Keeping Kids Healthy With Immunizations

Monday, August 4, 2014

Vaccines are meant to decrease and eventually eradicate childhood diseases. The first vaccine developed was for smallpox and the immunizations that followed have eliminated smallpox from the world.

A vaccine is a dose of a dead or weakened version of a disease, which allows the body to generate antibodies to protect the child from future exposure. Vaccines are very safe for children.

Children should receive the majority of vaccinations by age 2, but there are options for parents that need older children to catch up with their immunization schedules.

Keeping track of immunizations can be difficult, the chart below illustrates the approximate recommendations of vaccines per age group, however parents should ask their doctor at every well visit if their child is up-to-date on his or her shots as recommendations change frequently.

“After the newborn visit, well visits should happen at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 15 months, 18 months, 24 months, 30 months, 36 months, and then every year thereafter,” Children’s National Health System's Lee Beers, M.D. said.

Birth1 Month2 Months4 Months6 Months9 Months
Hepatitis B
XX

X
DTap*   XXX
 
Polio  XX 
Prevnar   XX 
Hib*   XX 
Rotavirus   XX 
Pentacel***   XX 

 12 Months15 Months18 Months4 Years5 Years11 Years**
DTap*      
Polio      
Prevnar     
Hib*      
MMR     
Varivax     
Hepatitis A     
Adacel      
Menactra      

*DTaP, Polio, and Hib are included in the Pentacel combination vaccine at 2, 4, 6, and 15 months.
**HPV vaccine is recommended to be given to boys and girls at 11-years-old.
*** Pentacel is not the only vaccine brand offered. This is just an example.

How Many Shots Does My Child Need?

Several of the vaccines require the child to take several doses, all of which are in the form of shots. This may mean more tears for mom to dry, but you’ll also protect your baby for the rest of their life. Here’s a breakdown of a common immunization schedule that is recommended by age 2:
  • One vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
  • Four vaccinations for Haemophilus influenza (Hib), a common upper respiratory infection that can also cause meningitis
  • Four polio vaccinations (IPV)
  • Four vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP)
  • Three vaccinations for hepatitis B
  • One vaccination for varicella (chickenpox)
  • Three vaccinations for rotavirus, a type of infection that causes severe diarrhea
  • Four vaccinations for pneumococcal disease, a common cause of ear infections and pneumonia
  • Two vaccinations for Hepatitis A
Children will need booster shots for DPT, IPV, MMR, and chicken pox from ages 4 to 6. It is also recommended that every child older than 6 months of age receive an annual flu vaccine. Since children younger than 6 months old can’t get the flu shot yet, all other family members should get one as protection against bringing the flu virus home. Some children with special health conditions may need additional vaccines.

Older children need immunizations too, so don’t forget their annual check ups. The Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), Meningococcal and HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccines are all recommended between 11-12 years of age.

Last-Minute Tips on Immunizations
  • Vaccines are very safe for children. Don’t hesitate to discuss any questions you may have with your provider.
  • Some children experience swelling at the site of the injection, soreness, and possibly a fever. Do not hesitate discussing these side effects with your doctor and ask what symptoms deserve an office call.
  • Ask your doctor's office if it participates in an immunization registry, which is a resource for you in case you lose your child’s immunization records.
  • Ask your doctor's office if it has an immunization reminder/recall system to help you stay on track with your child’s immunization schedule.
  • Always bring your immunizations record with you to all of your child's office visits and make sure the doctor or nurse signs and dates every immunization or gives you an updated copy of the record.

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