There is one very compelling reason why newborns and very young infants receive immunizations so early in life, according to the CDC:
Children are given shots (vaccines) at a young age because this is when they are at highest risk of getting sick or dying if they get these diseases. Newborn babies are immune to some diseases because they have antibodies they get from their mothers, usually before they are born. However, this immunity lasts a few months. Most babies do not get protective antibodies against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, hepatitis B, or Hib from their mothers. This is why it’s important to vaccinate a child before she or he is exposed to a disease.
There are two very compelling advantages to giving two or more vaccines at the same time:
First, children should be given their vaccines as quickly as possible to give them protection during the vulnerable early months of their lives. Second, giving several shots at the same time means fewer office visits. This saves parents time and money, and can be less traumatic for the child.
Giving multiple immunizations at the same time is safe; delaying them is not:
Scientific data show that getting several vaccines at the same time does not cause any chronic health problems. A number of studies have been done to look at the effects of giving various combinations of vaccines, and when every new vaccine is licensed, it has been tested along with the vaccines already recommended for a particular aged child. The recommended vaccines have been shown to be as effective in combination as they are individually. Sometimes, certain combinations of vaccines given together can cause fever, and occasionally febrile seizures; these are temporary and do not cause any lasting damage. Based on this information, both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend getting all routine childhood vaccines on time.
It is a logical fallacy to believe that infants whose immune systems are immature receive too many vaccines too early in life. The “too many too soon” meme is a myth:
From the moment babies are born, they are exposed to numerous bacteria and viruses on a daily basis. Eating food introduces new bacteria into the body; numerous bacteria live in the mouth and nose; and an infant places his or her hands or other objects in his or her mouth hundreds of times every hour, exposing the immune system to still more germs. When a child has a cold, he or she is exposed to up to 10 antigens, and exposure to “strep throat” is about 25 to 50 antigens. Each vaccine in the childhood vaccination schedule has between 1-69 antigens. A child who receives all the recommended vaccines in the 2014 childhood immunization schedule may be exposed to up to 315 antigens through vaccination by the age of 2.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at a new study that should help put the “too many too soon” myth in the trash can where it belongs.
*** On January 22, 2018, Pediatric Alliance and some of our pediatric colleagues from around the United States began participating in an 8-week AAP-sponsored immunization advocacy campaign on social media. Please follow all our social media posts during this project on Facebook and Twitter.