- The vaccination recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (APIC) target 14 diseases and require up to 27 vaccines by the time a child reaches the age of 2 years.
- Alternative schedules involve delaying the first vaccination, having different, usually longer intervals between shots, and splitting combination shots.
- The CDC and APIC recommendations are backed by research based on decades of clinical trials, cross-referenced with recorded experience with a multitude of patients. Moreover, the recommendations aim to protect children starting from their early infancy, the time when they are at their most vulnerable.
The vaccination recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (APIC) target 14 diseases and require up to 27 vaccines by the time a child reaches the age of 2 years. The number is daunting to some parents, many of whom also raise the concern that it might overwhelm the immature immune systems of their child.
There is no official alternative to vaccination. Most doctors strictly adhere to the recommendations of CDC and APIC. However, there are doctors who do recognize parents' concerns and believe that selective vaccination and/or alternative schedules decrease the chances of chemical overload, and allow babies' immune systems to detoxify better. They also realize that concern over chemical overload may deter parents from having their child immunized at all. These doctors would rather see children getting a few vaccines than none. Selective vaccination and/or alternative vaccination schedules are thus gaining a fair amount of popularity.
Selective vaccination means that a parent, in consultation with a doctor, chooses whether to have their child undergo single or combined vaccination. A number of combination vaccines exist, for example, Pediarix, which combines DTaP, Hep B, and IPV (polio); ProQuad, which combines MMR and varicella (chickenpox); and Twinrix, which combines Hep A and Hep B.
MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), meanwhile, protect against multiple diseases, but are not properly considered combination vaccines in the United States. This is because, in the US, one cannot get separate vaccines for all three diseases each vaccine protects against.
Alternative Vaccination Schedules
There is no official or clinically-tested alternative vaccination schedule, and as many alternative schedules exist as there are sets of parents. All of these alternative schedules involve delaying the first vaccination, having different, usually longer intervals between shots, and splitting combination shots.
Conventional vs. Alternative: Which Should I Choose?
In any case, should parents decide to explore alternatives to the CDC and APIC recommendations, it would be wise for them to consult both a doctor who adheres to the CDC recommendations and an "alternative-friendly" one. Giving both perspectives room prior to any decision will help ensure one's choice is a well-informed one.
While the existence of choices offers customization and control, one should carefully consider whether these lures outweigh the risks one would be taking. The CDC and APIC recommendations are backed by research based on decades of clinical trials, cross-referenced with recorded experience with a multitude of patients. Moreover, the recommendations aim to protect children starting from their early infancy, the time when they are at their most vulnerable, and from as many diseases as they could fall victim to and suffer lifelong repercussions from.
Can my child do without vaccines?
There is no official, research-backed alternative to vaccination. Having children vaccinated is important because infants and children are always among the most vulnerable to dangerous diseases. For example, meningitis, whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria can be severe, even fatal, diseases, and without vaccine protection, an infant or child can contract these. Diseases like measles can only be prevented through vaccination. Not immunizing a child puts that child, and everyone else he or she comes in contact with, at risk.
Vaccines have been developed precisely due to the dire consequences of the illnesses they protect against. For example, polio infection could result in permanent paralysis. Mumps could cause deafness. Chickenpox could lead to pneumonia or death. A Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) infection could result in permanent brain damage. Foregoing vaccination and relying on natural immunity alone greatly increases the risk of illness, and the possibility of death is far higher than when a child had been previously vaccinated against the attacking illness.
How important is it to build my child's immune system?
Vaccines, while giving excellent protection, are not 100 percent fail-safe, so it behooves every parent to ensure that their child's immune system is given the best support possible to optimize its development and functioning.
Also, in case there is a medical contraindication that disallows vaccination for a child, his or her parent will have to resort to effective strategies to prevent the child from falling victim to any of the diseases. A key strategy is building the child's immune system. A healthy, robust immune system helps prevent an illness or minimize its effects, and the best ways to strengthen a child's immune system are through good nutrition especially aimed at boosting the immune response, and sufficient exercise as well as sleep.
What kinds of food will help my child withstand infections?
Infants benefit immeasurably from breast milk especially during the first weeks after birth, so breastfeeding should be your topmost feeding option, resorting to formula milk only if breastfeeding is not possible. Breast milk provides babies complete nourishment, but more importantly, this precious fluid contains antibodies that actively help newborns avoid diseases. This is particularly crucial in a baby's first few months of life, since its as yet very immature immune system may not be able to, on its own, effectively mount a defense against external organisms. While all infants come into this world with some immunity thanks to antibodies passed from their mothers through the placenta, breastfed babies gain more protection from the antibodies, other proteins, and immune cells in their mothers' milk. These molecules and cells help prevent microorganisms from penetrating the body's own cells.
As your child grows, add a lot of foods rich in fiber, vitamin C, and the B-vitamins, such as fruits and vegetable. Make the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables a healthy daily habit for your children.
Vitamin D is vital for babies' and children's growing bodies as it helps strengthen cell membranes to enable cells to withstand germs seeking to penetrate and destroy the cells.
All herbs that boost the immune system are helpful and should find their way to your child's diet. Provide your child with rosehip and echinacea tea, add a lot of berries to your child's meals and snacks, and help create for your child an atmosphere in which healthy eating is encouraged and enjoyed.
Should children who frequently fall ill still exercise, or are they better off conserving their energy?
Physical activity and fresh air are necessary for children and help their systems function better. Breathing exercises, running, playing ball games--anything that encourages good respiration and requires movement. Nowadays, many children are often glued to the TV or computer, and so do not get enough exercise and fresh air, both of which boost their resistance against various organisms.
Short walks outside in fresh air are vital for those children whose health and immunity are not quite so strong and who are thus susceptible to all kinds of infections. As long as you take precautions for a sickly child, and barring any serious condition in which case you should first consult your pediatrician, exercise can only do your child good. Here are some tips and reminders:
- Do not allow your child to be too active or stay too long outdoors if he or she has just had the flu.
- Do not “overdress” your child--the body can overheat.
- Do not take your child for a walk in rainy or snowy weather, especially right after he or she has had the flu.
- Do take your baby out in a pram for 20-30 minutes, and meanwhile, ventilate your premises.
- Do not expose your baby to cold weather for a prolonged period of time.
- Do have your child exercise or do physical activities in fresh air.
- Do let your baby spend some time outdoors even with the flu unless he or she has got a fever.
- Do participate in games with your children; this makes the games more exciting for them.
No parent wants to have their child catching some disease. Mild illnesses are usually seen as part and parcel of a child's growing years, but we all know that serious illnesses exist. Giving one's child the best care so that illness can be avoided is thus every parent's concern. Building the health of your child's immune system and vaccination are ways to avoid or minimize mild illnesses and ensure that your child does not ever have to suffer the terrible consequences of a serious, preventable disease.