Editor’s note: The American media tends to frame the vaccine debate as a black and white issue: rational scientists on the “pro-vaccine” side and irrational parents on the “anti-vaccine” side.
Yet tens of thousands of American doctors are now questioning the necessity, efficacy, and safety of the current childhood vaccination schedule. These are not “anti-vax” physicians. These are science-forward practitioners who are questioning some vaccines. And now that we are fast-tracking a vaccine against COVID-19, even more doctors are voicing their vaccine safety concerns.
Many of the doctors questioning some vaccines are choosing to follow a less aggressive vaccine schedule with their own children.
Some of these doctors questioning some vaccines have decided, based on their research, their children’s genetic vulnerabilities, and their family’s risk of exposure to infectious disease, to forgo all childhood vaccines.
Below is an excerpt from a memoir by Adrienne Carmack, M.D., who describes how she started questioning some vaccines and how her thinking about vaccines changed after she had her own children. Dr. Carmack has generously given us permission to reprint her thoughts in a web-edited format.
Why American Doctors Are Questioning Some Vaccines
By Adrienne Carmack, M.D.
The medical profession tells great tales of decades past when people died from, or were disabled by, diseases like polio and smallpox. According to my professors, the invention of vaccines stopped these epidemics.
So I believed that vaccines didn’t cause any diseases or problems and that they definitely saved lives.
I also believed that those who refused vaccines were the very reason these diseases still existed.
But when I entered the “natural” community by choosing a midwife and breastfeeding, I was exposed to medical theories that differed.
During my childbirth classes at the midwifery center, I was surprised when the student teaching the class brought up the subject of vaccines.
She suggested that not getting any vaccines was a reasonable choice.
I initially dismissed her words on vaccines, based on ideas I’d been taught to believe about vaccines—until it came time for my own daughter to be vaccinated.
About a week before she was due for her first shots, I couldn’t stop wondering whether there was some truth in what those speaking out about vaccination shared.
Because I was a mother now, everything had changed.
I listened differently.
I couldn’t ignore the people who talked about how traumatic it was for a baby to get six or seven shots at one time.
Like other mothers, I wanted nothing more than to protect my little baby and keep her safe and happy.
In the “routine” world that I had begun to question, I automatically made an appointment to take my baby to see a pediatrician at the recommended time.
I began doing some hardcore research on vaccines, and I became obsessed with the information I was discovering.
There was vivid evidence on both sides of the vaccine debate, and I was shocked by what I found.
Questioning some vaccines
I had assumed the CDC’s vast research had led to make recommendations that were in our best interests.
I had assumed I could trust them.
There are many vaccines recommended today, and many pediatricians require them of their patients.
But after looking at the studies of the efficacy and safety of these vaccines, I learned the evidence did not unequivocally support all recommended vaccines.
The CDC recommended routine vaccination for hepatitis B, a disease that is transmitted through body fluids.
I had received hepatitis B vaccinations as a requirement for entry to medical school. My daughter would not be nursing from any other mother. Yet this vaccine was recommended despite the fact that she had absolutely no risk of getting hepatitis B during infancy.
No longer could I pretend the CDC had our best interests in mind.
I’ve never been one for conspiracy theory, but the evidence that money was the big motivator here was undeniable. The guidelines for nationwide vaccination included situations in which vaccination made no medical sense.
The broad recommendations for vaccines that were not highly effective, incompletely studied before release, or completely irrelevant for a big section of the U.S. population, I concluded, were not appropriate for my family.
A personal choice
I ultimately chose to give my daughter those vaccines I felt were safe and for diseases that truly had the potential to harm her.
When I saw my pediatrician, however, I tried to share with her the information I had learned. My intention was to tell her the logic behind the choices I’d made. But instead of listening, she advised me that if I didn’t give my daughter every single recommended vaccine, she would no longer be our doctor.
She had no interest or even ability to discuss the research with me, as she was just following CDC recommendations.
She was not familiar with, nor did she care about, the research I had found.
I wondered if she’d ever considered verifying the CDC’s recommendations by looking at the research herself.
If she’d been a mother herself would her stance have been different?
I felt certain that she, like too many doctors, was just blindly accepting the recommendations of major organizations without taking responsibility herself.
About the Author: Dr. Adrienne Carmack, M.D., is a board-certified urologist and mother of three, none of whom were circumcised and all of whom were born outside of the hospital and breastfed until age 2 or 3. Dr. Carmack is the author of Reclaiming My Birth Rights: A Mother’s Wisdom Triumphs Over the Harmful Practices of Her Medical Profession. She also wrote The Good Mommy’s Guide to Her Little Boy’s Penis. The above web-friendly article is from Dr. Adrienne Carmack’s book, Reclaiming My Birth Rights: A Mother’s Wisdom Triumphs Over the Harmful Practices of Her Medical Profession. Reprinted with permission from the author.
Are you starting to research vaccines? Do you find yourself questioning some vaccines? If so, you’ll want to read this post.
I’m Pregnant, is the Flu Vaccine Safe for me and my baby?
How Much Baby Tylenol is Safe?
13 Reasons Why the CDC is Right and You Should Vaccinate Your Kids
Vaccinate with Confidence, the CDC’s Misleading Campaign
Avoid Toxins: 20 Ways to Limit Exposure
Medical Doctors Concerned We’re Doing Too Many Vaccines Too Soon
Published: December 10, 2015
Last update: October 26, 2020