The debate surrounding vaccination is an emotional one at the best of times. There are more than two sides to this heated discussion, and nobody's opinions or personal experiences can ever be written off as wrong.
The majority of my naturopathic work revolves around babies and children, and on a daily basis I am asked my opinions on Immunisation. Instead of offering opinions, I'd like to put forward some unbiased advice on 'how to vaccinate as safely as possible'. Of course, this is not a failsafe plan, but if I can at least provide you with this information, it may help parents and carers make more informed decisions about the when/where/what's of vaccinating their child.
Firstly, I'd like to point out that vaccines stimulate the immune system. This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but it's important that everyone understands this because of the points I will make very shortly. Vaccines stimulate a part of the immune system called the 'Th1 Immunity'. This facet of the immune system is responsible for infections such as Viruses, Bacteria and other things pathogenic in nature.
It's is for this reason that if your child is already suffering from an infection at the time of scheduled vaccination, I would recommend postponing it until the infection has cleared completely. On top of this, if your child is showing any signs of acute allergic response such as hayfever, hives or even digestive disturbances such as diarrhea, I would also recommend postponing vaccinations until the symptoms have subsided.
On a similar note, if your child has recently completed a round of Antibiotics, I would strongly recommend you reinstate the gut flora by working with a Naturopath, or by using the correct probiotics, before resuming the vaccine schedule.
Any child who is using steroid medications - topical creams, Ventolin (at a high/acute dose only, low dose is ok), or internal corticosteroid medications- these medications can supress the natural immune response, so I would suggest either seeking Naturopathic advice regarding underlying conditions prior, and/or separating out the vaccines instead of administering the full schedule all at once.
A child with a known Egg Allergy needs to be careful with the MMR vaccine, and also the Flu vaccine, as both of these contain carrier ingredients derived from egg. If you are unsure or have any concerns, contact your local vaccine provider to discuss this matter.
Children who are immune impaired for either medical reasons, or who have been on multiple rounds, or high strength antibiotics- please be mindful of the live virus vaccines such as the MMR, Chickenpox, Gastro, and the Flu shot. Speak to your practitioner before scheduling these… On the same note, a child who is living with a person currently undergoing immune-suppressive therapy (eg, for cancer treatment) should be mindful that the live viruses can be transferred.
If you are happy that all of the above has been covered, and your child is booked in for their scheduled shots, there are many things you can do to minimise any side effects the shots may stir up. The majority of side effects come in the form of allergic reactions to the adjuvants (carriers and preservatives) within the vaccines. In order to reduce the potential for reactions to these, a multifaceted approach is required, but to put it simply, we need to encourage and support the body's natural immunity and detoxification processes, so that any undesirable ingredients are helped out of the body as quickly as possible.
Before Vaccinating- and On the Day
Vitamin C- Being a powerful antioxidant as well as a precursor to Glutathione in the liver, Vitamin C has the ability to neutralize toxins, heavy metals and pathogens. It can also improve the effectiveness of vaccines. I recommend a course of Vitamin C both prior to, during and post-vaccination, in a non-acidic form such as Calcium Ascorbate or any buffered vitamin C, in particular with bioflavonoids added. (A whole-food, powdered Vitamin C supplement is also a great option). Dosages will range by weight of the child, from 500mg/day, up to 4000-5000mg/day for an older child. Please seek advice from a professional before administering this to a young child.
Fish Oil- In particular, the EPA component of Fish oil, helps to modulate the immune response (reduce it) and can help to curb any potential reactions to the shot. Studies show that if you take
EPA oil one hour before injecting a very powerful adjuvant called lipopolysaccharide (LPS),
it can block the ability of the LPS to cause brain inflammation.
Zinc- Zinc is a free radical scavenger, and also helps to modulate the immune response. Statistics show that children who are deficient in Zinc have a higher reaction rate to vaccines. It is required for methylation and detoxification of drugs in the liver. A dosage of 25mg- 50mg/day is a good start, and if there are any signs of a Zinc deficiency, it might be wise to supplement for 2-4weeks prior to vaccinating. Signs of a Zinc deficiency are; white spots on fingernails, constant blocked sinuses or runny nose; skin conditions such as eczema.
N-Acetyl Cysteine- or NAC, is a precursor to Glutathione in the liver, which is your number powerhouse when it comes to detoxifying toxins and heavy metals. It is not necessary to supplement, or 'load' with NAC prior to vaccinating, but It is very useful both on the day and afterwards, to minimize reactions and detoxify any adjuvants out of the body quickly.
Please speak to a professional regarding dosages of this for children.
Vitamin D- This is worth mentioning, because if your levels are too low then the immune system may react in a more pronounced manner to anything (including vaccines). If you are vaccinating in Winter, have dark skin, or have a known reason for being particularly low in Vitamin D, consider supplementing this throughout the Winter to maintain good levels.
Juices, Fresh Fruit and Vegetables- These should be a standard in your child's regular diet anyway, but brightly coloured Fresh fruits and Vegetables are packed with antioxidants, which can help to scavange free radicals and toxins in the bloodstream. They are full of Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, carotenes, and much more. Fresh juices made from Carrots, citrus, beetroot, ginger, apples, pineapples, and pretty much any brightly coloured fruits or vegetables, made both on the day, and the day after, will help boost your child's immunity.
Fevers, reactions and more…
If your child gets a localised 'reaction', as in a red lump at the site of injection- simply try a cold pack on the site. This will slow down any localised immune response and histamine release.
Fevers are, for most part, a natural immune response. It is ok to let a fever run, as long as it doesn't run for too long. I don’t recommend the use of Panadol or Nurofen as a prophylactic, as it puts more load on the liver Sulfation pathways. These pathways will be required to detoxify the carriers and preservatives in the vaccination, so try and give as little medication as possible. (Of course, you want your child to be comfortable, and sleep is always a great remedy for reactions, so use anything you need to help them settle properly).
There are a myriad of homeopathic remedies which can be applied for fevers, pain, and reactions, but I will not cover those in this article- for more information on these, please contact your local practitioner or even the staff at the health food store may be helpful on this matter.
At the end of the day, as it stands in this country right now, the choice of whether or not to vaccinate is YOURS. I hope that this article helps shed some light on how to go about it in a manner that makes you, as a parent or carer, feel as though you have some sort of knowledge, so that you can intervene and support your child through the process.
I would strongly recommend that you seek guidance from a professional if you believe, for any reason, that your child may react to vaccinations. Remember that this has been written as a guide, and NO two children will ever present with the same issues.