The Primal Parent

How To Be a Responsible Parent Of Unvaccinated Kids by Boosting Natural Immunity


Those that do vaccinate think everyone who doesn’t is a careless hippy. And those that don’t, think everyone who does is ignorant.

Personally, I think you’ve got to be a little off your rocker either way. Do or don’t, you’re making a big decision upon which the fate of your children may rest. They might either suffer immune system deficiencies and/or severe side effects from the vaccine additives, or they may contract one of these diseases for which there is no cure.

Both outcomes should get you thinking. I don’t think it’s a no-brainer.

A Disease Ridden World

The modern world is full of disease. Our relationship with domestic livestock has created an undeniable threat to our health (See Guns Germs and Steel).

Can you take away vaccines for a population that is dependent upon livestock and nutrient deficient foods? Probably not. However, have we figured out the right formula for vaccines? Thimerosal, aluminum, formaldehyde, egg and yeast proteins? I don’t think so. Should we have a choice which risks we choose to take? Definitely. 

Pros and Cons of Vaccinating

Cons of Vaccinating

  • Vaccines contain harmful additives which can cause any number of side effects including neurological damage. There are countless accounts of the damage vaccines have done to children.
  • Vaccines often don’t work anyway. In Washington last year, 77% of kids that got whooping cough were vaccinated.
  • Some vaccine’s efficacy wanes over time.
  • Vaccines lower the immune system by not giving it a chance to build immunity on its own. This in turn makes children more susceptible to curable diseases and incurable diseases for which there are not yet vaccines. Frequent illness lowers the quality of life.
  • Parents often think that since their kids are vaccinated they don’t need to worry about strengthening their kid’s immune systems.

Our planet is overpopulated and many of our people malnourished and unhealthy. Disease is rampant and our immune systems must wage a constant battle against it. This is not a battle that nature ever intended it to fight. Definitely not a battle that a malnourished body can be expected to fight. To some, this is reason enough to get vaccinated and to fight for a vaccinated population.

I can’t blame them. As a society we are irresponsible and ignorant about smart food choices. We are overwhelmed and lazy when it comes to food and exercise.

Pros of Vaccinating

  • Parents can worry less about the diseases their kids are vaccinated for.
  • Parents can choose a modified vaccination schedule that avoids unnecessary, money-making vaccines like chicken pox and the flu shot.
  • Kids can eat whatever they want and still remain protected against those and just those diseases vaccinated for (supposedly).
  • Parents don’t have to suffer guilt trips.
  • The immune system can be strengthened naturally, which can help kids and adults heal from the damage done by vaccines.

12 Ways to Boost the Immune System Naturally

If you decide not to vaccinate (or even if you do vaccinate) there are many steps you can take to ensure your child has a robust immune system. As a parent of unvaccinated children, I consider this my social responsibility.

  1. Eat nutrients with every single meal and snack – that means no fast food devoid anything nutritious, no boxed cereals, no sugar but on special occasion, no pasteurized juices (tons of sugar!), no sodas, and instead plenty of healthy meats, healthy fats, vegetables, roots, and a little fruit.
  2. Keep inflammation low by eating fish, phytochemicals, by avoiding sugar and PUFAs, and keeping weight down.
  3. Consume raw and fermented foods for a healthy gut.
  4. Play outside in the dirt.
  5. Get exercise.
  6. Get sunscreen-free sunshine - Vitamin D boosts the immune system.
  7. Allow fevers to take their course - fevers are one of the immune system’s tools for killing bacteria and viruses.
  8. Don’t use medicine except when truly necessary – life is full of pain and always has been. Kids and babies can handle it.
  9. Don’t use antibacterial washes and don’t be overly clean.
  10. Lower stress – stress hurts the immune system.
  11. Love and respect your children.
  12. Get adequate sleep. This may be obvious but many children go to bed too late so I thought it was worth mentioning. Keeping children up late can disturb their hormone balance so be sure to get them to sleep early!

