Our species’ immune system – a one-trillion-cell army that patrols our (100-trillion-cell) body – serves two main purposes. It destroys foreign invaders – viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. And it destroys aberrant cells in the body that run amuck and cause cancer. Behind the barricades of skin and mucosa, our innate immune system (composed of phagocytes, natural killer cells, and the 20-protein complement system), which all animals have, is the body’s first line of defense. It reacts to invaders lightening fast and indiscriminately, but it is not very good at eliminating viruses and cancerous cells. Vertebrates have evolved a second line of defense – the adaptive immune system. It targets specific viruses and bacteria and has better artillery for eliminating cancerous cells. This system matures during childhood, and it has a cellular (Th1) and humoral (Th2) component (Th = helper T cell).
The viruses that cause measles, mumps, and chickenpox have infected countless generations of humans, akin to a rite of passage for each member of our species. Contracting these diseases strengthens both parts of the adaptive immune system (Th1 and Th2 ). Mothers who have had measles, mumps, and chickenpox transfer antibodies against them to their babies in utero, which protect them during the first year of life from contracting these infections. Vaccinations do not have the same effect on the immune system as naturally acquired diseases do. They stimulate predominantly the Th2 part of this system and not Th1. (Over-stimulation of Th2 causes autoimmune diseases.) The cellular Th1 side thwarts cancer, and if it does not become fully developed in childhood a person can be more prone to have cancer as an adult. Women who had mumps during childhood, for example, are found to be less likely to have ovarian cancer than women who did not have this infection. (This study was published in Cancer.) Could the fact that cancer has become a leading cause of death in children be a result of vaccinations? Only a randomized controlled trial can conclusively answer this question
With rare exception, a well-nourished child who contracts measles will recover smoothly from the infection. Fifty years ago almost all children in the U.S. had measles. And after contracting this disease, one has life-long immunity to it. The protection provided by vaccination is temporary. Adults who contract measles (when the protective effects of the vaccine wears off) are much more likely to have neurological, testicular, and ovarian complications. Likewise, rubella is a benign disease in children, but if a woman acquires it during pregnancy fetal malformations may develop. One can argue, heretical as such an argument may be, that it would be better to let children have measles, at an age when the infection helps the adaptive immune system mature in a balanced Th1/Th2 fashion and complications from this disease are minimal, rather than vaccinate them against this disease (especially considering the risks of vaccination).
Pertussis and Diphtheria are a different matter. These diseases are more virulent. Children who contract whooping cough (pertussis) can be incapacitated for more than a month. Polio can be devastating in susceptible individuals. And no one wants to get tetanus (lockjaw). A user-friendly vaccination schedule would include vaccines against these diseases.
Whatever vaccination schedule one chooses, mothers should breast-feed their child for as long as possible – a year or more. Failing that, add Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA (docosahexanoic acid), to the child’s formula.
In summary, this is a vaccination schedule that I would recommend:
1. No vaccinations until a child is two years old.
2. No vaccines that contain thimerosal (mercury).
3. No live virus vaccines (except for smallpox, should it recur).
4. These vaccines, to be given one at a time, every six months, beginning at age 2:
a. Pertussis (acellular, not whole cell)
d. Polio (the Salk vaccine, cultured in human cells)
American children are the most highly vaccinated kids in the world. This schedule is an alternative to the one that rules our "vaccine nation" (as the Village Voice terms it). In contrast to the CDC’s immunization schedule, it is user-friendly.