You may have heard of “combination” vaccines. These immunizations protect against more than one disease or virus. But, what exactly are they? How do they work?
Children receive vaccines from infancy to protect them from various diseases. Many of these infections could be fatal to them due to their growing immune system.
These routine shots can be hard on children and parents. The frequent trips to the hospital and many rounds of shots can quickly create frustration with the whole process. To combat this fatigue, most doctors recommend getting more than one shot per visit.
This is where combination vaccines come in.
Combination vaccines are shots that hold more than one vaccine for different viruses. The first combination vaccinations were developed in the 1940s. Even more have been developed since.
These allows children to have fewer shots, while still providing protection. Rather than getting 12 different shots throughout their childhood, kids may only need six.
All combination vaccines are tested for safety and require approval from the FDA. They may also still carry the same side-effects as single vaccines.
Some examples of combination vaccines are:
- DTaP-IPV – This vaccine has been used for nearly ten years, after earning FDA approval in 2008. It provides protection for polio, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.
- DTaP-IPV – Much like the previous vaccine, this combination covers the DTap and IPV shots. Also protecting against hepatitis B, this vaccine should be given between six weeks and seven years of age.
- DTaP-IPV/Hib – Also FDA-approved in 2008, this vaccine protects from the bacteria Hib. This bacteria can lead to meningitis, pneumonia and other deadly diseases.
- Hepa-HepB – Using three doses, this vaccine protects from hepatitis A and B. In the United States, this vaccine is only licensed for people 18 years or older.
- MMRV – Licensed in 2005, MMRV protects against measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox.
- Hib-MenCY – The newest of these vaccines, this combination was licensed in 2012. Along with the Hib bacteria, there is protection for meningitis serogroups C and Y.
How Do Combination Vaccines Work?
Combinations vaccines work the exact same way as other vaccinations. The only difference is that they provide protection against multiple infections.
The goal of these immunizations is simple. Give children fewer shots. Combination vaccines also work for children that have fallen behind on their vaccine schedule. If you need to catch your child up on their vaccines, be mindful of the interval needed between shots.
Other combination vaccines are in the works.
The potential Hexavac vaccine could cover DTaP, IPV, hepatitis B and HiB. This would allow infants to only need two shots.
In the end, it is up to parents to decide whether to singular vaccines or combination vaccines. If parents decide on singular vaccinations, it’s advised that their child gets all those vaccines on the same day.
To know when you or your children need to get your routine vaccinations, visit Passport Health’s Vaccination page.
Written for Passport Health by Kaitlyn Luckow. Kaitlyn is a freelance writer, photographer and English teacher in Milwaukee. She has a passion for capturing and writing other people’s stories. You can find her at sayhellostory.com.