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Doctor: Are We Over-Vaccinating Small Children?

The answer might surprise you.
2 ¼ min

I’m not someone who writes about vaccinations. In fact, if I’m at a social event and two people begin to discuss argue about vaccinations, I quickly recall that I forgot something somewhere and excuse myself.

That said, one of my physician-friends recently shared an article from the Scientific Parent that touched on vaccinations.  

In the piece, Dr. Alison Shuman, a California-based pediatrician, asks whether or not small children are being vaccinated “too much, too soon.” Shuman, Chair of Pediatrics at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, says that contrary to popular belief, children are actually being exposed to far fewer foreign agents than their parents and grandparents had as children.

We have refined and improved our vaccines so much that our children today are even safer than we were. So when you worry about exposing your children to so many “more” things, don’t worry, you aren’t! You are exposing them to fewer antigens than all of us got. If you are wondering how many antigens are in certain vaccines, the hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines each contain just one antigen.

Essentially, children are receiving more vaccinations but far fewer antigens in those vaccinations. Here's what she says:

When we were children (70s, 80s and early 90s) we were vaccinated against fewer things (which were nonetheless still deadly). Let’s take the CDC’s vaccine schedule from 1983 for example. There were seven diseases we were protected against including measles, mumps, rubella, (MMR), Diptheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) and polio. Because of how vaccines were made at the time, we were exposed to about 3,000 antigens by the time we were 12 months old and 12,000 by the time we were 4 if we got all of our vaccines.

Antigens are basically any foreign material designed to trigger or stimulate your immune system. In vaccinations, these “foreign invaders” are weakened so human immune systems can easily overcome them and learn how to defend itself from whatever virus or bacteria one is being immunized for.

According to Shuman and the below chart provided by Scientific Parent, advances in the field of medicine have allowed medical professionals to combat twice as many diseases with just a fraction of the antigens.


Will this end the debates on vaccinations? Of course not. Nor should it. Putting foreign agents into our children is serious stuff, and open, inquiring minds can help us better understand what we’re putting into their bodies and why we’re doing it.

I know many people out there are passionate about this issue and know much more about it than I do. So I ask: Did Shuman miss anything or get something wrong? Did she change your mind?


Jon Miltimore is senior editor of Intellectual Takeout. Follow him on Facebook.

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Jon Miltimore

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.

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It's not necessarily the antigens that parents I know are concerned about with the amount of vaccines. Besides the ethics of aborted baby cells being used in testing or creation of vaccines (some people are worried about fragments making it into vaccines as seen in a couple of studies). Parents are also concerned about the adjuvents used in them. For instance, the amount of aluminum considered safe is based on digesting aluminum, not injecting it. Obviously, with a shot you're injecting aluminum so the "safe amount" needs to be looked at in that light because the body processes that differently (and we need to look into if it crosses the blood brain barrier in that way).


What the article is saying is that the number of antigens in each vaccine has been significantly reduced so that even though children are getting more “vaccines,” that vaccines have been improved so that the number of antigens that children need to be exposed to in order to develop an appropriate level of immunity has been greatly reduced so that having more vaccines now is even safer than fewer vaccines in the 1980’s.