Why Some Parents Are Refusing HPV Vaccine For Their Children
Aug 20, 2013

Some of the data contained in this post has been updated.  For a more recent review of the prevalence of HPV infection and more current data on the safety and efficacy of the HPV vaccine, click here to read “Questioning Whether to Get Your Child The HPV Vaccine?  Read this“, published in January, 2016.  
This post is not the result of an official survey. Rather, it’s a collection of the most common explanations I’ve heard parents make when refusing HPV vaccine for their children, followed by points to consider.

REASON #1: My child is not/ will not/ should not be having sexual relations. So why would they need an HPV vaccine?

As a mother to five daughters I get it. Every parent wants to believe that their son or daughter will remain abstinent until marriage. And some may. But the reality is that some children, even as young as 12 and 13, are already involved in sexual relations and this reality is what has influenced the age at which the HPV vaccine is recommended.  Here is what the studies suggest:

The HPV vaccine is most effective when the complete three shot series is given long before any sexual activity begins, which is one reason the vaccine is recommended for boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 12. Additionally, the vaccine illicits a greater immune response and produces higher antibody to fight infection when given at this age, compared to receiving the vaccine at a later age.
Regardless of the when a child becomes sexually active, the HPV vaccine is important because the prevalence of HPV infection is staggering:

Some parents may be surprised to learn that sexual intercourse is not necessary for infection.  Oral-genital and hand-genital transmission of some genital HPV types is possible and has been reported.  Studies show that HPV was detected in 46% of females prior to first vaginal sex.  Based on this information, it’s possible that a person can become infected during their first sexual encounter. Even if someone remains abstinent until marriage, there’s no guarantee that the person they are marrying isn’t already infected.
Yet, some parents remain concerned that vaccinating a child for a sexually transmitted disease is like giving them permission to have sex. However, research indicates that HPV vaccination has had no notable difference in the markers of sexual activity, to include pregnancies, counseling on contraceptives, and testing and diagnosis of sexually transmitted infections. In other words, the vaccine does not appear to be changing sexual behaviors, only protecting those when they eventually engage in them.
The way I see it, most children by the age of 11 can understand that the HPV vaccine can protect them from various types of cancers, but not from pregnancy and STDs. It’s a simple matter of communication by which the parents can explain that the vaccine doesn’t equate to a free pass to have sex.  If a child chooses to refrain from sexual relations, I would venture to guess that it has more to do with their upbringing and strong moral character, than whether or not their parents choose to protect them with the HPV vaccine.

REASON #2: Won’t regular PAP smears detect any abnormalities and identify cervical cancer without the need for the vaccine?

Let’s be clear. Getting the HPV vaccine is not a substitute for regular PAP smears. However, even regular PAPs depend on many variables to detect cancer, to include women being diligent about getting them, the test accurately detecting an abnormality, and the fact that an abnormal PAP (if accurate) means that an infection has already occurred. At that point, we’re not able to prevent infection but must then rely on medical science to treat it. Of course, treatment procedures can be frightening, painful, and even result in complications, hysterectomies and infertility. And since people who are infected with HPV rarely exhibit any symptoms, they could spend years unknowingly exposing others to the virus.
IncidenceOfCancerAttributedToHPVPicture1But PAP smears are only helping to identify cervical cancer at this point in time. In addition to the 10,300 women who get cervical cancer from HPV infections in the U.S. each year, there are thousands of others in the U.S. diagnosed with other HPV related cancer each year: 2,100 vulvar cancers, 500 vaginal cancers, 600 penile cancers, a combined total of 4,300 anal cancers in both men and women, and 8,400 oropharyngeal cancers in the head, mouth and neck among both men and women.   Since there is no test to check one’s overall HPV status, and no standard screening to detect HPV in the mouth or throat, getting an HPV vaccine is a critical way to reduce the number of people who suffer and die from these types of cancer, and offering a means to prevent illness rather than wait for the need for treatment.

REASON #3: HPV has been known to clear up on its own, so why get vaccinated?

It’s true that many people will be infected with HPV for years and never know it. Some may even develop an HPV infection that clears up on its own in about two years. But how many people will they have shared their HPV infection with along the way? And what will their outcomes be? There is no way to determine which cases will clear up and which will lead to cancer, so our best defense is to simply reduce the spread of the infection with vaccination.

