Vaccine Risks- A True Balancing Act

risk3Vaccines do carry risks.

The diseases that are preventable by vaccines have risks.

The challenge for a parent is this: who do you listen to?  There seems to be the constant drum beat of mainstream medicine, the CDC, the NIH, the AAP, the local Health Department, and even the local media, saying “vaccines have been proven to be safe”.  I had a reporter recently decline to interview me on the very important study just published in JAMA February 13, 2013 showing autism rates in Norway of 1 in 1000 for mom’s who take folate. I was pointing out the interesting fact that they do not routinely give newborns the Hepatitis B vaccine with it’s 250 micrograms of aluminum, and that autism rates here in the USA where we routinely give the Hepatitis B vaccine was 1 in 100 during the same time period. Her response was that her producer would not allow her to run a program that would upset the health department.

I was about to give a presentation to a group of parents here in the Portland area for autism awareness, and due to some complaints by a few vocal parents I was canceled when they determined that I might not be speaking the party line and be in 100% support of the CDC vaccine guidelines. 

You will hear and read what the establishment wants you to hear and read.  Thankfully, we live in a new world where information cannot be kept from those of us who care to look for it.  You will hear that there are no peer review studies that show vaccines cause any harm or you will hear that vaccines have been “proven” to be safe.

In my practice, I have hundreds of autistic children. In virtually all but one of these families, the story is the same if they have multiple kids; first child is autistic, the family decides not to vaccinate or to be more careful in how they vaccinate the subsequent children, and the subsequent child or children are either normal or less severe.  This past year, I have a new family that joined my practice where the first two children are neuro-typical and the third child is autistic. I asked what they did for vaccines for the first two children.  “Oh, we didn’t vaccinate them,” they replied. “But our pediatrician convinced us that vaccines had been proven not to be linked to autism, so we vaccinated our third child”.  

Now, these stories don’t prove the link and I’m sharing them only to give an honest disclosure of my experience.  Given that in my city of Portland, I am perhaps the one Pediatrician to whom a large number of autistic families come seeking guidance; I have a much greater number of families than your typical Pediatrician. I have several new autism patients joining my practice weekly.  Most pediatricians see about 2-4  newborns a month having, 50-100 new babies a year in their practice, so they may see one new case of autism a year.  This keeps the experience rare enough that they don’t have a real sense of cause and effect.  I am starting to survey my patients to see if they have any risk factors or if there was any relationship between vaccines and the development of autism in their child.  The second response to my survey was one where a 15 month old developed seizures within hours of getting the MMR and regressed into severe autism. I hear stories like this more often than I care to admit. When the survey is completed I will share the details.

I encourage parents to read Dr Sear’s “The Vaccine Book” for a good review of the importance of vaccines.  It is also a good reference for exactly what is in each vaccine.  Dr Sears makes a brave attempt to give parents some options for a safer way to vaccinate. 

The difficult challenge is to balance real risks of not vaccinating (example- pertussis/whooping-cough kills infants) but the vaccine contains a large dose of aluminum.

Do you inject 330 micrograms of aluminum into a pregnant mom when this dose of aluminum has never been tested in pregnancy and almost certainly is a toxic dose? Premature infants should not get more than 4-5 micrograms per kilo of bodyweight each day.  My personal preference, if it was my wife and unborn child, would be to vaccinate all the family and care givers including mom after the baby is born and then if my family doesn’t have risk factors for autism or severe auto-immune disorders, I would give my baby the DTaP on the usual schedule to get added protection to at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age.  I would have a really hard time living with myself if my baby died of pertussis as an infant when I could have prevented that with a vaccine. At the same time however, last year the published risk of having a subsequent child with autism if you already had one, was 23% (almost 1 in 4).  If I had one autistic child, would I vaccinate the next one?  I think not ….  THERE is NO EASY ANSWER.

I give credit to the National Vaccine Information Center for compiling some studies that show vaccine risks.  This is part of the story that must be told.–Know-the-risks-and-failures-.aspx

The truth shall set us free.  Fear not information.  
If you meet the person who says they have it all figured out:  RUN!


Dr. Paul



  • Angela Gunther

    I think your book idea, compiling the data from your practice, is great! I’ve been thinking it would be nice to compile all of the stories of families with autistic kids to see if there were recurring themes. Could you tell me what your advice would be for the chicken pox vaccine? Thank you!

    • For parents who do NOT want their child to suffer through the illness of chicken pox, I would have your child get that vaccine. I tend to think it OK to wait until they are at least 3 years old, but it is approved and recommended to be given at age one. For parents who are wanting their child to get natural immunity to varicella, then I would wait until they were teens and vaccinate at that time if they have not had natural chicken pox. While most of us had chicken pox and it is very annoying but rarely harmful, I did care for a child who died from chicken pox 20 years ago. I suspect that family had an unknown immune deficiency as there was another sibling who almost died.

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