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Immunization Guidelines for Children

Image for kids and exercise article A vaccine, or immunization, is a medication given to a person so that the person produces antibodies against a certain infection. These antibodies then serve to help prevent the infection.

In the US, vaccines have resulted in record-low levels of certain childhood diseases. Vaccines do not only protect the person they are given to, but also the population at large, since they work to reduce the general prevalence of once-common infections.

Vaccine-Preventable Infections

The following infections can be prevented by vaccination:

Childhood Vaccines

The following vaccines are recommended in children who are at average risk for these infections:

Childhood Immunization Schedule

The table below summarizes when children of average risk should receive certain vaccinations. You may print the table and use the “Date received” column to track when your child receives each vaccine.

Age Recommended vaccines Date received
Birth
  • HepB (first dose)
 
1-2 months
  • HepB (second dose)
 
2 months
  • DTaP (first dose)
  • Hib (first dose)
  • PCV (first dose)
  • Polio vaccine (first dose)
  • Rotavirus vaccine (first dose)
 
4 months
  • DTaP (second dose)
  • Hib (second dose)
  • PCV (second dose)
  • Polio vaccine (second dose)
  • Rotavirus vaccine (second dose)
 
6 months
  • DTaP (third dose)
  • Hib (third dose)
  • PCV (third dose)
  • Rotavirus vaccine (third dose)
 
Yearly after 6 months
  • Influenza (Some children aged 6 months to 8 years old may need second dose 4 weeks after the first dose.)
 
6-18 months
  • HepB (third dose)
  • Polio vaccine (third dose)
 
12-15 months
  • Hib (fourth dose)
  • MMR (first dose)
  • PCV (fourth dose)
  • Varicella (first dose)
 
12-23 months
  • HepA (second dose given 6-18 months after first dose)
 
15-18 months
  • DTaP (fourth dose)
 
4-6 years
  • DTaP (fifth dose)
  • Polio vaccine (fourth dose)
  • MMR (second dose)
  • Varicella (second dose)
 
11-12 years
  • Tdap (booster shot to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
  • HPV (three doses)
  • MCV4
age
16-18 years
  • MCV4 booster
 

Certain “high-risk” children may need to receive additional vaccinations and/or doses, or certain vaccinations at an earlier. Also, if your child missed one or more vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended times for “catch-up” immunizations. Talk to the doctor to find out if this applies to your child.

Some Children Should Not Be Vaccinated

Childhood vaccines are generally very safe. Some children may experience mild adverse events at the time of the vaccine, including fever, soreness at the vaccine site, or a lump under the skin where the shot was given. Some reactions (MMR) do not appear until weeks after the vaccine is given.

The small risk of serious adverse events is far outweighed by the disease-preventing benefits of vaccines in most cases. However, there are some situations in which children should not receive certain vaccines. Examples of these situations include children who:

Talk with the doctor to find out if it is safe to have your child vaccinated.

RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov

Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
https://healthychildren.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Childhood vaccines: what they are and why your child needs them. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/kids/vaccines/childhood-vaccines-what-they-are-and-why-your-child-needs-them.html. Updated January 2016. Accessed April 29, 2016.

Immunization schedules. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules. Updated February 1, 2016. Accessed April 29, 2016.

Influenza vaccines in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 28, 2016. Accessed April 29, 2016.

Influenza vaccines in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 4, 2016. Accessed April 29, 2016.

Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 6, 2016. Accessed April 29, 2016.

Vaccine-preventable childhood diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/child-vpd.htm. Updated February 25, 2012. Accessed April 29, 2016.

Last reviewed April 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 4/29/2016