Image of a pediatrician injecting young girl.

Why Do Kids Need So Many Shots Today? The Evolution of Vaccine Schedules

If you’ve ever had to soothe infants or young children through their vaccination pokes, you might wonder why it seems the number of recommended vaccines continues to increase.

It’s simple, really. As science and medicine have evolved, scientists’ ability to fight disease has also advanced for the better. Current vaccination schedules for young children from birth to six years old provide protection for more than 15 different diseases. Some of these diseases can cause fatal health complications.

An infant or young child’s immune system is not strong enough to fight off the diseases vaccinations protect against, which is why children are recommended to receive their immunizations based on the Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents.

How Vaccine Schedules are Determined and Why Immunizations are Easier on Immune Systems Today

Scientists and researchers use the best research data to study which vaccines are needed to fully protect children. Every year, a team of top experts from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices work collaboratively with other organizations on the recommended vaccine schedule for the year. The recommendation is then approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Some vaccines have been added over the years because researchers have identified new vaccines. For some diseases, children need additional doses at designated intervals to allow the vaccines to work most effectively. One beneficial improvement is that each vaccine has less antigens, which are substances that trigger the immune response and build childhood immunity to certain diseases. Because children receive less antigens, the recommended vaccines children receive today are still effective but much less of a challenge to their immune system than the recommended vaccines were 30 years ago.

Research and Development take Years Before Vaccines Go Public

Vaccines can take up to 15 years of research before being made available to the public.

The rigorous testing and regulation of vaccines speaks to the changes they’ve undergone within the past 60 years. Improvements in technology and ongoing scientific research led to an increase in vaccines, as well as an increase in the safety of each vaccine.

Ultimately, vaccines are designed to shield us from harmful diseases. They’re rigorously tested and reviewed for safety and efficacy. If you have any questions about the number or kind of vaccines recommended for your children, have a serious conversation with your child’s doctor to understand immunizations and the immunization schedule.

Want to know more about immunizations? Start here:

Photo credit: didesign021

 

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