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To keep your child healthy, he or she should be vaccinated (immunized) against diseases. Many vaccinations are given in a series of doses. To be protected, your child needs each dose at the right time. Vaccines may cause mild side effects. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of vaccines. Also talk to your health care provider about any missed vaccinations. Your child will need catch-up vaccinations for complete protection. Clinics and doctors' offices may offer low-cost or free vaccinations.
Hepatitis B (HepB): Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that can damage your liver and result in jaundice (yellow skin and whites of the eyes). Some people may later develop liver cancer or liver failure. The HepB vaccination schedule is usually as follows:
First dose: Soon after birth, before going home from the hospital
Second dose: ages 1 through 2 months
Final dose: ages 6 through 18 months
Your health care provider can tell you whether the schedule for your child is different.
Rotavirus (RV): Rotavirus disease is caused by the rotavirus. The illness involves severe vomiting and diarrhea (acute gastroenteritis) in young children, and can lead to dehydration. Children who are severely dehydrated often need to be hospitalized. The rotavirus vaccine is given in 3 doses: ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months.
Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP): Diphtheria is a potentially deadly illness caused by a bacteria and can lead to difficulty swallowing and enlarged glands on the sides of the neck. In severe cases, the bacteria can spread through the bloodstream and damage your heart and other organs. Tetanus (lockjaw) is caused by a bacteria and can lead to muscle spasms that keep you from opening your mouth, swallowing, or breathing. Even with treatment, the condition is usually fatal. Pertussis (whooping cough) is caused by a bacteria and results in coughing and choking spells. It can also lead to pneumonia or brain damage in infants. The DTaP vaccine is given in 5 doses: ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 through 18 months, and 4 through 6 years. Note: Your child also needs an extra dose (called the Tdap) at ages 11 through 12 years. If he or she is older than that, the Tdap should replace the next tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster. The Td booster should then be received every 10 years throughout life.
Haemophilus influenzaetype b (Hib): Haemophilus influenzae type b is a bacteria that can cause meningitis (inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord). It can also cause pneumonia and other serious infections. The Hib vaccine is given at ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 through 15 months. Note: If the PRP-OMP type vaccine is given at age 2 months and 4 months, the dose at age 6 months can be skipped. Talk to your health care provider for more information about this.
Inactivated Polio (IPV): Polio is caused by a virus. It can lead to permanent paralysis of the muscles, including the muscles that control breathing. Polio can also cause death. The polio vaccine is given in 4 doses: ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 through 18 months, and 4 through 6 years. Note: In the U.S., polio is rare. However, in parts of the world such as Asia and Africa, polio is still widespread. If you know that your child will be exposed to polio through, for example, travel to a country where polio is common, talk to your child's health care provider. He or she may recommend that your child receive the vaccine before age 2 months and/or with the doses given closer together.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR): Measles is caused by a virus and can lead to fever and rash. It can also cause hearing loss, brain damage, or death. Mumps is caused by a virus and can result in fever, headache, and swollen, painful glands under the jaw. It can prevent males from later having children. Mumps can also lead to hearing loss or inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Rubella (German measles) is caused by a virus and can result in fever, swollen glands, and rash. If a pregnant woman develops rubella, her baby may be born with severe health problems. The MMR vaccine is given in 2 doses: ages 12 through 15 months, and 4 through 6 years.
Varicella (Var): Varicella (chickenpox) is caused by a virus and results in itchy skin blisters. In rare cases, pneumonia, severe skin infections, or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) may develop and lead to death. This vaccine is given in 2 doses: ages 12 through 15 months, and ages 4 through 6 years.
Meningococcal (MCV): Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria and leads to meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis results in high fever, headache, and stiff neck. Left untreated, it can result in other serious health problems, such as brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disability. In some cases, it can cause death. The vaccine is given at ages 11 through 12, with a booster shot at age 16. If your child is vaccinated for the first time at ages 13 through 15, he or she should receive a booster shot at ages 16 through 18. College freshmen living in dormitories should be vaccinated if they have not been immunized before. Note: If your child has a low immune system due to HIV or other medical condition, your child's healthcare provider may recommend that he or she be vaccinated at a younger age than 13.
Pneumococcal: Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacteria. It can affect the brain and spinal cord, lungs, and ears. In severe cases, infection can be deadly. This vaccine is given in 4 doses: ages 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 through 15 months.
Influenza (flu): Influenza is caused by a virus and can lead to fever, headache, sore throat, cough, and muscle aches. It can also result in pneumonia and death, especially in very young children. The flu vaccine is given every year during the autumn. Children ages 6 months through 18 years should receive the vaccine, especially those who have a chronic health problem (such as diabetes or asthma), or who are on long-term aspirin therapy. Your health care provider can tell you if your child should be immunized against the flu. Children younger than age 9 years will receive 2 doses of the vaccine if they have never received the vaccine, or were vaccinated for the first time during the previous year but received only 1 dose.
Hepatitis A (HepA): Hepatitis A is caused by a virus and can result in acute liver inflammation and jaundice. The HepA vaccine is given in 2 doses at least 6 months apart, starting at age 1 year.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): Genital HPV infection is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a virus. Infection with certain types of the virus can result in genital warts and/or cervical, vaginal, or vulvar cancers in women. Vaccination protects against these types. For the vaccine to work most effectlvely, it should be given in late childhood. The vaccine is given in 3 doses:
First dose: ages 11 through 12 years (youngest age is 9)
Second dose: 2 months after first dose
Third dose: 4 months after second dose
First dose: ages 9 through 18 years
Your health care provider can tell you if the vaccine is right for your child.
*Based on the CDC National Immunization Program recommendations (January 2013).