Four Seasons Pediatrics

Flash header display failed. Please install Flash and come back.

Safety of Vaccine Schedule

March 24, 2013
A new Institute of Medicine (IOM) consensus report supports the safety of the recommended immunization schedule for children from birth to age 6 years in the United States, citing evidence to reassure those with concerns that up to 24 immunizations by 2 years of age represents too many vaccinations too soon. The IOM committee finds no evidence that the schedule is unsafe,” the 14 expert authors write in a brief that accompanied the full report, “Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies,” published this year.

“This most comprehensive examination of the immunization schedule to date…should help to reassure parents. Indeed, rather than exposing children to harm, following the complete childhood immunization schedule is strongly associated with reducing vaccine-preventable diseases,” write Ada Sue Hinshaw, RN, PhD, chair of the IOM committee, and coauthors. Dr. Hinshaw is dean and professor of the Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

Specifically, the committee reviewed the medical literature and did not find any evidence to suggest a link between the childhood immunization schedule determined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and specific medical conditions. They found no associations, for example, with autoimmune diseases, asthma, hypersensitivity, seizures, pediatric developmental disorders, learning disorders or developmental disorders, or attention deficit or disruptive behavior disorders.

Dr. Miller Comment: This report supports one of the most important studies that we previously reported. In that study researchers from the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky set out to determine whether children who received vaccines on a delayed schedule demonstrated different neurodevelopmental outcomes than children who were immunized on time. They then underwent 42 neuropsychological tests when they were 7 to 10 years of age. Of 1,047 children, 491 were vaccinated on time; 235 were vaccinated with all vaccines but not on time, and 311 did not receive all recommended vaccines.

Results indicated that timely vaccination was associated with better performance on 12 of 42 outcomes. They also demonstrated better verbal skills and had higher IQs. Children who were not immunized on time did not perform better on any outcomes. The researchers wrote “This study provides the strongest clinical outcomes evidence to date that on-time receipt of vaccines during infancy has no adverse effect on neuro-developmental outcomes 7-10 years later.

At Four Seasons Pediatrics, we are happy to provide parents with information about vaccines and vaccine safety. Here are some common concerns we hear:

“The vaccines are given at too young an age”. Vaccinations are given at the age when children are most at risk for the diseases and when the immune system will respond to the vaccinations. Babies don’t get immunity from their mothers for several important diseases for which vaccines have been developed.

“Vaccines have toxic ingredients”.  Aluminum salts are used in some vaccines as an adjuvant.  Adjuvants enhance the protection from vaccines.  This adjuvant has been used for more than 60 years.  To put this in perspective – water can be toxic to a human in high enough quantities. Oxygen can be poisonous and can cause oxygen poisoning. The list of examples goes on and on but the take home point is this: any substance can be toxic in the right dose; and most substances will not be toxic at low enough levels.  The same applies to aluminum. During the first 6 months of life, infants could receive about 4 milligrams of aluminum from vaccines. That’s not very much: a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram and a gram is the weight of one-fifth of a teaspoon of water. During the same period, babies will also receive about 10 milligrams of aluminum in breast milk, about 40 milligrams in infant formula, or about 120 milligrams in soy-based formula. 

“There are too many vaccines given, it is too much for their little body”.  While today’s children receive more shots than previous generations, today’s vaccines contain fewer proteins that stimulate the immune system.  50 years ago, a single vaccine given to children contained more than 200 of these proteins and some more than 2,000.  Together, all 11 of the routinely recommended vaccines contain fewer than 130 proteins.  There is no evidence that the vaccines overload the immune system.  In fact, every day a child encounters from 2,000 to 6,000 similar proteins through contact with shared toys, doorknobs, or playground equipment. 

For more information about vaccine safety, visit the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Information center found by clicking here

« Go Back

Print Print Read Past Newsletters