REASON #4: The vaccine only offers protection from some of the strains of HPV. Why bother if it’s doesn’t protect from all HPV strains?

While this is true, the important thing to know is that both the quadrivalent and bivalent HPV vaccines cover the most popular HPV strains (16 and 18).  These two strains are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.

REASON #5: I’m not confident in the safety of the vaccine. Aren’t there girls who’ve fainted or even died after getting vaccinated?

It’s understandable that parents are hesitant. After all, inaccurate information about the safety of the HPV vaccine is continuously circulating on the internet. However, to be an informed and educated parent, one must learn that “research” involves more than just believing everything you read on the internet. It involves checking sources and looking at the scientific evidence.
The HPV vaccine is not new. From June 2006 through March 2013, approximately 57 million doses of HPV vaccine have been administered. In that time, there has been an enormous amount of research that demonstrates that the HPV vaccine is not only well-tested, but extremely safe.
The first step in evaluating the safety of any vaccine is to understand the process of vaccine licensing and follow-on safety surveillance.  The CDC infographic entitled “The Journey of Your Child’s Vaccine” helps explain this process in detail.  After a vaccine is licensed, the CDC and FDA use three primary systems to monitor and evaluate the safety of vaccines. The three systems are:

  1. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) which allows people to self-report adverse health events following vaccination to help detect possible new, unexpected, or increased trends in reported adverse events.
  2.  Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), which uses de-identified health records to monitor and evaluate adverse events following vaccination.
  3. The Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment (CISA) Project which conducts research to understand how adverse events might be caused by vaccines.

In a study published August 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), VAERS data from June 2006 through December 2008 was thoroughly analyzed.  At the time, more than 23 million doses of HPV vaccine had been administered with 12,424 reports of adverse events. Of those reports, 94% of them were “not serious” and 6% were described as “serious”, with the most frequently reported symptoms being headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, syncope, and generalized weakness.  This study also investigated 32 reports of death.  However, medical investigation into these cases revealed that there was no common pattern that might suggest these deaths were caused by the vaccine. In cases where there was an autopsy, death certificate, or medical records, the cause of death could be explained by factors other than the vaccine. Some causes of death determined to date include diabetes, viral illness, illicit drug use, and heart failure.   While the deaths may have occurred after vaccination, it is important to understand that they were not a result of vaccination – a point that vaccine critics fail to clarify in their discussions about HPV vaccine safety.  In conclusion, the study found that the safety of the HPV vaccine was consistent with that of other vaccines recommended for this age group.
An additional report conducted in 2011 of the VSD studied the occurrence of specific adverse events following more than 600,000 doses of HPV vaccination. None of the adverse events found were any more common after HPV vaccination than among the comparison groups.
Since there’s concern that many U.S. children are not getting the HPV vaccine as recommended, it’s important to highlight a recent study that analyzed five years of data from the Australian HPV vaccination program, where over 70% of girls have been vaccinated as recommended.  The study revealed a sharp decline in the number of young women diagnosed with genital warts.  By 2011, no genital warts were diagnosed in women under 21 who had been vaccinated, and a significant decline in genital wart diagnoses also occurred in 21-30 year old women, a trend not observed in older women.  But what was even more impressive was that less than 1% of the female population under 21 years of age had genital warts in 2011 (to include those vaccinated and unvaccinated).  This is compared to 10.5% of women in 2006 before the vaccination program started. This data, combined with a 44% reduction in the diagnosis of genital warts among young heterosexual men (who were not among those recommended to be vaccinated) suggests that HPV infections are declining as a direct result of vaccination and the profound impact of herd immunity.
The significance of these studies, as well as more than 30 other PubMed studies linked at the end of this post, should help illustrate how safe and well researched the HPV vaccine has been.  If only U.S. parents could recognize the value of this vaccine and increase it’s uptake, than maybe one day we may expect a similarly impressive reduction in HPV infections for the youth of our nation. Perhaps by reviewing the safety data, along with this comprehensive risk/benefit analysis displayed within the Information is Beautiful infographic below, parents will begin to recognize the importance of the HPV vaccine.  

