Should parents follow a strict vaccine schedule or is there room for flexibility?
I'm Dr. Ari Brown and I'm talking about an important subject today, the Childhood Vaccination Schedule. Should you ever tinker with it? In recent years, vaccines have been a hot topic and have left some parents wondering whether it's safe to give so many shots at the same time and to give them so early in life. As an official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics which represents 60,000 pediatricians, I can say that the answer is definitely yes. Why are kids getting so many more shots than we did as kids? Because vaccines work and modern medicine has been successful in creating more of them. They prevent horrible, serious infections, diseases you do not want your child to have. Thank goodness there are so many shots. Today, vaccines that were not available when I was a child protect against 3 different types of Bacterial Meningitis, a potentially fatal brain infection. And even though the total number of shots has gone up, a child's immune system actually has less work to do to mount a protective response because of the way newer vaccines are made. Today's vaccines are smarter and safer and our children are getting better protection than we ever got as kids. Vaccines are researched for an average of 15 years before being approved for use, and new vaccines are always given with other existing vaccines as part of the testing process. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then recommends a vaccination schedule working with top doctors and infectious disease researchers to make that decision. In short, the schedule is thoroughly tested and studied. A child receives a vaccine as early as it will be safe and effective such as the Hepatitis B vaccine shortly after birth, the Whooping Cough vaccine at 2 months of age, and the Measles vaccine at a year of age. The diseases the vaccines protect against are often the most severe in infants and young children. That's why the timing is so important and why a staggered or delayed vaccine schedule is a dangerous idea. Giving several shots at once does not damage, weaken, or overload the immune system. Vaccines boost the immune system. There is no research that shows that delaying certain shots is safer. In fact, a 2010 study showed that there is no difference in development in children who have received their shots on time compared to those who are unvaccinated or late to get their shots. As a pediatrician and as a parent myself, I can tell you that I vaccinated my own children with the recommended vaccination schedule and I wouldn't do anything differently for your child.