When Andrew Brandeis encounters patients who are skeptical about vaccines at his family-practice clinic in San Francisco, he doesn’t toe the typical pediatrician party line—that the standard vaccine schedule is a must-do. Instead, he might help the patient delay or space out their child’s shots beyond the recommendations of public-health agencies, if they so desire.
“The earlier you introduce a vaccine to a kid, there is evidence suggesting various adverse reactions,” he said. He believes early administration of the Hepatitis B vaccine is linked to allergies, asthma, and multiple sclerosis—something doctors and health agencies vehemently deny. “The parents might say, ‘I’m just going to wait on that one,’ I’d say that’s okay.”
He doesn’t actively promote this delay strategy, and he said he administers more vaccines than he avoids. Still, his own 2-year-old daughter is unvaccinated, since as Brandeis sees it, “the risks outweigh the benefits.”
The prospect of his child wheezing away with a Victorian-era infection is not his biggest fear. “Measles isn’t going to kill your kid anymore. This isn’t the late 1800s when sanitary conditions were horrible,” he said. Besides, he added, “kids are supposed to get sick; they’re supposed to get childhood illnesses, it’s what builds the immune system.” (Mainstream medical groups counter that obtaining immunity from inoculations is not deadly; meanwhile, spreading a communicable disease can cause many deaths.)