To parents who are still hesitant in regards to the HPV vaccine, I ask you this…

If your doctor recommended a vaccine that could prevent breast cancer in your daughter or prostate cancer for your son, would you refuse? By getting your child the complete three dose series of HPV vaccine at a young age, without focusing on the questions as to when they may become sexually active, you can ensure that you help reduce your child’s risk of cancer.  Who wouldn’t want to do that?

hpv_2

Links to various PubMed articles regarding HPV vaccination:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23027469
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2322430
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23199956
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22327492
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22265115
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23484396
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22155768
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22048171
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22029979
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22018560
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21865087
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21629249
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21550027
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21288094
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21266842
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21226933
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21198715
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20812850
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20606533
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20574412
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20375805
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19962185
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19823051
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19684472
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19493565
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18463363
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18455092
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18162241
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18000825
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17602732
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16631880
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15541448
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2064309

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Note: This content originally appeared in Vaccinate Your Family’s Immunization Alerts e-newsletter, sent March 31, 2021. You can sign up for future alerts on our website. April 9, 2021: An update was made to...

If you’ve forgone vaccines in the past and are now looking to vaccinate your child, the good news is that getting your child caught up on vaccines is totally doable. It may feel daunting,...


37 responses to “From Avoiding Vaccines to Getting A Child Caught Up: Where To Start?”

  1. Mark Sawyer, MD says:

    Prioritizing vaccines is always a challenge for physicians because we do think they are all important. Having said that, there is a spectrum of risk for exposure to the diseases we can prevent with vaccines so I’ll give my opinion about that. As you have probably heard measles and pertussis (whooping cough) are on a record breaking pace this year so I would consider those high priority now. Especially the pertussis vaccine given the new baby on the way. The diseases caused by Pneumococcus and Haemophilus can be very severe so the PCV13-Prevnar and HiB vaccines are always a top priority. Varicella (Chickenpox) is still around and is very contagious so that’s my next priority. I’m happy you’ve decided to vaccinate your children. Don’t wait too long in getting fully caught up!

  2. Lawrence says:

    My wife recently got here titers tested as part of her annual check-up & she discovered that she was not immune to Measles. With the recent rash of outbreaks (one is local to us), she felt it was important to get her MMR as quickly as possible.

    Even adults should be knowledgeable about their immunity status – so catching up isn’t just for kids – it behooves all of us to do our part to protect ourselves and others.

  3. Teresa says:

    Your child’s doctor honestly has your child’s best interests in mind, years of schooling, and tons of research behind his decision. Talk to him and get the shots on the schedule he recommends. Your child will face a stronger immunological threat from the lollypop they give him when he’s done (assuming your son is like mine, and the lolly will immediately be covered in dirt.)

  4. Mary says:

    I would find another doctor, perhaps a pediatrician, who can provide you more concrete advice. I would ask: can my 3 and 5 year olds receive all vaccinations (at least the 1st dose in those that have multiple doses…) right away? Basically what is the soonest you can “catch up.” I would also be aware of the vaccine rates in their daycare/playgroup/etc and take care to minimize exposure in the same way you will keep your unvaccinated newborn away from unnecessary risk. I don’t think you need to over-worry about this, you are on the right path. Just start and make sure you (and other adult family members) personally get your boosters too – whooping cough etc Basically I think your family physician should be more proactively helping you with this, so I would recommend to be direct with them and ask for more guidance ASAP, or find another doctor who is more responsive. Good luck 🙂

  5. nolocovore says:

    Maybe I misunderstood your doctor’s advice – my advice is get all the shots as SOON as you CAN.

  6. Anthony says:

    First of all, they need to get a new family physician.

  7. Melody RN says:

    Dear Mom of 2+1, Congratulations on your pregnancy! Such an exciting time for you and your family. I know I speak for many other mothers and nurses when I say, Thank you for taking the first initial steps in protecting your children from vaccine preventable diseases. By getting your older children up-to-date, you’re also creating a safer environment for your newborn. I agree with the suggestions of Dr. Sawyer, especially in light of the recent outbreaks we are seeing here in the United States.
    I would also like to mention that there are vaccines you and your husband should consider in the near future that will help to further protect your newborn. With almost half of pertussis/whooping cough cases in newborns originating from the parents and caregivers, we as healthcare providers highly recommend the Tdap for new parents and grandparents, especially If you cannot remember the date of your most recent booster. The best time for pregnant mothers to get the Tdap is ideally in the third trimester-that allows time for your body to pass antibodies to your baby before birth and has shown to provide protection in newborns! I strongly recommend that you also advocate for any adults who will be helping and visiting to verify their vaccination status as well.
    I’d also like to note that your delivery will take place during the beginning of Flu season. Once again, like the whooping cough vaccine, science has shown that by vaccinating a pregnant mother against flu protects the infant post-delivery. Especially since a newborn cannot receive an influenza vaccine till 6 months of age, your baby will be dependant on those around them to protect from viruses. Please inquire about these vaccines at your next ob appointment to learn about your healthcare providers recommendations for your area.
    Good luck with your growing family and the best wishes!

