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Vaccines in Pregnancy…What would you do?

Author // Jeanne Ohm, DC

When I received this e-mail the other day, I knew it was a volatile situation on many, many levels. First off, the topic was on vaccines which always causes a bristle and then there was the family disagreement component to convolute it further.

Here was the e-mail:

I have a situation I was wondering if you might be able to help me with.  I have been dating a guy for over two and things are going very well.  His sister is pregnant and due with her first child on September 10th.  I am very close with my boyfriend’s family including his sister.

However, last week, she sent out a group message including me that said, “Hello family and Mary!  Just to give you a head’s up you will all be needing a tDap injection/shot before baby John arrives.  It protects the baby from getting whooping cough which can be very serious for infants.  Joe and I are getting ours next week and I’d really appreciate it, especially if anyone wants to hold and hang out with the baby, which I know you all want to!”

Now – as much as I would like to get more involved with the decisions she makes for her and her child, I have learned that sometimes, for the sake of relationships, it is better to stay out of it.  In this sensitive situation with a girl who takes whatever her Doctor tells her as bible, I am happy to respect her decision to vaccinate her child, herself and her husband.  However, when it comes to telling ME I have to get the vaccine myself in order to be around her child, I feel like I have to draw the line…I’m not sure I could go against my beliefs and put something into my body I’m not comfortable with…in fact, I know I can’t.  

My first hope was just to ignore her and hope she doesn’t follow up, but I saw her this weekend and she’d asked me if I’d gotten it yet.  I wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach the situation yet, so I just said “not yet.”  My boyfriend suggested to just tell her I got it next time she asks and move on, but I’m not really comfortable with lying either. 

I want to just tell her that I love her and I’m going to love the baby…and that as a Mom, I will always respect the decisions she’s making for her and her child, but that my beliefs are somewhat different and that while I can’t promise her I will get the shot, I can promise her that I will not ever put her child in danger and will promise to not be around them if I’m not feeling well…

 In searching for the source of this recommendation, the CDC site offered this:

“The strategy of protecting infants from pertussis by vaccinating those in close contact with them is known as “cocooning.” ACIP has recommended cocooning with Tdap vaccine since 2005 and continues to recommend this strategy for all those with expected close contact with newborns. Cocooning enhances maternal vaccination to provide maximum protection to the infant. In addition to vaccinating your patients, you should educate them about encouraging others – including dads, grandparents and other caregivers – to get vaccinated with Tdap at least two weeks before coming into contact with their infants. ”

“Full implementation of cocooning has proven to be a challenge; vaccinating during pregnancy provides the best opportunity to protect infants from pertussis.”

Thus their newest recommendation:

Pertussis (whooping cough)

Make sure that all potential contacts with the newborn are protected against pertussis at least two weeks prior to close contact with the infant.


Suzanne Humphries, MD challenges vaccine induced herd immunity citing  that most outbreaks of pertussis are in a vaccinated population.

“Pertussis is now hot news and the unvaccinated interrupting herd immunity is raised over and over, despite the science that shows the vaccinated are by far and away the most affected by whooping cough.

‘Our unvaccinated and under-vaccinated population did not appear to contribute significantly to the increased rate of clinical pertussis.”

This is the most recent, but not the first study to demonstrate 86% of cases of proven whooping cough are in the vaccinated. How can getting even 100% vaccination uptake create an immune herd with such vaccines?

So that brings us back to this statement: Make sure that all potential contacts with the newborn are protected against pertussis at least two weeks prior to close contact with the infant. This new recommendation of involving all potential contacts appears to be related to this this study which concludes with: “immunizing only postpartum mothers with Tdap vaccine did not reduce pertussis illness in infants younger than and equal to 6 months of age. Efforts should be directed at immunizing all household and key contacts of newborns with Tdap, not just mothers.”

So here is my question…Key contacts? Where does that end? Then perhaps the parents should also be advised not to take their baby to church on Sunday. And the supermarket. Oh, she should also skip that first, second, third, fourth and maybe fifth visit to the pediatricians office…lots of pathogens lurking there, for sure. Heck, for real isolation, then certainly the mother should not choose a hospital birth! That’s where healthy people enter and come out severely contaminated. I suggest, then in light of this perpetuated fear of germs, and misrepresented interpretation of her immunity, the mother should have an unattended home birth (yup, don’t want that contaminated midwife either) and for the six months to a year of the baby’s life,  the couple should have their garage converted into an antimicrobial germicidal vault that steams all home delivered foods, products and visitors.

