccinating or not vaccinating], but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

  8. Emily Peterson says:

    Hi Angela,
    You received quite a few responses from this one:) I think it is important as parents to think through, research, and pray regarding this decision. It was a tough one for us too as we have talked about in the past. We beleive Caleb’s asthma problems were closely linked to his vaccinations and have stopped them since his 9 month shots. As he continues to grow and develop his lungs have continued to get stronger. Praise the Lord for his mercy and healing. Our doctor has disagreed with our decision to stop vaccinations, however, he continues to see all of my children as patients and is very kind and respectful in manner. I would recommend Dr. Roozeboom if you can see him. I know he will disagree with you but not cast you out of his office:) The Lord WILL take care of you for you are obeying him in your decision. I’ll be praying for you.

  9. postpre says:

    Dr. Roozeboom is a wonderful pediatrician. I will pray the Lord will give you continued guidance and wisdom. It would be great if you could see him. He is at Westown Pediatric Clinic 515-225-3866. He does not agree with our decision to not vaccinate but he has not turned us away and is respectful towards us. I know the Lord will lead you to the right one:)

  10. Jody says:

    You have received some wonderful comments so I don’t want to go too far into this. With Caelan I had some hesitance about a few vaccines. I spoke- at length- with my pediatrician about them and though we didn’t “not” get them we did put them off for a while.

    The only real thought I had when you raised the issue was this:
    Do you and/or Travis ever plan to do any missions? Because if you do you will want to be quite careful. If he were to go overseas he would be save due to vaccinations and such that he has had in the past and would get before going. However, he could come back with a virus, not know he has it, and your children could have the potential for a disease that has been eradicated in the US but not in developing nations. I believe measles, rubella, mumps, etc can be carried by those who have been vaccinated without symptoms.

    Just a “longer term” thought…