Concerns about childhood vaccines side effects make some parents avoid vaccinating their children. But are they right? We picked all you have to know about childhood vaccination, all the vaccines really needed, and all the possible reasons to delay vaccination. In addition, here’s a vaccination schedule.
12 childhood vaccines not to skip
These vaccines are recommended for children between birth and 18 years of age (in alphabetical order).
- Chickenpox. This infection is especially dangerous in adults without an immunity to it. Normal practice is to give the shot to children at 12 to 15 months, and another one between 4 and 6 years.
- DTaP. This vaccine protects against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. Children need at least five doses: at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years.
- Flu. Influenza vaccinations are recommended each year for kids aged 6 months or older.
- Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib). This bacterium causes meningitis that is particularly dangerous for kids under the age of 5. So, give your child vaccine shots at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age.
- Hepatitis A. Children ages 12 through 23 months usually get two doses of the vaccine, with a minimum interval of six months between shots.
- Hepatitis B. Normally, vaccination happens to a newborn child. Than, the second dose is needed at 1 to 2 months, and the third one at 6 to 18 months.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV). This vaccine is given in three doses over a 6-month period.
- Meningococcal conjugate (MCV4). First of all, it is recommended for kids at 11 or 12 years of age.
- MMR. It’s a combo shot protecting against measles, mumps, and rubella (also known as German measles). The first shot is given at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second between the ages of 4 and 6.
- Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV). It protects against 13 types of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Four shots are given to kids at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age.
- Polio (IPV). Although there are no more cases of polio in the US, kids still get the vaccine. It happens at 2 months, 4 months, between 6 to 18 months, and then between the ages of 4 and 6 years.
- Rotavirus. The RV vaccine is given to children at 2 and 4 months of age.
When better delay vaccination?
In these cases you may decide to delay, or avoid vaccination:
- severe allergic reaction to a prior vaccine;
- egg allergy (concerning flu and measles virus vaccines);
- asthma or lung conditions (in this case better avoid nasal versions of the flu vaccine);
- weakened immune system (for example, due to chemotherapy, or immunodeficiency);
- high fever;
- taking certain medications, like high-dose steroids.
In addition, delay vaccination if someone at home is sick. Certain live vaccines cannot be given to children who are living with people who have weakened immune systems. In particular, these kids should avoid getting the nasal flu vaccine.
Some facts about childhood vaccines…
- Vaccines can have side effects. Among most common ones are soreness at the injection site, fever, and seizures.
- Some vaccines contain mercury. It can be found in most flu shots.
- Natural immunity is better. Infections, except the flu, are more likely to trigger lifelong immunity. On the other hand, the problem with natural immunity is the higher risk of complications.
…and most popular myths
- Vaccines cause autism. Newest studies deny it.
- They guarantee protection. In fact, vaccines are a good help, but not a 100% guarantee.
- Vaccines are not necessary because disease has been eradicated worldwide. Unfortunately, there are still outbreaks of measles, mumps, and pertussis.