When you think of someone not vaccinating their child, you may expect them to cite autism as the reason. Surprisingly, that is often not the case.

Autism fear is not always the reason

Read on to discover more reasons parents are delaying immunizations — or not doing them at all.

Celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy have popularized the anti-vaccine movement, but are parents really blindly following the recommendations of superstars and ignoring the advice of their doctors? Does everyone who refuses or delays immunizations do so because they believe that vaccines are the sole cause of autism? We found out the answer was not really.

Concerns over the immune system

Many parents we spoke with had serious concerns over the effect of a high number of vaccines in a short period of time on a young baby’s immune system. “I am concerned about so many chemicals in such a short period of time, and possibly overstimulating the developing immune system,” shared Meredith, mom of two. “Historically, when have people routinely been exposed to four or five diseases at the same time?”

Too much, too soon

Some moms felt that there was too much going on already in a baby’s body and chose to delay their shots to allow an infant to develop without interference. “Too much brain development between birth and 3-ish,” said Kimmy from Florida. “I feel like the current vaccination schedule is overkill.”

Brittany, mother of one, agreed. “I just don't see the rush I guess,” she explained. “My breast milk will give her the ‘early years pep’ I think she'll need. The normal schedule is just too soon in my opinion, at least for my baby.” And Leah from Massachusetts concurred. “The blood/brain barrier doesn't develop until after 2,” she reported. “I saw absolutely no reason to pump a healthy body full of chemicals. It's been proven that natural immunity is longer lasting than artificial immunity from a vaccine.”

Not enough research

Other parents were concerned with there not being enough research on the long-term effects of the vaccines. “There are just too many vaccines with too many ingredients and not enough responsibility taken for any adverse reactions,” Leah also told us. “There's not enough research, period.”

Meredith also had issues with the statistics. “When you look at the CDC's information, they have incredibly misleading statistics about mortality rates from the various diseases,” she said.

"I will not allow my children to be lab rats."

Heather, mother of two, has an even greater issue with the lack of good research behind the ingredients in the vaccines. “I am not willing to take part in the largest uncontrolled experiment in human history,” she explained. “And I will not allow my children to be lab rats. We are at very low risk of contracting any serious illnesses and even less likely to have one of these diseases become serious. We have good medical care available if needed. If our situation was different and I felt we were at greater risk, I might consider partial or delayed vaccination.”

Delaying is more natural

Waiting to vaccinate was considered to be a more natural way to go for the moms who were choosing that route. “My daughter is now 5, and not even eligible for some of the vaccines anymore, and she was never in the high-risk group for those anyway,” explained Meredith. “She'll get some vaccinations eventually, but they will be split up as much as possible to allow a more normal immune response.”

The decision to vaccinate according to the CDC’s schedule, delay vaccinations until age 2 or 3 or decline them completely is a huge one. Research both sides as much as you can, and avoid taking the word of those around you without it being backed up with reliable sources. You can’t undo a vaccine, so make sure you and your partner are comfortable in the steps you take to keep your children healthy.

More on immunizations

What you need to know about immunizations
Your baby's first year — Shots, shots and more shots!
Can you protect your child from pertussis?


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Comments on "Parents share why they don't vaccinate"

Leah Hush December 30, 2013 | 11:51 AM

Andrea, can we get an update on your child? How is he doing and have you continued with the shots?

Dan July 27, 2013 | 9:20 AM

No Dee everyone does not have something wrong with them. We're healthier and living longer than we ever have before. Furthermore the ingredients of vaccines are not a secret.

Dan July 27, 2013 | 9:18 AM

Those who don't vaccinate put everyone at risk, including the vaccinated. Part of the effectiveness is in herd immunity. @Samantha - your statements demonstrate your ignorance about vaccines.

Dee April 11, 2013 | 10:51 AM

"Immunizations have kept horrible diseases at bay for a long time now." But have they? Does anyone notice how everyone has something wrong with them. Whether its a mere cold or a life threatening diease. There are very few healthy people especially in western countries. Hmm could this have some correlation with how we are constantly pumping our bodies full of unnatural chemicals. Vaccinations is one thing, but even our god damn water has 230 ppm of lead,chlorine,copper,barium,arsenic,pesticids,fluoride ect....If they are willing to put all this in water the basic necessity of life, then what crazy things are they putting in these supposed "vaccines"?

