The vaccine-autism debate has been heating up within recent weeks — from criticism over Jenny McCarthy’s vaccination beliefs on Twitter to a University of California, San Diego, study providing definitive proof that autism begins during pregnancy. Dr. Stacia Kenet Lansman, founder of Pediatric Alternatives, located in Marin County in Northwest California, has built her practice supporting the mentality of many parents — an “open-minded vaccine policy” for kids — adding more fire to the hot, controversial topic. The pediatrician emphasizes in her 16 years of practice, she’s never had a child come down with a “serious, life-threatening, vaccine-preventable illness,” Lansman told Mother Jones in a video interview.
Lansman’s open-minded vaccine policy focuses on health, not illness. She bases her strategy on what diseases are prevalent in her community, but she admits, she and the parents she treats can afford to be choosy about when they vaccinate, for now. A personal concern for the pediatrician is that babies are getting too many vaccines at too young of an age. “We do vaccinate with the DTaP, which is the vaccine for pertussis, or whooping cough," Lansman said in the video. Marin County had California’s second-highest rate of whooping cough infections last year. However, when it comes to the MMR vaccine — an immunization vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella — she postpones the vaccine in her office.
Although she is aware the medical community has disproven the claim between the MMR vaccine and autism, Lansman believes in delaying the vaccine during a vulnerable development window and instead administering it at age 3. The pediatrician acknowledges that although she knows there’s no actual proof that the MMR vaccine causes autism, allergies, or other diseases, she “anecdotally” has seen otherwise. She emphasizes it’s not that she doesn’t believe in vaccinating, but rather she believes in delaying vaccinations. “There is a fear of illness that I think is unnecessary, although diseases can be serious, they challenge immune system in a way to strengthen it,” Lansman said. “We do not need to be so afraid of some of these illnesses.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children be given the first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 to 16 months of age, and the second four weeks later, although it is usually given at the start of kindergarten between ages 4 and 6.