Can immunizations be given individually?

Question 3 of A Parent’s Guide to Vaccines : A Conversation About Vaccines for New Parents

2015_11_3 Can immunizations be given individually square

Some parents may want to give one immunization at a time, but this option is not always available.

An individual vaccine can immunize against multiple diseases or even multiple strains of a disease, and breaking them down into separate shots isn’t always possible to do. Pharmaceutical companies often combine multiple antigens into their formulations either for convenience, or to increase the efficacy of the immunization.

  • Monovalent vaccines Immunize against a single microorganism or a single strain of a microorganism.
  • Multivalent vaccines Immunize against two or more strains of the same microorganism, or against two or more microorganisms.

When your child receives one injection, there could be multiple strains or vaccines in that one inoculation. For example, the pneumonia vaccine only protects against pneumococcal bacteria, but there are 7, 13, or 23 different strains of pneumococcus that the vaccine is intended to protect against, depending on which version of the shot received. Breaking these strains into different shots would make little sense because the strains are similar and separating them would entail dramatically increasing the number of injections required.

An example of a combination vaccine is the MMR. It is only one injection, but it is intended to protect against measles, mumps, and rubella. Because these are live virus vaccines for three very distinct illnesses, parents may express a desire to separate this shot into three different injections.

Internationally, the MMR vaccine can be separated into single components. For example, measles vaccination can be given without mumps or rubella. In the US, though, the measles vaccine is only available as a combination shot (MMR or MMRV).

Other vaccines are combined because one component, like the pertussis component of the DTaP, does not work as well if not combined. Although different variations are available for different age groups, the monovalent acellular pertussis is not available in the US, and diphtheria and tetanus components are given together worldwide.

In the United States, parents have limited options when it comes to separating some combination vaccines. For example, an individual measles vaccine or whooping cough vaccine is not available in the U.S. at this time. These immunizations are available as combination vaccines only.

Examples of vaccines that are offered as single, multiple or combined vaccines:

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The problem with MMR is that it can give me as a grown woman arthritis . The risk is quite high, 26%. If the rubella part is taken out, it would cause no problem and I could get it. But if I can get arthritis for months, years or “rarely” for life? No.


My family has the same problem with the Rubella shot. We need the measles and mumps separate.


Can somebody start a petition please? I really want to give the MMR to my children but I want to space them out!

My English is horrible otherwise I would start a petition.

Angel Gebeau

How do we promote access to the split MMR vaccine? Is this something that is a Congress leader question or a CDC question or a vaccine company question?


I’m not sure I would love if someone could start a petition. I have no idea how to do that. I want to give my son the monovalent measles vaccine.


That would be awesome if someone could start a petition. I definitely not giving my kids this combined vaccines.


This article compares the vaccines that combine ingredients to prevent infections from strains of the same bacteria to vaccines that combine completely different viruses. That is bad science to compare the two, and also bad writing. There is no good scientific reason for combining the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella in the US and not in other countries.


Does anyone know which countries still offer the monovalent measles vaccine (measles only)? For some unfathomable reason, we are unable to get the measles only shot in the US. I’m an adult who has had both mumps and rubella, but I’m not immune to measles. I have been searching for the measles only shot, as I am not willing to do the MMR due to several serious concerns. Given the growing number of measles cases, I am willing to travel to get immunized, but don’t know which countries still offer it. Does anyone out there know?

Penny Joy Salus

I too am trying to find the measles vaccine separate from the vaccine for rubella and mumps. Does any one know where this can be found? I live in Oregon.

Victor K

I don’t know if this is helpful or not, this information might be old but this is what I’ve found.

In case the link doesn’t go through, here’s the text of the comment:


found this on website
there are a few threads
and i think they have a vaccination sub forum too…
Thanks for sharing this!
I wanted to follow-up on some info in other threads provided by MDC member adweaver02. She has shared this info with us:
Here is the info, don’t let your state tell you it isn’t possible…
Dr. Stephanie Cave (Dr. in Baton Rouge, LA – 225-767-7433) is an advocate for children being immunized with three separate doses instead of the MMR combined. Reportedly, she asked for American Medicine (wholesale pharmaceutical company) to carry these immunizations. The owners of American Medicine are Mark and Bridgette Schexnayder who are also pharmacists.
The pharmaceutical company of these three separate immunizations is Merck.
American Medicine will need the following from your doctor:
• Doctor’s prescription with the child’s name
• Copy of Doctor’s license
Have your doctor fax this to 225-924-0249.
You will then pay American Medicine (225-924-0247) and they will overnight the immunizations to your doctor. You will have to pay the overnight shipping fee due to the medicine needing to be refrigerated. Make sure you ask for the expiration dates so that you will know ahead of time and for your records.
September 2007- Cost is appx. $119 (for all 3) plus shipping/handling (+-$20.)
I noticed there were a few questions on this on other threads, so I called the company and talked to one of the co-owners today. She said the $119 is for all three vaccinations which they overnight to your doctor’s office at one time. She said the vaccines are currently on backorder, but they should be receiving a new shipment next month (Dec 07).
Thanks to both of you mamas for sharing these alternatives. Everyone I have talked to around here has said it’s “not possible” to get the MMR split!


As you probably noticed, the info is from 2007. Might need to do research to find out if the company is still offering this or not. That’s the best info I’ve found so far.


The above information is way out of date. Merck stopped producing the single dose mumps and measles vaccines around 2009/10. At that time, if you could find a doc with an extra stock of vaccines, you were in luck. Now, no one has them. Must pressure Merck to reissue the vaccines. It puzzles me why they don’t give people options. If they truly cared about improving vaccination rates , they would provide the separated vaccines.


In Stellenbosch, South Africa about 3-5 years ago I got a measles only shot for my son. I don’t know, but I would guess that they still have it. The Die Boord Pharmacy has some needed who give vaccines and that is where I took my children when we lived there. Now I live in Israel and I am going to see if I can get the measles only vaccine here too.


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