Rochelle March 17, 2013 | 12:36 AM

Do not judge those who do not vaccinate! How many times has the government said something was safe and recalled it?! Why is there suddenly an increase in allergies and autism? When I was a kid, I was vaccinated and had a terrible reaction and became very ill. My mom and doctor were so horrified, they made the decision to cease all immunizations.

rae December 12, 2012 | 8:54 AM

'scientific fact is that people who do not immunize their children put other children at risk' what a stupid comment. not true at all. children can still catch things even when immunized. Thus pass it on.

Nicole December 03, 2012 | 10:33 AM

As a mother to three children who have all been vaccinated, it seems like there is no clear cut information in either direction. Immunizations have kept horrible diseases at bay for a long time now. I know some will say sanitation too but who really knows. I wasn't willing to put my children or others at risk by not vaccinating. If they contracted something an immunization could have prevented and had horrible side effects (including death) I could never live with myself. My children are healthy, have never had the need for antibiotics and aren't allergic to everything under the sun. Moderation people, stop being so extreme with all or nothing thinking.

Elle August 07, 2012 | 12:04 PM

Zoey, if you have such a problem with the scientific evidence out there, then why trust anything anyone with medical expertise says? Why trust them when they say you need radiation and chemo for cancer? Radiation and chemo are both gigantic amounts of poison, why would you ever have them do that to your body? Why trust when a doctor says this particular pill will help with whatever disease you happen to get? For whatever reason, you seem to think that doctors are competent at everything else EXCEPT vaccines. If you know so much, go ahead and perform you're own research and share it with everyone else. Too bad you don't have any medical expertise.

Zoey July 20, 2012 | 12:18 PM

Sonja, actually I'm really SORRY my parents got me vaccinated. My older siblings, six of them, got many fewer vaccines than my younger brother and I and were by far the least healthy. We were the ONLY ones who had asthma and allergies as children. One more (the one who was in the navy and probably had the most vaccines as an adult) became asthmatic in his 50s, but that's not really the same as spending your whole life allergic to everything, is it? And those allergies, which were rare when I was a kid, are now rampant. Oh, and I had the vaccines which were available for measles and mumps and got them both. I even managed to GIVE someone else the mumps because no one told my mother that the live virus vaccine could shed. Sarah, nearly everyone who decides not to vaccinate is well aware of the fact that their actions have effects on other people and they have thought long and hard about whether or not to vaccinate. And most people who decide not to vaccinate have done actual research, reading actual papers and not headlines (which tend to be quite far off from actual study conclusions). If you REALLY read the "decades" of scientific "evidence," you will find that your belief in vaccines in not justified at all. Those parents you criticize are actually MUCH more concerned about the health of the children of this country than the average person who vaccinates without doing any investigation.

Sonja July 19, 2012 | 4:15 PM

Thank you Sarah. If a person truly wants to believe something they can find "research" anywhere to support their thoughts. All of you should be happy your parents vaccinated you, so you are able here and are fortunate as I to be a mother. If you think diseases we vaccinate against are better than getting a 2 sec vaccine injection, then I urge you to do your due dilligence and go take a basic history class. Focus on the early 1900's when children DIED of these real bacteria causing diseases. I find it discomforting that people are choosing to put all children at risk for their selfish beliefs. So sad...not everything is a devious conspiracy. By the way who will you call when your child contracts something like TB...think about it

Sarah July 19, 2012 | 1:27 PM

*bangs head on desk* Yes, I'm aware that it is a parents decision whether or not to vaccinate their child. What I have been trying to impress upon people is that your choice effects OTHER PEOPLE, not just you and your child. Just because there are two sides to this issue doesn't mean both arguments are equally valid. I'll trust the side with decades of evidence based scientific facts over the misinformed opinions of non-medical professionals any day. If you can't understand why that is, or if you only care about the health of your own kids and couldn't care less about the well being of anyone else, then I guess nothing I say will make a difference.

