Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Doctor answers your questions about vaccines

Why do babies get combination shots? Why do they get their first shot so young? Why don't we just slow down the vaccination schedule?

Parents asked a doctor who specializes in vaccines to answer some of their questions as part of a package of stories about parents' fears surrounding vaccines and autism. Dr. Gregory Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, answered. Poland helps set national vaccine policy as a liaison member of the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Several parents asked: Why can't children get combination shots separated, or get shots on a slower schedule?

There is no evidence of either safety or efficacy by separating all the vaccine doses. … There is evidence of both safety and efficacy if vaccines are used in the manner they were studied. … There is no credible evidence supporting fears of "overloading" a child's immune system by vaccines, or in somehow causing developmental disorders. … Recent outbreaks of diseases like measles have led to severe illness and even death among unimmunized infants and children. The longer the schedule is spread out, the greater the risk of exposure while susceptible.

Do children need the hepatitis B vaccine at such an early age? My daughter was offered the vaccine for her newborn.

Up to 50 percent of women who are hepatitis B carriers remain unidentified at the time they give birth — thereby transmitting it to their infants. The younger you are when infected, the higher the risk of becoming a chronic carrier.

Why can't babies get one vaccine instead of three or four every time they go to a doctor?

Combining immunizations is easier and safer (fewer injections) for the baby, while ensuring high rates of coverage. Increasing the number of visits increases costs and means babies would miss more shots.

Why is it unsafe to vaccinate a baby before 2 months but at 2 months and one day it is determined safe?

It is not a question of safety, but rather a measure of immune system function and the likelihood of developing a protective response for a given vaccine type.

It is my understanding that in order to maintain immunity from a vaccination, you must repeat it every five to seven years. Is there a vaccine schedule through adulthood?

There is. … The interval for repeat doses is different for each vaccine. (To see the adult vaccine schedule, go to

I am 83 years old. I have had three attacks of shingles in the last five years. Should I get the measles vaccine?

There is unlikely to be a need for you to have the measles vaccine. You should consider talking with your physician about the shingles (zoster) vaccine.

Doctor answers your questions about vaccines 11/24/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 28, 2008 5:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Six new restaurants opening this summer: Burgerim, Rocco's Tacos, American Social

    Food & Dining


    Feeling a little peckish? You're in luck, with a big raft of new restaurants poised to launch, including three at International Plaza.


    In the fast-casual arena, Burgerim is opening in late July at 800 N Franklin St. in Tampa. The concept is mini burgers, so you won’t be eating just one.
  2. Hernando County Commission rejects plan for waste-to-energy plant

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — After several years of discussion, many hours of staff time trying to negotiate a contract and questions about viability, the Hernando County Commission this week voted unanimously to turn down a contract with Freedom Energy Hernando LLC and abandoned the idea of having the county spearhead a …

     Commissioner John Allocco made the motion to deny the contract to Freedom Energy.
  3. Lack of parking for boat trailers causing turmoil along Port Richey waterfront

    Local Government

    PORT RICHEY — As Memorial Day and the summer boating season approach, the city of Port Richey finds itself in turmoil over parking along the city's waterfront.

    Gill Dawg restaurant owner Erik Suojanen, standing on property he owns across from his business, discusses a notice of violation he received from the city for allowing parking there without a submitting a site plan to the city.
 [Photo by Robert Napper]
  4. Tampa court hearing rescheduled for accused neo-Nazi jihadist killer


    TAMPA — Attorneys for Devon Arthurs, the alleged former neo-Nazi turned jihadist accused of shooting to death his two roommates, have asked to reschedule a court hearing that had been set for Wednesday morning.

  5. Parent of struggling DeVry University is changing its name to Adtalem


    Associated Press

    DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — The company that owns one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains is changing its name.

    This 2009 photo shows the entrance to the DeVry University in Miramar, Fla. DeVry Education Group, which owns DeVry University, announced Wednesday that it will now be called Adtalem Global Education. 
[Associated Press file photo]