Five Downsides Of Spacing Out Your Child’s Vaccines

It seems like the perfect compromise. You want to protect your child from illness, but you’re leery of vaccines. So you ask your pediatrician to “space them out” — to give no more than one or two per visit, or per month, or to skip a few for now.

You’re not refusing the couple of dozen shots recommended for the first two years of life, you’re just….delaying. And you have plenty of company: Parenting Websites teem with descriptions of the alternative vaccine schedules that mothers and fathers invent (examples here and here) or borrow from a popular book. So what could be bad?

Well, several things, say pediatricians and vaccine experts concerned about the widespread vaccine-spacing phenomenon. To begin with, they say, the premise that a simultaneous volley of shots could be too much for your child’s immune system needs to be put in context: Children’s immune systems are exposed to a constant barrage of foreign proteins, and vaccines are engineered to produce as focused an immune response as possible.

More broadly, here’s the big picture from Dr. Allison Kempe, a University of Colorado School of Medicine professor of pediatrics who researches popular resistance to vaccines:

“It’s a very small subset of parents who totally refuse vaccines,” she said, “but it’s an increasing number, and a much higher number, that are asking to space them out. And that results in the child being unprotected for longer periods of time. It may result in outbreaks of disease and it may mean that because the vaccines are spaced out, the child doesn’t actually end up getting all of them because it involves coming in for so many appointments.”

“The other thing is that I don’t know whether it’s a lot more traumatic for a child to constantly be coming in for a shot. All those things are unknown. And there’s absolutely no science behind it, that’s the biggest thing.”

Dr. Ben Kruskal, a vaccine expert and director of infection control at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, offers a similar view from the pediatric trenches. I’ve broken down his concerns here into five parts:

1) Prolonged Vulnerability

“The most potent reason why spacing is problematic is that the more you spread things out, the more time kids are vulnerable to infections they could be protected from,” he said. “The extra time of vulnerability you’re adding to a child’s life is really quite considerable, and that’s not a trivial thing.”

(Particularly because, as CDC vaccine-communication expert Glen Nowak points out, the diseases that vaccines can prevent are particularly dangerous when they occur in the youngest children.)

2) Potential Added Trauma and Fear

Under the standard CDC vaccine schedule, a child sometimes gets several shots at once. If those are spaced out, you have to bring the child in for more visits than the usual check-up schedule.

For very young children, Ben said, “I think the number of traumatic events is probably more relevant than the number of needles they get at one visit. I think having three or four visits with one needle apiece is probably more traumatic to a baby than having one visit with three or four needles. I’ve never seen data on this issue, but it’s a very strong impression that I, and the clinical staff I work with, all share.”

Particularly in children around 1 year old and up, he said, if they’re having one shot a week for several weeks, “By the third visit they tend to be really frightened, and it’s terrible for the parents and it’s terrible for the staff.”

Adds the CDC’s Glen Nowak: “Some research suggests that it’s really the first injection that causes the highest level of stress.” So “there may be an advantage to doing a bunch of shots at once.”

3) Contagion from extra visits

Each time you bring your child into the doctor’s office for those extra shots, there’s risk of various infections from the sick patients in the waiting room.

4) Potential Errors

The more “non-standard” a vaccination schedules is, the greater the likelihood of errors, Ben said. If a medical staff is not used to a child’s schedule, they might miss a vaccination or repeat it. Things “can go wrong,” he said, “though the good news is that extra doses are not harmful. But you’re hurting the child for no reason.”

5) When you make up your own schedule, it has no evidence base

Let me not mince words. I believe deeply in the power of parental instinct, and in parents’ rights to seek what they deem the best care for a child. But it seems to me that many people are pulling these alternative vaccine schedules out of, shall we say, their bottoms, with no strong scientific basis for the timing they choose. Is that so? I asked Ben.

He put it much better: “It’s as if you go to the mechanic and say, ‘You tell me the carburetor repair will take three days. Why don’t we have you do just one day, and then I’ll bring it back?’ There are all sorts of reasons why that may not work.”

The central source for the alternative schedules that many parents choose is “The Vaccine Book: Making The Right Decision For Your Child,” by “Dr. Bob” Sears, son of the pediatrician-guru Dr. William Sears. Published in 2007, it’s still at close to 1,000 on Amazon’s bestseller list, suggesting great popularity.

In fact, it’s so popular that Dr. Paul Offit, a leading national authority on vaccines, co-wrote a whole 2009 article challenging many of its arguments in the journal Pediatrics. Titled “The Problem With Dr. Bob’s Alternative Vaccine Schedule,” it’s here, and includes this criticism:

Sears often takes the position that, if parents think that a vaccine is problematic, then the vaccine is problematic. He believes that parents’ fears should be indulged by offering alternative schedules, not countered by scientific studies, and he fails to explain that good science is the only way to determine whether a vaccine causes a particular adverse event. Instead, Sears alludes to evidence on both sides of any issue, failing to distinguish studies on the basis of their quality, internal consistency, or reproducibility and failing to distinguish those that are accepted by the scientific community from those that are not.

