In the end, it is best to simply get the vaccines in whatever way makes you most comfortable with your decision. From a public health viewpoint, it is best to get as many children vaccinated as quickly as possible. That not only builds up herd immunity but also protects each individual child from the various illnesses sooner. So the public health experts regularly encourage primary care physicians to vaccinate early and vaccinate often. They want us to not miss any opportunity to keep a child on schedule or to help a child catch up on immunizations.
However, if you are worried about giving multiple vaccines at once, it is better to spread them out than to not give them at all. Some parents worry about overwhelming the immune system and want to minimize any extra antigens on any given day. Some parents want to test each vaccine by itself to see if their child has a particular reaction. If several vaccines are given at the same time and the child has a fever of 104ºF, the parent doesn’t know which vaccine caused the problem.
we have our own personal example of the decision making process for choosing a vaccine schedule. We am a “lumper” who liked to give clusters of vaccines so that our child only cried once. Our wife was one of those parents who didn’t want to overwhelm our children with too many vaccines at once. Together, we compromised on a schedule that only gave our children two injections at any one time. Our schedule prioritized what we considered the most important vaccines for the early checkups and put off the other recommended vaccines until subsequent visits. We also chose combination vaccines when available to minimize the total number of needle sticks our children had to receive.
Our patients have created some other unusual schedules. Some parents give the first set of vaccines one at a time but the second set two at a time. If there have been no reactions up to that point, they are comfortable with giving the third set of vaccines at the six-month well-child checkup all at the same time. These parents figure that if their children haven’t had a reaction yet, they probably won’t in the future.
Our most memorable vaccine schedule is from a mother who believes in only giving vaccines one at a time. She also breaks down all the combination vaccines into separate components when possible. So she gives one vaccine at the two-month well-child checkup and then comes in every week for five weeks to given the remaining five vaccines. She repeats the cycle after the fourand six-month well-child checkups. Even though we don’t agree with her reasoning, we have to admire her dedication to her beliefs.