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What are the risks of delaying vaccinations until my baby or toddler is a little older?

What are the risks of delaying vaccinations until my baby or toddler is a little older?

There are significant risks to delaying your baby's vaccines. It's strongly recommend that all babies be given all the shots on the immunization schedule published by the Centers for Disease Control and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Children under 2 are at higher risk than older children for contracting some diseases and are more likely to have serious complications if they're infected. For example:

  • Whooping cough (pertussis) is a vaccine-preventable illness, but the vaccine wears off over time, so previously vaccinated teens and adults could spread the illness to your baby. Delaying this vaccination can put your baby at serious risk, because whooping cough can be severe and sometimes even fatal in infants. That's why the AAP recommends that your child get his first DTaP shot at age 2 months.
  • Meningitis can cause deafness, intellectual disability, and even death. Both the Hib vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine are part of the infant series of shots that can protect your child from this dangerous disease.
  • The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles). Measles, which has had recent outbreaks in some communities, can cause pneumonia or encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and even be fatal.

Despite what you might read elsewhere, vaccines do not cause autism or developmental delays. Numerous studies over many years have shown that vaccines are safe and cause no long-term medical or developmental problems.

Some parents worry that the number of vaccines might be too much for a baby's immune system. Rest assured, children's young bodies are more than capable of handling lots of different antigens (the bits of the vaccine or disease that the body's immune system responds to) at one time. In fact, your baby can and does handle natural exposure to hundreds of antigens every day!

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