Dr. Sears’s response in Pediatrics to Dr. Offit’s critiques is at the bottom of this page, including this passage:

I will admit that the book does offer one major controversial idea; my alternative vaccine schedule. However, it is important to note the context in which I offer that advice. At the end of the book, I encourage parents to vaccinate their children according to the CDC schedule if they feel confident in our nation’s vaccine system. For those parents who, after reading all the reasons why vaccines are important in my book, still believe vaccines aren’t safe and plan to not vaccinate, I at least ask them to consider getting the most important infant vaccines so their babies have protection from the life-threatening illnesses (HIB, PC, DTaP, and Rota).

Where my alternative schedule comes into play is for those parents who are still unsure about vaccines, but they do want to fully vaccinate. I offer them an optional schedule that gets their child fully vaccinated, but at a slower pace. It doesn’t delay any of the most important shots, but it slightly delays some shots that are for lower-risk diseases. This option is really for parents who would otherwise leave a doctor’s office unvaccinated, parents who are too torn to make a decision, and therefore often don’t make any decision to vaccinate at all.

My personal take: For my own children, I’m sticking with the CDC standard schedule, which, unlike the suggested schedules in The Vaccine Book, is backed by rafts of research that has found minimal risks outweighed by huge benefits. When they were babies, I was far, far more terrified of infectious disease than of possible side effects from vaccines. That’s still true.

The CDC’s Glen Nowak: “Our position is that parents should follow the recommended immunization schedule. It’s there for a reason. There’s a scientific basis for that schedule.”

Readers, what do you think? What guides your own decisions? Would you add any downsides — or upsides — of vaccine spacing?

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  • Lol

    … And how many of you anti-vaccine morons went to medical school?

  • Vaccinating Mama

    Before my child was born I went from being anti-vaccine, to considering an alternative schedule, to being completely pro-vaccine. Your child is much more likely to be injured in a car accident than by a vaccine, and not vaccinating your child endangers infants and people with weakened immune systems. There have been a great deal of studies on the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, contrary to what a few alarmists believe. I encourage concerned parents to do their research on all decisions they make for their children. The thousands of studies that have been done on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines far outweigh the few studies that have brought their safety into question.

    Also, one common complaint that I hear is that pharmaceutical companies are pumping out vaccines in order to make money. Of course they are profit driven. But for parents who are anti-vaccine for that reason, try to examine other items you spend money on. Vitamins and herbs with unproven benefits, anti-depressants, even insulin. We don’t truly believe that pharmaceutical companies are making people diabetic just to sell insulin, do we? Public health is greatly dependent of vaccination. If you truly want to keep your child safe AND benefit the greater good, then stop driving a car.

  • Beth Watson Nelson

    When my youngest son was 12 months old he got his regularly scheduled vaccinations and had a terrible reaction.  Sadly, because he had received so many shots at the same time in the same location, we could not discern which shot had caused the problem.  He is now 12 years old and has not had a single shot since that time.  Now I am finally brave enough to start the vaccinations again but they must be given one at a time in case he has the same reaction.  If only he had received just one vaccination that day when he was 12 months old we’d have known which shot to avoid.  Now we have to hold our breaths with each vaccination.

    • Joycebala01

      Beth, what type of reaction did you son have? Was it immediate or was it a progressive reaction that when you thought about it came down to the vaccination itself? I only ask because I vaccinated my son at 9 mo. (and was already behind the schedule so he was on his 6 mo. regime at 9 mo. ) anyway, a few weeks later he was having adverse reactions and only grew worse with time.  I can only assume he had an allergic reaction to the vaccine.  (in which he was given 3 differet types and have not given him anymore vaccinations since! (he is nearly 2 now) but it was a scary time and after 6 months of rehabilitating and doctors saying, just live with it (while giving streroids and antibiotics…..never thinking about what it could be to have caused anything like this!!) To this day he has the strangest food allergic reactions, when there is no history in our family of food allergies (which I know doesnt mean he wont have any but they start out somehow – we tested 50 items and 18 + more of which I know by giving myself and him reacting! — its ridiculous) . Anyway, just curious about your son?

      • Helen

        But why do you think that what he was experiencing was a reaction to the vaccines?

        • Joycebala01

          Because there severity at which it was happening, the only explanation, that I, myself, have explored is that the vaccination took place at the same time (around the same time period). No doctor wanted to explore NONE, I asked and prodded and asked about other causes and they were baffled. They said it was an allergic reaction but could not say to what and how this reaction was so severe. FYI the steroids never worked. His immune system was compromised with chest infections a week after clearing it out each time (meaning after a round of antibiotics he was good for a week then again sick with the same). The doc did not believe me that he was sick due to another cause other than just a case of bad luck until the 3rd time I brought him in. A reaction so severe I needed his blood purified but none gave this diagnosis, so I went to India and flushed it out with Homeopathy! It worked wonders! He is now (knock on wood) not sick, had a normal cough and cold that went away within a week. Its been 6 months of hell and now he is 80% better. Sill allergic to many many foods but I can tell the difference between a food allergy and his excema. Anyway, I have no proof of vaccination was the cause but as a mother I suspect!

          • Helen

            As someone said above, correlation is not causation. Vaccines would not have caused something that happened a few weeks later and vaccines definitely do not cause food allergies. Your child sounds like he’s been through a lot at a young age and I really hope he doesn’t come into contact with anyone that has any of the diseases that he hasn’t been vaccinated against.