Following the above strategies will protect us from disease but our diets and lifestyles won’t always make us impenetrable. Vulnerability happens. In this modern world we can get a little lax with our diets from time to time, our kids might grow up and ignore every word we ever said, family members undermine our efforts. Don’t expect that your children will never get sick. They might. But if they do, chances are their immune systems will be strong enough to keep symptoms mild.

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  1. Pingback: Unvaccinated Kids Put Vaccinated Kids At Risk? Not So Fast! | The Primal Parent

  2. Thank you for this reassuring post. As you know, people demonize parents who don’t vaccinate, and it’s comforting to have help explaining to others why I choose not to. We’re of generally healthy ilk, and now that we don’t eat modern trash food, I feel confident to not vaccinate.

    Being socially responsible to most people IS vaccinating…they don’t think about the load they put on society, the planet, the health care system, etc, etc….by eating junk food and sucking down every pill and shot their doctor prescribes.

    Both of my kids are completely un-vaccinated. My 2.25 year old got the flu with the rest of us last year…it lasted a few hours and was over, for each of us. My 10 month old has NEVER been sick. Not even a runny nose. Kids are supposed to have what, 8-12 colds per year?? The only thing he had was a horrible rash…I found it was something I was consuming, omitted it, and the rash disappeared. Easy. People underestimate the powers of food and are brainwashed into thinking everything is a doctor’s business when they are “for emergency use only”!

    We use homeopathy for everything from bug bites, to teething, to bumps and bruises…and that flu! We even use homeopathic nosodes for vaccination against polio, hepatitus, MMR, on so on.

    Outside of that, I agree completely with keeping sugar out of picture. There are no picky, cranky, sugar-addicted, snot-nosed kids in this house as a result. My 10 month old is still exclusively breast fed, but my older “baby” eats liver, any meat for that matter…onions, asparagus, sauerkraut…she’s never seen a pop tart and I watch other people like a hawk…they’re always trying to give her graham crackers, or cookies. The kid will eat foie gras and kale like it’s going out of season, I’m so proud of her.

    Loved this article, it got me fired up…obviously!

    • Kim, do you have any good websites or resources on homeopathy? I’d be very interested in reading quality information, especially about the nosodes you mentioned.

    • Kim, your house and your experience sound a lot like mine! When Evelyn was a baby (up to 3 years) I watched like a hawk what went into her mouth too. I refused processed foods all the time. I NEVER gave in. She didn’t know what they were and as a result never asked for it (or cried and kicked and screamed for it is more like it). She has had I think two colds in her entire life (almost 7yrs now) which both only lasted a couple days and weren’t even enough to keep her in bed, she’s never had the flu. She is so healthy it makes life so easy and we never get stuck sitting around because we’re sick. We just never get sick!

    • totally inspired Kim,x

  3. How comforting to know that we don’t have to do anything special, just raise our paleo kids!

    I think in my case the only way I would reevaluate my stance on vaccines is if I had a child with physical or mental disabilities. They are more prone to illness, and I would wonder if in that case vaccines could be the safer option.

    • In my case, physical and mental disabilities were the RESULT of vaccines.

      Of course, there were others factors at play (I think this is true of all vaccination horror stories): During delivery my head was severely bruised– what medical genius came up with the idea that forceps could trump hands? I got all my shots and would get sick every time afterwards. I had frequent ear infections before the age of 1 and was constantly on antibiotics.

      After one fever at the age of 2, I stopped talking.

      But I still got my vaccines on schedule. My mother did not even consider that they were harming me.

      If a pre-existing physical or mental disability involves the immune system, the gut, the brain, or the endocrine system in any way, I would think long and hard about my doctor’s recommendations to vaccinate.

    • If your child has a compromised immune system, I would think really carefully about whether you want to vaccinate. My own personal experience (oldest w/ undiagnosed celiac at the time) and later research is that vaccines can be esp risky for kids with compromised immunity.

