The most common alternative vaccine schedule that we have encountered involves merely spreading the vaccines out over time. Instead of giving eight vaccines (involving at least three injections and one oral vaccine) at the two-, four-, and six-month well-child checkups, parents choose to give fewer vaccines at the checkups and then come back later for the remaining vaccines.
Some parents choose to return in between the well-child checkups for the additional vaccines. This allows them to be caught up by seven months of age. We discussed the most extreme example of this pattern, where the mother insisted on giving each vaccine separately and came back every week for several weeks in a row, starting the whole cycle over again at the next checkup. Other parents spread the vaccines out over a longer period of time, with the goal of being caught up by age two.
Another common alternative vaccine schedule we have seen parents choose focuses on giving certain, more critical, vaccines to infants and delaying less critical vaccines until the child is older. Under this schedule, parents focus on the HiB, pediatric pneumococcal, and DTaP vaccines, as they protect against diseases that are particularly dangerous for young babies. However, the parents often choose to delay the polio and hepatitis B vaccines until the child is much older because the risk of contracting those diseases is so low.
Another alternative vaccine schedule that has become more common in our practice is the one recommended in The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears. He generally recommends not giving more than two vaccines at the same time. In addition, he focuses on the aluminum content of certain vaccines when choosing which two vaccines should be given at any one visit.
Please remember that none of these alternative schedules has been tested in studies. They are all based on assumptions that have not been proven true or false. If it gives you more comfort to choose an alternative schedule and your child ultimately ends up completely vaccinated, that is your choice, and we will support your decision. However, if you don’t have a strong feeling in favor of an alternative schedule, we always suggest following the recommended vaccine schedule.