There are several popular alternative vaccine schedules out there. Parents come across them on the Internet or perhaps in baby books and wonder, “If I give the vaccines, albeit at a delayed rate, am I doing any harm to my child?”
Does delaying vaccines put your child at risk?
Vaccines prevent illnesses that have the greatest side effects and the greatest potential for harm in very young children. So by delaying vaccines, even in the short term, you’re increasing the risk that your child will acquire a vaccine-preventable illness and have a catastrophic consequence because of it.
What’s so great about the recommended vaccine schedule?
The vaccine schedule is developed annually by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including epidemiologists, virologists, microbiologists, pathologists, and statisticians. They determine—based on mountains of data—when it is safest for infants to receive vaccines and in what combination. Using a vaccine schedule that’s based on one doctor’s opinion does not have the scientific weight to it that the CDC’s recommendation has.
Can multiple vaccines overwhelm your child’s immune system?
There’s a popular myth that giving multiple vaccines at one visit can overwhelm a young baby’s immune system. While this is an understandable concern, there’s absolutely no truth to it. From the day we’re born, our bodies are bombarded by germs in the millions every day. Germs are what we base our vaccines on. Vaccines are weakened components to common germs, and the baby’s immune system is more than capable of handling five or more immunizations each day.
Is spacing out vaccines really less stressful for your baby?
Some parents want to decrease the amount of needle sticks—and therefore the amount of stress—that a child undergoes at each visit. Splitting up or delaying vaccines just increases the number of times a child has to come to the pediatrician’s office in order to receive a vaccine. It’s not the number of shots at each visit that is stressful, it’s the number of visits that’s stressful for a child. So splitting them up actually does more harm than good.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, March 2019