Vaccines

Vaccine Benefits: Why get vaccinated?

Babies get six vaccines between birth and 6 months of age.

These vaccines protect your baby from 8 serious diseases.

These vaccines may be given separately or some may be given together in the same shot.  These combination vaccines are as safe and effective as the individual vaccines, and mean fewer shots for your baby. Getting several vaccines at the same time will not harm your baby.

Your children's first vaccines protect them from 8 serious diseases, caused by viruses and bacteria.  These diseases have injured and killed many children (and adults) over the years.  Polio paralyzed about 37,000 people and killed about 1,700 each year in the 1950's before there was a vaccine.  About 15,000 people a year died from diphtheria before there was a vaccine.  Most children have had at least one rotavirus infection by their 5th birthday.

None of these diseases have completely disappeared.  Without vaccination they will come back.  This has happened in other parts of the world.

How Vaccines Work  

Immunity from Disease: When a child gets sick with one of these diseases, her immune system produces immunity which keeps her from getting the same disease again.  But getting sick is unpleasant, and can be dangerous.

Immunity from Vaccines: Vaccines are made with the same bacteria or viruses that cause a disease, but they have been weakened or killed to make them safe.  A child's immune system responds to a vaccine the same way it would if the child had the disease.  This means he will develop immunity without having to get sick first.  

Routine Childhood Vaccines  

Six vaccines are recommended for children between birth and 6 months of age.  They can prevent the 8 diseases described in the left hand column.  Children will also get at least one "booster" dose of most of these vaccines when they are older (see immunization schedule links at the bottom of this page).

DTaP: (Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis) Vaccine: 5 doses - 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, 4-6 years.  Some children should not get pertussis vaccine.  These children can get a vaccine called DT, which doesn't not contain pertusis.

Hepatitis B: Vaccine: 3 doses - Birth, 1-2 months, 6-18 months.

Polio: Vaccine: 4 doses- 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, 4-6 years.

Hib: (Haemophilus influenza type b) Vaccine: 4 doses - 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12-15 months.  Several Hib vaccines are available.  With one type, the 6-month dose is not needed.

Pneumococcal: Vaccine: 4 doses - 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12-15 months.  Older children with certain diseases may also need this vaccine.

Rotavirus: Vaccine: 3 doses - 2 months, 4 months, 6 months.  Rotavirus is an oral (swallowed) vaccine, not a shot. 

Tdap: Given between 10-14 years old.

Meningococcal Vaccine: Given at 11years old and 17 yr old booster.

HPV Vaccine: Given from 9-26 yrs old a series of 2 or 3 given at 0,2 and 6 month intervals.

Vaccine Risks  

Vaccines can cause side effects, like any other medicine.  Mostly these are mild "local" reactions such as tenderness, redness or swelling where the shot is given, or a mild fever.  They happen in up to 1 child out of 4 with most childhood vaccines.  They appear soon after the shot is given and go away within a day or two.

More severe reactions can also occur, but this happens much less often.  Some of these reactions are so uncommon that experts can't tell whether they are caused by vaccines or not.

Among the most serious reactions to vaccines are severe allergic reactions to a substance in a vaccine.  These reactions happen very rarely - less than once in a million shots.  They usually happen very soon after the shot is given.  We are trained to deal with them should they occur.

The risk of any vaccine causing serious harm, is extremely small.  Getting a disease is much more likely to harm a child than getting a vaccine.

Precautions

If your child is sick on the date vaccinations are scheduled, we may want to put them off until she recovers.  A child with a mild cold or a low fever can usually be vaccinated that day.  But for more serious illness, it may be better to wait.

Some children should not get certain vaccines.  Call us if your child had a serious reaction after a previous dose of a vaccine, or has any life-threatening allergies (these reactions and allergies are rare).

If you child had any of these reactions to a previous dose of DTaP:

  • A brain or nervous system disease within 7 days
  • Non-stop crying for 3 or more hours
  • A seizure or collapse
  • A fever over 105 F

Talk to us before getting the DTaP vaccine.

If your child has:

  • A life-threatening allergy to the antibiotics, neomycin, streptomycin or polymyxin B

Talk to us before getting the Polio vaccine.

If you child has:

  • A life-threatening allergy to yeast

Talk to us before getting the the Hepatitis B vaccine.

If your child has:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Ongoing digestive problems
  • Recently gotten a blood transfusion or other blood product
  • Ever had intussusception (an uncommon type of intestinal obstruction)

Talk to us before getting the Rotavirus vaccine.

What if my child has a moderate or severe reaction?

What should I look for?

Look for any unusual condition such as a serious allergic reaction, high fever, weakness or unusual behavior.  Serious allergic reactions are extremely rare with any vaccine.  If one were to happen, it would most likely come within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot. 

Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • weakness
  • hives
  • dizziness
  • paleness
  • swelling of the throat
  • fast heart beat
  • hoarseness or wheezing

What should I do?

Contact us, or get the child to a doctor right away.

Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the shot was given.

Ask your healthcare provider to report the reaction by filing a Vaccine Adverse Event Report System form.  You can also file this report yourself through the website at www.vaers.hhs.gov or by calling 1-800-822-7967.

Visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.

Vaccine Schedules   

Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 0-6 Years

Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 7-18 Years

Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule


Click here to view the 8 Diseases Prevented by Childhood Vaccines