    Melody, Pediatric RN

  8. Catherina says:

    This is an excellent question – the CDC does have a catch up schedule, here http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/catchup.html but since you are have a lot to catch up on you can triage the “most important” vaccines (with a baby in the house that is hib, pertussis and PCV for the younger child), you have 5 months until baby, so some time, no need to rush – there are catch up schedules that would get your kids up to date really fast, however, I was never a great 5 pokes a visit fan (did it once, for DD, she did great with that, mom not so much) – what I would do (with no more than 2 shots per visit – you can combine more if you want fewer visits!):

    for the 5 year old – several vaccines are NOT needed: rota, hib, PCV, you could do:
    now DTaP/IPV/hepB (Pediarix is the US 5 in 1 vaccine)
    in July: MMR in one arm, Varicella in the other
    in August: DTaP/IPV/hepB 2 (so Pediarix again)
    in September: get MMRV

    The 3 year old doesn’t need rota, but one each of hib and PCV, so you could do:
    now DTaP/IPV/hepB (Pediarix is the US 5 in 1 vaccine)
    in July: MMR in one arm, Varicella in the other
    in August: DTaP/IPV/hepB 2 (so Pediarix again)
    in September: Hib in one arm, PCV in the other

    Both should get a third DTaP/IPV/hepB next spring, and 5 years after that.

    See how you feel then, still missing for “full coverage” are Meningitis (1 shot) and HepA (2 shots, 6 months apart). You could get them these (Men and the first of hepA) before the baby is born, but because of age, they would not be at the top of my list. You could, for example, also get those shots at a baby shot visit – that might motivate the older kids. I should mention that my suggestion contains one less DTaP than recommended on the US schedule. However, this is what is recommended on some European schedules and protection after two DTaPs is reasonable for about half a year and after the third DTaP in Spring, your kids will be as protected as if they had four shots. If you don’t want to veer off schedule, then you could get a DTaP in October and the DTaP/IPV/hepB 6 months after that.

    Several things to watch out for: on days where your kids do NOT get the same shot, have a look at the vial/syringe, so the right kid gets the right shot. Make sure to keep your own records on which shots your kids got when, since they are not on a “traditional” schedule, you might need to refer back to this. Also: older kids have their own minds whether they want to be vaccinated – calculate bribes into your budget 😉

    Finally: consider a DTaP for yourself at around 32 weeks pregnant (you could get one with your kids), so you’ll give your new baby maternal immunity against pertussis.

    I hope this helps: congrats on your decision!

  9. Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco DNP, PNP-BC, CPNP, FAANP says:

    First of all I am so happy that you have decided to protect your children against vaccine preventable disease! I know this has been a long and difficult decision for you and your family. I have 2 infant grandsons myself so I know how much thought you and your family have put into your decision. I have done a lot of research on how to vaccinate and what is the best way to do it so that I can offer the very best possible advice to families like yours. The schedules we use are based on the best available science to give individuals the optimum response to the vaccines so the vaccines provide the greatest amount of protection.