  4. Peggy, I am so disappointed with this post! I usually agree with you almost 100%, but not on this one. It seems like you are saying “Well if you’re going to resign yourself to letting Big Agro and corporate interests influence you on what you should eat and feed your kids, then you’re going to have to let Big Pharma come in and give you a solution.” It’s like, ‘problem, reaction, solution’. Big Agro and Big Pharma create the problem (lowered immunity from eating junk, pesticides and overmedicating) and then big Pharma can come in and save you. Pretty good business model, right? Lot’s of people can stand to make a whole lot of money on this one. This is so wrong on so many levels!

    Also, has anyone not noticed what a huge rise there is in auto immune diseases! Sure, we have a lower incidence of infectious diseases, but not autoimmune ones. The incidence of those are going up and up (like asthma, eczema, allergies, autism – yes, autism is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own neurons). To me it’s like saying “Well my child has autism and debilitating eczema, but at least he was vaccinated and didn’t get the measles. Whew!” How about “My child was born with his cognitive function intact and we feed him a healthy diet. When he got the measles, we were very mindful in how we treated him and he got over it without a hitch”. Yes, we can influence whether our children get sick and/or how debilitating any disease has to get. We do have some power! Just like no one in their right mind would let a child with bronchitis go out and play in the snow with no jacket, at the risk of getting pnuemonia, if a child of ours did get an infectious disease there are plenty of things we could do so as not to make the outcome fatal or debilitating. Like if someone had measles, there are tons of common sense things one could do as well as tried and true time tested things like keeping a child in a darkened room. This last point was brought home to me by a doctor in the NY area who frequently gives lectures on vaccinations, Dr. Pavlesky. His main point was, sure there is some evidence that vaccinating may prevent some infectious diseases from occurring, but if you do vaccinate you are running into a lot of risk too. Also, who’s to say that any of these infectious diseases have to be fatal? If one treats them mindfully and with common sense (like feeding the child very healthy food, for example) you are really minimizing your chances of some disastrous outcome. I mean, Sheesh! We are not the powerless victims of unsuspecting attacking germs! There’ a million things that can be done before a fatality occurs. So, instead of infectious diseases we have autoimmune ones! Are autoimmune diseases more desirable to have? In my experience, it is pretty difficult to get rid of eczema or heal autism, but an infection can pass pretty quickly. Also, the more we vaccinate our kids the lower their immunity is going to become and the more autoimmune issues they are going to get. Right now, we have the highest vaccinated population along with the highest amount of autoimmune conditions. These two things are correlated!

    No, vaccination is wrong whether you choose to eat junk food or not. It could even be argued that people who eat junk food already have lowered immunities and they are the ones whom vaccinating is going to push them over the edge into an autoimmune condition. The healthy eaters are probably the ones who are even better equipped to deal with the toxicity of a vaccine.

    We are not helpless. We do not have to let corporate interests rule our lives. We are capable of creating health. Educate, don’t vaccinate!

    • Lya,

      I really respect your conviction. You are right that “Big Agro and Big Pharma create the problem (lowered immunity from eating junk, pesticides and overmedicating) and then big Pharma can come in and save you.” This is what I hate about our culture. But…

      Most of this country eats like shit, takes over the counter and prescription drugs on a regular basis, they stress out, veg out on the TV, they practically bathe in toxins. Strip them of all this nonsense first and then chisel away at the vaccine problem.

