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FAQ: Children's Vaccines

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Should I spread out the immunizations to prevent side effects?

Since there is no reason to spread out immunizations, it is most efficient to stick to the schedule as recommended.

Having said that, if for some reason you are not persuaded that the schedule makes sense, you can discuss with your pediatric provider how best to postpone certain vaccinations.

As long as your child is eventually completely immunized, the odds are very low that the prolonged immunization schedule will actually do any harm (or, for that matter, any good).

How effective are immunizations in preventing the disease?

No immunization is 100% effective. But in case you need persuasion, have a look at these dramatic facts from the CDC. There can be no doubt: Aside from a clean water supply, vaccines are one of the greatest developments in human history:

  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine has reduced Hib cases by 98.62%.
  • In reducing the incidence of Hib, the vaccine also dramatically reduced an associated deadly meningitis.
  • Measles vaccine has reduced measles cases by 99.95%.
  • Mumps vaccine has reduced mumps cases by 99.57%.

What about vaccinating my preteen?

Your preteen should receive at least three immunizations:

  1. Tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap)
  2. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4)
  3. Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine for girls

This is probably different from when you were a child. There are two reasons for these changes.

First, we have learned that immunity from some immunizations (like the DTaP) may disappear over time, so a booster vaccine can re-energize the immune system against that germ.

Second, some vaccines (like the HPV and meningococcal vaccines) are meant to prevent infections that only start in adolescence, so it makes sense to administer them during the preteen years.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Amita Shroff, MD on July 25, 2013
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