    Let’s start with your 5 year old. If he was my grandson I would suggest to my children that they do follow the ACIP schedule because there is no evidence that spacing out the vaccines decreases any chance for side effects. And the longer it takes to vaccinate the longer my grand babies would go without protection. For a reasonable first visit for your 5 year old I would suggest DTaP, IPV, Hep b, MMR and Varicella vaccines. That might sound like a lot but your son’s immune system is very capable of setting up an immune response provided by all of the vaccines. In fact one cold exposes your child to more antigens than all of the vaccines we give put together! I would suggest you request that your provider use the combination vaccines. If combinations are used then your child will only receive 2 shots on the first visit. The combinations he would receive are DTaP-IPV-Hep b vaccine and MMR/V vaccine. There is a chance your child could develop a fever following the vaccines but the fever does not usually last long and fevers of 101 degrees or higher can be controlled with acetomenophen or ibuprophen. You can also expect some redness and swelling at the site of the injections. If that happens cool water on a wash cloth applied to the injection sites usually helps. Yes you are correct that your 5 year old is too old for some vaccines and those are Hib, PCV13, and Rotavirus vaccine. Your 5 year old should return in 1 month for DTaP, IPV, Hep b, and MMR vaccine. Again he should get the combination DTaP-IPV-Hep b and MMR. He has to wait 3 months after the first dose to get the second VAR (varicella) vaccine. One month after the second set of shots your 5 year old would return for another DTaP-IPV-Hep b. This combination would give him an extra dose of Hep b which is perfectly fine for him and he would only need one needle rather than 2 if the DTaP and IPV were given seperately. Then he would wait 6 months after the 3rd DTaP-IPV-Hep b to get a booster dose of DTaP and IPV. While he could get a 4th dose of Hep b 2 months after the 3rd dose it could be given with the booster doses of DTaP and IPV. After those 6 month booster doses your 5 year old would be caught up with his immunizations. If it is influenza season then you would want to get the Flu vaccine. I prefer the inhaled flu mist vaccine over the shot for healthy children for 2 reasons. It is not a needle and it works better than the shot in children. Of course you can discuss this with your provider. I would also suggest that your children receive all of their shots in their legs. As a Nurse Practitioner comfort measures are very important to me and the data showes that children up through 5 years of age develop less redness and swelling when they get their vaccines in their legs rather than their arms. The reason for this is that the muscles in the legs are much larger than arms and walking helps the vaccines to be absorbed better. Another comfort measure is letting your child blow bubbles while he is receiveing the vaccines.

    Now for your 3 year old. Again what I am suggesting is exactly what I would suggest for my grandchildren. I would also ask for some combination vaccines for your 3 year old. On the first visit I would advise DTaP, IPV, Hep b, Hib, PCV13, MMR, and VAR. There are 2 different combinations among DTaP, IPV, Heb b, Hib, that could be used for your 3 year old as well as the combination MMR/V. There is a higher chance of developing a fever if your 3 year old receives the MMR/V and with that higher chance of fever a higher chance of developing febrile seizures. While children usually outgrow febrile seizures and they are not harmful to the child but they can be frightening for parents. The 3 year old would receive 4-5 shots at this visit depending on which combinations are used. For your 3 year olds’s second visit one month later DTaP, IPV, and Hep b would be needed and that can be given in one combination shot. For the third visit one month after the second you would have the same option as for your 5 year old. A seperate DTaP and IPV or the combination DTaP-IPV-Hep b where he will receive an extra Hep b. The next visit would be the same as for your 5 year old DTaP, IPV, and Hep B six months after the 3rd set of vaccines. Your 3 year old would then be caugh up. Influenza vaccine would also be needed if it is flu season. You should also consider adding Hep a vaccine at some point for both children.

    The latest recommendations from ACIP also recommends that you recieve a Tdap vaccine in your 3rd trimester to protect your new baby from whopping cough. The optimal time to give the Tdap vaccine is at this time because it gives the baby the best antibody protection. ACIP recommends a Tdap vaccine in the 3rd trimester with every subsequent pregnancy. I would also suggest your husband and other family members who will have contact with the new baby recieve a Tdap vaccine at least 2 weeks before the baby is born because it takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to work.

    I have reviewed what I would do for your family following the ACIP guidelines but of course you should discuss your children’s immunization schedules with your provider. I wish you the very best for your family and a beautiful healthy baby and an easy labor. And thank you again for making such an important decision to protect your family and community from vaccine preventable diseases.