  5. I don’t think there are any pros of vaccinating. They don’t work, for one. As you mentioned in your last post, diseases have a life cycle, and vaccines were introduced at the end of that disease’s cycle, which makes it look like the vaccine eradicated the disease. Parents will feel guilty for vaccinating if it ends up causing the child to die, get sick, or become mentally incapacitated. Kids also still get diseases even when vaccinated. They get them more than unvaccinated kids do. I’d be guilt tripping even more and even more worried about disease if I vaccinated my kids. I’ve heard so many stories about children dying the day they received shots. Even kids who eat processed foods will be better off unvaccinated because filling their bodies with formaldehyde, disease, and several other unsafe chemicals is going to lower their immune systems even further. I can tell you right now, my 14 month old has no vaccines, doesn’t eat as well as I’d like, and has been sick once in his life. There are thousands of non-paleo families that do not vaccinate and their kids don’t get sick. I know you’re probably just trying to make people who do vaccinate feel that it’s okay to do so, that it’s their decision, and that’s fine. But if you don’t truly believe that you shouldn’t post like you’re on the fence about it. This is your blog and if people want to hate on you for not vaccinating that’s their problem. You don’t have to post about how vaccines are okay for kids who don’t eat right. Seems like it’d make their sub-par health even worse. I don’t mean to be rude- I know I’m coming off as rude, but I honestly don’t mean to be. I just find some things in this article contradictory.

    • Hannah, you weren’t coming off as rude I don’t think. We all have strong feelings about vaccines. I get that.

      I can see how the article feels a little contradictory. The reason is probably because I am totally anti-vaccine for me and my family but just can’t bring myself to push the decision on others. I have been Paleo for almost 8 years. That’s a lot of experience treating symptoms naturally, never using meds, observing the power of food and other positive lifestyle changes. I’ve personally gone from being sick all the time to being sick never. Not all families have that experience, though, or ever will.

  6. Sorry but vaccines do work. Smallpox, one of the deadliest diseases to humans has been eliminated by vaccination. That is not debatable. And homeopathy? Please.

    • Sorry Matt, it is not only debatable, but an intelligent bit of reading on non-aligned sites will give lots of very good, hard data on why we did NOT eliminate smallpox with a vaccine, and that vaccines may very well NOT work as stated.

      Also, very recent studies like “No Antibodies Required For Immunity Against Some Viruses” are shaking the foundations of the vaccine theory (see it here as sectors of the medical community are starting to consider that this “theory” is not absolute.

      Over at DaiaSolGaia we have compiled a resource list of serious, medical doctor involved sites detailing these contentions:

      also please see: Why We Won’t Vaccinnate, A Less Hysterical (but equally emphatic) Argument

      you need to open up you mind to the **possibility** that this holy cow of medicine may NOT be all it is touted to be – several places to start opening your mind are here: and here:

      and finally, even if there is, in some cases, merit to vaccination – we contend that our natural immunity, good health, good nutrition account for more protection to any disease vector than an artificially-induced vaccine jam packed with toxic – immunity-damaging adjuncts proven to be damaging to our children’s health.

  7. About your post above:

    Pros of Vaccinating

    “Parents can worry less about the diseases their kids are vaccinated for.”

    sorry, but this is absurd in the face of report after report about the major vaccinated disease outbreaks confirmed among VACCINATED children. this is simply not true.

    “Parents can choose a modified vaccination schedule that avoids unnecessary, money-making vaccines like chicken pox and the flu shot.”

    This is not a PRO about vaccination! you might as well say that parents can choose which highly questionable fast foods to feed monday, tuesday and wednesday – the toxic adjuncts are still sometimes dozens of times over the proposed body weight limits for infants and children (like mercury or aluminium per shot)

    “Kids can eat whatever they want and still remain protected against those and just those diseases vaccinated for (supposedly).”

    supposedly doesn’t even cover it! vaccine adjuncts already weaken the immune system – in fact there are numerous adjuncts that are INTENDED to weaken the immune system so the disease vector is assured of producing a reaction in the body. To allow kids to eat sugar, bad oils and high carbs is insanity combined with the immune-system suppressors present in many vaccines.

    “Parents don’t have to suffer guilt trips.”

    the only valid “pro” on your list. and if that is why a parent allows this to be done without the knowledge of what they are exposing their children to – this is exceptionally poor parenting.

    • I guess you didn’t notice that it was a bit of a stretch for me to come up with anything to put on this list.

      This wasn’t my list of pros but a list that parents tossing around the decision might come up with – a list I tossed around myself when I was learning about vaccines for the first time with my daughter 7 years ago. I hoped my list of cons might be a bit more convincing than my list of pros.

