Can I Space Out My Baby’s Vaccines?

Dr. Paul Offit explains the drawbacks to spacing out or delaying your child’s vaccines and describes studies of the stress children experience during vaccination.


Can I space out my baby’s vaccines?

Speaker 1: Can I space out my baby’s vaccines?

Paul Offit, MD: Children in the first few years of life get vaccines to prevent 14 different diseases. That can mean as many as five shots at one time, it can mean as many as 27 shots over that period of time. And it's hard to watch.

So, wouldn't it be reasonable then to space out the shots? There's a couple of reasons why not to do that. One, and most importantly, that whenever you delay vaccination, you only increase the period of time during which children are susceptible to those diseases. And some of these diseases are still occurring in the United States, diseases like pneumococcus, which can cause meningitis and sepsis; or varicella (chickenpox), which still thousands of cases of chickenpox still occur in the United States. So, these diseases still occur. So, a choice to sort of delay or space out vaccines only increases that time during which children are susceptible.

Also, it is true, interestingly, that if you look at children who get say five shots at once as compared to children who get just one shot at a time, when you do these studies looking at level of stress, which can be measured by a hormone called cortisol which is a marker of stress, there's really no difference. In other words, when the child is laid down and against their will being given a shot, that's stressful. It's no more stressful to get more shots at the same time, at least according to these studies.

So, better to get it over with then and not put your children at risk by delaying or spacing out or separating vaccines.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Mar 15, 2022