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Simply submit your question below, and a panel of Vermont doctors, nurses, and parents will respond with the helpful information you’re looking for.

By whom has the research [regarding MMR Vaccine related to causing autism] been conducted and what is their relation to the Pharm companies that create these vaccines and why has there been court rulings here and abroad awarding parents of children who have autism with the MMR vaccine to blame? One of these stories, the child showed signs immediately after getting the jab. How are you as doctors compensated by drug companies for using their vaccines over others? They can’t all come from one company? Is their price differences to you from company to company? How do they lobby for your business?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

We are often asked by concerned parents about the safety of childhood immunizations. We have no doubt about vaccine safety. And we know how devastating the diseases which we wish to immunize against can be.

Internet worries persist about autism and the MMR vaccine. This is an old worry that should be allowed to end. Multiple studies looking for any connection between MMR vaccine and autism were done by CDC in this country and by their counterparts in the EU and in Scandinavia. All found no connection between MMR and autism. And, of course, the Lancet study which first suggested a connection was withdrawn by the journal when it was PROVEN that the data was falsified. (You can Google “Lancet Wakefield” and find the article.) The argument of danger to MMR was to the financial advantage of the lead author, Andrew Wakefield, who had personally invested in single dose measles vaccine. Remember, the article claimed MMR was bad, Measles alone wasn’t–so this falsification in my opinion may well be a true conspiracy and not a false one!

Regarding court rulings suggesting vaccine harm, courts in the past relied more on theory and feeling than on science. Now that the science of no connection between MMR and autism is known, the courts are not finding a connection. There was 1 recent exception, about 4 years ago, where a court
found that a child with a genetic mitochondrial defect–an extraordinarily rare condition and a child who was not healthy BEFORE the MMR–may have been adversely affected and allowed an award. Was this sympathy or science? I leave that to individual interpretation, but I will assure you there is no science that confirms the court’s conclusion. Unfortunately, due to the rarity of this child’s condition, there is no science to absolutely refute or disprove the court’s decision either.

And speaking of conspiracy theories, vaccine manufacturers do not reimburse primary care doctors or clinics to use their product. Rather, they charge for it, and charge a lot! Pharmaceutical companies do finance studies by experts in the field, but the presence of that financing MUST be disclosed according to federal guidelines whenever those clinicians publish their data or speak publically. Isn’t it too bad those rules didn’t apply to Wakefield! And in Vermont, all of our children’s vaccines are purchased by the Vermont Department of Health, further isolating the clinicians who recommend the vaccines from the manufacturers.

MMR is safe and its safety and the protections to our children are assured on many levels. On the other hand, 1 in less than 500 children with measles will suffer brain damage, mumps can cause lifelong infertility in males and rubella is a source of protean birth defects, including permanent hearing loss.

Wise parents discard conspiracy theories and immunize their children.

Vermont Department of Health

No medical intervention is completely risk free. Vaccines, though they are designed to protect from disease, can cause side effects that range from mild to serious. The most common side effects from vaccination are soreness, swelling, or redness at the injection site. Some vaccines are associated with fever, rash, and achiness. Serious side effects from vaccination are rare, but may include life-threatening allergic reaction, seizure, and even death.

In October 1986, the U.S. Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA). The act included a number of regulations related to informed consent and adverse event reporting. For example, the act required that providers administering certain vaccines provide a Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) to the vaccine recipient or a legal guardian. The VIS lists the risks and benefits of a particular vaccine. The NCVIA also established a system for reporting suspected vaccine-related adverse events, known as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Additionally, the act contained provisions for a program that would fairly and efficiently compensate individuals harmed by certain vaccines that were properly manufactured, called the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). This system was created to help stabilize the legal environment for manufacturers, allowing them to limit their liability, better anticipate their legal costs, and reduce potential barriers to research into new vaccines. You will find more information and links at http://oktoaskvt.org/what-is-the-vaccine-injury-compensation-program/

My child has not taken the PCV ( vaccine). Since last year I have been searching for it. I have gone to different hospitals and was told it’s scarce here.

