In 1983, the CDC vaccination schedule from birth to six years totaled 18 vaccines. Today, it's 50.
Your baby's first, and perhaps most important, medical intervention is vaccinations. Starting from birth, parents can help ensure that the vaccines their children receive, and when they receive them, are as safe as possible. If you are preparing to immunize your child, consider the following:
Discuss with your doctor which vaccines are necessary for your child.
After all, one size doesn't fit all.
Avoid immunizing when your child is sick or recently recovered from an illness.
Do not give your child a vaccine containing thimerosal.
Insist on thimerosal-free vaccines. Those on the CDC routine immunization schedule should be thimerosal-free. Those not on the routine schedule, including the flu shot, typically contain thimerosal. If you give the flu shot, a thimerosal-free version may need to be special-ordered by your pediatrician.
Always ask for and review the vaccine's package insert.
Read the section on ingredients so you know what is in the vaccine and have the opportunity to ask the doctor any questions. Check for the following potentially harmful ingredients which are called adjuvants:
In addition, if you are aware that your child is allergic to monosodium glutamate (MSG) or eggs, let your doctor know, and check the package insert for these ingredients. Note that all flu vaccines and the MMR vaccine contain egg protein. If you have questions, do not be intimidated: Ask your doctor.
Only get one vaccine per visit.
This may require multiple office visits, but giving one at a time (such as one vaccine per month) reduces any complications from the interaction of multiple vaccines. It will also allow you to know precisely which vaccine caused a problem if there are any adverse reactions. We still don't know the unique vulnerabilities of each individual, which may cause complications from even one vaccine, because research hasn't been done yet to identify those biological markers that would tell us if a child has a pre-existing disposition.
Ask the doctor to check for titers.
Via a simple blood test, the doctor can check to see if your child is already immune to a specific disease via previous exposure or vaccine. If the titer shows your child is immune, further vaccination (boosters) for that specific disease may not be necessary.
The Deirdre Imus Center for Pediatric Oncology offers information on a safer vaccination schedule, adverse vaccine reactions and a list of helpful resources For more tips about keeping your child healthy and safe, sign up for the newsletter.