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Safety & Prevention

Multiple Vaccinations at One Time

One of the most important ways parents protect their child's health is by keeping them up-to-date on immunizations. To make childhood vaccines as effective as possible, several of them are broken up into multiple doses scheduled to be given over time at specific ages. That's why, at some wellness visits, children may be due for a few different shots.

Some parents wonder if getting more than one shot at a time will cause them to interfere with each other, or be too much for their baby's immune system. But, rest assured, this is how immunizations are proven to work best to safely and effectively build your child's immunity against many serious illnesses.

Vaccine advances

Vaccines contain antigens. An antigen is anything that causes the immune system to respond, like bacteria, viruses, chemicals, or pollen. The antigens in vaccines are proteins or sugars made from bacteria, or proteins made from viruses.

Babies put everything they can get their hands on into their mouths. They play on the floor. They're also sometimes around people who are sick. Even the dust they inhale and the food they eat contains antigens. Translation: Your baby is exposed to antigens on a daily basis.

Safety of vaccines

Your child will need many vaccines before the age of 2 years. Some of them need to be given in more than one dose. This means that your child could have up to five shots at one office visit. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires scientists to carefully study vaccines before they are FDA-approved. One way they're tested is along with vaccines that have already been approved. This helps the researchers make sure that the vaccines don't affect each other and that they are safe to give together.

Parent to Parent Right on Time

By Anita Emly

With my first child, I chose to delay and selectively vaccinate. I considered myself reasonably well-informed, and saw this as a way to mitigate perceived risks. However, when my daughter turned one, still behind on her jabs, I wavered on vaccinating her at all. I eventually decided not to continue her immunizations, even on the delayed and selective schedule I'd created.

Over a year later, I was pregnant again. My husband and I were conflicted on how—or even whether we'd vaccinate again. I decided to dive in and intensively scrutinize everything I could about vaccines.

The first thing that made me question my former stance against vaccination was finding there are lots of studies on the Tdap vaccine given during pregnancy. Before doing my own research, someone had shown me a vaccine insert that she said "proved" that Tdap hadn't been studied in pregnant women. And yet, here were the studies, right in front of my eyes. Why did the insert appear to say otherwise?

This was just the tip of the iceberg. Little by little, I found that every single verifiable anti-vaccine claim I ever bought into was a misunderstanding, a distortion, or even just a flat-out lie. I learned about the intense work that goes into creating the vaccine schedule. I learned how vaccines are monitored for safety in various countries across the globe. I also came to realize that all these nations, with their different healthcare systems and different governments—nations that can seldom agree on anything and some that are outright hostile to each other—nevertheless have come to a consensus on vaccination.

As I was discovering all of this, a friend of mine fell ill from flu—so ill that she had to be hospitalized. She had not gotten a flu shot. Since I was pregnant, I didn't go to the hospital, but my brother kept me updated on my friend's condition. In less than three weeks my friend went from flu, to pneumonia, to sepsis, then to coma. She died. She was 28.

At the time of this tragedy, I had been afraid to get vaccines while pregnant. But that was fear was nothing compared to seeing a vivacious young woman taken down by a vaccine-preventable disease. I got my flu shot at the pharmacy two days after my friend died, and Tdap at my prenatal appointment the following week.

I thought about how my own daughter had contracted influenza when she was 2. She suffered with a 106-degree fever. I later learned that about 80% of the pediatric flu deaths in one flu season were in unvaccinated children. It finally hit me how greatly I had endangered my daughter when I opted-out of the flu vaccine.

All of this convinced me to get my daughter caught up on her vaccines. She is getting them alongside her infant brother, who is being vaccinated on schedule.

My daughter is four years old now, and my son turned one. Both are thriving, and I have peace knowing that vaccinating them is one of the best and safest things I can do for them.

Anita Emly lives with her family in New York City. Her story originally appeared on the blog published by the parent group, Voices for Vaccines.

Vaccine Side effects

The possible side effects are the same whether your child has one shot or five. Common side effects are minimal and could include:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling in the area the vaccine was given

  • Fatigue

  • Low fever

  • Headache

  • Achy joints or muscles

  • Chills

For most kids, side effects are mild and go away quickly.

Timing of vaccines

It might seem like a lot to see your baby getting four or five shots at once. But keep in mind that scientists study these vaccines thoroughly. They are given at what scientific research has found to be the best times to protect kids from serious diseases. These illnesses can cause serious complications, like heart disease, hearing loss, and liver damage. They can even lead to death.

The recommended vaccination schedule is reviewed every year and approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Family Physicians. The CDC has parent-friendly vaccination schedules that shows when your child needs each vaccine.

Is it OK to delay vaccines?

What about asking your doctor to use an alternative schedule so you can spread your child's immunizations out? The problem with this is that you may be putting your child at more risk. Experts create the recommended vaccination schedule to coordinate with the times the vaccines will work best with kids' immune systems.

Babies are the most likely age group to be hospitalized or die from the diseases these vaccines protect them from. This is why it's important to vaccinate your child as soon as possible. If you delay or skip vaccines, your child won't be protected from these serious illnesses when they're the most vulnerable.


If you've fallen behind on your child's vaccinations, it's a good time to get caught up. Read more here. Don't hesitate to talk with your child's pediatrician about childhood immunizations if you have any questions.

More information

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Infectious Diseases (Copyright © 2021)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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