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

There is not a shortage that we are aware of. We typically call this vaccine “prevnar,” so it might be just a matter of asking for a different name. Also, it is for children age 6 weeks to 5 years, not any younger or older. If your child’s physician doesn’t have this vaccine, call the Vermont Department of Health, division of immunization 802-863-7638 Maryann Lisak, P.N.P.

My daughter’s school has told me her hep B vaccinations were given too close together. Which I confirmed. She either needs a blood draw to see if she has the vaccination in her or another booster of the vaccine. Her doctor recommends just to get the vaccine. Can she have too much of the vaccine in her body and is it bad for her?

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

Hepatitis B vaccine is highly effective, and the vaccines licensed in the U.S provide 90-95% efficacy for prevention of hepatitis  B infection.  Prevention of hepatitis B is so very important since it is a contagious disease and can cause liver cancer – called hepatocellular carcinoma – later in life. So thank you for vaccinating you daughter!

It is perfectly safe for a child to receive the standard 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine, or at times 4 doses. For some children and adults who display decreased immunity to hepatitis B based on blood testing, we often give one or more vaccines.

This vaccine is very well tolerated and she will not have too much in her body.   Think of immunization as a quick, focused exposure to jump start the immune system to create immunity or firm up the existing protective forces that she already has.

My friend is searching for information. Her family has some form of thrombophillia. She wants to get her family vaccinated but she is scared of the risk of clotting. She previously had PE and had to take blood thinners during pregnancy. She has read that adjuvants may increase the risk. She is really trying to do the right thing. She is coming from being formerly antivax to provax. It is frightening for her with her past history of clots and of course knowing that I had measles encephalitis as a baby.

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

Parental clotting history is not a reason to not vaccinate, and vaccine adjuvants do not increase the risk of clots, but certainly this concerned and well-informed Mom will want to discuss both the clot risk for her children, and how to properly and safely immunize them with her children’s doctor.

My son recently turned 4 years old and is ready for his next round of vaccines. However, this go-around my doctor and his doctor are worried about giving him the chicken pox vaccine since I am on immunosuppressive medicines. So far it looks like I may have to go off my meds for a month before he can receive it and then still wait a few weeks before restarting. Knowing how bad off I can be without these meds, a lot of planning/timing will need to go into this. How long can I wait? Are there other alternatives that at are safer for us? Thanks for any insight.

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

With one dose, your son is about 93% protected. The booster dose increases the protection and probably prolongs the protection. Give it next year–let’s hope Mom is off her medication at that point. If mom is still on medication at that time, I suggest the doctors consult with Pediatric Infectious Disease at Fletcher Allen Health Care for further advice.

Other than encouraging Tdap and Flu shots, what other precautions should we take for staff in a preschool classroom in which one set of parents has signed the ”philosophical” grounds waiver for immunization for their child. The child has had no immunizations except for the pneumococcal series. All the other children in the classroom are fully immunized. How much risk is the unimmunized child at? ~ Gail

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

For child care and school environments, maximum immunization is ideal.  A classroom is a small community in and of itself.  The unimmunized child is at risk for pertussis.  A recent study showed that children who are not up-to-date with pertussis vaccine are at significantly higher risk of getting the illness http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1735653.  An unimmunized child can also carry illnesses she is not protected against, which may then infect other vulnerable kids in the center. Teachers and administrators should encourage good hand washing, take precautions to exclude sick children from child care and ask sick employees to recover at home before coming back to work. For more ways to prevent influenza follow the link http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits.htm.

Within 24 hours of my sons 4 month vaccinations he had 3 seizures. The neurologists concluded they were not febrile seizures since he did not have a fever. He has had them a 14 more times since the original 3 and they are now being controlled by medication. We still do not have an answer for why he has seizures, and all the doctors are insisting that the vaccinations have nothing to do with it. Never the less, I am nervous about his 6 month vaccinations which he has scheduled to receive next week. I know having my child immunized will benefit others from getting sick, but as his mother I don’t want to compromise his health and development. Is there any research on vaccinations and seizures?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

There is a phenomenal amount of research about immunizations and seizures. From this body of data comes the recommendation that when seizures are controlled by medications, as your son’s are, that immunizations can be given safely. And remember that immunizations are not just for others as you note, but most importantly, they protect your son. Meningitis or other life threatening diseases prevented by immunizations threaten both health and development; immunizations do not.

