Debunked: Dr. Daniel Niedes: Too Many Vaccines

Dan Wilson

Senior Member.
Dr. Daniel Niedes of the Cleveland Clinic recently published a blog post where he expressed his concerns about vaccines. All of his concerns can be addressed and dismissed by the existing body of scientific research. Much of what he says has already been addressed elsewhere including: this site, here, and here, but here I want to focus on one specific claim made by Dr. Niedes, that children receive too many vaccines too soon in life.

Claim: Infants receive too many vaccines too soon.
Those who subscribe to this concern advocate for a revised vaccine schedule because the current one provides too many vaccines too soon. Here is this claim in Dr. Niedes' words:
External Quote:
So let me be clear - vaccines can be helpful when used properly. But the vaccination timing and understanding one's epigenetics (how your genes interact with the environment) are all critical to our risk of developing chronic disease. Please talk to your doctor about the optimal timing of vaccinations for your children, and therefore reduce your risk of raising a child with a neurologic complication.
The truth is, there is no reason to be concerned about "overloading" a newborn or adult with vaccines. Some may have toxins in mind with this concern, but any substances that may be thought of as toxic are not present in high enough quantities, even with multiple doses, to be harmful (see above links). The most commonly stated reason for this concern, however, is the idea that the immune system cannot handle the challenge of so many antigens (molecules that activate the immune system) from so many vaccines. Dr. Niedes uses the example of infants receiving the Hepatitis B vaccine shortly after birth to support his concern. Here, I'll briefly explain why this concern is fundamentally wrong and then address Dr. Niedes' specific example.
The immune system can handle challenges from vaccines without a problem.
External Quote:
If we assume that 1) approximately 10 ng/mL of antibody is likely to be an effective concentration of antibody per epitope (an immunologically distinct region of a protein or polysaccharide),392) generation of 10 ng/mL requires approximately 103 B-cells per mL,39 3) a single B-cell clone takes about 1 week to reach the 103 progeny B-cells required to secrete 10 ng/mL of antibody39 (therefore, vaccine-epitope-specific immune responses found about 1 week after immunization can be generated initially from a single B-cell clone per mL), 4) each vaccine contains approximately 100 antigens and 10 epitopes per antigen (ie, 103 epitopes), and 5) approximately 107 B cells are present per mL of circulating blood,39 then each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10,000 vaccines at any one time (obtained by dividing 107 B cells per mL by 103 epitopes per vaccine).
To summarize the above excerpt, your body has the potential to respond to between 1,000,000,000 and 100,000,000,000 different foreign molecules at any one time. This translates to an infant being able to handle a theoretical 10,000 vaccines at once. In the current vaccine schedule, the maximum dose of 11 shots to an infant will challenge 0.1% of their immune system's capabilities. Imagine how many different species of bacteria or viruses your immune system encounters daily. A newborn baby's immune system is challenged by thousands of different bacterial species colonizing its gut just days after birth. Compared to the challenges the immune system faces on a daily basis, vaccines are measurably insignificant. Despite this, Dr. Niedes gives Hepatitis B as an example and claims that infants don't even need to be immunized so soon after birth since Hepatitis B is an STD. It is concerning that a medical doctor who sees and informs patients every day is ignoring the fact that Hepatitis B is most commonly spread from mother to child in a process called perinatal transmission. Ironically, Hepatitis B vaccines are a perfect example of how infants can produce robust immune responses to vaccines.
External Quote:
The neonate is capable of mounting a protective immune response to vaccines within hours of birth. For example, neonates born to mothers with hepatitis B virus infection mount an excellent protective immune response to hepatitis B vaccine given at birth, even without additional use of hepatitis B virus-specific immunoglobulin.1315 In addition, BCG vaccine given at birth induces circulating T-cells that protect against bacteremia and subsequent development of miliary tuberculosis and tuberculous meningitis.1618
None of Dr. Niedes' concerns about vaccines are founded in any real science. Contrary to his intention of positively informing, his statements are extremely harmful and misleading. It is worrying that his patients may take his advice seriously and possibly put their children in danger.

To make this topic a little larger than just one doctor, the Trump administration is planning on assessing vaccines with the concern of "too many too soon" strongly in mind.
External Quote:

He wants to make sure that we have the best vaccine science and the safest vaccine supply that we can have.

Did the President-elect indicate that he doesn’t believe that to be the case at the moment?

He is troubled by questions of the links between certain vaccines and the epidemic of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. And he has a number – he told me five – friends, he talked about each one of them, who has the same story of a child, a perfectly healthy child who went into a wellness visit around age 2, got a battery of vaccines, spiked a fever and then developed a suite of deficits in the 3 months following the vaccine.

He said that he understood that anecdote was not science, but said that if there’s enough anecdotal evidence… that we’d be arrogant to dismiss it. Those were his words.

Was there a particular vaccine he felt was culpable?

He doesn’t know whether it’s the schedule or the sheer number of vaccines or the age at which they’re given or the ingredients.
Last edited: