The FDA approved Vaxelis in late 2018, but only now is the shot being readied for widespread distribution — in Europe, where infants have been given six-in-one vaccines for years (including Vaxelis since 2016), the vaccines have been associated with reports of sudden infant death.
Since the mid-1980s, the number of childhood shots on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine schedule has more than quadrupled. When parents express reluctance about turning their little ones into perpetual pin cushions, drug makers and doctors have a ready answer — combination vaccines that “simplify” the schedule by decreasing the number of injections administered.
This month marks the U.S. launch of the Merck/Sanofi joint-venture vaccine, Vaxelis, a six-in-one (hexavalent) combination vaccine that contains diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) components as well as components said to protect against polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and hepatitis B.
Public health officials optimistically believe that bundling all of these components into one shot will help close noncompliance loopholes and increase the likelihood that children will complete “all recommended vaccinations.”