          • Joycebala01

            That is like saying all persons named Scott are boys, but not all boys are Scott.
            What my gesture is that really gets me is that perhaps he was a sick boy just waiting for some opportunity to come out and show its little face, hence the only thing I have been over and over again that keeps coming up in my mind is the vaccination. Perhaps he has an allergy against whatever could have been within the vaccination to help keep it “a vile product” like how asorbic acid is to preserve juices boxes. Someone may not be allergic to the APPLE JUICE itself but the preservation of it.
            I am not against vaccinations nor am I PRO vaccinations in the severity that I think all hell will break loose if someone does not.
            As someone who aspires to be an epidemiologist I can agree with all angles of things and KNOW that everything is connected in one way or another. Whether on a molecular or mineral (chemical) level. So I get a little peeved when I see something like this and especially (shockingly) in alot more people than there should be (people I mean infants). In the fact that it happened a few weeks later after the vaccination, goes along with the fact that its like cancer (not really  but n my example)….people dotn know they have cancer until they start showing symptoms, ones that they can clearly see  (spitting up blood, agonizing pain from within, weak immune system- constantly getting sick). and even then they might not know until the doc has a suspicion. SO case in point yeah it could have ben the vaccination (or whatever else was in it) ot in to the blood stream all his antibodies start fighting, then start going crazy. Food allergies can take up to 24 hours before you see an allergic reaction. Then if it is soooo severe that if not recognized it progresses into the immune system, respiratory system, so – we noticed something wrong by the time he started having respiratory problems (chest infections – asthma-severe excema -food alergies) This in turn made is whole system go crazy by thinking all food was a  foreign entity thus having an allergic reaction. Even now when I had given lentils he was fine and one month ago he started breaking out, an “all the sudden allergic reaction” to something he was fine with from the beginning?
            Anyway, thats my speel :)

  • Guest

    I love all these people asking for citations of exact research as if they can understand the medical language or science of that research and can/will look it up themselves to verify what the article says. Or better yet, be able to formulate an intelligent critique of said research. This is a news article not a medical journal. 

    Of course we should be privy to the research behind medical claims, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves and act like we’ve all got medical degrees just because we can google it. Sometimes you believe your doctor, because he’s your doctor, not because you understand everything about the medical science behind your condition.

    This ‘should I vaccinate or not’ issue is purely for the privileged. Just stamp I live in a “1st world” country on your forehead. We’ve been “free” of these diseases (very few cases)  for so long that our collective memory has faded. How many of us walking down the street actually know what measles, mumps, or rubella is or have ever seen a child suffer through them?…

    • daily

      this isn’t a news article. it’s a (highly opinionated and not well researched) editorial.

  • karlpopperfan

    No amount of science will ever convince those who think vaccines do more harm than good otherwise.

    The same holds true for people who deny global warming, evolution, Obama being an American citizen, etc. They will always be able to find someone to tell them what they want to hear.

    • Guest

      Yes, just one of the many forms that scientific illiteracy presents itself in our increasingly ignorant and uneducated society.  Unfortunately, unlike someone who doesn’t believe in evolution, until I my children are old enough to get all of their vaccines their health is at risk from these peoples’ decisions.

  • Karlpopperfan

    Global warming is a hoax
    Elvis is alive
    The Earth is only 16,000 years old
    Dinosaurs and man co-existed
    Obama is from Kenya
    Bush stole teh 2000 election
    Man never landed on the moon
    Vaccines do more harm than good

  • KarlPopper fan

    why should we trust pediatricians and scientists when we can rely on lawyers and celebrities to tell us what’s best for our children?

    Seriously, until they make a vaccine that’s 100% safe for 100% of patients, NO ONE should be vaccinated! Also, until they make cars and roads 100% safe, no one should drive, until they make all medicines 100% safe, no one should ever take medicine, until they make our food supply 100% safe, people should not eat food they don’t grow themselves, until they…

  • Christine Darling Weiss

    Every parent struggles with vaccinations, especially now that the news is filled with incidents that seem to contradict the CDC science based reasoning. In the end we went with the CDC, after traveling abroad often to developing countries it did not take long to realize the tragic results of children who contract the diseases we are vaccinating against. Parents in the US don’t see, on a daily basis, the results of non vaccinating. Can that information be more readily available in real numbers, real photos and real time. This may sway those uncertain parents. There are real worries. The science community needs to address this communication gap. It will succeed.

  • bothsidesdeservetobeheard

    There wouldn’t be an argument over vaccines if they were safe. The truth is some children are hurt by vaccines and that damage cannot be undone. NPR needs to do a better job of reporting both sides of this storey.

    • FastEddie

      “There wouldn’t be an argument over vaccines if they were safe.”
      Nothing is 100% safe and it is unreasonable to expect vaccines to be so.  Whatever risk a vaccine has is far outweighed by the benefit of not contracting polio, mumps, small pox, and the rest of the cast of horrific childhood diseases.  

      • bothsidesdeservetobeheard

        I agree, of course nothing is 100% safe, which is acceptable when there is compensation in place for the minority that are hurt, however the drug companies that make the vaccines are completely shielded from having to pay to care for those who are injured. Some risks are not worth taking as with the Polio vaccine for example, as directly quoted from the official CDC website( “From 1980 through 1999, there were 162 confirmed cases of paralytic
        polio cases reported. Of the 162 cases, eight cases were acquired
        outside the United States and imported. The last imported case caused by
        wild poliovirus into the United States was reported in 1993. The
        remaining 154 cases were vaccine-associated paralytic polio (VAPP)
        caused by live oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV).”

