Vaccination – yes and no

By Stephanie Sieburg, September 2016

I carried my daughter, then eight months old, in a baby sling. I breast fed her until she was seven months old – exclusively. She is a healthy, happy and sparkling child. Today we have an information meeting about vaccination. I am sitting with my daughter in the waiting room and am nervous. I have a vague feeling of uncertainty.

We are called in and an intensive monologue from a doctor showers down on me. It is too much for me. I hear words like “multivalent vaccine”, “booster”, “harmless”. And I am asked questions to which I can only respond with no: “Have you ever had contact with a person who is tied to a wheelchair because of polio?” “Is this something you want to experience in your own life?” “Do you actually know how risky it is not to vaccinate nowadays?”

And I hear statements which I am not able to examine for their truth: it was only through rigorous vaccination that it was possible at all to get these illnesses under control. Everyone who fails to vaccinate their child was consciously taking a risk which endangered other people and the life of their own child.

My hands are sweating and my daughter begins to grizzle. Something makes me stand up and break off the conversation. I still grab some information material which was kindly assembled in a folder before the meeting. We leave the doctor’s surgery. As we put our coats on in the waiting room, I turn to the nurse once more and ask her to give me a package leaflet about the side-effects of the proposed vaccine. The response is curt. There was nothing like that and it was in any case too complex and thus incomprehensible for a lay person. I close the door of this practice with the feeling that I will not come here again.

An intensive phase begins. I go to vaccination symposiums, lectures, discussion groups. I gather information from doctors, non-medical practitioners, supporters, opponents, mothers, fathers, grandparents and read reports from people with experience of the subject, who have been affected by it or have suffered illness.

I have read innumerable books on the subject. I am looking for answers because I have many questions. I read about complications through illness, I read about complications after vaccination. Why are so many children ill when we are supposed to have all illnesses under control? Why can so many children not eat what they want without worrying about it? Why is it impossible for so many children to play in a meadow in spring without an asthma spray in their pocket? Ritalin – how many children take that daily?

Illness through vaccination?

Meanwhile my daughter is three years old and attends a kindergarten. One of her best friends is currently in hospital since the suspicion of diabetes has turned out to be true. Her mother tells me that about six weeks after having  been given eight vaccinations – including for Hepatitis B – she started asking for abnormal quantities of water at night. I had previously read in an article that there is apparently a connection between Hepatitis B vaccination and diabetes. Once again I am faced with uncertainty.

A short time later, my neighbour lies unconscious in her apartment for several hours, having followed the advice to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B in preparation for an extended stay abroad. And not long after, a fourteen-year-old girl in our region dies only four hours after having been given a vaccination against cervical cancer. The official statement says: delayed case of sudden infant death syndrome. A connection with the vaccination could not be shown. I start to observe what is happening around me. Meanwhile this vaccination is no longer promoted and hardly any obstetrician any longer recommends this elixir which only a short time previously was so highly praised as life-saving. I ask myself, why?

At some point I see a dead swan on television with people in protective suits milling around its carcass and those behind the camera also seem to be in a contaminated zone. Bird skeletons, diabolical, deadly, highly dangerous. Research was ongoing for a vaccination. Terrible pictures of birds jammed into cages which apparently carry a deadly virus reach our television screens. For weeks the same pictures. And then at some point: silence. They have fluttered away as if by themselves.

This is closely followed by the dangerous swine flu virus only a few months later. Hundreds of thousands will presumably die but this time the pharmaceutical industry has responded and already produced a vaccine. But it seems that it cannot be sold across the board. I can remember that my grandma in her retirement home was given the vaccination, and also her neighbours and their neighbours in turn on all floors and in all the houses. A good thing that we still have our elderly, else the vaccination would no doubt go off. And who would want that?

Mercury and aluminium compounds are highly dangerous, I thought. Formaldehyde  – don’t many parents make sure when buying furniture that such a solvent does not contaminate their children’s room? Shouldn’t we worry if it gets into the bloodstream of little people? The list of additives is long and once again I can only tell with difficulty as a lay person what is harmful and what isn’t.

Last year measles was circulating through Germany. Many children fell ill. Above all in the conurbations. The press reacted ferociously. Those who had not been vaccinated were condemned. The talk shows exacerbated the conflict, a legal vaccination requirement was demanded.

Some doctors near me admitted that it was irresponsible to give so many people live vaccines in the winter, a time when the immune system of many people was in any case weakened. People who had been given such vaccines should not be allowed near others but quarantined for a few days. Once again uncertainty. Once again fear. Ignorance on both sides.

I resolve to avoid all media for a few days. The many voices who all know what is best and the right thing for us to do fall silent and I can hear it once again – my own inner voice.

Time for healing

Meanwhile my daughter is seven years old. She had the measles a few weeks ago – first a slight cold, then a rise in temperature. One day later the rash erupted with a fever. For two days she lay in bed. It was not an easy time. I was worried. There are few people whose experience we can draw on and who react in a calm way. The grandmothers and doctors from the time when children still caught childhood diseases are no longer here. This means that we are now the generation which still has to gather such experience in order to be able to pass it on to others.

My daughter recovered quite quickly and we then spent another three weeks resting – to recuperate. We really needed it. That, too, is part of the illness: time to recover. Is there enough time and space for that in our society? I feel very grateful to our non-medical practitioner who looked after us with great sensitivity during the period when my daughter had measles.

I have had interesting conversations with doctors who speak openly with me about the subject of vaccination and are looking at it with an increasingly critical attitude. Why have children also fallen ill with measles who were fully vaccinated against it? Why in certain areas is it above all adults who fall ill with measles? My questions have so far remained unanswered.

Forty-two doses of vaccine within two years?

I can well understand people who adhere to the recommended vaccinations. It is probably rarely an easy decision, above all in view of the quantity of vaccines which is constantly being added. In the meantime a child will have been given 42 doses of vaccine by the time they are 23 months old. Why so many?

And of course there are people who are fully vaccinated and enjoy a healthy and happy life. It is good that this is so.

But there are equally people with a different experience. Can I prevent illness? Can I avoid things in life? Doesn’t life simply do what it wants? Why do we look at our body separately from our spirit, our soul? Is a physical illness an expression of an illness at a different level?

Who takes responsibility if my child falls ill? Who takes responsibility if my child does not tolerate the vaccine? The doctor? The non-medical practitioner? The supporter? The opponent? Who takes responsibility for my life and my child’s life? Who has an interest in health? A branch of industry which lives off illness? 

About the author: Stephanie Sieburg is a Waldorf mother at the Erfurt/Bischleben Waldorf School.


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