  10. Ohio Pediatrician says:

    Congratulations on your new addition and on making the decision to vaccinate your children! As a pediatrician, I have run across almost this exact situation with some of my patients. I can tell you that as medical providers we are very excited to be able to provide the life-saving protection of vaccinations for previously unvaccinated children. While your children have aged out of some of the recommended vaccinations, they are eligible for the majority of them, although they may not receive as many doses due to their age.
    For the families I’ve worked with, I usually ask first if there are any restrictions on what vaccinations and the number of vaccinations that they are willing to receive and why; while I would prefer to provide complete catch up as fast as possible and healthy children are capable of tolerating and responding well to far more vaccines than I would probably give in one sitting (I have an arbitrary and personal 6 shot limit just from a kindness standpoint), I am willing to work with parents’ requests (I’d prefer your children to be vaccinated against something rather than nothing). I address any concerns they have regarding specific vaccines. From there, I tend to prioritize the most fatal and contagious diseases first. Given the current measles and pertussis outbreaks, I would make these the among the first that are provided, especially with a pregnant woman in the household and a newborn on the way. If the number of shots is the concern, there are many combination vaccines that reduce the number of injections your children receive, while still providing a very comprehensive update – you can ask your pediatrician what is available at the office. If spacing is desired, vaccinations can usually be updated monthly until catch up is complete, although this will vary with the type of vaccines. Be aware that this can be more distressing for your child than receiving shots at the same time.
    Ideally I would at the very least start with DTaP, PCV -13, Hib, and MMR. Thankfully, these are available in combinations that would also provide protection against varicella, Hepatitis B, and polio and I would certainly argue in favor of giving those combination vaccinations. Also of paramount importance, I would recommend that all family members get their seasonal flu vaccine this fall and that all adult caregivers (including mom) get their Tdap. It is safe and recommended for pregnant women to be vaccinated with flu vaccine at any point in the pregnancy (the killed injection, not the live intranasal) and the Tdap in their 3rd trimester, which has the added benefit of providing some passed down protection to baby.
    Again, my congratulations on your new baby and my commendations on your decision to vaccinate your children! Your doctor should be willing to discuss your concerns and to answer your questions about vaccinations. For additional reliable information you can consult the resources at http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4012.pdf.

  11. I concur that you should get a new family physician. You need a physician you can trust and believe in, not one who is going to give you snark. First of all, is this the same physician who accepted your decision to not vaccinate your children for five years? Then I wouldn’t trust that doctor’s judgment and commitment to an appropriate vaccination schedule. The only downside of catching up is the time and expense of multiple doctor visits until all the shots are received. That is the reason combination shots exist. And that is one reason the shots are all administered in the first two years, Wellbaby visits are convenient. Once the children are older and reach school age when many mothers return to the workforce, it is harder to take time off from work and school for doctors appointments. That is why it is not really a conspiracy to over-vaccinate. It is just more convenient for everyone involved.

    Good luck and thank you for helping the herd. People with underdeveloped or compromised immune systems such as infants, those with allergies to vaccines, the elderly, and the medically fragile all thank you.

  12. Rich says:

    Just a quick note regarding Catherina’s recommendations…No “Meningitis” vaccine for kids of this age and the last line should be recommending a Tdap not a DTaP for a pregnant Mom.

  13. Alet RN says:

    Congratulations on your new baby! And on your decision to protect your newborn, as well as your older children. A good pediatrician will certainly be your most important start on this journey. I have nothing more to add to the excellent advice of the pediatricians on this thread. Good luck on your journey and enjoy your new baby!

  14. Congratulations on all accounts! I’m sure that your family has not taken this decision lightly and it truly is gratifying on our end to see.

    My 2 cents: tetanus is very important as there is no herd immunity and it’s often fatal. There is no natural immunity to tetanus because the amount needed to kill is less than a nanogram. Even a wasp sting carries a risk, so get that one done.

    Agree with above that measles, pertussis and varicella are very important and timely to protect this new baby!

    Also, consider that some vaccines can only be given after a certain delay if other vaccines have already been administered. For example, after you get the varicella shot, you must wait 4 weeks to give the measles shot. Ditto influenza. So you might want to give those together and schedule a few others a week or two later and then you’re clear for influenza season this Fall.

    I know it’s going to seem like a lot of poking in a short period of time but hang in there!

  15. katie says:

    First of all, congrats on your pregnancy!!! And for coming to terms with vaccinations. This makes my heart smile.
    As you get you children up to date, dont forget to update yourself and your husband!!!!! To protect that new baby, youll want a recent Tdap booster for the both of you, plus anyone who plans to be your new baby!!!!!!! Just something to check into as you venture,into the wonderful workd of vaccines!!!!

