Ok. I have to start out with saying that I really dislike the anti-vaccine people. They are really intense and I hope I never get into a debate with one of them as they use lots of emotion with little reason. I also think that the pro-vaccination community (most of them scientists) are even worse and threaten and berate the hippie parents with facts and studies that have little to do with the bigger picture. I like to think of myself as Switzerland. I own a home daycare and tell everyone that I do not discriminate one way or the other. Some of my kids get all of their shots and some don’t. Now that that is said – I would like to discuss an alternative to the regular vaccine schedule. Why? Well, mostly because my kids got whooping cough and I am a little disheartened by the vaccine schedule at the moment. If you are happy with your decision to vaccinate your child with every single recommended shot, then there is no need to read on any further. If a part of you has always wondered if there were a simple alternative – nothing extreme, just a middle of the road option, then please read on. Like many of the parents I have met over the years, we were extremely reluctant to inject our tiny newborn babies seconds after coming out of a sterile womb. Our midwife was the first to tell us that many do skip the Heb B vaccine…. still reading?? Intrigued at least?
Fast forward five years. Our first born is almost ready for kindergarten and it is mind blowing. For the rest of this post I am going to use her as an example. She is actually the healthiest person I know. I worried about her growing up in a home daycare, a business I started so I could stay home and watch her grow. I was worried she would be sick all the time. I wanted to protect her from getting more than the normal 10-15 viruses kids are supposed to get each year. For you see, when you have a daycare with six kids under age four, you can compound the standard number of sickness per year with each additional child. During the cold and flu season I am able to count the number of days she is well in any given month – on one hand! So we decided to give her immune system a break from the regular schedule, and we delayed vaccinations.
When our daughter was seven months old we gave her baby chicks for Easter. They grew into backyard chickens. It turns out that those pets provided one of the greatest gifts to my daughters growing immune system – their poop. Yes. Chicken shit. Chickens are really dirty animals. They literally roll around in the dirt and take dirt baths, sifting it through their feathers. Apparently this removes mites. My daughter would love to pick up her chickens. We even got a miniature rooster for her named Jessy that was just her size. He came with that name. She carried him around everywhere. She even pushed him in her swing set and brought him inside the house with her. He loved that little girl. Each exposure to his bacteria
made her gut stronger. Your immune system starts in your gut.
The more you are exposed to as a child while your immune system is still “learning” the healthier you will be as an adult. You may even come across something truly nasty like staph or e coli later in life and your body will have a memory imprint of handling a similar situation when you were young. When you were young and you put your fingers and objects into your mouth all the time after playing in dirt. The body can only handle well what it has had practice with before. Put your baby in a sterile apartment with no backyard and a neurotic mother who shampoos the carpets every other week and you have a recipe for disaster. Allergies are the number one symptom of a weak immune system.
So one might reason that lots of vaccines would actually be good for a growing immune system, right? For this next part I want to ask you a question: how many shots has your baby or child had so far? Go ahead. Try and guess. Do you even know? Eight? Eleven? Twenty? Thirty six? Or how about my daughter… ok I will tell you. If I were to have gone along with the regular vaccine schedule my daughter would have had 49 doses of 14 vaccines by age 6. Half of those shots would have been given in the first 15 months of life.
What I think is the most controversial about the regular CDC schedule is that babies receive up to 7 shots in a single visit for up to 9 diseases. Most parents don’t even realize this fact. My husband and I decided that fewer shots, or a selective vaccination schedule was a better choice for our family. Especially since our daughter would be growing up in a daycare which puts her at a much higher risk for ear infections and secondary bacterial infections. We didn’t want to overload her immune system. Recently I had an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in my daycare. My daughter’s main symptom was a runny nose. We had her swabbed and she tested positive. Again, she is the healthiest person I know with the strongest immune system I have seen. Exposure doesn’t equal illness.