Seem ridiculous, yes, but even more ridiculous is that rather than promoting a physical and emotional healthy lifestyle of the parents throughout pregnancy and including in those recommendations a good diet of probiotics in pregnancy, avoidance of the many interventions that lead to c-sections (which impair the baby’s gut and immunity) , offering tips for successful and extended breastfeeding and the importance of gut health for the mother and baby, the CDC chooses to hang its hat on this study promoting, of course, more vaccines in the population.

This medical advise defaults back to the outdated “germ theory” which was recently challenged by a study done by the Human Genome. The outdated view of the germ theory and the invasive medical procedures that adhere to this theory begs re-examination in light of new, contemporary scientific validation. In essence, the paradigm is shifting, it is prudent we keep our healing practices aligned with current research.

From my article in Pathways titled, Shifting the Paradigm, is this excerpt,

The question then becomes, what creates sickness and illness? Is it the germs or is it an unhealthy body? It has been said that on Pasteur’s deathbed, he admitted that he was wrong. Nonetheless, an era of antibiotic drugs, chemical pesticides and herbicides, vaccines and antibacterial soaps has ensued, resulting in a germ phobic society and a pharmaceutical empire to lead the attack. But even worse, all of these weapons have interfered with the body’s natural microbiome and impaired our immunity.

Fast forward to June 2012, when the release of coordinated research from the Human Microbiome Project Consortium organized by the National Institutes of Health rocked the world. As The New York Times reported, “200 scientists at 80 institutions sequenced the genetic material of bacteria taken from 250 healthy people. They discovered more strains than they had ever imagined—as many as a thousand bacterial strains on each person. And each person’s collection of microbes was different from the next person’s. To the scientists’ surprise, they also found genetic signatures of disease causing bacteria lurking in everyone’s microbiome. But instead of making people ill, or even infectious, these disease-causing microbes simply live peacefully among their neighbors.”

Instead of the “one germ, one disease” theory that has dominated allopathic medicine for centuries, these findings imply that there is an entire ecosystem of bacteria symbiotically at work in the body, a concept understood by holistic practitioners for centuries. “This is a whole new way of looking at human biology and human disease,” says Dr. Phillip Tarr, a researcher and professor of pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine. “It’s awe-inspiring and it also offers incredible new opportunities.”

The following quote by Ronald J. Glasser, M.D., sums up the health crossroads we now face. This former assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota writes, “It is the body that is the hero, not science, not antibiotics…not machines or new devices. The task of the physician today is what it has always been, to help the body do what it has learned so well to do on its own during its unending struggle for survival—to heal itself. It is the body, not medicine, that is the hero.” As more doctors realize the self-evident principles of supporting the terrain, perhaps the allopathic model of killing the “bad” germs to fight disease may finally shift to improving the terrain to support the friendly bacteria.

The body, like all of nature, exists by maintaining a state of balance. It is dependent upon an environment that nourishes and nurtures with inter-connectivity and cooperation between whole systems, and an underlying recognition of intelligence and a respect for the natural processes and order. Therefore, the essentials for a healthy terrain can be broken into several general premises: Nourishing the Terrain, Coordinating the Function and Trusting the Process.

So I am back to this original CDC recommendation: “Make sure that all potential contacts with the newborn are protected against pertussis at least two weeks prior to close contact with the infant.” Well, with “as many as a thousand bacterial strains on each person, and each person’s collection of microbes  different from the next person’s,” how is that even conceivable? 

And just to reiterate,  “To the scientists’ surprise, they also found genetic signatures of disease causing bacteria lurking in everyone’s microbiome. But instead of making people ill, or even infectious, these disease-causing microbes simply live peacefully among their neighbors. ”  What a shift in perspective from the fear based Germ Theory we have all been raised with.

So what about this woman who was asked to get vaccinated for the benefit of the new baby? We talked in length and she promised to get back to me about our discussion. Next week I’ll share our conversation. In the meantime, let’s talk about it. What would you do?

Jeanne Ohm, DC

Dr. Jeanne Ohm has practiced family wellness care since 1981 with her husband, Dr. Tom. They have six children who were all born at home and are living the chiropractic family wellness lifestyle.

Dr. Ohm is an instructor, author, and innovator. Her passion is: training DC’s with specific techniques for care in pregnancy, birth & infancy, forming national alliances for chiropractors with like-minded perinatal practitioners, empowering mothers to make informed choices, and offering pertinent patient educational materials.