Immunization Schedules from Other Countries

The latest immunization schedule from the CDC and AAP.
The latest immunization schedule from the CDC and AAP.

Why does the United States give so many more vaccines than other countries?

The easy answer might be that we want to protect kids from more vaccine-preventable diseases. Of course, it is much more complicated than that.

But why does it matter?

It still matters because Jenny McCarthy has pushed the idea that we have an ‘autism epidemic‘ in the United States because “other countries give their kids one-third as many shots as we do.”

And some folks still believe her.

They also believe anti-vaccine myths and misinformation linking giving more vaccines to having higher infant mortality rates.

Immunization Schedules from Other Countries

Which vaccines a country routinely gives often depends on the risk a diseases poses to the people that live there. For example, some countries routinely give the BCG and Japanese encephalitis vaccines, but only give the hepatitis B vaccine in high risk situations.

And while many folks still push the myth that the United States gives many more vaccines than other developed countries, you just have to look at their immunization schedules to see that it isn’t true.

Remember that in the United States, children typically get:

  • 36 doses of 10 vaccines before starting kindergarten that protect them against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases
  • at least three or four more vaccines as a preteen and teen, including a Tdap booster and vaccines to protect against HPV and meningococcal disease, plus they continue to get a yearly flu vaccine

So by age 18, that equals about 57 dosages of 14 different vaccines to protect them against 16 different vaccine-preventable diseases. While that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that 33% of those immunizations are just from your child’s yearly flu vaccine.

Immunization Schedules from Europe

How do immunization schedules from European countries differ from the United States?

Austria's immunization schedule for 2017 includes all of the same vaccines as the US schedule.
Austria’s immunization schedule for 2017 includes all of the same vaccines as the US schedule, plus the vaccine for Japanese encephalitis (if high risk).

Surprisingly, they don’t differ by that much, despite what you may have heard or read.

And in many European countries, even if you don’t get more vaccines overall, you do get more dosages at an earlier age, often with two dosages of MMR and the chicken pox vaccine by the time your child is 15 to 24 months old.

The latest immunization schedule from Germany.
The latest immunization schedule from Germany.

Some vaccines, like hepatitis A and chicken pox aren’t routine in every European country, like Iceland and Sweden, but many countries give vaccines that we don’t, like BCG and MenC. And even Iceland and Sweden have recently added the HPV vaccine to their schedule and Sweden may soon add the rotavirus vaccine too.

Immunization Schedules from Other Countries

Many countries, in addition to those in Europe, have vaccine schedules that are very similar to the one that is used in the United States.

The 2017 Immunization Schedule for South Korea includes all of the US vaccines, plus BCG and Japanese encephalitis vaccines.
The 2017 Immunization Schedule for South Korea includes all of the US vaccines, plus BCG and   Japanese encephalitis vaccines.

Just look at the immunization schedules for Australia, Canada, Israel, South Korea, or Taiwan, etc.

What about Japan? They must give fewer vaccines than we do in the United States, right? After all, aren’t they the country that banned the use of the HPV vaccine?

Although that myth is still pushed by many anti-vaccine websites, the HPV vaccine is not banned in Japan. It was removed as a vaccine that is actively recommended in 2013, but it still available and is still on the Japanese immunization schedule.

The 2016 routine and voluntary immunization schedule in Japan.
The 2016 routine and voluntary immunization schedule in Japan.

All of our other vaccines are also on the Japanese immunization schedule. In addition, they give infants the BCG and Japanese encephalitis vaccines.

What to Know About Immunization Schedules from Other Countries

Many countries use a similar immunization schedule and give the same types of vaccines as we do in the United States.

More On Immunization Schedules from Other Countries

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