Why so many shots today? When my husband and I were kids in the 80’s there were only 8 different shots. It doesn’t take a scientist or a crunchy mom to realize that the answer to this is really very simple. Vaccines generate profit. In fact many pediatric offices would be out of business if it weren’t for their well baby programs – where parents bring their child in every few months for the sole purpose of getting shots. I really like this “Follow The Money” news report that came out a few years ago. It explains the notion that the vaccine industry might have your child’s health as their number two concern. For you see the vaccine industry gives millions to the American Academy of Pediatrics each year. The American Academy of Pediatrics backs the current vaccine schedule. Pediatrician Dr. Paul Offit, the guru of vaccines and a big defender of vaccine safety, stands by his statement that a baby can theoretically handle “10,000 vaccines at one time.” In the news report I mentioned above they uncovered that Offit also gets big payouts from vaccine profits by holding a patent on one of the vaccines in the current schedule.
Here is the question we all need to be asking when it comes to our child’s immune systems: is there a breaking point? For me it is very hard to believe that 49 shots are perfectly safe for my child when the ones saying vaccines are safe are generating huge profits from every shot administered. That is why I like the idea of a selective vaccination schedule, originally thought up by Dr. Bob Sears, the son of famous Dr. Willliam Sears and nurse Martha Sears. Bob’s parents wrote one of the most famous baby books on the shelves today, “The Baby Book.” Like his parents Bob became a pediatrician too and his practice in Southern California sees many hippie moms (it is in So Cal after all.) He saw that many parents had legitimate concerns about vaccine safety and some had even seen bad reactions to vaccinations. So here is what he came up with – a selective vaccination schedule.
2 months – DTaP, Rotavirus
3 months – PC, Hib
4 months – DTaP, Rotavirus
5 months – PC, Hib
6 months – DTaP, Rotavirus
7 months – PC, Hib
15 months – PC, Hib
5 years – Tetanus booster
10 years – Blood tests for measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and hep A immunity. Consider vaccinating if not immune. Also consider a 3-dose polio series if travel to Africa or Asia is a possibility.
11 years – HPV (3 doses, girls only)
12 years – Hep B (3 doses)
The Selective Vaccination Schedule only recommends about half of the shots in the regular schedule. The shots that are skipped meet the following criteria: they are either generally mild childhood illnesses, are fairly rare or don’t exist in our country. Chickenpox is skipped for being a mild illness, though some parents (mostly vegans) decide against this vaccine because of the ingredients alone. Chickenpox is a good example of money versus health. Mostly this vaccine was created in the mid 90’s for the sole purpose of protecting kids from getting the immune building childhood disease simply because they would not be allowed at daycare for up to a week. The government decided that it was better for the economy if parents didn’t have to miss all that work, and the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine was created. The United States and Canada are two countries that vaccinate against chickenpox. Most other countries in the world do not. The way I see it this is an optional shot.
The decision not to give our kids the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is a personal one. Our reasoning is this: my husband and I both had it as kids and therefore have lifetime immunity. When I was pregnant and nursing – the only time chickenpox can be dangerous to both mom and fetus, I knew my baby and I were protected. I want to give my kids this same lifelong protection, especially for my daughter. Recently, and I write about this in my pertussis post, vaccines are being discovered to wear off much faster than previously assumed. Therefore if I were to vaccinate my kids against chickenpox and keep them from getting a mild childhood disease – I am actually putting them at a greater risk later in life when the vaccine wears off. I don’t want my daughter to be in college and sick with adult chickenpox, or pregnant in her first trimester – which can be potentially fatal to the fetus. So I wait for the day my kids show the first signs of those bumps, will call a few friends and have a good old fashioned chickenpox party like in the 80’s. (By the way there is an antiviral medicine for chickenpox that can shorten the duration and severity of the illness.)
I also wanted to list an alternative vaccination schedule in case you were wondering what that is – which basically just spreads out the 49 shots over time. Sears recommends this schedule because he believes it is better for babies to get no more than two shots at one time. I think two at once is perfectly reasonable given that no where in nature would a person ever be sick with 9 different diseases in their blood at once. Sears also recommends giving vitamin C and D before any shots. For more on the Alternative Schedule and making the switch to this schedule click here.
