|How to Be a Vaccine-Free Traveler|
|Tuesday, 17 June 2014 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question. Parents raising their indigo children and travelers visiting third-world countries are posing the question that just 25-odd years ago never even came up.
My parents vaccinated me and I'm normal (mostly), so I'm not mad at them. Plus, my mother points out that she herself saw crippling cases of polio as a child that just plain don't exist now. It is possible that natural parents today are afforded the option to not vaccinate their children because all of us got our shots. While getting mad at the system, we should also be thankful that vaccinations worked so well. German measles, mumps, polio—we are blessed to not know what these diseases even entail.
As children, you and I did not get to choose if we wanted to be vaccinated. With a dripping, three-inch needle aimed at our buttocks, which of us would have decided in the affirmative?! So as an adult, I'm taking satisfaction in knowing that this time, I get to choose. And for that reason alone, darn it, I'm going to.
I checked out what these vaccines really are. In my perspective, they are comparable to homeopathic medicine in concept: "Like cures like." A sample of the virus (live or dead) is weakened or diluted, then injected into the body so that it builds its own antibodies and immunity to the virus. In homeopathy, however, the weakening and dilution is accomplished in water, while in traditional vaccines, the weakening is done by repeatedly passing the virus through monkey tissue, chicken embryos or (cover your eyes, sensitive ones) the aborted remains of human fetuses. Traditional vaccines are then stabilized with ingredients such as formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, aluminum and thimerosal, a mercury derivative. That three-inch needle suddenly seems like the least of my concerns.
The credible and educational Travelers’ Health section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website recommends that travelers to Thailand vaccinate for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis. As an avid eco-traveler, doing volunteer work in rural areas with endangered Asian elephants in the jungles of this developing country, I take health warnings very seriously. I know first-hand how easy it is to be bedridden from drinking water parasites in a foreign country (oh, how I know), and it scares me to think it might be that easy to walk away with typhoid as well. At the same time, my vegan lifestyle does not savor the vaccine machine's animal-cruelty practices, nor do I consider embalming fluid a part of a living foodist's (or living person's) healthy menu.
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? While there are no guarantees either way, the good news is that my destination, in this case Thailand, allows travelers to make these decisions for themselves. I have not yet been to Africa to volunteer with the wild elephants there—even though I desperately want to—because vaccination is required for a visa. And I am not ready to make that decision yet. I personally have survived though two volunteer trips to Thailand, exploring rural Brazil and numerous undeveloped South Caribbean islands and remain vaccine-free. Which is a big response-ability—one I have chosen to educate myself about and activate my behavior to reflect. I am grateful for the option of vaccine-free travel.
[Please note: This column tells the story of one person’s experience. It is not meant to offer medical advice. Please talk with your doctor before making any medical decision. – Ed.]
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