UPDATE: I have edited the free PDF download to include the most recent changes for the 2015 American Academy of Pediatrics Vaccine Schedule for persons 0-18 years. The suggested vaccine schedule is printed on the alternative full vaccination worksheet as a reference for parents.
This has been my #1 book of the year, hands down. Dr. Sears’ The Vaccine Book came to the rescue when I had too many questions about what is in vaccines, what are the risks and even more. This book actually raised and answered important questions I didn’t even know I had.
Dr. Sears goes through each vaccine, discussing the illnesses, risk factors when catching the illness, contents of the vaccine, how the vaccine is produced, and finally the known side effects and risks of getting each vaccine. With a dedicated chapter for each vaccine, the thoroughness astounded me. I didn’t realize how controversial the ingredients of vaccines really are: monkey vero cells, human aborted fetus lung tissue cultures, toxic amounts of aluminum, formaldehyde, the list goes on. The most concerning of these for me (and the reason I found this book) was the unreasonably high levels of aluminum in almost all vaccines. Dr. Sears Alternative Vaccine Schedule was exactly what I was looking for. A reasonable way to space out vaccines, getting the most relevant ones first, spacing them out so there is not a huge dose of Aluminum, yet still fully vaccinating in the end.
I jumped from the AAP schedule to Dr. Sears Alternative Schedule starting on my 2nd child’s 6 month visit. A myth dispelled by Dr. Sears is this idea that you cannot pause a series of vaccinations or that somehow if you stop on shot 2 of 3 in a series, the immunity is lost. This is a common misconception, even amongst nursing staff. In reality, stopping or pausing a vaccine series just provides partial immunity until the full series is complete. Rarely does a vaccine provide full immunity even after all series shot have been received (most lie within a 85-95% immunity).
Things you never knew, but really should have
I had never before known that a person can actually be contagious after receiving a live virus vaccine (MMR, rotavirus, and Chickenpox). There are circumstances when a person should not receive these vaccines, like when a child (or adult) lives with a pregnant women, because if the mother were to catch the virus from the vaccinated person, the unborn baby can develop abnormally.
Another noteworthy tidbit I learned was that studies show that vaccines given at a later age, specifically after a baby is 18 months old, provide greater immunity, particularly with live virus vaccines. If you wait until a child is 18 months or older to receive the first MMR and Chickenpox vaccine, you can actually do a titer blood test to test immunity: a booster shot may not be needed if immunity is high enough.
In short, The Vaccine Book was the most informative, page turning book I have read all year. If you aren’t a parent, this book might be irrelevant. For moms and dads, it is like water on a sponge. It gave me the information I need to make powerful, important choices for my child’s health. Instead of trusting pediatric associations, government regulators, and drug manufacturing companies, I now have the power of knowledge on my side.
But beware: it is a book that will change your mind so much that you will feel compelled to act, to change how you approach vaccines. Before reading The Vaccine Book, I was convinced that the actual virus component of vaccines was no big deal, as we come in contact with millions of germs, viruses, bacteria, and other foreign bodies daily. What harm could come from a couple more germs, every few months through injection? Dr. Sears had a compelling argument against this way of thinking: the germs and viruses we encounter daily are by way of our skin, digestive tract, or airways. These points of entrance have defenses, filters, and barriers that rarely let any unwanted foreign bodies into our blood stream and internal body. Vaccines are injected directly into the muscle and circulatory system. Huge difference! Dr. Sear’s response to this problem is to space out these viruses entering the blood stream so that the child’s immune system can respond without being overwhelmed. Seems like a no-brainer.
Please note that The Vaccine Book is NOT anti-vax. Dr. Sears own response to such allegations:
I would like to take this opportunity to clear the record regarding The Vaccine Book and my own professional opinions on vaccines. I believe that Dr. Offit has greatly misrepresented the overall message of the book as being ‘anti-vaccine.’ In fact, the book encourages parents to vaccinate their children. In order to give parents a complete educational experience, while presenting all the ‘pros’ of vaccines I felt it was important to list the ‘cons’ as well by discussing the potential side effects from the vaccine product inserts (while emphasizing how rare any severe reactions are). I also discuss the reasons why some parents choose not to vaccinate so that the readers can understand what these parents’ issues are. I believe that vaccine books that only show one side of the issue aren’t an effective educational tool. That’s why I present both sides.
The Alternative Vaccine Schedule Printable
While reading The Vaccine Book, I found I wanted a chart of the alternative schedule to start making notes for the doctor’s office visit. I made this two-page chart to keep track of vaccines, manufacturer, etc. Download the PDF worksheet I created by clicking on this link (it will open the PDF in a browser window and you can print it from there). Dr. Sears Alternative Vaccine Schedule Parent Worksheet