In my several years of practice, I have come across many parents who have concerns about their children getting multiple vaccines at one time. They are concerned that their child will hurt too much or be too stressed out from getting multiple shots at one time. Or they are concerned about all the antigens in the shots and that their baby’s immune system will be overwhelmed. So what does all of this mean?
Will multiple shots hurt my child?
As far as the issue of your infant hurting from multiple shots in one visit, yes – shots do hurt. If you’ve had the flu or other shots recently, you know it does. But it only hurts for a minute or two and then the pain is gone. The same thing happens when a child gets multiple shots. The pain is present for a minute, and then it goes away. The tears dry up. There is data to suggest that getting multiple shots in one visit is LESS stressful and painful for your infant than spreading those shots out into several visits over weeks or months.
Can multiple vaccines overwhelm my child’s immune system?
This is the most common reason I hear for parents to delay vaccines or minimize the number of vaccines given at a visit. Their concern is that vaccines have a lot of material meant to stimulate the immune system to create antibodies, but all that material can overstimulate the immune system and cause problems for the child. The good news is that vaccine manufacturers have made huge strides in the amount of active material found in their vaccines, and there are minuscule amounts of that material in our current vaccines. For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, vaccines protected children against eight communicable diseases and contained in total over 3000 antigens (the active material that stimulates the immune system.) Today’s vaccines protect against 14 communicable diseases and contain in total about 150 antigens. They are much purer. Your child is being better protected against disease than you were and with vaccines that are purer and less likely to cause side effects. Also remember that your child is exposed to thousands of antigens daily, just by crawling around on the ground, licking his favorite toy or pacy, or breastfeeding. The number of antigens he receives by a round of vaccines is a drop in the bucket compared to what he is exposed to on a daily basis.
Why are vaccines beneficial for my child?
The FDA requires vaccine manufacturers to study vaccines very carefully, including the effects of giving multiple vaccines given together. They make very sure that multiple vaccines given together don’t affect each other or your infant negatively. And these vaccine schedules are designed so that your infant can be vaccinated and thus protected against diseases when they are most vulnerable to them. Delaying vaccines by giving one shot at a time might put your child at increased risk of getting one of these diseases.
As always, ask your child’s care provider if you have questions or concerns about giving multiple shots at once. For more information, you can contact Delta Health Pediatrics at 970.546.4000 or visit deltahealthco.org/delta-health-pediatrics/.