Talk to Patients About: Why is “Slowing” the Vaccine Schedule a Bad Idea?
By Sean Price

Before an American child turns 2 years old, he or she will get 27 vaccinations – sometimes up to six shots in one doctor’s visit.

For some parents, that seems like too much. These parents feel the vaccine schedule laid out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) forces children to get too many shots too quickly.

“There are a lot of parents who wonder why their babies get more shots than they did when they were a baby,” said Elizabeth Knapp, MD, an Austin pediatrician.

Anti-vaccine websites often feed parental fears that immunizations “overwhelm” a child’s immune system by coming too fast, so physicians need to have responses ready to counter them, Dr. Knapp says.

“I always use the analogy about car seats,” she said. “Back when I was little, car seats looked very different than they do now, and our technology has changed for car seats just as it has for immunization. Now we can protect against so many more sicknesses than we used to.”

The CDC schedule is designed to protect children early, Dr. Knapp says. That fact usually helps her talk parents out of delaying shots.

“Spacing [shots] out is inevitably leaving your child vulnerable to something that you want them protected against, like brain infections or other severe illnesses,” she said. “I talk about each individual vaccine, and then I say, ‘Which would you choose to not do today? Which one would you like to have your child vulnerable to?’ And most patients understand that. They want their baby protected.”


Tex Med. 2020;116(7):47
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Last Updated On

July 01, 2020

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Sean Price


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Sean Price is a reporter for Texas Medicine and Texas Medicine Today. He grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He's worked as an award-winning writer and editor for a variety of national magazine, book, and website publishers in New York and Washington. He's also helped produce Texas-based marketing campaigns designed to promote public health. Sean lives in Austin and enjoys hiking, photography, and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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