Immunizations, Prescription Drugs, and GMO

While in America, we ran in some pretty conservative homeschooling circles. Although we never did go the “no-immunization” route with our children, I certainly was swayed toward that position, and Marc and I had many conversations about it. We did “delay” some immunizations for some of our children and refused the chicken pox vaccine almost across the board (although our oldest got it). I won’t deny the stranglehold that the pharmaceutical industry has on many facets of life in America, and I would even give some credence to the link between immunizations and autism.

So when we had been in Africa only a few months and two nice doctors showed up in our yard telling us that we needed to have all children under 5 given an oral vaccine for polio because there were some confirmed cases not too far away, I was adamant that WE DID NOT NEED THEM. They’d already been vaccinated in America, and no further intervention was necessary (for our protection or theirs). They were equally adamant that THEY ROUTINELY RE-VACCINATED ALL CHILDREN UNDER FIVE WHENEVER THERE WAS A CONFIRMED CASE OF POLIO IN THE AREA. Seeing that they would not be moved, I summoned Marc and he told me to dig their immunization records out of the file. Done. He showed the nice doctors our paperwork and they retreated.

An hour or so later, a couple more nice doctors came. These were higher up the supervisory chain, I think, and they would not be deterred from their mission. Marc conceded, and three of our littles got some drops in their mouths. I made a weak protest to Marc after they left, but all he said was, “You can’t blame them. Polio IS a really scary disease. I’ve been into Kitale more than you, and I’ve seen several people crippled and laying on the sidewalk begging. That’s all they can do. I’m pretty sure that’s from polio. They have to take it seriously and they don’t want us to be a risk.”

Good point. I suppose in America, we have the luxury of choice. Here, where the disease is not eradicated, they are trying to get to where we are–a total population free from the fear of a crippling disease. I  had not thought of it that way.

Ditto for prescription medication. We were on the path toward total natural remedies–in fact, I’m thinking we actually had arrived there. We haven’t been to the doctor (other than children’s preventative visits) or gotten a prescription for…a long time. I preferred oregano and grapefruit seed extract to any artificial antibiotic and believed they were equally as effective. For coughs, a rub of eucalyptus and thyme mixed with a carrier oil or a homemade cough syrup would do the trick. Immune-boosting supplements kept us healthy enough not to need further interventions, as a rule.


Water-borne amoebas stubbornly resisted all oregano and grapefruit seed extract, probiotics, and whatever else I could throw at them. So, in defeat, we talked to the neighborhood chemist, who have us some pills and some oral meds for the littles. We’ve all taken them multiple times, and each time I choose to be thankful for the relief rather than suspect of the chemical processes behind it. Many of our neighbors who routinely get malaria are grateful for cheap anti-malarial drugs–who can blame them? And when our 11 year-old had a bad cough that kept him up for multiple nights, unresponsive to our homemade cough syrup and chest rub, well…I took as a blessing the allergy medicine and cough suppressant from the local chemist.

And despite the evidence against GMOs (with which, by the way, I generally agree), I can see why the locals here use it without any second thought. Where a child reaching the age of five is a monumental milestone (due to disease and, yes, starvation), getting twice the yield (or more) from GMO versus heirloom corn seems pretty appealing. Better to be able to feed your children then potentially have them die of starvation, even if the GMO stuff does give them cancer…or sterilize them for life…or whatever *might* happen from a lifelong exposure to such an altered food source.

We’ve never been the type to make a stand over any “debatable” issues. The Gospel of the Kingdom is where we stand firm, and in all other things we do have an opinion, but unless asked we try to keep it to ourselves. If we do share what we believe, we try not to be dogmatic, but give room for freedom to our Christian brothers and sisters. But in these areas–immunizations, prescriptions drugs, and GMO–I recognize that I did have very firm convictions. And now, while I’m not second-guessing that, I do see how sometimes, we don’t have the luxury of conviction. And unless it involves obedience to Christ, maybe our opinion is, in the final analysis, irrelevant.

Oh, and yes, raw milk is best and people should have freedom to choose between that and the pasteurized variety. Here we have that freedom, but until the day we get our own cow…I’m boiling my milk, thanks.