- By Deborah Balzer
Infectious Diseases A–Z: Should babies get their recommended vaccines at one time?
Newborns and babies need a series of vaccines to protect them from more than a dozen potentially dangerous illnesses. Many new and first-time parents question whether their babies should get their recommended vaccines at one time or if they should be spread out.
"That's a common concern," says Dr. Robert Jacobson, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician. "There are several things that parents should know about infant immunizations and why it's important to not delay."
"First of all, the vaccines were actually tested for both safety and efficacy given at that time. We know how those vaccines behave when given altogether at that very young age. Those vaccines were very carefully tested in tens of thousands of patients," says Dr. Jacobson. "We know that it's safe."
Watch: Dr. Robert Jacobson discusses infant immunizations
Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Robert Jacobson are in the downloads. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network."
"Two, we know that all the vaccines work well when the vaccines are given together. In fact, that's a requirement for licensure — that the one new vaccine that we added 10 years ago isn't disrupting the work of the other vaccines that we've been doing for years before that," says Dr. Jacobson. "Our studies show that when parents try to spread them out, we know they're putting their baby at risk for those vaccine-preventable illnesses while they're waiting to get their child vaccinated. Those vaccines aren't being given years before the child needs them. "Those vaccines are being given now because your child's at risk now, and putting off vaccinating leaves your child at risk to get that infection. You're putting your child at risk."
Dr. Jacobson says studies show there is no there is no such thing as vaccine immune system overload. "In fact, the big immune exposures to children happen with their first feedings. They see far more immune active agents when they get their first meal than they do when they get their vaccines."
Delays or spreading out your infant's vaccines likely will expose the baby to more pain.
"Every time that baby has to come back for a visit and sees that exam table, our nurses report — and studies have shown — that that's actually stress-invoking or -provoking for the child, and causes more anxiety and pain and discomfort than getting them all at once," says Dr. Jacobson. "We don't ever recommend delays. You're actually creating harm by leaving your child at risk and causing more pain for your child."
Babies are given the first of three vaccines for hepatitis B shortly after birth. Infants should receive these vaccines between 1 and 2 months of age:
- Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b
- Hepatitis B (second dose)
Parents are encouraged to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) vaccination schedule to ensure that their child is protected from disease and illness. The CDC offers a complete list of recommended immunizations for all ages, including infants, adolescents, teens and adults.