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  • What you Need to Know About Your Baby’s First 10 Vaccines

What you Need to Know About Your Baby’s First 10 Vaccines

1. The 411

Although many parents dread watching their infants feel the stick of a needle, the immunizations that begin in infancy and continue throughout your child’s life are crucial for his or her health and society. Vaccines not only keep your child healthy, but they also keep the majority of the population healthy through herd immunity, which vastly limits devastating outbreaks. With the correct course of doses given at the appropriate times, your child can develop immunity to some fairly nasty illnesses.

2. Hepatitis B

Your baby’s first-ever vaccine will likely be given before he or she leaves the hospital. The vaccine prevents hepatitis B, which is a disease of the liver that develops after you have contracted a virus through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. For infants, the virus can be passed from mother to child during delivery. The best way to prevent later risks for infection and the long-term risks caused by infection, such as cancer or liver disease, is to vaccinate during infancy. Your child will need two more boosters after you leave the hospital when your baby is 1-2 months and 6-18 months old.

3. Rotavirus

The Rotavirus vaccine doesn’t hurt — this vaccine is given orally. Rotavirus infection causes a gastrointestinal illness with symptoms of fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration in infants. Although only a small number of children in the US are killed by this type of virus, it is the leading cause of child mortality worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Your child must begin these two to the three-dose vaccine by age 14 weeks and 6 days and will likely finish the course by 32 weeks to be considered adequately vaccinated.

4. Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (TDap)

Given at 2, 4, and 6 months, and again between 15 and 18 months, the vaccination known commonly as TDaP is a combination of several vaccines for preventing diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).

Tetanus disease, now relatively uncommon in the US, is caused by a bacterium that can be found in soil, dust, or manure and can infect the body through a break in the skin, causing painful muscle spasms leading to death.

Pertussis causes the dreaded whooping cough, marked by a sharp breath at the end of severe coughing fits. Unfortunately, children are most vulnerable to this illness’s most severe complications, such as severe infections, respiratory failure, and seizures, so the vaccine’s protection is essential.

5. Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)

Sometimes combined with the hepatitis B or TDaP vaccines, what is commonly known as the Hib vaccine should be given at approximately 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months. The Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine has decreased H. influenza infections, like meningitis, epiglottitis, and blood infections, by 99 percent since its introduction. It protects against the Haemophilus influenza bacterium, which people commonly carry and come into contact in the mouth and nose through respiratory droplets. Before the advent of Hib, a febrile infant sent shutters through pediatricians who had experience with this deadly disease.

6. Pneumococcal (PCV)

In order to prevent a potentially severe case of pneumonia (among other things like meningitis), your infant will need to receive the Pneumococcal or PCV vaccine. Although pneumonia, or an infection of the lungs, in infants, may be caused by a variety of bacterium or viruses, the bacterial infections this vaccine protects against tend to be more severe. When this vaccine is given at 2, 4, 6, and 12 or 15 months of age, your child’s risk for infection decreases dramatically.

7. Polio (inactivated)

Once feared around the world because of its infectious nature and long-lasting effects, such as paralysis of one or more limbs, polio may seem like a distant thought nowadays. However, it still exists in a few parts of the world and remains difficult to contain because its victims are contagious before and after they show symptoms and may spread the virus through respiratory secretions or feces. The vaccine available for children today is an inactivated virus, with no risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis, different than the one given a generation or two ago. Your child should receive this vaccine at two months of age and will receive three or four more doses by age 6.

8. Influenza

Beginning at 6 months of age, your child should receive the influenza vaccine annually to protect him or her during the flu season. The flu can be especially dangerous for those who are very young or very old, which is why your child needs an added layer of protection. The vaccination comes in the traditional needle form and in a nasal spray form for children who are 2 or older. Today, there are also several varieties of the needle vaccine, including options for those who have egg allergies. If your child is receiving the vaccine for the first time, he or she will likely need two doses, at least four weeks apart.

9. Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)

You may already be anticipating the day when your child needs to receive his or her measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Given after the first birthday, many parents worry about this live-attenuated vaccine. This type of vaccine often results in stronger long-term protection from the nasty symptoms and side effects of these diseases (which include encephalitis, meningitis, and fevers). ). The United States has been using the MMR since 1969. Your child may experience some side effects, such as a fever or rash, but these symptoms will be far less severe than what the actual diseases could cause.

10. Varicella

The varicella vaccine came on the scene in 1995 and has made its way to the list of standard immunizations, causing incidences of chickenpox to decrease significantly. After your child turns 1 year old, he or she will receive this vaccine on its own or in combination with the MMR vaccine. Although side effects of the varicella-only vaccine may include a small or generalized rash, it is estimated to provide 86 percent protection against chickenpox after one dose and 98 percent protection after the second dose is administered between ages 4 and 6.

11. Hepatitis A

Although your child will continue to receive immunizations well into adolescence, the Hepatitis A vaccine is one of the last vaccines to be given in the first two years. The first dose is given after age one with a second, booster dose, at least six months later. A variation of the hepatitis virus, Hepatitis A, is an infection in the liver that is caused by contact with the stool of an infected person or with contaminated food or water. Without the vaccine, your child is at risk for this infection, which may or may not present symptoms, even while remaining contagious.


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  • Rotavirus.
    American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Immunization.
    American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccination.
    American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Hepatitis A.
    American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Red Book Online
  • Summaries of Infectious Diseases: Measles.
    Red Book Online
  • Section 3: Summaries of Infectious Diseases
  • Haemophilus influenzae infection.
    American Academy of Pediatrics
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  • Pickering LK, ed
  • 29th ed
  • Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2012.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Rotavirus.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Hepatitis B.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Hib Vaccination.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Polio Vaccine Side Effects.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Varicella Vaccination.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis A Fact Sheet.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Possible Side-effects from Vaccines.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • 2013 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old.
    The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • A Look at Each Vaccine: the Hib Vaccine.
    New York Times
  • Polio Virus Discovered in Sewage from Israel.
    National Institutes of Health
  • Differentiation of bacterial and viral pneumonia in children.
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  • What is pneumonia?
    Oregon Health & Science University
  • Pneumonia in Children.
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  • Pneumonia.
    COMMITTEE ON INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2013−2014
  • Pediatrics, originally published online September 2, 2013.
    Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics, 4th ed
  • Behrman, Richard E
  • and Robert M
  • Kliegman: pp.453-456.

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