      • actually yes – you were grabbin at straws on that one ( ;-) ) – and sincerely, i don’t blame you – there simply are no substantive positives to vaccinating – it is human ego and hubris that damages us all the most if we do not think for ourselves.

      • I agree- I have spent a lot of time researching both sides and appreciated the pros and cons.

  8. As regards to Matt’s suggestion in reading Mark Crislip’s blog for pro-vaccination information, would anyone really rather get their information from Mark who is a self-proclaimed “arrogant, closed minded, Western trained, tool of the medical industrial complex. And proud of it.” (his words not mine) or consider listening to Dr. Palevsky’s information? Dr. Palevsky is someone who is willing to be wrong, has done enormous amounts of scientific research, is willing to listen to parents and acknowledge empirical evidence? (What I mean by empirical evidence, is the enormous, untold amounts of parents who have seen adverse effects in their children after being vaccinated.-”Step away, pay no attention to man behind the curtain”)

    An interview with Dr. Palevsky


  10. Something to keep in mind as well… vaccines are a way to expose your body to weakened versions of diseases to trigger your body’s immune system at minimal risk to yourself to protect yourself naturally.

    The alternative is more overuse of antibiotics.

    • “minimal risk?” That’s debatable. “protect yourself naturally?” Not with vaccines. Vaccines are not natural, although the list at the end of this post are all ways to protect yourself naturally. By taking natural means to protect ourselves, i.e. through food and lifestyle, we aren’t likely to need anti-biotics.

      What people don’t often understand is that to catch an illness does not mean to get terribly ill. If we get a cold or a flu, for example, our immune systems should be strong enough to eradicate it before we’re holed up in bed for 5 days wishing we were dead. Getting sick like that is what happens when our bodies are seriously unhealthy. When we are healthy and our immune systems strong, we get fevers and a runny noses and usually that’s about it. No medications are necessary.

      • Yes, minimal risk and naturally. Or as natural as anything else we call natural these days.

        Peggy, our ability to deal with diseases depends on many factors. Our bodies and diseases evolve. Sometimes, the diseases devastate and sometimes they don’t. Some populations are more at risk than others… sometimes. Sometimes a previously relatively innocuous disease mutates for better or for worse (diseases tend to not fare well if they kill or show symptoms too fast, see the evolution of syphilis in the above mentioned Guns, Germs, and Steel). But it’s a dance. There’s no grand force in nature making a balance. Sometimes genetics are involved, and sometimes it’s just exposure. Native Americans were devastated by measles, smallpox, etc because unlike Europeans they weren’t comprised of thousands Of generations of *survivors* of these diseases.

        Doesn’t matter much your diet or lifestyle… unless you inherited resistance you’re gonna get AIDs if you expose yourself to HIV. A certain percentage will die of Whopping cough, get neurological damage From measles (can’t wait until there is super measles like there Is super gonnrhea now From overuse of antibiotics), will die of flu and flu pandemics (such As Spanish flu), etc… vaccines are the relatively safest and most natural way to protect the population. Sorry Peggy, yes, stimulating our natural immune response is safer when exposed to a weakened version of the disease than the full blown one.

        And sorry for the weird Typoes my phone is glitching out.

  11. Peggy, very nice post indeed.
    and a great list of things to do in order to boost immune system. just one question: why do you recommend a little fruit? most fruit and berries are great sources of vitamins and minerals and are packed with antioxidants, so I think those can be consumed as much as desired (if there’s no fructose malabsorbtion issue or diabetes). Hope to hear your opinion. thanks.

    • Hi Val, for one thing, it is estimated that 40% of Americans have fructose malabsorption. That’s a lot of people walking around with a digestive disorder they’ve never heard of! And so good reason to be weary of fruit. Also, doctors who study the effects of fructose on the digestion say that even for those without FM, there is a limit to how much we can actually digest in one sitting. So eating a bag of cherries in one go probably will harm anyone, not just me. :) Lastly, fructose isn’t a great carbohydrate (check out Lustig’s work for more info) anyway and we should all limit it.