Kristie July 19, 2012 | 10:22 AM

You forget that it is a parent's CHOICE to vaccinate/not vaccinate. Everyone should do what they feel is best for their family, which is recommended since every family and child is different. And you are right, some kids should not be vaccinated due to their immune systems being supressed. In healthy kids though, vaccines may or may not cause issues, no one really knows. You can either CHOOSE to listen to the people pushing for vaccines or CHOOSE to listen to the people who are anti-vaccine. The only thing arguing and throwing "scientific articles" is going to do is create a bigger issue. Many states (I'm not sure about yours Leslee) have vaccine exemptions and you don't get banned from school if you choose not to vaccinate your child. And Sarah, I don't think anyone is doing their kids a disservice by not vaccinating. It's their parent's choice. You are right, research it and decide what's best for your family, don't listen to Jenny McCarthy and make that your sole reason for not doing it because of her. Maybe when the kid grows up they will want to be vaccinated, teach them about the pro's AND con's, and then let them decide. But when a child is helpless and only relies on the parents to make a decision for them, that parent is doing what they deem necessary to protect their kid. And if vaccines are so effective, why are there many vaccinated kids that are still getting the very diseases they are vaccinated against? Why do people get the flu when they got the flu shot?

leslee July 19, 2012 | 6:03 AM

I respect people's right to just, but personally think they are being foolish. As a child i grew up over seas and saw first hand what could happen to people who didn't have vaccines. It wasn't pretty. I have two children and both are vaccinated. In our school district you are banned from school if you don't have all your shots. The school district is doing it to protect the kids, not be cruel. If you don't believe that look up all the out breaks of meningitis that occur in colleges to kids who never got their shots. Also in this day and age of jet liners if an out break of measles or bird flu happens in France on Monday by wed it will be in New York. There are no proven links between children getting shots and learning problems. I received over 35 shots as a child and as an adult went on to college and grad school. No problems. Yes the drug companies make a boat load of money off vaccines but if you'd ever scene any one with measles, Chicken pox or small pox you'd change your mind quickly.

Sarah July 18, 2012 | 8:28 PM

Samantha, you seem to have missed my point and did not take a look at the link I posted. The point I was trying to make (which, I must note, is not simply my opinion, but a scientific fact) is that people who do not immunize their children put other children at risk - not ones who are vaccinated, but children with compromised immune systems (such as those going through chemo) or those who cannot be vaccinated - such as the newborn baby who died of pertussis at 4 weeks old because she was too young to be vaccinated (referenced in the link I posted). She died because there was a large percentage of people in her community who were not vaccinating for pertussis. Had more people in her community been vaccinated, there would be a significantly reduced risk of her contracting the virus. Why do you think there are suddenly german measles outbreaks occurring? It's because people are not trusting science and are trusting their guts. If it were simply a case of my child's body my choice or your child's body your choice I wouldn't be nearly as concerned, but you are putting others at risk (and no, I'm not talking about my child personally - he is vaccinated, I'm talking about kids like Dana - you can read more about her here http://danamccaffery/openletter.html). I'm honestly not trying to be rude, and I respect people's rights to make their own decisions when it comes to their kids, I would just hope that whatever decisions you make will be informed by actual scientific facts and not misinformation. Vaccinations save lives.

Samantha July 18, 2012 | 7:46 PM

Sarah, what are you worried about? If you give your children the vaccinations, then you don't need to be worried about them getting ill. Only those of us who choose not to vaccinate would become ill. Or are you admitting that you realize vaccinations don't work? Your child's body, your choice. Our child's body, our choice.

Sarah July 18, 2012 | 5:53 PM

Unless you have a valid medical reason for not vaccinating your child (ie. a reason supported by a doctor), you are not only doing your child a disservice, but you are contributing to the dissolution of herd immunity, which protects people who are legitimately not able to be vaccinated (such as newborns and people with immune disorders). Anyone considering not vaccinating their child should read this first: http://blogs.discovermagazine/badastronomy/2011/12/29/stop-antivaxxers-now/ As for the woman in this article stating that she doesn't vaccinate because her children are at a low risk for diseases - this is only true with herd immunity! If less and less people vaccinate their children, we will start to see many more cases like poor little Dana in the article I linked to. It is truly not just a case of you making an individual decision for your own child. Not vaccinating your child because you chose to listen to Jenny McCarthy over millions of scientists and doctors is putting others in your community at risk.

Andrea July 18, 2012 | 12:02 PM

My child went downhill after the MMR vaccine. He does not have autism but has has learning disabilities and some similar symptoms of a high functioning autistic child. Had I known, i don't think i would not have done them or maybe not such an early schedule or so many at once. A small infant can not absorb all the chemicals that are in vaccines. I have done a lot of research and there are many things that the pharmaceutical companies know and do not tell the public because billions of dollars are made off of vaccines.

Amy July 12, 2012 | 2:44 PM

My baby just got immunized a few days ago. 4 shots and 1 oral - poor baby! I honestly didn't put a ton of thought into it; I mean, we were all immunized so I figure my kids can be, too. I do plan on researching this more though with my future children.

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