On Schedule: Why Vaccination Timing Matters for Your Child’s Health

December 2019

You show up for your baby’s two-month well-child visit, knowing that some vaccinations will occur during this appointment. But when you learn that your tiny infant is scheduled to be vaccinated against six diseases at once, you may wonder why they need so many in a single go.

But there’s good reason for it. Your pediatrician is following the comprehensive immunization schedule, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because babies have immature immune systems, they are more at risk of serious complications, or even death, from certain diseases. By immunizing them according to the CDC vaccination schedule, you are giving your baby the best protection possible against these diseases.

What is the vaccination schedule?

The CDC vaccination schedule is a standardized plan of vaccines, including dates and doses, to provide your child with the immunizations that will help build up his or her immune system — and help your baby build immunity to certain diseases as soon as possible. Doctors all over the country rely on this schedule to determine when children should receive vaccines for diseases ranging from polio to diphtheria.

Early Childhood Vaccine Schedule, Per the CDC:

Age Recommended Vaccinations
Birth Hepatitis B (1st dose)
2 Months Hepatitis B (2nd dose); rotavirus (1st dose); diphtheria, tetanus, & acellular pertussis, also known as DTP (1st dose); haemophilus influenzae type b (1st dose); pneumococcal conjugate (1st dose); inactivated poliovirus (1st dose)
4 Months Rotavirus (2nd dose); DTP (2nd dose); haemophilus influenzae type b (2nd dose)
6 Months Hepatitis (3rd dose); DTP (3rd dose); pneumococcal conjugate (3rd dose); inactivated poliovirus (3rd dose)
12 Months Haemophilus influenzae type b (3rd dose); pneumococcal conjugate (4th dose); measles, mumps, and rubella (1st dose); varicella (1st dose); hepatitis a (1st dose)
15 Months DTP (4th dose)
18 Months Hepatitis B (3rd dose); DTP (4th dose); inactivated poliovirus (3rd dose); hepatitis A (2nd dose)
4-6 Years DTP (5th dose); inactivated poliovirus (4th dose); MMR (2nd dose); varicella (2nd dose)

In addition to the vaccines that babies receive at their well-child visits, the CDC recommends that children six months and older should receive annual flu vaccines.

Why does the CDC recommend that babies and kids get so many vaccinations at once?

To trigger your child’s immune system to build up an appropriate antibody defense to the diseases they’re being vaccinated against, most of the recommended immunizations need to be administered several times.

Is it safe for my baby to get so many vaccines at once?

Yes. The CDC has done meticulous research to determine the best way to safely, effectively administer these immunizations and help your child stay healthy. The result is the current schedule.

Why can’t I delay some of these immunizations by spreading them out over a longer period of time?

Because of their immature immune systems, babies have the highest risk of serious complications with many of these diseases. Any delay leaves your baby more vulnerable than need be to the diseases they are being vaccinated against, which increases the risk of serious health issues. This is why public health agencies throughout the country, including the New York State Department of Health, warn against delaying vaccination.

How does vaccinating my child help protect other people? Aren’t they protected by their own vaccines?

Having your child vaccinated on the recommended schedule helps to promote what experts call “herd immunity.” When you and your family are immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases, you are far less likely to contract those diseases, and therefore far less likely to spread them to the people around you. This helps protects your entire community, or “herd.”

This herd immunity is especially important for protecting babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and individuals who’ve been advised by their doctor to delay or avoid certain vaccinations due to serious medical conditions (such as severe allergies or Guillain-Barré Syndrome). Herd immunity is also critical for protecting anyone (regardless of age or vaccination status) who has a compromised immune system — including patients living with cancer or HIV/AIDS.

If you have any concerns regarding the vaccine schedule, talk to your local Good Neighbor Pharmacy pharmacist or pediatrician.

The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent that of AmerisourceBergen Drug Corporation. The content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or treat any health condition and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health professional.

More Immunizations Articles