Pediatric Questions: What Shots Does My Baby Need?
Parents do many things to protect their children, from strapping them into car seats to putting a coat on them if it’s cold outside. And new parents have a lot of pediatric questions.
One way parents can take care of their little ones is to make sure they have all the vaccinations necessary to safeguard babies and children from harmful diseases. Vaccines work by taking weakened or killed versions of bacteria or viruses and then stimulating the immune system to create antibodies that will fight possible exposure in the future.
Pediatric Questions About Vaccines
Why do I need to immunize my baby for a rare disease?
Vaccines are necessary until a disease is eliminated worldwide. For example, polio isn’t common in the United States any more. But children still need to be immunized because people traveling from other countries where polio still occurs could expose children and adults to the disease without even knowing it.
Are vaccines safe?
Yes. The U.S. vaccine supply is the safest it has ever been and follows a vaccine safety system. Most common side effects of vaccines are pain or swelling at the site of injection.
What vaccines does my child need between birth and age six?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a schedule that protects children from 14 diseases by age 2:
- The diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, which is three vaccines in one, is given as a series of five shots at two, four and six months, and then usually between 15 and 18 months, as well as between four to six years. A booster vaccine called Td is given to prevent tetanus and diphtheria at age 11 or older and then every 10 years throughout life.
- The inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) is administered at two and four months of age, and then between six to 18 months and four to six years.
- The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. It is given as two shots, the first of which is given between 12 to 18 months, and the second when the child is four to six years old.
- The Hib vaccine helps prevent Haemophilus influenza type B, which can lead to meningitis, pneumonia and a severe throat infection. This series of three or four shots is generally given at two, four and six months, and then between 12 to 15 months.
- The varicella vaccine is given to protect children against chickenpox. The first dose is administered between 12 to 15 months; the second between four to six years.
- The hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine is the only shot given to newborns before hospital discharge. It is also required between one and two months of age, and then between six and 18 months.
- The rotavirus vaccine is given in two or three doses at two, four and six months. It is an oral vaccine, not a shot.
- The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) protects against a type of bacteria that can cause ear infections. Children receive four doses of this vaccine at two, four and six months, and then between 12 to 15 months.
- Two doses of Hepatitis A vaccine (HepA) are recommended, with the first some time between 12 and 23 months old. The second dose is six to 18 months later.
- The flu shot to prevent influenza is given in two doses for children age six months to eight years.