A child-friendly vaccination schedule

(Note: see also “Are mercury-free vaccines really safer?” June 2006)

When it comes to vaccinating children, I think this is a decision parents should be able to make on their own. Unfortunately, once regulators establish vaccination policies and make it impossible for unvaccinated children to enroll in school the entire matter becomes more complicated.

If you are interested in working within the system but wish to take extra precautions to protect your children there are several things you can do.

The first is to delay all vaccines until your child is two, because at that age the immune system has achieved a greater level of maturity and there is a smaller risk of adverse effects.

The next is to avoid injecting multiple vaccines at one time, to the extent that this is possible. Remember that vaccines are combined for convenience’s sake, without adequate studies to support the safety of this practice.

Also avoid vaccinating a child who is ill or is fighting a virus. This used to be a standard precaution but in recent years it has somehow been forgotten by many.

Finally, insist that none of the vaccines have the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal. Even though the use of thimerosal is being phased out, some vaccines – including flu shots – still contain it.

If your concern about vaccines goes beyond these basic precautions, most states provide for some type of exemption from vaccine requirements, such as medical exemptions. Fortunately, parents who are already working with a DAN (Defeat Autism Now) physician or other sympathetic pediatrician can usually receive an authorization for a reduced vaccine schedule for a newborn.

Even though I am opposed to the current schedule that requires infants to receive more than 20 vaccines between birth and the age of two, I am certainly not against all vaccines. No one I know wants to go back to the times of crippling polio epidemics, but there’s a limit to how many vaccines are really justified. In addition, supporters of vaccine policies often overstate the risks of childhood diseases to support their case.

For example, it is a well-known fact that measles was a major killer of children in this country in the early 1900’s. But, as a result improved overall nutrition, when the vaccine was introduced in the 1960’s the death rate from measles had plummeted to tiny numbers. It is likely that it could have been cut even further by implementing policies to monitor and enhance infant nutrition.

We also now know that when children have measles, they acquire a lifelong immunity against the disease, whereas the vaccine does not confer that same immunity. As a result, previously vaccinated teens and young adults are now becoming vulnerable again to measles at an age when the risk of complications is far greater.

We should also remember that, on average, vaccines are studied for periods of only two to three weeks prior to receiving FDA approval. Only short-term adverse effects, such as seizures, can be identified in such a brief period of time while long-term risks will obviously be missed. In addition, vaccines are only studied individually but are then given in combination. There is a huge leap of faith in holding that because individual vaccines were found to be safe, they’re still safe when given six or eight at a time!

I recently found a document that offers a brief but to-the-point explanation of the pros and cons of childhood vaccines and provides an alternative schedule I think is acceptable and is well supported by research and concern for the real dangers of childhood diseases. To find it, go to www.donaldmiller.com and then click on the vaccination link.

In summary, here is the schedule Dr. Miller recommends:
• No vaccines until a child is two years old
• No vaccines that contain thimerosal (mercury)
• No live virus vaccines (except for smallpox, should it recur in the population)
• The following vaccines should be given one at a time, six months apart, beginning at age 2: pertussis (acellular, not whole cell), diphteria, Tetanus and polio (the Salk vaccine, cultured in human cells)

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