Sometimes, There Is No Room for Compromise

We talk a fair amount about immunizations, both in the office and on this website. There’s a whole section on here with all the science and references you could want, under Resources. That’s we believe that immunizing children is fundamentally one of the very most important things we can do to keep children healthy. Vaccines save lives… we can’t say that enough. All of us, in our careers, have seen both the successful impact of vaccines on the burden of childhood illness, and the tragic outcomes of children who don’t receive these vital protections… or don’t receive them on time.

There’s a sneaky, seductive little idea out there that a lot of parents fall for. It’s the ‘I’ll vaccinate my child, just not all at once’ or ‘just more slowly’ or ‘no more than two vaccines at a time’. Certain celebrity physicians who make a lot of money selling books on this topic like to speak of these strategies as a sort of middle ground, a sort of compromise. It’s an idea that’s attractive to some parents, who struggle to reconcile what they hear from us, the AAP, and the CDC, with all of the misinformation that they get from whack jobs and former Playboy bunnies.

Don’t fall for it.

The vaccine schedule is designed to give every infant and child the best protection from the most deadly illnesses as early as possible. Things like bacterial meningitis from Haemophilus influenza (prevented by the HIB vaccine) and whooping cough (prevented by pertussis vaccine, contained in the DtaP) are true killers of little babies. Every week you delay a vaccine leaves your child with decreased protection for that much longer. And because pediatricians and ED doctors expect that babies are usually getting their shots on time, someone may assume that your child is protected against one of these deadly diseases… when in fact that is exactly what they have.

Taking the ‘middle ground’ by modifying your child’s vaccine schedule (delaying and/or refusing some vaccines) is like taking a ‘middle ground’ on children’s car seats by only installing part of the seat. Or like taking a ‘middle ground’ on smoke detectors in your home by only keeping a battery in them half the time. Vaccines save lives, period. Just like car seats, smoke detectors, and other everyday, non-glamorous safety devices… and the data on vaccines, both their effectiveness AND their safety, is every bit as strong.