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:
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.
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.
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.
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