Babies receive antibodies from their mother through the placenta. These antibodies help to protect them against bacteria and viruses. Following the recommended immunization schedule in childhood helps provide immunity before kids are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children receive combination (multi-dose) vaccines instead of single- does vaccines whenever possible. Many vaccines are offered in combination to help reduce the number of shots a child receives and work with your child’s immune system to prevent various serious diseases. The recommended vaccinations your child needs to stay healthy are:
- DTaP vaccine to help protect against diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough).
- Hib vaccine to help protect against Haemophilus influenza type b (a cause of spinal meningitis).
- HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine to prevent viral infections in teens and adults that cause cancers of the mouth and throat, cervix, and genitals.
- Hepatitis A vaccine to help protect against serious liver diseases.
- Hepatitis B this vaccine deserves special mention because newborns should receive their first dose within the first 24 hours of birth. If a pregnant woman tests positive for HBV during routine prenatal screening or at the time of delivery, her child must receive the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. The second dose should be given at 1 month of age, and the final dose by 6 months of age.
- Influenza vaccine to help protect against the flu. This vaccine is recommended for all people beginning at 6 months and older.
- MMR vaccine to help protect against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).
- Meningococcal vaccine to help protect against very serious bacterial diseases that affect the blood, brain, and spinal cord.
- Rotavirus vaccine to help protect against the most common cause of diarrhea and vomiting in infants and young children (and the most common cause of hospitalizations in young infants due to vomiting and diarrhea).
- Pneumococcal vaccine to help protect against bacterial meningitis and infections of the blood.
- Polio vaccine to help protect against a crippling viral disease that can cause paralysis.
- Tdap Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis booster. Also recommended during each pregnancy a woman has.
- Varicella vaccine to help protect against chickenpox and its many complications including flesh-eating strep, staph toxic shock, and encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain).
Most children can safely receive all of these vaccines but in some cases, exceptions exist. Children with certain health problems or a recent history of nerve disorders may need to receive vaccines at a later time or cannot receive some vaccines. Children with cancer or who are taking steroids for lung or kidney conditions, or have immune system problems should avoid vaccines made with live viruses.
The risks of vaccinations are small compared with the health risks of the diseases they’re intended to prevent. Some vaccines may cause mild reactions that go away within a day or two, such as soreness where the shot was given or fever, although serious reactions are rare.
Remember, vaccines prevent diseases and save lives. Children do not receive any known benefits from delaying, skipping, or rejecting vaccines entirely. Postponing vaccines puts children at greater risk of getting a vaccine-preventable disease.
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