        In short this means there has been NO wild polio in the usa since 1993, yet its still given routinely to every child on the standard vaccine schedule, even though many children are being harmed by it and/or possibly being harmed by the other additives of the vaccine. In this instance it is clear to me that the harm outweighs the benefits.

        Smallpox is not given to children, this is also from the CDC website ( “Routine smallpox vaccination among the American public
        stopped in 1972 after the disease was eradicated in the United States.
        Until recently, the U.S. government provided the vaccine only to a few
        hundred scientists and medical professionals working with smallpox and
        similar viruses in a research setting.”

        I seriously recomend that every parent takes the time to educate themselves about vaccines and diseases. Would you risk giving your child autism so you don’t have to miss a few days of work over something like chicken pox?

        PLEASE everyone dig a little deeper, learn all you can before you make your choices. Weigh it out for yourself, dont trust the companies that have profits as their main goal instead of peoples health.

        • Helen

          Try digging a little deeper yourself – or better yet, just get your facts right. You said that “In short this means there has been NO wild polio in the usa since 1993, yet its still given routinely to every child on the standard vaccine schedule, even though many children are being harmed by it and/or possibly being harmed by the other additives of the vaccine. In this instance it is clear to me that the harm outweighs the benefits.”

          Were you actually aware that there are TWO different polio vaccines? Yes, the oral polio vaccine (OPV) has approximately a 1 in 750,000 chance of paralysing a child that receives it. For the majority of the time that it was in use, this risk was substantially smaller than the risk of contracting wild poliovirus.  Yes, children still receive a polio vaccine in the US but for many years now they have received the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) which does not carry the risks associated with OPV.

          And yes it has been a long time since there was a case of wild poliovirus in the USA – and the best way to make sure it stays that way is to keep vaccinating children with IPV. Polio still exists in small pockets in the world but it is an incredibly transmissible disease and outbreaks have occurred in a number of poorly vaccinated populations. In these times, people travel all over the world quickly, cheaply and easily and the risk of disease spread from country to country is very real. Just last week, 4 cases of polio were reported in China – a country which reported its last wild polio case more than 10 years ago. All you need is for a recently infected child to get on a plane to the US and the risk is right there on your doorstep. Anyone who has seen a child (or adult) affected by polio knows that this is not a risk worth taking.

          • bothsidesdeservetobeheard

            Thank you for a very thought out and well written response, I have just one more point to make and that is the danger of the disease of polio itself from(
            “Most people infected with polio (approximately 95%) show no symptoms.
            Minor symptoms can include sore throat, low-grade fever, nausea, and
            vomiting. Some infected persons (1 to 2%) will have stiffness in the
            neck, back, or legs without paralysis. Less than 1% of polio infections
            (about 1 of every 1,000 cases) cause paralysis. Many paralyzed persons recover completely”

            And IPV still carries risks which arent entirely known since its usually given in combination with several other diseases so no one can be clear which one may be causing a problem or if there is some other element to the vaccine which could be the cause of problems.
            My main argument is that there should be an admission by the government and/or the vaccine making companies that a small minority of people are hurt by vaccines and those people should be fairly(not overly) compensated. Then people could feel more at ease about following their recomended vaccine schedules because they know that if their children do get hurt, they will be taken care of.


          • Helen

            It is true that only a small proportion of children who get polio actually have life-long paralysis. The 1 in 1000 figure generally refers to serotypes 2 and 3 but it is widely considered that 1 in 200 that contract serotype 1 will become paralysed. And 10% of those people will die. The large proportion of asymptomatic cases simply unscores the need for full vaccination. Polio spreads “silently”, for each paralysis case you see there are around 199 or 999 (depending on the serotype) other cases out there that you cannot see but can transmit disease. So going back to my example of an infected child arriving in the US – they are unlikely to obviously have polio and therefore are much more likely to mix with other children/people spreading disease before that indicator paralysed child appears. And by that time it’s too late, the disease has already spread enough to make control very difficult.

        • concernedcitizen

          The drug companies are not completely shielded if something goes wrong. There is a specially appointed court that deals with cases of vaccine injuries. There are limits on compensation for victims in this court because while there are very slight risks of very severe reactions to vaccines, these companies are needed to make the vaccines that protect us from diseases that could devastate the population. We would have a huge problem on ours hands as a society if companies stopped producing vaccines since they worried too much about the risks of hefty lawsuits. That is why the special court is in place and vaccine injury cases do not go through normal courts.

  • Eric Duncan

    The link to the CDC schedule does not work.

    • Careyg

      So sorry! It’s fixed — and the CDC page with various schedules is here:

  • Nicoline Smits

    Do you really need the added headache of keeping track of an alternative schedule for vaccines? It’s not just that you need to schedule more appointments or whatever, but every time they register for a camp (especially residential camps) they’re going to want to see proof of immunization. If they’re not on track, you’ll likely have to explain *every single time* why it is that your kid hasn’t had this or that vaccine yet. Just use the regular schedule and get it over with, is my two cents. It was hassle enough for me to explain why the kids had had some shots on a different schedule because they were born in a different country and lived there for the first couple of years, which also happened to be the prime vaccination years.

