Friday, September 07, 2007

Vaccination Schedules

One dose is better than no dose.

Yesterday a young woman came in for her second dose of Gardasil. The recommended interval between dose #1 and dose #2 is 2 months, but she'd received her first shot three months ago. She asked me if that was a problem.

Increasing the interval between shots in a 2-dose or 3-dose series does not diminish the effectiveness of the vaccine, it just delays the development of immunity against the disease. Per the CDC, the vaccination series does not need to be started over again in this case.

More problematic, however, is decreasing the intervals between doses to accomodate patient preference in scheduling. This, the CDC web-site notes, can prevent a full antibody response to the vaccination. On the other hand, even if you never get back for that follow-up dose of hepatitis-A, hepatitis-B, Gardasil, or MMR, a little immunity is better than none at all.

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