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Lifesaving: An Introduction to Vaccines for Children

March 08, 2018

Ever wonder why you rarely hear about polio outbreaks anymore? Credit child vaccinations, which have protected millions of Americans from contracting polio and many other diseases. The World Health Organization estimates immunizations help prevent between 2 and 3 million deaths worldwide each year.

How Do Child Vaccinations Work?

When the vaccine is given, the child is exposed to disease-causing microbes without getting sick. The child’s immune system fights off the microbes and immunization occurs, which means he or she will be ready to tackle those microbes in the future.

Are Vaccines for Children Safe?

Immunizations administered in the United States are safe and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Just like all products regulated by the FDA, vaccines require a thorough review of lab and clinical data to ensure safety, effectiveness, potency, and possible side effects.

You may be eligible for coverage on immunizations. Most health plans are now required to cover the cost. Check with your provider to find out which preventive services they cover under your plan.

Vaccination Schedule for Children 0-6

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preventable infectious diseases are at an all-time low, thanks to vaccines. By getting the following immunizations, your child is less like to suffer the effects of illnesses such as measles and pertussis.

  • Flu Vaccine
    Just as you get a flu shot every fall, children 6 months or older should, too.
  • DTaP Vaccine
    The DTaP vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Your child will receive five shots, starting when he or she is 2 months old and completing them between the ages of 4 and 6.
  • Rotavirus Vaccine
    Rotavirus involves severe diarrhea. This vaccine protects against it and is given in two or three doses before a child is 8 months old.
  • IPV Vaccine
    The inactivated poliovirus guards against polio and is given as a series of four shots when a child is between the ages of 2 months and 6 years old.
  • MMR Vaccine
    Like DTaP, this one protects against three diseases: the measles, mumps, and rubella. Your child should receive two shots when he or she is a year old and then again between the ages of 4 and 6.
  • Hib Vaccine
    This shot protects your child against Haemophilus influenzae type b, which can turn into meningitis, pneumonia, and throat infections. It’s given as three or four shots before the child is 15 months old.
  • Varicella Vaccine
    The varicella vaccine prevents chickenpox and is given to kids when they are about 1-year old and again when they’re 4, 5, or 6.
  • HBV Vaccine
    The vaccine is given as three shots starting when the child is born to make him or her immune to the hepatitis B virus, which can lead to liver cancer and sometimes death.
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine
    Little ones should receive four doses of the vaccine before they reach 18 months to protect against a bacterial strain that leads to ear infections as well as more serious health issues like meningitis.
  • Hep A Vaccine
    Kids between the ages of 1 and 2 should receive the Hep A vaccine, which protects against hepatitis A.
Vaccination Schedule for Children Ages 11 and Up

Many immunizations have contributed to a significant reduction of vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). Talk to your child’s doctor to find out when to schedule the following immunizations.

  • HPV Vaccine
    This vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus infection. It’s given as a series of shots over a span of several months and is recommended for kids ages 11 or 12.
  • Tdap Vaccine
    When a child gets older, the DTaP vaccine they received when they were little begins to wear off. The Tdap vaccine acts as a booster and is given to 11 and 12-year-olds.
  • Meningococcal Vaccine
    The meningococcal vaccine protects against the rare but potentially deadly disease of the same name. Kids who are 11 or 12 should receive the dose and then a booster when they’re 16.
  • Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine
    Two or three doses are recommended for teens between the ages of 16 and 23, though between 16 and 18 is ideal. The vaccine protects against meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B.
The Bottom Line

Vaccines work and successfully help build a child’s immune system while protecting the population from threatening diseases. Talk to your pediatrician to learn more about the safety and effectiveness of immunizations, and which vaccines your child may need.