Vaccines: 5 Ways to Optimize Your Child’s Immune Response and Reduce Vaccine Side Effects

At GetzWell, when it comes to childhood vaccination, we use up-to-date research and thoughtful consultation to help our families plan the best course of action.

We also go to great lengths to help parents understand the helpful role they play in their baby’s immunization response and experience. The following are 5 important ways we can ensure that your baby is vaccinated in the healthiest and safest way possible.

1. Build a healthy gut from the get-go.

Did you know that 60-70% of our immune system is located in our gut? It exists as a vast network of lymph tissue referred to as GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue). According to this study published in the IAVI Report, the healthier the gut and immune system, the better a child’s immune response to vaccination.

Breastfeeding and overall good nutrition provide the best foundation for building and maintaining a healthy gut and immune system. We offer expert lactation support, as well as guidance for introducing solid foods to your infant, creating a starting point toward a lifetime of healthy eating habits.

2. Breastfeed to reduce fever risk.

Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of fevers, a common vaccination side affect. As covered in a previous post, a 2010 Italian study involving 450 babies revealed that half as many infants who were exclusively breastfed developed post-vaccine fevers compared to babies who weren’t breastfed at all.

3. Make sure your baby is bug-less.

Be sure your child is completely well on a vaccination day. This means no colds, fevers, stomach viruses, or anything in between. Vaccinating when your child is well is especially critical for children under the age of one because their immune systems are immature. It’s more likely a strong and healthy immune system will be able to focus on the vaccine antigens (the substance that promotes the production of antibodies) and ensure a robust response.

4. Avoid Tylenol and Advil whenever possible.

We never recommend prophylactic (pre-vaccine) Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen), nor do we generally support acetaminophen use. Why? For one, in our experience, these medicines are almost never needed. Furthermore, studies reveal that acetaminophen is harmful to children and can blunt the immune response to vaccines.

Luckily we can recommend homeopathic medicines that not only increase post-vaccine comfort, but also may aid and protect your child’s immune system; these homeopathics have no risk of adverse effects. Arnica is one example (there are many others we can use) and it can help alleviate leg irritation resulting from an injection.

5. Make the process as painless as possible.

Reducing your baby’s pain perception and crying time is important to us. That’s why we encourage breastfeeding while vaccinating. It works wonders for comforting and pacifying infants. For non-breastfeeding parents, this study explains that the “5 S’s” approach, which consists of swaddling, side/stomach position, shushing, swinging and sucking, is helpful too.

We also administer injections using a “shot blocker”  and “Buzzy“, which are great for older kids who are no longer nursing and help take the sting out of pokes.

Let GetzWell help.

Education is the most important first step of the immunization process. At GetzWell, we lay out all of your options, thoughtfully address your concerns, and customize a vaccination plan that is right for you and your baby. Let’s start the conversation today ­– give us a call at 415.826.1701.

We also invite you to view our related posts: Dr. Getzelman’s mindful approach to vaccination and GetzWell Pediatrics is Vaccine Friendly