Risks of multiple vaccinations

Some people have voiced concern about immunizations when multiple vaccines for different diseases are given at the same time. These people fear that harmful side effects are more likely because the child's immune system is not able to combat all of the vaccine organisms at the same time.

Getting more than one shot (injection) of vaccine at the same time may seem like a lot to handle. But babies have billions of immune system cells in their bodies. Beginning at birth, the immune system actively responds to hundreds of thousands of invading organisms.

After careful study, more and more vaccines are being combined into a single shot, such as the measles-mumps-rubella shot (MMR). Combining vaccines means fewer shots need to be given. Even though the vaccines are combined, each provides the same protection that it would if it had been given alone. Also, the combined vaccines have no greater risk for side effects than do individual vaccines.1

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend that in one doctor visit a child get all of the vaccines needed at his or her age.

Citations

  1. Atkinson W, et al., eds. (2009). Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, updated 11th ed. (The Pink Book). Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/default.htm.

Last Updated: February 26, 2010

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