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.
The following infections can be prevented by vaccination:
The following vaccines are recommended in children who are at average risk for these infections:
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|
|Yearly after 6 months|
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.
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.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
Public Health Agency of Canada
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