Most of us here at MacArthur Medical Center are parents, and as parents we would do ANYTHING to keep our children safe. One of the most important things we can do to protect our children, even when we’re not with them, is to ensure that they are properly immunized on time and in compliance with the immunization schedule set by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is infant immunization?
Immunizations are also called vaccines. From the time a baby is born through their first 15 months, they will receive many vaccines, which will protect your baby from getting sick with diseases and illnesses that can make them very ill, cause life-long health issues, or cause death.
Because most people are now vaccinated and most people chose to vaccinate their children, we forget how life was before vaccines — when debilitating childhood illnesses caused severe complications or death almost every day. Today’s children get more shots than previous generations — this is good thing! It means our children are better protected from more than we were (or our parents). Gone are the days of chicken pox, polio, and mumps!
Vaccines work many ways, depending on the vaccine, but all of them are meant to keep your baby safe. The benefits of vaccines far outweigh any possible side-effects.
Children will receive vaccines from birth until 18 months, and are given boosters in throughout childhood from ages 4–6, and again at 11 years.
What is the infant immunization schedule?
The current vaccine schedule has been created by the CDC. It is important to stick to this schedule. Information on the internet or from your friends and family about “alternative” vaccine schedules may be well-intended, but it’s not a schedule or a plan that has been tested. Providers and medical offices which support untested, “alternative” vaccines schedules are not practicing evidence-based medicine.
- Going against the CDC’s vaccine schedule is risky and can cause harm to your baby (which we would never want!). Here is why:
- The “alternative” schedule has NOT been tested. The clinical trials and research studies that should bring confidence are swapped with schedules that have no evidence for success or safety.
- Delaying certain vaccines increase risks for infection because your baby hasn’t built up the proper immunity — meaning every play date, trip to the grocery store, or kiss from grandma is a risk.
- While there is NO data to support “alternative” vaccine schedules, there IS data to support that delaying or slowing vaccination increases the risk of some types of seizures after vaccination.
There is only benefit
There is no benefit to delaying vaccines or opting for an untested schedule. There is only risk. It is important to talk to your child’s medical provider if you’re considering an “alternative” schedule. Pediatricians will take the time to explain each vaccine your child receives, answer any questions you may have, and assure you that you are making the best decision to protect your child. After all, there is nothing more important to you than your child, and making sure they are safe from anything that could harm them.
Written by Erin Cox, Practice Manager at MacArthur Medical Center; reviewed for clinical accuracy by Dr. Nehal Shah.