Can an adult have HIB infection?

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

Yes.  Since the beginning of routine Hib vaccination, Hib infection is far less common in any group of people, both children and adults.  While unusual, Hib can cause infections in adults like pneumonia and bloodstream infections. Routine vaccination of children can help keep adults safe.


Vermont Department of Health


Hib vaccine is recommended for certain adults, such as those without a spleen, who are at increased risk for complications of Hib disease.

How long after the first varicella shot must a parent wait to have their child get their second Varicella shot?

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

For Varicella, the most typical schedule is to vaccinate at 12 months and 4 years.  Varicella vaccine is very effective and therefore only two doses are needed for long-term immunity.

The Centers for Disease Control states that the second immunization may be administered as soon as three months after the first dose.

I am 64 years old. I was told that it appeared that I did not get chicken pox as a child. Both my mother, and my sister had shingles. Should I get a shingles vaccination?

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

Definitely! The shingles vaccine is FDA approved for individuals ages 60 and older.  There are approximately 1 million cases of shingles per year in the US and the lesions can be very painful.  It is easier to prevent the illness than treat it; and with a safe, effective vaccine available, it is a good idea.

Researchers have found a link between varicella vaccine in children and shingles in older adults. As the article below explains, “A study by the CDC and other scientists confirmed that since 1993, the incidence of shingles has nearly doubled in the adult U.S. population. One explanation for the increase has to do with the universal vaccination of children against chickenpox. According to this theory, because most children no longer get chickenpox disease (which used to be a ritual of childhood), their parents no longer get the immunological “boost” that comes from being exposed to the virus while caring for sick children.
“The best explanation for the increase is that we used to get a subclinical boost when we were exposed to the chickenpox virus as adults,” said William Schaffner, MD, a pediatrician and vaccine expert at Vanderbilt University. “Because of widespread immunization, that’s not happening.”

http://www.webmd.com/vaccines/features/shingles-chickenpox?page=2

I recently found out that my nine-year old child received two of her vaccines earlier than recommended on the immunization schedule. According to the school nurse and others, she needs to be re-vaccinated for Hep B and polio. Will giving these vaccines to her again be too much for her body? What could happen in terms of side effects?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

So there are several issues: 1-there is no harm in giving another dose as suggested, and 2-even with the immunizations a bit early, it is likely that your child has been adequately protected. Re-immunizing makes us more certain of protection, and if she doesn’t need it, it WILL NOT have increased side effects or cause problems, and it may give a useful booster effect!  So, like your health care practitioner, I am sorry for the confusion and the need for another immunization, but I believe that it is really a good idea.

Is it recommended or required that a kindergartener attending a public school in Vermont have the chicken pox vaccine?

Kristin Gilbert, RN

It is required by law that a child entering kindergarten in Vermont has two chickenpox vaccines or documented proof of the illness.

Vermont Department of Health

Yes to both. Doctors recommend vaccines during childhood because they’re an incredibly effective way to prevent dangerous diseases and their potentially long-term effects. Right now there are 14 diseases for which kids can be vaccinated. Vaccines are also the reason why some serious diseases, like smallpox, have been completely wiped out worldwide. http://oktoaskvt.org/why-do-doctors-recommend-these-vaccines/  Also, Vermont’s immunization law says that parents are required to fully vaccinate children according to the recommended schedule before they enter school or child care. However, in certain limited circumstances, a child may be allowed to attend child care or school without some or all of his or her vaccinations. http://oktoaskvt.org/do-children-need-vaccinations-to-attend-child-care-or-school-in-vermont/

I’m concerned that there are so many adverse reactions to vaccines reported (30,000 per year). Knowing this makes me wonder about the safety of vaccines.

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

Your doctor will discuss with you the common side effects of each individual vaccine.  Permanent harm from vaccines is theoretically possible, but unbelievably rare.  For example, the risk of your baby being permanently harmed by immunization is a tiny fraction of the risk of your baby being permanently harmed driving home from your physician’s office in their car seat.

