Vaccines, Part 1: Seminar and Perspectives of Approach

Part of becoming a parent is being blasted with information. Imagine Midwest hail storm – golf ball size hail. That’s how it feels. I am literally darting for cover on a daily basis. Most of this is probably from my current ability to become extremely overwhelmed (thank you pregnancy hormones); other bit probably comes from my interest in everything. I’m feeling kind of obsessed with all things baby. Because, you know, it would totally suck if I did something to ruin my child. The more research the less chance of a ruined child?

Yep, that’s how this pregnant lady is reasoning these days. Yikes.

So, all that to kick off my recap about our vaccine class from last week.

First off, it was wonderful! It was very helpful to attend a seminar and soak up information, ask questions and see other parents in the same position. If you live in the Pacific Northwest and are interested in attending the same seminar just shoot me an email ( and I’ll send you all of the information. It was 2 hours long and only $20. Very worth it.

The seminar was led by a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Edwin Hofmann-Smith, who has a Ph.D. in Biology. His interest in vaccines began during his Ph.D. study when he was involved in a pro/anti vaccine debate as a class exercise. That was quite some time ago (I’m guessing he is in his 60’s now), but his passion for vaccine research has continued over the years and is quite evident. I expected him to be anti-vaccinations seeing that he is a naturopath and all, but to my surprise he actually evaluates each vaccine individually. He asks:

  • What are the risks of the illness?
  • What are the statistics?
  • What are the risks of the vaccine?
  • Past and current studies?
  • Scenarios from his own practice?

Dr Hofmann-Smith is very VERY thorough and I appreciated his willingness to educate overwhelmed parents such as myself :) He also recommended two different books for parents studying their vaccine options:

I’m about half way through the first one and plan to check out the second soon. Some of it is heavy reading, especially when you don’t consider yourself to be very scientific, but definitely informative when you learn the history of the vaccine, how they are made and their benefits and risks.
The most interesting topic we discussed wasn’t in relation to specific vaccines. Dr. Hofmann-Smith brought to my attention the perspective that people can view vaccinations: the public health perspective, the personal perspective and the naturopathic perspective.

  • Public Health Perspective – The driving force of this perspective is ” … that when you have a high level of immunity in the community to a given disease, epidemics of that disease are prevented. When the percentage of immune individuals exceeds a certain level, the disease will not spread. This is sometimes referred to as herd immunity” (Hofmann-Smith, 2010). So, with this perspective there is alot of motivation to vaccinate the community; it prevents disease and therefore, prevents epidemic which keeps everyone safer.
  • Personal Perspective – This is where Dominic and I come into the vaccination debate. We want to know, “What is best for our child?”. Of course, we are concerned about the general public, but when all is said and done, we are responsible for our family. Hence, all this research about our options.

These two perspectives come into conflict in a number of ways. Hofmann-Smith gives a great scenario in regard to the polio vaccine and how the public health and personal perspective might clash. He wrote, ” … since polio is not a threat in North or South America (the last case seen in the Americas was in Peru in 1991), I think one can safely defer this vaccination at this time. On the other hand, a public health officer would never make this recommendation until the disease is wipes out worldwide. Thus, there’s an inherent conflict between societyh’s “right” to be protected from exposure due to unvaccinated individuals versus an individual’s “right” to refuse treatment on the basis of informed consent.”
The nautropathic perspective plays a unique role in all of this. I have gathered that they ask alot of questions, try a few things and then wait. They are very evidence-based when it comes to making medical decisions. I appreciate their thoughtfulness in looking at the whole scope of what options are available. Yes, it adds yet another factor and more questions into the topic of “What on earth do I do about vaccinations?”, but they have some extremely valid points.
Naturopathic Perspective – Naturopaths believe “vaccines can be an unnatural assault on the body’s complex and subtle defence mechansms. Vaccnations can be a cause of both short and long term adverse effects” (Hofmann-Smth, 2010). Reports of adverse effects come from pediatricians and it is assumed many adverse effects are not linked to vaccinations by the pediatrician and therefore are not reported. Parents tell a very different story, believing that vaccinations have brought about specific adverse effects. Hofmann-Smith states that “it is officially estimated that only about 10% of reactions are reported”. Long-term effects are also a concern. One can easily document the steps of (1) a vaccine is given and (2) symptom X occurs which would be considered a short-term effect. Dr. Hofmann-Smith has seen and/or studied adverse effects which surface weeks, months or years after a vaccination like “recurrent ear infections, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, minimal brain damage, autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, arthritis, autoimmune disease, type I diabetes, etc.”. This is a huge concern of naturopaths. Many vaccines haven’t been around long in their current form and therefore, long-term effects are unknown.
This post is getting rather long and I want to share what I learned about each vaccine on the recommended schedule so stay tuned for more information in the next few days!

On a side note: Dominic went to a very large high school in the area and where ever we go he sees someone he knows. It’s pretty funny … and annoying. The vaccine class was no exception. Turns out the doctor who led the seminar is the father of one of the guys who was in Dominic’s select choir group. Small world.
On one more note: I would adore your comments, insights and suggestions on this subject. So comment away!
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Please do not take any of this information as advice … rather, a review of the information I have gathered and opinions I have developed. Nothing stated is necessarily “right” or “wrong”. Always do you own research and consult with an expert before making important decisions for you and your family.

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  1. says

    Dr. Ed is great! He is my doctor and hes very great and thorough. I have had him as my doctor my whole life (16 yrs). He was very good at informing my parents about vaccines. He is a great doctor and very helpful and very nice.