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Updated April 12, 2014

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Health Alert - Optional Vaccines and Alternative Immunization Schedules
Typical vaccines a child might get at their two and four-month old checkups.

If using a combination vaccine, such as Pediarix, then your baby will likely get three shots and RotaTeq, an oral vaccine, at her two- and four-month-old well child checkup.

Photo © Vincent Iannelli, MD

Experts often describe vaccines as one of the top medical advances in all of history. In fact, the CDC reports that "vaccines have reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed many infants, children, and adults."

Some parents do worry about the fact that young children have to receive so many vaccines by the time they are 4 to 6 years old though, including:

  • 3 doses of Hep B
  • 2 or 3 doses of Rotavirus vaccine (depending on the brand of vaccine used)
  • 5 doses of DTaP
  • 3 or 4 doses of Hib (depending on the brand of vaccine used)
  • 4 doses of Prevnar
  • 4 doses of IPV
  • 2 doses of MMR
  • 2 doses of the chicken pox vaccine
  • 2 doses of Hep A
  • a yearly flu vaccine

That can add up to about 36 vaccines by the time your child is 4 to 6 years old. Fortunately, the development of combination shots (Pediarix, Pentacel, Kinrix, ProQuad, and Comvax), oral (RotaTeq), and nasal vaccines (FluMist) now means that your child may not actually get that many shots. Now, your child might receive 36 vaccines, but just 22 shots.

Optional Vaccines and Alternative Schedules

None of these vaccines is optional though. According to the CDC, if more parents begin to adopt alternative vaccine schedules and not give their kids some or all of these vaccines, then many of these vaccine preventable illnesses, including measles and pertussis, "would increase to pre-vaccine levels."

Unvaccinated children and those who are not fully vaccinated also pose a risk to infants who haven't completed their first series of immunizations and children who have immune system disorders.

Vaccines are important. If you are worried about your child's vaccines or have become confused about any misconceptions about vaccines you have read about, be sure to talk to your pediatrician.

 

Sources:

CDC. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. What Would Happen If We Stopped Vaccinations?.

Paul A. Offit, MD - The Problem With Dr Bob's Alternative Vaccine Schedule. PEDIATRICS Vol. 123 No. 1 January 2009, pp. e164-e169

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