In the United States we give children more vaccines than any other country in the world. Just three decades ago kids received eight doses of three vaccines and now they receive seventy doses of sixteen different vaccines, and twenty-six are given during the first year of life.
It’s all part of a plan to prevent deadly disease, but our infant mortality rate is still unacceptably high. The United States ranks fifty-first, behind many developing countries and every developed country except Poland (CIA 2014). Research studies confirm that increasing doses of vaccines are associated with increasing incidence of infant death (Miller and Goldman 2011) and countries with the lowest infant mortality rates are also among those who give their kids the fewest immunizations, notably Sweden, Japan, and Iceland, where kids receive only twelve doses (Miller and Goldman 2011).
As parents are becoming increasingly concerned about adverse effects and doctors are becoming increasingly concerned about kids going unvaccinated, it’s time to reevaluate immunization protocols. We can begin by weighing the risks and benefits of vaccines on a case-by-case basis, implementing alternative vaccine schedules, utilizing harm reduction strategies, treating symptoms of sickness promptly, and keeping kids healthy. Offering options other than the current one-size-fits-all approach can increase immunization rates among families who would otherwise choose to not vaccinate at all and reduce the risk of the most serious side effects when children are immunized.