Although most parents are familiar with the “childhood vaccination schedule” – a detailed plan for when your child should get certain immunizations helps to protect them from preventable diseases.
As the list of recommended vaccines has grown or changed over the years, so has the list of questions about vaccination schedules.
Did you know? Why are vaccines important and why it’s essential to have an immunization schedule? In this article, we try to explain these points in detail.
Why Childhood Vaccinations are So Important
Vaccines help protect us and those around us from preventable diseases such as tetanus, HPV, polio, measles, meningitis, and whooping cough. How? By helping our bodies to create immunity inside which eventually prevents disease.
Childhood vaccinations are extremely important because young immune systems are more vulnerable and prone to diseases and illnesses. For example, If your child is exposed to a disease like measles, his/her immune system might not be strong enough to fight it off. (WebMD, 2020)
This is why most vaccines are made with disease antigens, which trigger the immune system to produce antibodies and develop immunity – without getting sick.
Why Do We Have Vaccination Schedules?
Immunization schedules for children are designed to keep young immune systems in mind to protect them from preventable diseases as early and safely as possible.
These schedules are created and suggested by top infectious disease experts and doctors and ideally have about 16 recommended vaccines, as well as dosages and timing from birth to 18 years old.
The first immunization schedule was released in the United States in 1995 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee. Since then the CDC team meets 3 times a year to review the latest scientific research and make any necessary changes to the vaccination schedule.
The CDC officially sets the schedule is always based on recommendations and the schedule is also approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (CDC, 2021)
Why is it So Important to Follow Immunization Schedules?
Staying on schedule protects your child’s immune system
Backed by ample scientific research, the timing, and scheduling of immunizations are set to work with a child’s immune system at specific ages and times.
Vaccines not only prevent the disease, but they help in saving lives. While a few parents wonder if the number of vaccines kids receive can ever be more in numbers for their bodies to handle, the short yet clear answer is: NO. Extensive research has been done to ensure the safety of vaccines for young immune systems for decades.
Staying on schedule protects others as well as around us
Immunizing helps to protect the health of our community as well, especially those who can’t be immunized, like very young kids or those who can’t for medical reasons.
Staying on schedule can be a requirement
Often daycares, schools, and sports teams require proof of immunizations for your child to participate to keep track, hence keeping up with their shots can help make sure they don’t miss out.
Why it is Not Recommended to Have Alternative Vaccination Schedules
A few parents wonder whether spacing out vaccinations or following an alternative vaccination schedule is a good option. Unfortunately, there isn’t any scientific basis for such delayed vaccine schedules. Rather, more importantly, delaying vaccines means children are more vulnerable for extended periods. (Medline, 2020)
Exceptions to the “Vaccination Rule”
Parents often ask if there are any reasons to not vaccinate their child or to delay vaccination, and the answer is: Yes.
There are times when some children should not get certain vaccines or they should wait for them a little longer than recommended. For example, if your child has any severe, life-threatening allergy or an allergic reaction after a previous dose of certain vaccines, your doctor may recommend not getting or delaying a specific vaccination.
In case you have questions about whether your child should or shouldn’t have specific vaccines, we strongly encourage you to talk with your doctor.
Your Pediatrician Knows Best
If you have any questions about vaccinating your child, talk with their Pediatrician. They can talk with you in detail about your child’s medical and immunization history, which gives you more information on specific vaccines and the recommended course specifically for your child.
“Who Sets the Immunization Schedule?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Feb. 2021, www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/schedules/sets-schedule.html
“Vaccines for Children | Childhood Immunization.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 Mar. 2021, medlineplus.gov/childhoodvaccines.html
“Young Childhood Immunizations and Inoculation Schedules.” WebMD, WebMD, 2020, www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/young-childhood-immunizations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/childhood-vaccines/index.html