You know about the standard immunization schedule.
You may even know about the minimum ages or minimum intervals between vaccines, but what happens if your child gets a vaccine just a few days early?
Is There a Grace Period for Getting Vaccines?
Fortunately, in most cases, getting a vaccine just a little early isn’t going to mean that the vaccine dose has to be repeated.
“Doses administered too close together or at too young an age can lead to a suboptimal immune response. However, administering a dose a few days earlier than the minimum interval or age is unlikely to have a substantially negative effect on the immune response to that dose. Known as the “grace period”, vaccine doses administered ≤4 days before the minimum interval or age are considered valid; however, local or state mandates might supersede this 4-day guideline.”
General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization: Best Practices Guidance of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
That’s because the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) allows a 4-day grace period for most vaccines. So if your child got their vaccines 3 or 4 days before their 1st birthday, instead of on or after turning 12 months old, they would still count!
It is important to keep in mind that:
- day 1 is the day before the day that marks the minimum age or minimum interval for a vaccine.
- the grace period doesn’t apply to the rabies vaccine
- if a vaccine is given 5 or more days too early, beyond the grace period, then the interval to the next dose starts from the day that invalid dose was given. For example, if the second dose of Hib is given two weeks after the first dose (instead of the minimum 4 weeks), then you don’t repeat this invalid dose in two weeks (four weeks from the first dose), but instead wait an additional four weeks from the invalid second dose
- you can’t usually add the grace period to an accelerated schedule
- live vaccines must be given at least 28 days apart if they are not given at the same time and the grace period can not be used to shorten this interval
Most importantly, in place since 2002, the grace period protects kids from having to repeat vaccines because of minor vaccine scheduling errors.
More on the Vaccine Grace Period
- General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization: Best Practices Guidance of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
- CDC – Your Child’s Vaccine Visit
- CDC – The Vaccination Records: Finding, Interpreting, and Recording
- CDC – Recommended and Minimum Ages and Intervals Between Doses of Routinely Recommended Vaccines
- CDC – General Principles for Vaccine Scheduling
- CDC – Catch-Up Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 4 Months Through 18 Years Who Start Late or Who Are More Than 1 Month Behind
- Ask the Experts about Scheduling Vaccines
- Minimum Ages and Minimum Intervals Between Doses of Vaccines in a Series – Why Does It Matter?
- WHO – Table 3: Recommendations* for Interrupted or Delayed Routine Immunization – Summary of WHO Position Papers
- Study – Impact of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ 4-day grace period in a low-income community.