 

Vermont Department of Health

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a public tool that allows doctors, parents, and patients to report any side effects or reactions to vaccines they experience. The VAERS database then looks for patterns within the data and flags vaccines or ingredients for further testing or monitoring to ensure the highest degree of safety possible. Vaccines are licensed for use by the general public following years of clinical trials to assess safety and effectiveness. Each human body is unique, therefore, side effects from vaccines and all types of medications happen rarely to a small number of people in the population. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine published a report entitled: “Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality,” which is a review of the adverse events associated with eight different vaccines. In addition, the study evaluated the scientific evidence about the event-vaccine relationship. Read a summary of the report here www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2011/Adverse-Effects-of-Vaccines-Evidence-and-Causality/Vaccine-report-brief-FINAL.pdf.

 

Kristin Gilbert, RN

Vaccines are tested for years before they are approved from the CDC to use in patients. The vaccines have been tested for safety and efficacy through many clinical trials and groups before the CDC approves them.

 

 

My son’s school sent home a letter in his health packet saying there is no link between autism and vaccines. I’d like to know who funded that study? Former research found there was a link and now they are saying there isn’t. Is there a place that I can read what studies were conducted and who funded them? I do not trust studies done by anybody who stands to make a great financial gain or loss.

Vermont Department of Health

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists, has compiled a list of studies and links to publications to allow parents and all those who administer or recommend vaccines to read the evidence for themselves. The AAP says that “these studies do not show any link between autism and MMR vaccine, thimerosal, multiple vaccines given at once, fevers or seizures. This is not an exhaustive list- vaccine safety studies are constantly being conducted and published and may not be reflected here.”  They urge all parents to examine the evidence for themselves. http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/faq/vaccinestudies.pdf

What is the difference between a 3yo Split Preservative Free IM and a 3yo Quad Preservative Free IM?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

Each year, the influenza vaccines contain three virus strains that are expected to affect the United States in the upcoming winter. Until recently, all available influenza vaccines were trivalent inactivated (killed) influenza virus vaccines (TIV). Inactivated influenza virus vaccines cannot cause influenza. TIV came in whole-virus and split-virus forms prior to 2001, however, because of fewer side effects, including fever and reactions at the injection site, only split-virus TIVs are currently available in the U.S. In June of 2003, a live, attenuated, cold adapted, temperature sensitive, trivalent influenza virus vaccine (LAIV) was licensed in the United States. The temperature sensitive type A and B strains of influenza virus contained in LAIV multiply in the nasal passages but not in the lower respiratory tract. Due to the change in the types of influenza viruses circulating each year, some of the virus components of the influenza vaccines must be changed as well.

When is it okay for a child to only have 4 DTaP and 3 IPV shots? He was born in Sept of 2006 and had his DTaP in 06, 08, 11 and November of 12. Regarding his IPV, he has his 3rd shot after his 4th birthday, Nov. or 2011. I remember getting answers last year regarding these questions but do not remember the answers. Thank you for reminding me.

Vermont Department of Health

The only difference between the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations listed below and the Vermont requirements is that the dose recommended between age 4- 6 years is required prior to kindergarten entry.

Diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine. (Minimum age: 6 weeks)

Routine vaccination:
·        Administer a 5-dose series of DTaP vaccine at ages 2, 4, 6, 15–18 months, and 4 through 6 years. The fourth dose may be administered as early as age 12 months, provided at least 6 months have elapsed since the third dose.

Catch-up vaccination:
·        The fifth (booster) dose of DTaP vaccine is not necessary if the fourth dose was administered at age 4 years or older.

Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). (Minimum age: 6 weeks)

Routine vaccination:
·        Administer a series of IPV at ages 2, 4, 6–18 months, with a booster at age 4–6 years. The final dose in the series should be administered on or after the fourth birthday and at least 6 months after the previous dose.

Catch-up vaccination:
·        If 4 or more doses are administered before age 4 years, an additional dose should be administered at age 4 through 6 years.
·        A fourth dose is not necessary if the third dose was administered at age 4 years or older and at least 6 months after the previous dose.

Why are the vaccinated catching the very diseases they were ‘immunized’ from? Measles, mumps, chicken pox, and whooping cough all come to mind. Just because there may be a couple children/adults not up to date/unvaccinated does not warrant the vaccine useless in others. Please explain this new phenomena occurring.

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

There are three factors that contribute to the fact that some immunized individuals will not be protected, but bear in mind that it is quite rare for immunized persons to contract a disease they were immunized against.

First, no immunization is 100% effective–most are in the mid to high 90 percents. Second, immunity will wear down and off over time, and the rate of losing effectiveness can vary from person to person. And third,exposure–if the disease is in the community, you could be at risk. So if many of the community are not immunized, then this risk in increased.

Pertussis (whooping cough) is a particular concern. It is a very important immunization against a very serious disease. But it is less than 90% effective and there is concern that the newer vaccine, Tdap does not last as long as the older one. This is an area of active scientific study which emphasizes the need for everyone to be immunized to reduce the chance of pertussis in our community.

After my son had his first shots (2 month) he slept for about 4 hours and then woke up screaming. I’d never seen him this upset and it took about 45 minutes to finally calm him down and get him back to sleep. Of course the Internet can be a scary place and I kept coming across “cry encephalitis.” I was just wondering how common this is and what to look for. ~Kelly

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

The situation you describe can happen after immunization – sleeping more than usual is one of the most common effects seen in infants. The irritability that took a while to resolve comes from the soreness at the site of injection in addition to generalized body aches. These feelings are so foreign to babies, that they can cause longer crying spells than usual.

Crying for more than three hours after immunization occurs in 1/1000 cases, but this is not encephalitis. Encephalitis is inflammation of brain structures, usually caused by infections themselves, and does not get better after comforting or holding. This condition requires hospitalization. Seizure can occur in one child out of 14,000 after DTaP vaccine, but this is neither encephalitis nor from any permanent brain damage.

It is important to clarify with your baby’s health care provider when you should call the office, for example if there is a prolonged fever after immunization. Be sure to know your baby’s correct dose of acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen (for infants older than 6 months) before you leave the appointment.

I’ve heard whooping cough is coming back because the vaccine isn’t effective. What’s the point of vaccinating if we don’t even know that kids will be protected?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

It is correct that the immunization against pertussis or whooping cough is effective in the range of 70% of the time.  That means an immunized person has a 30% chance of contracting whooping cough if exposed.  But this talks about individual risk.

An often forgotten factor is community risk.  If an entire population in a community is immunized with 70% effectiveness the chance of whooping cough entering that community and spreading is much lower.  This concept is known as “herd immunity,” suggesting that if the population (herd) is, for the most part, immune, then the disease will not gain access to that population or be able to spread.  Even with its lower effective rates, the success of pertussis immunization over the past 50 years has been well proven scientifically.

My children have already been vaccinated, but I was recently told that vaccines still contain mercury which is why, they believe, there is a link between vaccines and autism. Is it true that these vaccines still contain mercury?

Vermont Department of Health

Mercury is only found in multi-dose vials of influenza vaccine. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/Thimerosal/thimerosal_faqs.html The Institute for Vaccine Safety developed a table of thimerosal content in vaccines: http://vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm. As you can see, there are very few vaccines with thimerosal content. The vaccines in this list that do include thimerosal contain only 0.01% thimerosal maximum. Just 50% of that 0.01% of thimerosal is mercury. http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/UCM096228

 

The FDA reviewed the use of thimerosal in childhood vaccines in 1999 and found no evidence of harm. They recommended removing thimerosal from vaccines routinely given to children as a precautionary measure, which was done by 2001. For a timeline of thimerosal and vaccines visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/thimerosal/thimerosal_timeline.html.  The component of mercury in thimerosal is called ethylmercury and is different than the type of mercury found in the environment, called methylmercury. While methylmercury accumulates in the body and is a known cause of learning disabilities in children born to women who have consumed large quantities of contaminated fish or other seafood, the ethylmercury in thimerosal is actively excreted from the body, making it much less likely than methylmercury to accumulate in the body and cause harm.   http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/Thimerosal/thimerosal_faqs.html

 

Research has demonstrated that there is not, and never has been, a link between autism and thimerosal or autism and vaccines in general.

http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2004/Immunization-Safety-Review-Vaccines-and-Autism.aspx

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/Thimerosal/QA_Pediatrics-thimerosal-autism.html

