Q&A with Jay Gordon, M.D.


Cookie Magazine

Why do you advocate staggering vaccines?
I think the immune system, like every other system of the body, matures slowly, and that it can better tolerate viral infection at older ages and better tolerate one virus at a time. The other thing is that vaccines all contain other ingredients. They contain aluminum, they contain tiny bits of formalin [an aqueous solution of formaldahyde]. So I recommend waiting as long as parents are comfortable, and vaccinating very, very slowly. I also ask parents to wait at least six months before the first vaccine. I prefer to wait a year. I have patients who choose to get no vaccines at all, and I support that. I have patients who choose to get almost no vaccines at all, and I support that. I have patients who choose every vaccine except this one or that one; I support that.

What do you think are the risks of vaccinating a newborn or 1-month-old?
The first part of my answer is: I don’t know. And that bothers me. [In my practice] I have a natural orientation, but when I give medication, I can usually explain the side effects and what causes them. What bothers me is that when I give vaccines and I see side effects, I don’t know what causes them. I think that there is a so-called neuro-immune response, where the immune system and the central nervous system have complex interactions, and I think that there can be problems.

What are some of the side effects you’ve seen besides fever and bruises?
I’ve seen kids who developed autism shortly after vaccination. When I first went into practice in the ’80s, I would get a lot of phone calls from moms, and they would say, “You know, after the shots, she’s just acting a little different. Is that normal?” And I’d say, “Yes it is.” And they’d call back a week later and say, “He’s still a little bit off. I can’t quite describe it.” That scared me.

Now, many people would argue that vaccines are only for the better. I would say that there’s no free lunch; it is lovely to be immune to whooping cough, but if I have to diminish your health a little bit to do that, I have to hesitate. Integrity demands that I tell you other parts of the story: I saw one child who developed seizures two days after her two-month appointment, and she didn’t get any shots. It’s true that the onset of autism often coincides with the time that kids are getting their shots. But the vast majority of times that I see a temporal relationship, I’m assuming it’s not a coincidence.

I am 100 percent convinced that vaccines, while creating some excellent public health benefits, also create problems. I’ve been doing this for 29 years. I’ve watched it really closely, and I’ve seen kids who get shots undergo changes.

Why is there so much controversy specifically about the MMR vaccination?
It’s a live-virus vaccine. A live-virus vaccine, in order to work, creates a little bit of an infection. And when you get measles, you get it through your nose and your throat, [which triggers a very specific immune response.] When we inject measles, we are bypassing that system and going right into the bloodstream. And we’re finding that yes, there can be some impact on the intestinal tract and to the brain from the measles vaccine. And it’s a vaccine of almost no benefit to American children, one by one. Now, in terms of public health, I don’t want to be the guy who said, “Boy, this vaccine stinks.” It doesn’t stink. It works very, very well. The reason we don’t have measles in America is because the vaccine works great. But sit down, please. Let’s talk about the fact that your cousin and your other cousin both have autism. Or that your son has some questionable neurological issues, he seems to be speaking or walking a little later. I don’t want to mess with him.

What about the ethyl mercury compound thimerasol in vaccines?
Here’s what people are saying in America: “Look, we took all the mercury out of the vaccines. And there’s still a rise in autism.” But they didn’t take the mercury out of the vaccines. The flu shot recommended for your 6-month child on up? It has 25 micrograms of mercury. The tetanus booster that your 7-year-old gets for a rusty nail? 26 micrograms of mercury. So, they’re lying. [Note: Go to fda.gov to see current amounts of thimerasol in vaccines; most are thimerosal-free.]

What does it mean to “green our vaccines”?
Right now we’re creating vaccines using ingredients that are cheap preservatives, but it could be done better. It means, let’s see if we can get the aluminum out of them. Let’s see if we can get the formaldehyde out of them. Let’s see if we can produce them in a way that makes a little more sense for safety.

What do you say about reports that in a certain subset of people who have a genetic disposition, vaccines and other environmental factors might trigger autism?
I am 100 percent certain. The NIH child health division has a poster that says, “Genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.” And that was invented mostly for pesticides and cleaning fluids underneath your sink. But we know that there is a genetic predisposition for diabetes, but you need a trigger. They’ve done identical-twin studies, one gets it one doesn’t. What the hell happened? We know there’s a genetic predisposition to autism, but I don’t think that accounts for all cases.

How do you reconcile the notion of not vaccinating with the public health benefit that you mentioned earlier?
I think that the public health benefits to vaccinating are grossly overstated. I think that if we spent as much time telling people to breastfeed or to quit eating cheese and ice cream, we’d save more lives than we save with the polio vaccine.


Jay Gordon, MD is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UCLA Medical School Former Senior Fellow in Pediatric Nutrition, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute