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Why is it Important to Follow the Newborn-to-2-Year-Old Immunization Schedule?

Questions and Answers with Andy Pasternak, MD, MS of Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine 

National Infant Immunization Week is a great time to highlight the importance of on-schedule vaccination. The CDC and medical experts created the childhood immunization schedule after thorough research and to help protect babies as early as possible from 15 preventable diseases.

It's crucial to know your sources online (read this great post by Dr. Pasternak on that) and to trust the medical advice provided by respected doctors, like Dr. Andy Pasternak, general practitioner with Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine. We sat down with Dr. Pasternak to ask some common questions about the childhood immunization schedule. 

Question: Why is it important that parents follow the CDC schedule to immunize their infants?

Dr. Pasternak: The CDC schedule has been thought out to get your child the most protection from specific diseases in the safest and quickest way. The current schedule is designed to maximize your child’s response to the vaccines and also makes sure the vaccines aren’t working against each other in any way. The CDC schedule also takes into account when children may be susceptible to specific diseases or may get exposed to specific diseases.

Question: What are the potential harms of creating your own schedule?

Dr. Pasternak: There are a few problems with this. First off, if you create your own schedule, we’re not as sure the vaccines are going to work as well as they do when we administer them in the way they’ve been tested in research studies. Alternative schedules may also delay your child getting immunity from diseases. Finally in the very unlikely event a child does have a side effect from a vaccine, it makes trying to figure out what happened more difficult.

Question: Does administering multiple vaccinations at the same time potentially overwhelm a baby's immune system? 

Dr. Pasternak: Our immune system is fighting off hundreds of viruses and bacteria every day. The immunologic response required to develop immunity to diseases from multiple shots pales in comparison to this.

Question: What harms can come from delaying vaccinations?

Dr. Pasternak: The biggest harm is that until your child is fully immunized, they are more likely to get sick or develop problems from that specific disease.

Question: What fact/figure/evidence seems to convince most parents in your practice to immunize according to the schedule?

Dr. Pasternak: Probably the biggest thing is just having the child care facilities and schools require specific immunizations at certain times. Notes from child care facilities and schools drive many of our “super-urgent” vaccine appointments.

Question: Why do you think some parents choose to delay or ignore the CDC recommendations?

Dr. Pasternak: There’s a lot of horrible misinformation on the Internet. When I started practicing medicine before the Internet took off, we’d have parents ask a lot of questions, but in general, there was less distrust. While the Internet has some great upsides, the downside is that people are able to put a lot of bad information out there, which can be scary for patients. The problem is that pretty much all of this information comes from highly questionable sources who report to be vaccine experts.

Question: What would you tell a family visiting your practice who had questions about the schedule?

Dr. Pasternak: I’d just try to explain to them that the schedule has been set up to try and get their child the best immune response rate in the shortest amount of time

Question: Is there anything else you'd like to tell readers about the importance of immunizing babies according to schedule?

Dr. Pasternak: There may be instances where you may want to get your child shots before schedule; for example, if you may be traveling somewhere exotic. As always, if you have questions, talk to your doctors!

Newborn baby immunization schedule | Immunize Nevada

Download the Infant Immunization Schedule.  

Visit Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine.  

This post was originally published April 22, 2015, and was updated and re-posted April 14, 2016. 

Andy Pasternak, MD, MS

Andy Pasternak, MD, MS

Dr. Andy Pasternak is a family medicine practitioner who founded the Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine in Reno, NV. Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine provides high quality health care for the entire family, treating the entire spectrum of medical conditions ranging from simple ear and sinus infections to more complex problems like heart disease and cancer.