Multiple vaccines won’t ‘overload’ children, major study finds

7 Mar 2018

Image: Oksana Kuzmina/Shutterstock

Children who receive multiple vaccinations soon after they are born are not more susceptible to infection than others, according to a new study.

One of the tenets of the anti-vaccination movement has been that by giving an infant multiple vaccines as part of a routine schedule, the body becomes ‘overloaded’ and more prone to unintended infection.

However, a team of researchers from the medical group Kaiser Permanente has published findings on a major study that shows kids are unlikely to be more susceptible to other infections not targeted by those vaccines in the two years following vaccination.

Future Human

The study, published to the Journal of the American Medical Association, marks the first time that the association between multiple vaccines and non-vaccine-targeted infections has been tested in the US with the current recommended immunisation schedule.

Over the duration of the study, the researchers selected a random sample of 193 children diagnosed with a non-vaccine-targeted infection and a control group of 751 who had not been diagnosed with these infections.

The study population was drawn from 500,000 infants from birth to 47 months old over a 12-year period, with the range of infections including lower and upper respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, and other viral and bacterial infections.

Shining light on concerns

The team then estimated the exposure to vaccine antigens in children aged between 24 and 47 months who attended emergency rooms or were hospitalised, and compared it with those who were not infected.

This found that the total vaccine antigen exposure was not associated with an increased risk of infections not targeted by vaccines over the next 24 months of life.

“This new study suggests the theory of overloading an infant’s immune system is highly unlikely,” said Jason Glanz who led the study.

“Parents have genuine concerns about their children’s safety as related to vaccination. We hope this study shines some light on their concerns, helping parents across the nation better understand the safety and benefits of vaccinating on time.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic