When my kids were little, docs were so hostile to parents questioning vaccine safety that many would tell parents to find another physician if they even wanted to consider alternative vaccination schedules. The only pertussis vaccine was whole cell. Live polio vaccine was primarily used. We were told these were safe. We now know that whole cell pertussis is associated with seizures and neurologic problems, and that live polio can lead to polio infection in those vaccinated and close contacts. We now know that the thimerosol (a vaccine preservative) our kids were getting is completely unsafe. The initial rotavirus vaccine – well, it was a small disaster. Needless to say, the science of vaccinations continues to evolve, and with it, what we are told or know is safe also evolves. It is no wonder that parents are concerned.

One strategy that some parents believe mitigates potential adverse vaccine effects is alternative vaccines schedules, delaying the administration of some shots, reducing the number of shots in any single doctor’s appointment – and sometimes foregoing certain vaccinations, for example, varicella (chicken pox).

Some parents have found understanding, or at least tolerant, pediatricians and family doctors willing to support them in using an alternative vaccination schedule while other parents have been told to take their business elsewhere if they don’t want to vaccinate conventionally. Worse yet, some parents have found themselves accused of being child abusers for even suggesting an alternative schedule.

A recent study suggests that tides might be changing amongst pediatricians and their attitudes toward alternative immunization schedules. Amongst 311 pediatricians completing the survey, 61% reported said they were comfortable using an “alternative childhood immunization schedule” (ACIS). Private docs were more likely to be comfortable than those in community clinic type settings, though 95% of all of the pediatricians surveyed said that they would use the conventional vaccine schedule for their own kids. The survey was in Washington state, and may not be generally representative, but it was published in Pediatrics suggesting it is a topic that many physicians treating kids are interested in. And the good news is that the conversation is happening. If you are considering an ACIS for your kids, this article might be a good resource to share with your kids’ doctor. Other sensible resources include my book, Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guild, and Dr Sears’ The Vaccine Book.

Here’s a link to the Pediatrics article:

Wightman A et al. Washington State Pediatricians’ Attitudes Toward Alternative Childhood Immunization Schedules


  1. I am wondering if you have revised your opinions on vaccinations since going through allopathic medical school, and if you will be putting out a revised edition to your vaccination book. I have used it as one of my primary resources regarding vaccinations, and so am very interested to hear if you have any new research or insights to add!

  2. We are still trying to negotiate our alternative schedule and decide in what order to do the vaccinations we feel are the most important. Do you have an alternative schedule you wouldn’t mind sharing? Are there vaccinations you believe should be given before others and/or are there some we could avoid. We have your book on vaccinations, “A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide,” but we have felt somewhat paralyzed by all of the information out there so I’m hoping to receive some guidance from a trusted professional to move forward in a reasonable way for our now 5 and 6 year old. Thanks!

    • Hi Trisha,
      Thank you for writing to me and valuing my opinion with your important question. I would so love to be able to answer. Unfortunately, I can’t answer each individual question AND I can do much better justice to health questions in an appointment…

      My NEW! Integrative TeleWellness Consultations may be a great option for you if you’d like to discuss your health and wellness concerns with an expert in Integrative and Functional Medicine for women and children, and you don’t have this option in your community, or if are unable to come to see me in NYC when my practice opens in late autumn (2015).

      Although I cannot diagnose you, order labs or prescriptions, or treat you or your children without an initial in person appointment, I can provide a thorough discussion of your current health-related questions and concerns, including reviewing your health history and laboratory results, helping you to make sense of how you might bring an Integrative, Functional Wellness approach into your health and wellness goals.
      Based on our conversation and information you might provide ahead of time, I can offer a set of Integrative/Functional Medicine suggestions that you can discuss with your local doctors to see whether those would fit into your current health plan.
      If you would like more information, or to schedule an appointment, please go here:
      If you would like to join my practice in the autumn, please check back on my website in late autumn for booking information.

      Another option would be to join me in in my Healthy All Year Program There are two talks specifically on the topic of vaccines, one with Dr. Bob Sears, where we discuss in detail your question, as well as a talk I recorded on the vaccine decision. The answer is often bigger than a one size fits all approach hence the reason I created courses like this!

      With warmest wishes,

  3. Thank you so much for providing this information on alternative vaccination schedules. Have you found that parents have had problems enrolling their children in pre-scool up through university if using an alternative vaccination schedule?

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