how not to vaccinate your childrenSo, you already know for your own person reasons -- whether religious, safety concerns or other -- that you do not want to vaccinate your children. What do you do next? How do you not vaccinate your children while still allowing them to be a part of a world that in many places still strongly encourages or even requires immunizations?

The key is to get informed, and know your rights. In many cases there are exemptions.

Yes, there are strong opinions about this issue, and as always you are invited to comment -- constructively -- below. But this post is intended more so to help the moms who have already carefully considered and made this important choice, rather than to debate the pros and cons of immunizations.

I asked a few non-vaccinating CafeMoms, Jessy0419 and FiberMama, to share their experiences so other moms can be prepared when the times comes:

How do you find a doctor that will welcome you to his practice? Some doctors refuse to treat non-vaccinated children.

I see a family practice physician rather than a pediatrician, says Jessy0419. We go back and forth, trading information but he doesn't pressure me, he just informs me. I just told him that right now I was going to hold off vaccinating because the ingredients and things made me uncomfortable. I didn't have to fill out anything.

FiberMama says: If they say no, I don't hire them.You hire your doctor to provide you a service, and if they are unable or unwilling to provide that service, you need to find someone else who will.  It's not about hurting their feelings, it's about finding someone you also like who will provide the service you need. My children's health is far more important to me.

Are there resources for finding vaccine friendly doctors?

I look up pediatricians in the phone book and start making phone calls, FiberMama says. And then I ask whether they take non-vaccinated children. If the answer is no, I keep calling. I'm also willing to travel to find the right doc. I also look to other non-vaccinating mothers to provide referrals to good doctors.

Some CafeMom groups where you can turn: Choosing Not to Vaccinate, Moms Choosing A Vccine Free & Natural Lifestyle and Educate Before You Vaccinate.

Jessy0419 adds that Dr Sears has a list of vaccine friendly doctors on his web page. Other people just call and ask whether they will welcome and treat a family who has made this decision.

What if you want to send your non-vaccinated child to day care?

You do NOT have to vaccinate your children for them to attend school. We home school so we're really lucky that this isn't an issue for us, says FiberMama. Legal requirements for public school and public day cares vary from state to state. All states have religious and medical exemptions. There is some good info at the National Vaccine Information Center and Unhindered Living, with state by state laws and form letters.  

Ohio allows for a philosophical exemption, so I would simply write a letter stating that we have opted not to vaccinate for personal reasons and give it to the appropriate person.

What do you need to do to enroll your child in public school?

Every state has different exemptions and processes, Jesse0419 says. For my state, Virginia, I filed a religious exemption due to many of the vaccines being cultured on aborted fetal tissue, and the fact that the side effects listed on the package inserts list "death" as a side effect. 

I got sample vaccination exemption wording from Vaccination Liberation, says Jessee0419. There was a form to print out and include my child's records. I didn't get my 5 year old her scheduled booster shots, so I needed this for her. There was no time involved, other than going to have things notarized. 

The school also has a policy that says in the event of an epidemic (12 or more cases) of a vaccine-prevented illness, I have to remove my child for 21 days, Jesse0419 says. I don't know how this works for Chicken Pox if she's already had it, but I could have a blood titer done to check for immunity and present that to avoid removing her for 21 days.

Is there anything else you do to help boost your child's natural immunity?

Jesse0419 says: There are also people who supplement their children's diets. I basically just stay with a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables (organic if I can afford it) and keep them as healthy as possible, like any other parent.

Anything else non-vaccinating moms need to know?

My only suggestion would be not to be pushy but BE INFORMED! Jessy0419 says. Non-vaccinating parents need to present their reasons in a smart way and in a way that makes people think about their decision.

FiberMama agrees, and adds: Arm yourself with information! People who tend to get offended about hot-button subjects like this often tend not to be able to support why they have made the decision that they have (and that goes for both sides of this subject). There is so much bias, but if you dig, look at immunology and epidemiology studies, medical journals, the CDC website, talk to your doctors, etc., you will find the information. 

Whichever way you choose to go, have information on why you do it, and then know your rights to follow your choice. If you don't know them, you won't know when they've been taken away either. There are many different ways to vaccinate -- completely on schedule, partially, delayed, partially and delayed, or not at all. Know why you chose it, and how to do it legally.

++Is there anything else non-vaccinating parents need to know?