People are familiar with two camps of thoughts regarding childhood vaccinations:
Those who avail themselves of the scientific advances that have led to
the reduction and elimination of many debilitating illnesses, and those
who follow the advice of Hollywood stars who speak out against vaccinations.
What most people don’t realize, until they become parents and start
talking to other moms and dads, is that there is a third camp: people
who believe in spacing out their vaccines beyond their pediatrician’s
Concerned with the number of shots infants are advised to receive, many
parents come into my office questioning the recommended vaccine schedule.
These parents understand the important role vaccinations have had in preventing
disease, but they are concerned about giving their babies “too many
shots,” too soon.
Parents have the ultimate say about their children’s care, but I
work to ensure they are making the most educated decisions possible for
What I explain is that the schedule we recommend has been rigorously tested
and vetted. Every year, the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices (ACIP) reviews all available data on vaccine effectiveness and
safety and updates recommendations. The members of this committee include
experts in pediatrics, epidemiology, immunology, public health, ethics
as well as a member of the public.
The schedule is designed to give vaccines at the earliest possible age
at which a child's immune system will respond. The vaccines introduce
a tiny part of the bacteria or virus of a disease, allowing the baby’s
immune system to create protective antibodies that prevent a child from
coming down with serious infections.
It might seem like your baby is being injected with a lot at once, but
it’s important to keep in mind that the recommendations include
not only the type and doses of vaccines but the timing of them as well.
The vaccine schedule is designed to protect babies when they are at highest
risk for developing serious disease.
Administering the vaccines at the appropriate intervals increases the level
of antibodies needed to fight disease. Boosters, similarly, are given
at peak points in a child’s immune development. Spacing vaccines
beyond the recommendations only leaves a child vulnerable to debilitating
or fatal disease. It’s all risk and no benefit.
The other danger of spacing out is that parents will “space out.”
There are so many things demanding your attention when you’re a
new parent, it is very easy to forget to make that follow-up appointment
or come in for the shot that you postponed.
So when it comes to protecting your child from preventable illnesses, my
advice is to follow your pediatrician’s advice. Vaccinate your children,
stick to the recommended schedule and don’t “space out.”