Suggested Immunizations for Children

This article gives parents all the information they need about immunizations, including the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Making sure your child gets all the recommended vaccines is one of the most important ways to ensure your child's good health. Vaccines are also called immunizations. They protect children from a host of diseases, including many that are deadly.

Every year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other expert panels release new recommendations for childhood immunization schedules. The schedules change based on developments in vaccine research, disease outbreaks and other information.

With so many vaccines and yearly changes, it can be confusing for parents. That's why it's important to build a partnership with your pediatrician or family doctor. Your doctor can help keep your children up to date and keep copies of required immunization records.

Here is the most recent information from the CDC. These are in PDF form and can be printed.

Types of vaccines
Here is information about different vaccines that children should receive:

Chickenpox

Children should receive a series of shots to protect against:

  • Chickenpox. Chickenpox (varicella) is a common childhood disease. It is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants, teens, pregnant women and adults. Chickenpox causes a rash that turns into blisters with itching. Other common symptoms include fever and fatigue. It can lead to severe skin infection, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death.

Diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP)

Children should receive a series of these shots to protect against:

  • Diphtheria. An infection of the throat that can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death.
  • Tetanus. A potentially deadly illness that causes painful tightening of the muscles and locking of the jaw.
  • Pertussis. Also called whooping cough, this disease causes the buildup of sticky, thick mucus in the windpipe. Whooping cough can lead to pneumonia and seizures.

Tetanus and diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap)

Tetanus and diphtheria toxoid and pertussis vaccine is given as a booster for the diseases of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis that were mentioned above.

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B

Children should receive a series of shots to protect against:

  • Hepatitis A. A viral disease that attacks the liver, causing flu-like symptoms, jaundice, nausea and stomach pains
  • Hepatitis B. A viral disease that can cause acute short-term symptoms, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice, pain in muscles, joints and stomach, and fatigue. It can also lead to liver failure and liver cancer.

Haemophilus influenzae (Hib)

Children should receive a series of shots to protect against:

  • Haemophilus influenzae (Hib). This is a bacterial infection that can affect the brain, bloodstream, bones, joints, lungs and windpipe. Before the vaccine was developed, Hib was the most common cause of meningitis, a serious infection of the brain.

Measles, mumps and rubella

Children should receive a series of shots to protect against:

  • Measles. This is a highly contagious disease that can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.
  • Mumps. A viral infection characterized by swelling of the salivary glands near the neck. It can lead to deafness, meningitis, painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries and, rarely, death.
  • Rubella. Also known as German measles, rubella is a viral illness that causes a rash, mild fever and arthritis (mostly in women). It can cause birth defects or miscarriage if a woman is infected during the first three months of her pregnancy.

Meningococcal

Children should receive a series of shots to protect against:

  • Meningococcal infections. These bacteria can cause a serious infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and blood (sepsis).

Pneumococcal

Children should receive a series of shots to protect against:

  • Pneumococcal infections. The pneumoccoccal bacteria can cause serious infections of the lungs (pneumonia), the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and the blood (sepsis). The bacteria also cause ear infections.

Polio

Children should receive a series of vaccines to protect against:

  • Polio. Polio is a viral disease that attacks the brain, spinal cord and central nervous system, causing paralysis and death.

Influenza vaccine (shot) or influenza vaccine (nasal spray)

Children should receive a flu shot or inhaled vaccine each fall to protect against:

  • Influenza (flu). Influenza (flu) is a viral illness seen in the winter that causes fever, cough and muscle aches. It can lead to pneumonia, and kills tens of thousands of people every year.

Human papillomavirus

Girls should receive a series of shots to protect against:

  • Human papillomavirus, or HPV. The HPV vaccine offers protection from the viruses that cause genital warts and most cervical cancers.

Rotavirus

Children should receive a series of shots to protect against:

  • Rotavirus. The rotavirus causes vomiting and watery diarrhea with fever and belly pain. Infection with the virus can lead to dangerous dehydration in children. Keep in mind that your baby can still get diarrhea from other germs. The rotavirus, though, commonly causes the most severe kind of stomach flu in babies.

Note: In the late 1990s a different type of rotavirus vaccine was used. This vaccine was found to be linked with an uncommon type of bowel obstruction called intussusception, and it was taken off the market. The new rotavirus vaccines have not been linked to intussusception.

Immunization schedules
Here are CDC charts detailing immunization schedules:

Recommended Immunization Schedule Ages newborn to 6 years

Link to: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/spec-grps/infants/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf

Recommended Immunization Schedule Ages 7 through 18 years

Link to: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens/downloads/parent-version-schedule-7-18yrs.pdf