Timing of MMR Vaccination; Could it Make Infections Worse?

Vaccinations are always a hotly contested subject and usually argued on both sides with more emotion than fact. The “pro” people rely more on scare tactics than fact and the “anti” people use what seem like facts but tend to be more hype.

As an example, the pro-vaccination group love to hang everything on the concept of heard immunity. If you don’t get your child vaccinated with every vaccine currently known to man as well as the rhesus monkey, then your child is going to come down with Dengue fever and give MY child Dengue fever as well. This is selfish and bad parenting on the part of a granola-eating, flannel-wearing, anti-vaccination parenting group.

The anti-vaccination group throws about long lists of ingredients used in the manufacture of vaccines from mercury to anti-freeze that are known to be toxic to the human body when injected.

The answer, as always, lies somewhere in between. But one thing I can tell you is that the vaccination picture is ANYTHING but cut and dry. Anyone who states that vaccinations save lives and should be used to their fullest extent in all children is misinformed. And yes—this includes most pediatricians.

Just to show you how complicated the vaccination question is I present this particular study. In it, researchers looked at what effect adherence to vaccination schedules played a role in the development of illness in 495,987 children.

This study was done in Denmark, where the recommendations are as follows:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Hib (DTaP-IPV-Hib) given at ages 3, 5, and 12 months
  • MMR at age 15 months.

From here, the researchers looked at the risk of hospitalization for any illness in the context of which of these vaccines the child last received. Overall, there were 56,889 hospital admissions in this group of children. Here’s what they found:

  1. For those children who were vaccinated following the recommended schedule and received MMR after the third dose of DTaP-IPV-Hib, there was a 14% lower risk of an admission for infection.
  2. For those receiving MMR after the second dose of DTaP-IPV-Hib, there was a 13% lower risk.
  3. However, in the children who got the third dose of DTaP-IPV-Hib after MMR, there was a 62% higher risk of a hospital admission for infection.

While the smallest group was the third group, you can see that, for some strange reason, the timing of immunization made a massive difference in the risk for a hospitalized infection. Maybe some vaccine-trained immunologist could explain why, but it’s a wee bit beyond my understanding.

Now consider this: The recommended schedule from birth to 6 years of age includes vaccines against 10 different infectious agents given at 31 different times. As can be seen from this study, the wrong combination can actually increase your child’s risk of a serious infection. The determination of when to give a vaccine, based on my knowledge (which could, potentially, be lacking), is based on a single vaccine.

While studies are done on the combination vaccines, studies are NOT done to see how the order of vaccines may effect (both negatively and positively) the child’s immune system. Basically, it’s a crap shoot.

James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.