Alternative schedule: Regular Schedule:
2 months – DTaP, Rotavirus Birth – Hep B
3 months – PC, Hib 1 month – Hep B
4 months – DTaP, Rotavirus 2 months – HIB, Pc, DTaP, Rotavirus, Polio
5 months – PC, Hib 4 months – HIB, Pc, DTaP, Rotavirus, Polio
6 months – DTaP, Rotavirus 6 months – HIB, Pc, DTaP, Rotavirus, Hep B, Flu
7 months – PC, Hib 1 year – MMR, Chickenpox, Hep A
9 months – polio, flu (2 doses) 15 months – HIB, Pc
12 months – mumps, polio 18 months – DTap, polio, Hep A, Flu
15 months – Pc, Hib 2 years – Flu
18 months – DTaP, chickenpox 3 years – Flu
21 months – flu 4 years – Flu
2 years – rubella, polio 5 years – DTaP, Polio, MMR, Flu, Chickenpox
2 years, 6 months – Hep B, Hep A 12 years – Tdap, Meningococcal, HPV (3 doses, girls only)
3 years – Hep B, measles, flu
3 years, 6 months – Hep B, Hep A
4 years – DTaP, polio, flu
5 years – MMR, flu
6 years – chickenpox
12 years – Tdap, HPV (girls only)
12 years, 2 months – HPV (girls only)
13 years – HPV (girls only), meningococcal
*note: the Alternative Schedule has one less shot than the regular because HepB at birth is omitted. Even though it looks like more shots than the schedule on the right, there are actually less. It is amazing to see it stretched out two shots at a time. There are also double the number of trips to the doctor with the schedule on the left. This takes dedication.
For me the selective vaccination schedule is like drawing a line in the sand. We have done the research and decided that there can be too much of a good thing. When it comes to our children’s blood, shouldn’t they be protected first and profited off of last? Sadly it is the other way around. What is so interesting is that America is the only country that injects it’s infants with so many shots. In Japan they only recommended 6 injections during the first year of life – compare that to our 25. Why are we so different than other countries? Well mostly because in the 1980’s congress granted liability protection to vaccine makers. That means they have legal immunity. To what? You ask. If your child has an adverse reaction to a vaccine you would not be able to sue the vaccine manufacturer or go after the pharmaceutical industry. As each decade went by after that shield system was passed in 1986 the government added more and more shots to the recommended schedule.
So what do you do if your child has a bad reaction to a vaccine? First you go to the Vaccine Adverse Reaction Reporting System, VARES to file a report. This is a passive surveillance system managed by the FDA and the CDC. Anyone can do this for any type of vaccine reaction even if it is just a sore arm. Sadly mistakes do happen like a nurse giving a double dose of a combination shot or the vaccine makers creating “hot lots” where something in the shot’s formula was off. This system keeps track of it all and doctors are supposed to make reports into the system as well.
Then there is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program enacted in 1986. This program offers compensation to those who have injuries presumed to be caused by vaccines as long as they happen within a certain time table. A portion of every shot given is taxed (around 75 cents) which raises money for the compensation program. The program is also know as “vaccine court” and uses a no-fault alternative dispute resolution system for resolving vaccine injury claims. Since the start of the program awards have totaled over $2 billion.
I really think it is important to know about the role our government has in the current vaccine schedule. When it comes to my children I am the one who makes the decisions regarding their health. I choose what to feed them, when to put them to bed and what I will or will not inject directly into their blood. In as recent as 2001, mercury in the form of thimerosal was a standard preservative in all vaccines. Today it has been removed except for the flu shot (which is why Sears does not recommended the flu shot containing mercury for babies and pregnant women.) I believe it was moms who simply wouldn’t put up with having a known neurotoxin in their children’s vaccines that eventually led to its removal. I hope that soon there will be a set number of shots determined that a child can safely receive. I know the number that I am comfortable with. No government agency will be able to convince me otherwise.
Read more here about regular, alternative and selective vaccine schedules.
The Regular, Alternative and Selective vaccine schedules listed above come directly from “The Vaccine Book” by Robert W. Sears, Copyright 2007. For the 2014 schedule visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/
Rooster inside the house.