      One thing I read a long time ago really resonated with me. I think it was in Nutrition and Degeneration but it could have been in an article about Weston Price (I wish I remembered so I could be certain of its validity). Anyway, he said that even primitive peoples who lived around tons of fruit didn’t eat much of it. He expected that at least the children did and so he asked them if they ate much fruit and they said no.

      When I went to Colombia for the first time 2 years ago I noticed that the people don’t eat a whole lot of fruit. They prefer starch. As I watch documentaries on tropical primitive peoples I’ve started to notice the same thing. Interesting…

  12. Heather, I’ve used a natural bitter in the past to boost mine and my families immune system. Hope this is of use to you.

  13. The list of cons that you’ve posted is grossly irresponsible of you.

    Vaccines contain harmful additives which can cause any number of side effects including neurological damage. There are countless accounts of the damage vaccines have done to children.

    Thimerosal has been absent from nearly all standard pediatric vaccines for a decade. Dozens of peer-reviewed studies that have collectively drawn on data from millions of children have consistently found no connection between vaccines and autism. The original paper that suggested the link between vaccines and autism, authored by Andrew Wakefield, has been retracted by the publishing journal and Wakefield himself has had his medical license revoked.

    Vaccines often don’t work anyway. In Washington last year, 77% of kids that got whooping cough were vaccinated.

    Washington state has one of the highest rates of vaccine exemption in the US.

    Some vaccine’s efficacy wanes over time.

    Which is why boosters are recommended. Saying that vaccines don’t work forever is like saying that you’ll wear your seatbelt for the first 20 minutes of your car ride, but not for the last 10.

    Vaccines lower the immune system by not giving it a chance to build immunity on its own. This in turn makes children more susceptible to curable diseases and incurable diseases for which there are not yet vaccines. Frequent illness lowers the quality of life. Parents often think that since their kids are vaccinated they don’t need to worry about strengthening their kid’s immune systems.

    Some diseases, like tetanus, don’t provide any natural immunity.

    Essentially, you and your daughter(s) are benefiting from herd immunity – most of the people around you are immunized, so the likelihood of them being exposed to a serious disease is minimal. But when more and more people in geographically clustered areas opt out of immunization, it dramatically increases the danger of those diseases taking hold. Cases of measles have increased from 40 to 15,000 in just a few years, and that’s only one example of what can happen when the hive mind decides to latch on to a misguided cause.

  14. Thanks for staring a good conversation about a important topic. I think we are missing one rather significant piece of the puzzle though. Considering that about 80% of our immune system lies in the gut, healing the gut is a major way to building natural immunity. In my experience, a Paleo diet alone did not heal my gut very much, just minimized symptoms. Even when I got so restrictive I was miserable, I still didn’t feel healed. I think food can be very healing, particularly bone broth, but when we are as damaged as most of us are, we need large amounts of really good probiotics as well, and lots of bone broth to rebuild the gut lining. Fermented foods are great but they usually provide lacto sources. Quality supplements can give us the other types of bacteria that we need but lost to antibiotics and a world without breast feeding. For anyone interested in further explanation of how immunizations damage fragile immune systems, the GAPS book really helped me. I can also eat fructose now with no reaction ( used to have a bad reaction) just from following gaps protocol for a couple months. I still keep fruit to a minimum, but boy did I like getting onions and garlic back! Anyway just wanted to include that info in case anyone is looking for further healing and understanding of the gut’s relationship to immunity.

    • it’s also important to note, Kirsitn, that perhaps your time on the paleo diet was not long enough – if you read from doctors that have extensively used low-carb diets (essentially paleo) – they will candidly tell you that healing your gut can take from many months to many (up to 10) years! We all get damaged by neolithic foods to a greater or lesser degree and your body may well have been on the path to recovery on paleo and them finished its work on the gaps diet – either way congrats – isn’t it wonderful to not have gut symptoms 24/7?

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