The risk of catching many diseases is very high in the first year of a child's life. That’s why it is recommended that you get children vaccinated according to the immunization schedule. In respecting this schedule, you ensure that your child is protected at the time they need to be most. Even if you dislike the idea of giving your child an injection by getting them vaccinated, you are protecting them from catching diseases that can leave after-effects.
For further information on immunization in general and how to get your child vaccinated, see the Vaccination file.
Risks Associated with not Vaccinating your Child
Children not vaccinated are more likely than anyone else to catch a contagious disease. Such risk is present even in countries where the vast majority of people are vaccinated. For example, data in the United States shows that children not vaccinated are:
- 22 to 35 times more likely to have measles than children vaccinated
- 6 times more likely to have whooping cough than children vaccinated
Also, children who are not vaccinated can spread contagious diseases to others.
Benefits of Multiple Injections
Depending on their age, your child is likely to receive more than one vaccine in a single visit. Vaccines administered at the same time are called “multiple injections”. Only vaccines that are safe and effective when given together can be administered at the same time. This practice has several benefits, including:
- Vaccines given together protect against diseases just as effectively as when administered separately
- Children are protected earlier against a larger number of diseases
- Parents save time and avoid travel and costs related to repeated appointments
- The child experiences less vaccine-related stress because the multiple injections reduce the number of vaccination appointments. In fact, it is proven that a child in pain after a recent immunization session is likely to be more anxious at the following session
- Symptoms that may occur after a vaccine are felt only once instead of being experienced several times
Safety of multiple injections
Scientific studies have shown that children risk nothing in receiving several vaccines in a single immunization session. This practice is safe and applied worldwide.
Vaccines are just a small fraction of all substances to which a child is exposed daily. Every day, their immune system is exposed to thousands of microbes. The immune system’s ability to react would require 1000 times more strength than what is necessary to respond to vaccines. There is therefore no limit to the number of vaccines a child can receive at the same time.
Moreover, administering several vaccines at the same time does not increase the frequency, intensity or severity of symptoms. Symptoms are the same as when the vaccines are administered on different visits.
Also, treatment of the child’s discomfort is the same whether they’ve received one or several vaccines.
When possible, children preferably receive a combined vaccine, which is a single-injection vaccine that fights several diseases. For example, the DTaP/IPV/Hib Vaccine protects your child against diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, polio and Hæmophilus influenzae type b infections. Giving a combined vaccine to protect against these diseases both decreases the number of injections and the child’s discomfort.
There is continued research to find other effective and safe methods for administering vaccines, including oral vaccines given through the mouth or nasal vaccines sprayed into the nose. The objective lies in protecting children and not making them suffer needlessly.
Preparing Children for Vaccination
You can prepare your child for vaccination, especially if they are of an age to understand.
There are several ways to reduce the pain and anxiety of vaccination. See the Reducing the Pain and Anxiety of Vaccination in Children page and discuss them with the person administering the vaccines during your appointment.
Last update: April 18, 2017