  • Marko

    The CDC and the scientific/medical community need a crash course in human behavior and communication. The mistrust over vaccinations is mostly the result of a massive failure to honestly and adequately communicate both the benefits and risks of vaccination. The CDC and other public health officials have consistently taken a heavy-handed approach which feels coercive and dismissive of parents concerns. Being brow beaten by scientific evidence that is never explained in lay terms nor made personally relevant will never convince a concerned parent to expose his/her child to a potential risk. The medical establishment has got to get off of their high horse and make an effort to win the hearts and minds of these parents. The condescension in the tone of this and many other pro-vaccination articles does immeasurable damage to that cause. The concerns that parents have are real concerns and they are bound up with the deepest emotional attachments imaginable. That’s where Dr Sears has it right. You don’t allay a parent’s fears by telling them they are stupid. These fears have to be addressed with respect and empathy. I would lay down my life for my children. There’s no way you are going to lay a hand on them, let alone put a needle in their skin without earning my trust first. This is fundamentally a trust issue not a public health issue. Oh, and for the record, I have vaccinated my children and I did follow an alternative schedule. I’m fortunate to have found a pediatrician that treats me and my children with respect.  

    • Dr T

      As a pediatrician for over 20 years, let me expound on an unintended negative consequence to ANY alternative schedule that delays the vaccines an infant should receive, especially by age 1 year:
      When I started training in 1990, the HIB and Pneumococcus vaccines were not part of the usual schedule at 2,4, and 6 months.  Any infant with a high fever and no obvious source for that fever after physical exam was presumed to have a serious bacterial infection of the blood, and possibly urine and/or spinal fluid, until proven otherwise.  We were obligated to draw blood (maybe requiring several attempts), catheterize for a urine sample, and consider performing a spinal tap.  Then the infant was treated with high-power antibiotics, usually in the hospital, for at least 48 hours until tests showed that no bacterial infection was present.
      Now that the HIB and Pneumococcal vaccines are used in the first year of life, the number of infants contracting these infections has greatly decreased.  In fact, the occasional infant who presents with a high fever is much more likely to have a viral infection(or urine infection for girls)  and less likely to have a serious blood infection.  Thus, the need for automatic blood tests and antibiotics is much decreased for the average infant with a fever.  ASSUMING THE INFANT HAS BEEN PROPERLY VACCINATED.
      Thus, I inform the parents who delay vaccines in the first 2 years of life, that if they call our office with a concern about a fever, they  MUST tell the intake person on the phone that the infant has not been vaccinated.  BECAUSE WE MUST TREAT THAT CHILD DIFFERENTLY and not have a false sense of security as we assess for the source of the fever.  And we put warnings on the patient’s chart in big red letters that the patient has not been vaccinated and needs to be seen in the office if parents call about fever.


    • concernedcitizen

      I agree the scientists, etc have a bad rap and they could do a heck of a lot better on the communication with lay people. That does not change the fact that the vaccine schedule was designed in mind of the risks of having millions of children running about unvaccinated for certian things for extra time… just think how much higher the risks of transmission would be if everyone opted for an alternate spaced out schedule for their child. As well as number of people who would not follow up to finish the schedule if it took many more visits.

  • FN

    My son, who is now ten, was vaccinated with the schedule that his pediatrician recommended. After his MMR vaccine at age 18 months he stopped making eye contact, smiling and giggling. This was a child who constantly smiled and giggled with us and with total strangers. All types of communication between him and us were paralyzed. I blame the drug companies for not being diligent about preservatives such as Thimerosal and Aluminum in vaccines that were used on babies. In 2002 when we subjected our new generation to these harmful preservatives, counties such as Canada, France, Sweden, and England banned the use of these preservatives. It did not make sense???? Why did Canadians had vaccines that were Mercury free and US did not??? It still puzzles me today!
    Our son went through Speech Therapy, OT and many other early intervention therapies before he could speak and communicate with us and others. And I still blame the CDC and policy makers who did not protect him from greedy drug companies. I disagree with this article and the Doctors who are not supporting families that choose to space out their children’s vaccines.

    • Heart

      Correlation is not causation. Just because something happens at the same time as something else does not mean the first thing caused it. This is basic logic. 

    • missive

      And, one more time, the MMR vaccine has never contained thimerosal.

    • William

      Whatever happened to your son, your crackpot theories about a connection to MMR simply don’t make sense.  After numerous studies ruling out a connection, and conclusive proof that the originator of these claims lied about his results, we still have crackpots making stupid claims that are going to get children killed.  I’m sure that something did happen to your son, but why should anyone care about your theories about the cause?  Because you don’t understand the difference between correlation and causation?

  • Tennd13

    One of the greatest achievements in medicine and, in particular, pediatrics, is the protection vaccines have offered to millions of children who in the pre-vaccine days (the good old days?)  would have died or been made seriously ill by infectious diseases. A healthy debate is always good, but it is impossible to study exhaustively every permutation of alternate vaccine schedules and in fact it may be unethical (should I change a vaccine schedule that is safe and effective in a way that may delay protection for the youngest children?). Nothing in this world is 100% safe for all people or 100% effective or 100% without risk, but public health policy dictates that you dont make decisions based on extremely uncommon side effects or risks when the majority of people in a population will clearly benefit. My 5 month old will continue to get the vaccines on the approved schedule and I feel comfortable about that. We should use all this time and energy and money to study other more pressing issues in health disease and promotion.

