Timing of Vaccination–Your Doctor Knows Best, Right??

Let’s get something out of the way right now.  The immune system in an infant is malleable and very susceptible to influence up until about 2 years of age.

This can be good or bad.

Good if it’s the right choices.  Breast feeding until at least 6 months.  Vaginal birth or at least not a planned C-section (it seems like the induction of labor, whether delivered by the vaginal route or C-section, is an important determining event).  Exposure to the right blend of bacteria through breast milk and / or supplementation.

Bad if it’s introduction of solid foods (especially grains) before 6 months of age.  Bad if we rely on dairy products.  EXTREMELY bad if antibiotics are used in the first 2 years of life.  Processed food choices.  Tylenol is not good for the developing immune system.  Bad if it’s vaccination before 2 years of age.

What??  Vaccination??  But we recommend some 25 vaccinations (not counting the flu vaccine) before the baby is 2 years old, so this can’t be correct.

It’s a dirty little secret that is never mentioned by your pediatrician.  Worse, if you asked, they might give you the blank stare of a doctor who hasn’t cracked a medical journal since med school.

In general, the goal of a vaccine is to stimulate an immune response.  Since the thing vaccinated against (such as a bacteria or virus) is usually not strong enough to wake up the immune system, vaccine manufacturers use what is called an adjuvant.  Most commonly the compound alum is used, and alum is well-known to elicit a Th2 response by the body.

“What’s a Th2 response?” you ask?  In general, the immune system has two arms–the guard dogs (Th2) and the attack dogs (Th1).  We need a healthy balance between the two.  Throwing this balance off kilter can lead to diseases like allergies, asthma and autoimmune conditions, and the first two years of life are absolutely critical to developing this balance.  This is why all the factors, both pro and con, noted above are so critical.  They all play a role in programming your little one for his or her immune future.

Back to alum.  It is a chemical used in vaccines to force your immune system to react more aggressively to whatever the vaccine is trying to protect against.  This creates a Th2 shift in the immune system–it’s what it is supposed to do.  The problem is that this throws off the balance of a developing immune system.  Couple this with wanton antibiotic use and you’ve got the perfect recipe for allergies and asthma.

This is the little tidbit pediatricians never seem to bring up when a parent questions the wisdom of vaccinations.

So what does all of this have to do with this particular study?  In it, researchers looked at a measles outbreak that occurred in a high school in Canada to see if the timing of the two doses of measles vaccination had any impact on the child’s risk of getting the measles.  The results may be a little shocking:

  1. There were 102 cases and these were matched to 510 controls.
  2. Most of the cases (89%) were in patients 13 to 17 years old.
  3. If that child had his or her first measles vaccination at 12 to 13 months (current CDC recommendations) instead of after 15 months of age, the risk of measles was 6 times higher.

Six times higher.  And I have heard some suggesting that we delay certain vaccinations for the reasons noted above.  These vocal people suggesting delay are usually slammed by other commenters on message boards that there is no evidence that delaying vaccinations is a good idea.  Apparently these commenters are not reading pediatric medical journals like this one.

Overall, this clearly goes back to messing with the immune system at a critical time in its development.  Always remember that the first 2 years are critical.  Do everything you can in this timeframe to NOT mess with the immune system.  Let Mother Nature do what she is supposed to do and don’t think you can second-guess her wisdom.


For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.