Study indicates separate MMR, chickenpox shots may be safer

I hope you’re not getting too tired of all the vaccine-related blogs of today and Monday. Not to worry, on Friday I’ll post several blogs for adults and parents about sunscreens. Anyway, the Los Angeles Times is reporting, “Children who receive a single vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox appear to have an increased risk of fever-related seizures in the days after the shot than do children who receive two separate vaccinations.”

The Times notes that “a combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (commonly known as chicken pox) was approved for use in 2005, providing an option for parents who wanted to stick one fewer needle in their small children.”

But, “a new analysis from the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center … hows that the four-illness combination vaccine doubles the risk of a fever-related seizure among 1- and 2-year-old children seven to 10 days after the shot.”

In fact, the CDC “last year changed its vaccine recommendations based on Klein’s preliminary findings.

“Although the CDC typically prefers to combine shots – partly to spare kids from extra needle sticks – it now recommends that children whose parents don’t have a strong preference get the chickenpox vaccine and the MMR shots separately.”

It’s important to note, as the New York Times reported, the risk for a “so-called febrile seizure after any measles vaccination is less than 1 seizure per 1,000 vaccinations; but among children who received the combined vaccine, there is (only) 1 additional seizure for every 2,300 vaccinated,” said Dr. Nicola Klein, the study’s lead investigator.

So, the risk, although “doubled” is still very, very low.

Nevertheless, as USA Today reports, “Parents who are concerned may want to ask for two separate shots – MMR and chickenpox – instead of taking the four-in-one combination called ProQuad, says Klein, co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in California.”

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2 Responses to Study indicates separate MMR, chickenpox shots may be safer

  1. Leticia says:

    Is it recommended that the vaccines be given at seperate visits?

  2. Dr. Walt says:

    Great question. Sorry I didn’t say in the blog. Here’s the answer from the CDC: “Seizure caused by fever (about 1 child in 1,250 who get MMRV), usually 5-12 days after the first dose. They happen less often when MMR and varicella vaccines are given at the same visit as separate shots (about 1 child in 2,500 who get these two vaccines), and rarely after a 2nd dose of MMRV.”

    Note, that either way (together or separated on the same day) the risk of a vaccine related seizure is very, very, very low.

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