    • Katie1


  • mrydobon

    There is a ton of scientific evidence showing the CDC schedule is the safest possible vaccination schedule for … your … children — right? I mean there must be. It’s not like doctors ever push practices that don’t have solid evidence behind them? I mean in 1998 when doctors started giving Rotashield to infants they had solid evidence that was the best possible thing to do … at least until the vaccine got pulled for causing intussusception.

    This article bellows “scientific evidence” like a wayward preacher bellows “the Word of God” without actually reading a word of it. You want to argue one vaccine schedule over another. Fine. Don’t give us platitudes and hypothetical consequences. Give us quantification and evidence. In other words, Prove it! 

  • Cyndi

    Dear Editor – Please hold your writers to a standard of ethics that require them to cite research for the claims they make, study both sides of the story before they write a misleading article, interview those who have been harmed by that which they claim is harmless, and perhaps read the other world new sources to get a broader understanding of what is really going on in the world in the topic in which they are writing!!  Here’s some interesting points for you guys to ponder, research and write an article on. Best of luck on learning how to tell teach your underling how to tell the truth because apparently at this point they believe that regurgitating fact-less claims is the same thing.

    1) there is no law requiring those who make vaccines to disclose the contents in the vaccines. 2) have you read the recent articles on the LIVE HPV virus that is in the HPV shots? it’s not supposed to be there. it is now. are you aware that Spain pulled it’s ENTIRE country’s supply of the vaccine as a result of deaths caused by it? the absence of control and disclosure on vaccine production and contents alone is enough to concern a great public risk
    3) are you aware that vaccines contain pork, egg, milk, aluminum,  etc., etc.? i have had an anaphalaxic reaction from simply ingesting prescription pills that are coated in pork enzymes (yes, people that’s how your pills get that pretty smooth finish) – and somehow the medical community thinks that injecting the same enzymes into my body through a vaccine is not something to think about?
    4) neither doctors nor pharmaceutical companies are required to calculate or provide to you the risk benefits of having a vaccine compared to not. therefore, none of us are providing informed consent. yet, that industry is the only one protected fully by the government from liable – instead parents have to submit to a vaccine injury board. now ask yourself, why would the government do that? because if pharmaceutical companies were held liable for disclosure, contents and their resulting harm they would all be out of business because they do cause harm
    5) people with food allergies generally have an igE deficiency. i’ve read in the past that the prevalence of food allergies in the public is now 12%. those with igE deficiencies very often are unable to make antibodies to the stimulus introduced through vaccines. this is why i’ve had two bouts of chicken pox despite the vaccine many years ago and why my son had gone through the same. ask yourself why would any doctor subject someone who has a compromised or impaired immune system (as demonstrated by something as simple as food allergies) to the virus itself? to something that they probably won’t able to make an antibody to but could most certainly harm them from the information the doctor already has in hand? because THEY DON”T THINK. they follow “recommendations” and hide behind vaccine “schedules”. On the other hand my older daughter who I INTENTIONALLY exposed to chicken pox (remember the good old days with the lolly pop parties) had it once and never again. I’d like see research done on the strength or presence of antibodies when comparing natural exposure to vaccines. Those who get the chicken pox vaccine only have a <90% case of developing a resistance  and it is recommended that they get the shot again later in life. Now why is that? Hmm….
    6) it was reported that 80% of the population who came down with pertussis in CA last year during their outbreak were people WHO HAD BEEN VACCINATED. where's your confidence in the critical nature of vaccination after you understand that??
    7) Ever stop of read the latest research on how to appropriately control the spread of disease? the latest research shows that the answer is NOT to vaccinate everyone AND it's NOT to vaccinate the sick, elderly as we do now in this country. The latest research has proven statistically that the most effective means is to vaccinate ONLY those who are HEALTHY.
    8) If you vaccinate yourself, your family, why do you give a flying flip what I do with myself and my family? If you believe so strongly in the potential outbreak of any of these diseases being halted by the vaccine, then logically speaking I am only risking the health of those in my family. You and yours are not at risk. If you believe it's a risk not to vaccinate – then by all means go ahead. I KNOW it's a risk to vaccinate and will protect me and mine accordingly.

    • Katie1

      In response to your comment “If you believe so strongly in the potential outbreak of any of these diseases being halted by the vaccine, then logically speaking I am only risking the health of those in my family.”  You are in fact not.  If your child has the disease they will expose other unvaccinated children to the disease.  Case in point – An unvaccinated child in my church contracted Pertussis (prevented by the DTaP vaccine) then subsequently exposed and spread Pertussis (a.k.a Whooping Cough) to infants in the church that could not be vaccinated.  Put an infant in the hospital!  That parent’s decision impacted other more vunerable children in the community. 

      If you have ever seen the impact of Haemophilus influenza type B meningitis or Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis on a child you will be begging to have your child vaccinated against these life threatening diseases.  You don’t know about these diseases because you have never seen them.  Why have you never seen them??  Because of the vaccine!   They save lives everyday.  