  16. Georges Peter, M.D. says:

    We hope you are not overwhelmed by the volume of responses! They do emphasize that you and your husband, after considerable review and thought, have made a very important decision for the benefit of your children. We hope others will see the light and follow your lead. Those who don’t have their children vaccinated create a risk to other children, even those who are vaccinated because vaccines while highly effective are not 100% effective.

    By the way, the ACIP schedules are also approved each year by the Am. Academy of Pediatrics and the Am.Acad. of Family Physicians. Your doctor is probably a member of the latter. So the schedules reflect broad consensus among doctors.

  17. michelle says:

    I can’t tell you what is most important but the least important is Polio. The pediatric doctor I worked for always said that was the last one to catch up on.

  18. Lawrence says:

    @michelle – granted, I would also believe that is correct. There hasn’t been a Polio case here in a while…but I’m sure the anti-vax crowd would like nothing better than a return of “polio summers.”

  19. Gabs says:

    Why would you do this to your child. Getting him caugh up with not only traumatize him but could also be super dangerous. what made your change your mind? MMR vaccines is the worst

  20. Lawrence says:

    Why are you commenting on an article from three years ago?

  21. Chris says:

    Gabs: “MMR vaccines is the worst”

    Why should we care about what you say, necromancer?

  22. Leila says:

    My daughter is 17 and missing 69 vaccines. Where to start? She has natural immunity to pertussis and mumps. She has never been on antibiotics, has no allergies, and has never been sick except for pertussis and mumps. She had a few days worth of tylenol once for a sinus headache. No one will believe this, but it is the story of every unvaccinated child we know. Wake up to true, unmanufactured health. Say goodbye to chronic conditions. Don’t bow to pharmaceutical profits.

  23. Lawrence says:

    I bet Pertussis was fun….could have killed her.

    And natural immunity doesn’t last either.

  24. Chris says:

    “Natural immunity” doesn’t last for mumps either. I had it twice as a kid.

    Also, there is absolutely no “natural immunity” for tetanus, diphtheria, strep, rotavirus and a few other diseases.

    “No one will believe this, but it is the story of every unvaccinated child we know.”

    And we are supposed to believe you, a random anonymous person commenting on a three year old article? Gather up the data of those children, then a thousand more… then with their permission get their full verified medical records. Compile them, do some statistics and write it up in a paper. Submit it to a peer reviewed journal, and then you might have something worth our consideration.

  25. bmx Bicycles originated

    From Avoiding Vaccines to Getting A Child Caught Up: Where To Start? | Shot of Prevention

  26. B buckman says:

    How crazy. Even your meds say that if you miss dose do not double up. What the hell is wrong with your logic

    Vaccine store all the toxins In your child’s body. They do not go away

    Once you fill them up with aluminum mercury and the other toxic chemicals animal DNA and the rest. They go to work destroying their health.
    Have any of you actually real how much of this crap stays in there bodies and is responsible for hundreds of health problems and autism. How stupid can you be.
    Children are not at risk for diseases they are at risk for being piosonsed.
    Parents are brain dead

  27. Lawrence says:

    #1 – vaccines don’t “store” anything in the human body.

    #2 – Thimerosal isn’t contained in a single US Pediatric Vaccine anymore (hasn’t been for more than 15 years).

    #3 – Care to provide any real citations for your little rant?

  28. Nadia says:

    I have three kids 6, 5 and 3 years old. My oldest one had all of his immunizations but my other two haven’t had even one. Let me tell you this, this year my oldest one was sick with a flu 2 times, strep throat 4 times, has seasonal allergies, he is constantly sick. My other two without any immunizations haven’t been sick even once this year although they all sleep in the same room, they share toys or they will even drink from one cup. Their immune system is sooo much stronger. I will immunize them before they have to go to school since it is a requirement but I am holding off as much as possible.

  29. Chris says:

    Why should we believe your story?

  30. Joyce Cooper says:

    My two-year-old is just beginning his immunizations and now he is actually suffering from PTSD he will not even let me change his diaper he’s so traumatized what should I do

  31. Jessica says:

    Please help me for this my son age 4 need a shot be late i try to explain to you because I’m deaf

  32. apatuh says:

    I pay a visit everyday a few blogs and blogs to read articles,
    however this web site presents quality based writing.

