Baltimore Sun, July 11, 2011
The topics of vaccines and vaccine safety spark emotional outbursts at scientific meetings and family dinner tables alike. But many of these debates are remarkably fact-free. Surprisingly few people — not just concerned parents but also doctors, policymakers and even immunization experts — can answer this seemingly simple question: How many immunizations does the federal government recommend for every child during the first two years of life?
A new Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health study reports that the higher the proportion of infants and toddlers receiving recommended vaccines, the higher the state's rate of children diagnosed with autism or speech-language problems just a few years later. This analysis is sure to rekindle the debate about vaccine safety.
In all, the federal government recommends 36 doses of vaccine, addressing 14 different diseases, for every U.S. child under age 2. An on-schedule child will receive a dose of vaccine for hepatitis B at birth, eight doses of various vaccines at 2 months, seven additional doses at 4 months, and four to seven more doses at 6 months.
The federally recommended doses of vaccine for every child during the first two years of life are: three doses each for hepatitis B, polio, flu, and HIB (12 doses in all); two doses each for hepatitis A and rotavirus; four doses for pneumococcal infections; one dose for chicken pox; three doses through the combination MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella; and 12 doses through four separate administrations of the combination DTaP vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough).
In addition to the number of doses, vaccine ingredients can be problematic, especially for susceptible subgroups. First are adjuvants, substances added to boost effectiveness and allow smaller doses of vaccine antigen to be used. The most common adjuvant is aluminum, which is found in vaccines for hepatitis and diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus.
Related: Vaccines and autism: a new scientific review ("Documented causes of autism include genetic mutations and/or deletions, viral infections, and encephalitis [brain damage] following vaccination. Therefore, autism is the result of genetic defects and/or inflammation of the brain.")