      • Helen

        Katie1 – I wish I could like your last paragraph here several times over. It is EXACTLY right.

      • Steve

        Katie1 – Sorry to hear about the children at your church. But the good news is, if they had been vaccinated, they would have stood a HIGHER LIKELIHOOD of getting whooping cough. This case study was on the CDC web site but was recently pulled.

        The truth is, the pertussis vaccine does not work. The majority of kids getting pertussis were vaccinated. We see this by comparing the data, especially in California. It’s all there, on the CDC web site.

        • Another guest

          I read your cited study, and it does not at all indicate that the vaccine does not work.  Waning immunity is well known, as is the fact that natural immunity is almost always better than vaccine-induced immunity.  This paper only shows that young, relatively recently-vaccinated children, can still be PCR positive and IgM positive if you sample them randomly.  PCR is highly sensitive and often not very specific.  IgM antibodies can persist for variable amounts of time in different kids and the fact that they are detectable indicates only exposure, not active infection.  The majority of these kids did not have clinical symptoms of pertussis – which to me suggests that actually the vaccine *does* work.

    • RkymtnK

      You came out very strongly saying that you would like the writer to cite their sources. Where are your citations? Where did you read about food allergies and vaccines? I have never heard that correlation.
       Part of the benefit of everyone who can get a vaccine, actually being vaccinated is that they are not then carriers of that disease to those who cannot be vaccinated – the very young and immuno-compromised for example - also known as herd immunity. With so many children no longer receiving vaccines that protection is now being removed for the most vulnerable members of our communities.
      The outbreak of pertussis in CA occured among people who had not had a second vaccine after age 10 (which is required to attain full immunity) or were entirely unvaccinated. An outbreak occurred in my small town when my child was too young to be vaccinated; it was a very scary time to have a infant.
      Again, citations please.

    • Helen

      In response to point 8, this is often the argument that anti-vaccine people like to make. You are deluding yourself. 1) Babies that are too young to be vaccinated against a disease are at risk of catching it. 2) Some children are not able to receive a vaccine because of health conditions they have – these children are at risk. 3) Some people get vaccinated but the vaccine doesn’t “take” and they do not mount an immune response. My sister is a case in point, vaccinated against rubella and when she was pregnant she was told she had no rubella anti-bodies, after she gave birth she got vaccinated again. Second time pregnant a couple of years later and she was again told that she had no anti-bodies. She is one of the unfortunate people where the vaccine just didn’t work. If she had come into contact with a child with rubella whilst she was pregnant, the consequences could have been very serious.
      Do not delude yourself, your actions do put other people at risk. This is why people give a “flying flip”.

    • William

      It’s impossible to respond to this rant point-by-point.  Among the more serious logical sins the author commits: failure to understand the concept of relative risk; failure to cite any sources at all; demands that studies be conducted which have already been thoroughly done decades ago; drawing irrelevant conclusions based on one piece of anecdotal evidence;  inability to understand that accounting for risk through the vaccine board doesn’t mean all of the claims are meritorious, merely that this was the most expedient way of getting an important public health advantage to spread without bogging the system down with baseless law suits.

      • missive

        Not to mention of course that the statements about IgE deficiency are blatantly incorrect and a complete misunderstanding of immunology.

  • Michelle Roth

    I am increasingly disapointed in the one-sided conservative views that NPR is choosing to paint their pages with. There may not be scientific evidence of what giving vaccines out in a spaced out schedule will do, but there is also no evidence that giving such large quantities of vaccines is safe for young children, yet the CDC recommends that we do that. There is evidence that not all children handle vaccines (or medications, for that matter) in the same way and that a one-sized-fits-all approach works for everyone. We are told not to question vaccines, yet its recommended that we give our newborns Hep B vaccines at birth. Hep B is a disease of prostitutes and IV drug users. It is recommended to fit the inner city, where birth may be the only time a child is at a medical facility. For the majority of babies, it is an unneccesary risk. I am not anti-vaccine. I am pro-education.

    • Heart

      You are misinformed about Hep B, I’m afraid. Hep B is not only a disease of prostitutes and IV drug users – in fact, it can be transmitted by sharing a washcloth with an infected person. There are tens of thousands of children under the age of 10 in the United States right now who are infected and you really can’t control whether your child will ever encounter another child (or person) who has Hep B.

  • Caradelsol

    The most pressing reason that the medical field pushed parents to vaccinate by the age of two is the fear that they will not continue the schedule and have their children fully vaccinated by the age of six. There are no hard studies that have been done to compare the effects of a spaced vaccination schedule and a condensed schedule. Indeed, more vaccines have been added to the schedule in the last five years, and not all of them have been studied thoroughly -the American public IS the study. I am not comfortable with my child being a case study. I have already been part of a government vaccine push when I was a member of the Peace Corps - I was coerced into accepting “new” vaccines on a condensed schedule and I experienced complications – and I refuse to put my child through that.
    The vaccination issue faces the larger problem of doctors’ failure to provide adequate information and to allow parents (and patients in general) their right to informed consent. If a doctor thinks he/she knows what is best for me or my child, he or she bears the burden of proof. Likewise, pharmaceutical companies bear a burden of proof not only to doctors, but also to the public. I feel strongly that this is being disregarded and information is being withheld from the public with the aim of “not promoting undue concern on the part of consumers” – which translates to “not hurting sales or barring adoption of new meds.”

