Separating vaccines may be a good idea for some children

shotsI have read several articles in papers lately about a Kaiser Permanente study of childhood vaccines. Children receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines in one shot and in 2005 the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine was added to the mix. One of the reasons for this was to lessen the number of needle sticks a child has to receive.

The Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center report indicates that “the four-illness combination vaccine (MMRV) doubles the risk of a fever-related seizure among 1- and 2-year-old children seven to 10 days after the shot.”  The risk of febrile (fever-related) seizure is low, and the CDC has preferred to combine the shots, but they suggest separating them for children at higher risk of febrile seizures.

If your child has had a febrile seizure in the past, or if he has an immediate family member (a brother, sister, or parent) who has epilepsy or who has had a febrile seizure, the CDC says he should usually be given MMR and varicella vaccines separately (instead of the combined MMRV vaccine) for both his first and second vaccinations. Be sure to tell your child’s doctor if your child has a personal or family history of seizures. 

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