  33. anxious april says:

    Please don’t insult me or write mean comments or questions for me. Thirteen years ago when I was pregnant with my son, I would check the daily progress of pregnancy on a website that detailed the stages of fetal growth, what to expect, what to avoid, what to add, etc… This website warned against eating lunch meat during pregnancy, and this is when it all started. An internet search about the dangers of lunch meat during pregnancy led to the origins and dangers of fluoride. This led to the dangers of vaccines. Over the next few months, the internet convinced me that the dangers far exceeded the benefits. My childhood best friend has an autistic son, and she was my hair dresser at the time. One day while getting my hair done, I told her what I’d been reading online and I asked her about her sweet son and his onset of symptoms. She told me that she knew without a doubt that his vaccines caused his autism. She said she thought he had a predisposition to it and the multi-pack of shots he got in one day triggered it. He went from being a fun-loving, talking, walking toddler who would make eye contact and tell his mommy I wuv oo, to not walking, not making eye contact, not being able to say words, and being constantly upset, irritated, angry, and in fits. By the time I had this conversation with her, he was eight-years-old and had the cognitive development of a three-year-old. I asked her if she immunized her two children that were younger, and she told me that she did because she couldn’t live with the possibility of them contracting a deadly disease that could have been prevented by a simple and free shot. I had the equal and opposite conviction: I couldn’t live with the possibility of triggering/causing my perfect baby to become autistic. That conversation sealed the deal. My eleven and twelve-year-old sons have never had an injection in their entire lives. They are very healthy, and we live in a state that allows immunization exemptions based on philosophical reasons. However, we may be moving to California where such exemptions are not allowed. It is beyond terrifying for a person like me to face the fact that my children will have to all at once get several shots that I have for so long considered poison. I know that most vaccine recipients do not become autistic or have any allergic response at all. I know that herd immunity only works when the majority of people are immunized. I know that some precious children have truly serious conditions that force them to rely on herd immunity. I know that California is a sanctuary state and with that the likelihood of exposure to a myriad of diseases not native to America increases. None of this eases my mind. Those of us who are struggling with these conflicted feelings need gentle guidance. We want to do the very best thing for our children, and we want them to remain as healthy as they have been their entire lives. I liken this feeling to betrayal. I feel like something I have firmly believed in for so long, a conviction I’ve held so tightly, is being ripped from my core. I know that many of you reading this are rolling your eyes and typing a critical response, thinking I am being overly dramatic. But this is truly a difficult decision. Please try to put yourselves in our shoes. Please try to be understanding and compassionate. Please help us make this transition by guiding us in a kind and informative way. Is there a way to prepare an adolescent body for the onslaught of vaccines? I fear that the onslaught of hormones at this age is wreaking enough havoc on their bodies. What will adding these concoctions do? If you have valid, kind advice, please respond. If you are going to attack me, sarcastically question me, or insult me, please don’t. I am truly reaching out for help; not hate.

    • wpengine says:

      Hi, April. I appreciate how difficult it can be to make these decisions. Please know that the entire childhood vaccination schedule has less than 160 antigens. That is like a drop in a bucket full of thousands of exposures an infant will encounter in his or her first days of life. As an adolescent, your child is very well prepared to handle the vaccines that his or her health care provider may recommend. Please check out our website with answers to common questions about vaccines that I hope will ease your mind: https://www.vaccinateyourfamily.org/questions-about-vaccines/

  34. Jennifer Morris says:

    The original family’s post sounds like my own story so far. I have a almost two year old daughter, an almost three year old son, and currently pregnant and due November 29th. We started vaccines with my oldest but stopped at around his first birthday due to mainly anti vaccination warriors scaring me to death that my child would develop long term disabilities or even could die from vaccines. My youngest (almost two years old) has never received a vaccine. On top of all that, my family went through a very emotional and heartbreaking experience with my mother in law battling cancer and losing her fight just about a month ago, due to that my kids (both healthy ) have not been to the doctor at all in a year. I recently have decided to give my babies the protection they need and get their vaccines but I am o overwhelmed that it seems impossible. Love that this page offers insights not only from moms like me but also from real Heath professionals. Hopefully I can overcome the thought of giving up and get myself in the right head space to get myself motivated again..,

  35. Mrs. Jones says:

    If my child gets hurt as a direct result of the vaccine, can I sue the manufacturer ?

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