    • Heartprivacy

      I am interested to know which vaccines added to the schedule in the past five years have not been studied thoroughly. 

  • ria

    I’m not against vaccinations but these reason for not spacing vaccines contradict themselves.  Citing fear/anxiety concerning so many visits for shots is strange.  If it’s so terrible, why give children so many shots to begin with? And if error is such a concern for a novel vaccine schedule, how can we trust our drs/nurses with doling out multiple vaccines at one time?….or by extention, to do what’s best for our children to begin with? That’s like arguing against modifying non-cruicial parts of ANY treatment with concern for the indivudual patient due to fear of incompetency from our medical professionals.  I would like to see a study on spaced-out vaccine schedules with a focus on illness/deaths due to postponed vaccinations and incidences of vaccine related complications.  I think if you’re going to cite no evidence base for a reason to not do something, some evidence would help us all make better decisions.  If I was complaining of nausea after taking a new medication, but my doctor told me it couldn’t be the meds because there’s no evidence it caused nausea.  I would stop to see if the nausea stopped and if it did…I would find a new doctor. 

  • HealthyVaxFree

    What exact study in what exact medical journal compares the current vaccination schedule of 72 shots by age 6 and the exact combinations in which they are given, sometimes 6 diseases at a time, to a placebo? Oh right, there isn’t one.  The current CDC schedule has never been studies, the individual vaccines have, but not given in the combinations as it is done today.  

    Upsides to vaccine spacing or single dosing
    -single dosing you know exactly which vaccine caused what type of reaction, be it a minimal one, or god forbid, a seizure.  GIves you a lot better of a case for a medical exemption or a court case, if need be.  A press release just came out about an increase in seizures from the H1N1 flu shot being combined with the Pneumococcal

    -spacing, you know your baby more, they have a personality and a schedule later in life, say at 6 mo versus 2mo, and you will be more able to identify any negative effects

    -delaying or spacing more closely mimics the pre-1989 schedule, when yes, children did get shots, but children were not nearly as sick or vaccine injured as they are today

    -food allergies.  Kids don’t start solids till 4-6mo of age.  Most mainstream pedi’s I know are DUMB AS DIRT when it comes to allergies.  You may just inject your kid with a life threatening protein, straight into their blood stream.  8% of children have food allergies.  

    -Studies have shown that catching Measles and Mumps within the same year naturally causes an increase in chrohns disease.  There are other similar studies for other diseases.  

    -Having to spend time Investigating your options for exemptions as they apply in your state
    -Getting a hard time from nurses and doctors at your pedi office
    -Having friends not want to have playdates or treat you like your kid has typhoid even if theirs are the ones covered in snot 
    -Having CPS investigate you or a school system deny your child an education

  • DP

    Parents who wish to spread the vaccine schedule out are concerned about the effects of overwhelming a young child’s system with so many agents at once. They believe that the potential negative reactions to this are far greater than fear in a child or a moderate interval between shots. Of course, the AMA resents anyone drawing conclusions about human health that are not endorsed by formal studies run by their colleagues. Some of us believe that many many recommendations made by the AMA have later been disproved.To me it is laughable that doctors squawk about a parent being overly careful about vaccination,,, while  all manner of drugs are being pushed daily onto an unquestioning American Public – some later found to cause damage or death. Even if the chances of bad effects from vaccination are rare, a parent tends to care whether this rarity might affect their own child,,, whereas the medical profession sees rare disasters as a tolerable percentage. 

    • mamacritic

      I agree!  I chose to spread out my children’s vaccinations because I believe that the body’s immune system can better react to one or two diseases at a time.   Our immune system is probably more adapted to taking on one or two diseases at a time – and may very well produce stronger antibodies to those diseases when given the opportunity to recognize and fight those diseases individually.   I felt that my childrens’ immune systems might be overwhelmed by having to deal with 3, 4, even 5(!) diseases at once! 

      There are many fantastic, life-saving vaccines out there today, which do make most of our children (those who don’t have a negative reaction to the vaccines) and certainly our POPULATION, safer and healthier overall.  I am not against vaccination for common (or once common) childhood diseases. I know people who got polio as children, and survived - they suffer the effects of that terrible disease to this day! 

       HOWEVER, I believe that it is important that both parents and pediatricians be aware of the potential risks of vaccines, and of the possible insults to our childrens’ immune systems that administering multiple vaccinations at one time might cause.  We need to be educated, and to be given the freedom to decide what we think is best for our children!  I find conflicting information about newer vaccines (like the HPV vaccine) to be particularly disturbing, and am waiting learn more before I elect to have my 10 year old vaccinated (remember, “First, do no harm!”)

      • concernedcitizen

        Actually the immune system probably works more effectively the more stimulated it is. To make antibodies for research a sort of “booster” or highly immunogenic molecule is injected along with the thing you are making antibodies to in order to increase the likelihood that the immune system will have an effective response. So I’m not sure that it’s actually the case the the immune system deals better by spacing them out…

  • Sam

    But is there science saying the schedule, not indiv vaccines, is safe? Please cite if so. Thanks.