Rulings by US Court of Federal Claims in cases testing the MMR/thimerosal-autism link reflect this. http://vaccinesafety.edu/autism-testcases.htm

Studies have also shown that autism rates have actually gone up since thimerosal was taken out of childhood vaccines in 2001. Research attributes the rise to increased awareness and better identification of children with autism disorders, a broadening of diagnostic concepts and criteria and improved access to services.   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16818529?dopt=Abstract

My son had a scary night terror tonight followed by jerkiness and what seemed to be confusion. He is 9 months old and just had his 2nd Hib two days ago. Could this be related? ~Ashley

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

No. This is not a typical vaccine reaction. At about 9-10 months your baby goes through many developmental changes. The most common are stranger anxiety and sometimes sleep disturbances like dreams, nightmares and waking afraid (related to stranger anxiety/not wanting to be alone). The jerkiness was from the abrupt awakening I suspect.

Click here for more information on Hib and the Hib vaccine.

I think the parents who choose not to vaccinate have some good points. Is immunization worth the risk?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

Yes, immunization is worth the risk and the risk is low.

Not immunizing is not worth the risk. The risk of contracting serious disease is very real.  Parents today have little recollection of polio, whooping cough or measles and a fading recollection of chicken pox.  Prior to chicken pox vaccination in this country 1000 children were admitted to the hospital with chicken pox as their diagnosis per year and, of these, 100 died.

The diseases have real risk.  Immunizations have almost no risk.  So often parents who choose not to vaccinate do it from fear.  Tragically, they fear the immunization when they should fear the disease.

Can I wait until I find out more info, then immunize my son when he’s a little older?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

No medical or public health authority recommends delaying immunizations.  These are real diseases that cause real harm, to very young children.  These are the reasons that immunizations are timed early in infancy.

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

Almost all of the vaccines recommended protect against diseases that are most life threatening before age 2.   The best time to inform yourself is when you are pregnant and waiting for baby. Then you can ask informed questions at your prenatal visit, in the nursery and at your infants first few visits.   You won’t be as distracted by all of the newborn issues either and can focus on vaccines.   I have found that some families wait to get more information and their children then left unprotected or under protected against disease and by the time the family feels ready to “catch up”, the child is old enough to figure out that he gets an immunization at every doctor’s visit.  This usually unforeseen consequence of delayed vaccination is often not expected by parents and can be tough.   The answer is yes, you can choose to wait and file a philosophical exemption for child care and school but I strongly recommend you give all of the vaccines on time, especially DTaP, Hib, pneumococcal, influenza.

Is there a link between vaccines and autism?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

There is no connection between immunization and autism.  This has been extensively studied, more so than any other aspect of American immunization policy in the past twenty years.  Multiple studies both in the United States and other industrialized nations show there is no connection between immunizations and autism.  It is important to note that the first article in the medical literature that suggested this connection was fraudulently written for the financial gain of one of the authors.  It is unfortunate that this individual caused so much worry to parents and guilt to the parents of children with autism.  It simply is not true and never was true.

My son already had chicken pox – does he still need the vaccine?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

If your son had a proven case of chicken pox, proven either by a physician’s diagnosis or a blood test indicating an old chicken pox infection, then the chicken pox immunization is not needed.  However, few cases are so “proven.”

Why are there so many vaccines? Can I spread them out so my child doesn’t get so many at once?

Hagan, Rinehart, Connolly

Pediatricians P.L.L.C

The number of vaccines given now relate to our ability to prevent increasing numbers of serious and life threatening diseases.  We immunize against nothing that is trivial or unimportant.

Parents often ask about spreading out immunizations so the child doesn’t get as many at once, but there is no medical or safety advantage to this.  It is safe to give many immunizations on the same day.  The disadvantage of spreading them out is more visits for shots.  Most physicians, nurses and medical assistants will tell you that they’d rather upset a baby one time with several shots given quickly rather than multiple times with one shot per visit.

Dr. Elizabeth Hunt

Timber Lane Pediatrics

There are so many vaccines because multiple shots against the same disease are required to both minimize side effects and build longstanding immunity.  For example, protection against polio, a devastating illness still active in parts of the world, takes four shots in one’s life.   Each time the body is immunized it “sees” the disease more completely

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