Vaccines in General

  • Immunizations

What you should know about your baby’s vaccinations

Vaccinations during the early childhood are an important safeguard against serious illnesses for your baby. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that all children get vaccines against ten different diseases during the first two years.

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Hepatitis B vaccine
Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver that’s caused by a virus and can result in liver damage or failure. A baby can develop Hepatitis B if the mother is infected with it before or during pregnancy. If the mom tests positive for Hepatitis B or her status is unknown, the baby may be given the vaccine already in the hospital right after birth. If the vaccine is notgiven in the hospital, it should be given within the first 2 months. Two additional dosages are also recommended within the first 18 months.

Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
This vaccine protects against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis or whooping cough:

  • Diphtheria is a serious infectious disease caused by bacteria that produce toxins that inflame the nervous system and heart. The disease can result in heart failure and paralysis.

  • Tetanus results from bacteria that grow in wounds and that produce a toxin that affects the nervous system and causes muscle spasms and paralysis, especially in the jaw area. It’s also called lockjaw.

  • Pertussis or whooping cough, another infectious disease caused by bacteria, is especially dangerous for babies under one years old. It’s most well-known symptom is a debilitating racking cough.

Although this vaccine has previously been available in several forms, in 1997 the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending the DTaP vaccine as the preferred form because it is less likely to cause a reaction in baby. The DTaP vaccine includes diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular (rather than whole cell) pertussis vaccines. The vaccine should be given in five dosages at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, around 18 months, and before your child enters school, between 4 and 6 years of age. A sixth dose of diphtheria and tetanus vaccine is recommended between 11 and 16 years of age.

Your baby may have a mild reaction to this vaccine including a slight fever (under 102 degrees F), fussiness, and redness in the thigh area where the shot is given. These symptoms typically last up to 2 days and your doctor may suggest giving your child acetaminophen to ease the fever.

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Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB) vaccine
Haemophilus influenzae type B isn’t the viral infection that is commonly known as the flu. Instead, it’s a fast-moving bacterial infection that can cause the baby to have ear and bronchial infections. HIB also can lead to meningitis in children under two years old. Tt is important that your child is protected with three dosages of the HIB vaccine during the first year—at age 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. Experts also recommend that a fourth dosage be given between 12 and 16 months of age.

Polio vaccine
Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a serious viral disease that starts with a fever and can lead to paralysis, muscle atrophy, and permanent disability. In its most severe forms, polio can cause death. Polio vaccine comes in two forms, IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) which is given by injection and OPV (oral polio vaccine) which is given by mouth. In 2000 the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending the IPV form of the vaccine as the preferred form. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving the vaccine at 2 months and 4 months, between 12 and 19 months, and between 4 and 6 years of age.

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
This vaccine provides coverage for three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella or German measles:
• Measles is a viral infection that causes distinctive red spots and is characterized by cold-like symptoms and a high fever.
• Mumps is an infectious viral disease that results in swelling of the parotid gland that’s just in front of the ear and the salivary glands. The swelling can occur on the sides of one or both cheeks. Mumps usually is accompanied by a fever and pain when the patient opens her mouth or eats.
• Rubella or German measles is similar to measles in that it’s a viral infection that results in a fever, swollen glands, and a rash.

The first MMR vaccine is usually given when the baby is between 12 and 16 months and seldom has any serious side effects. However, some babies may be more sleepy than usual and have a mild rash, slight fever, or slight swelling in the neck or diaper area. The second shot is recommended between 4 and 6 years of age.

Varicella vaccine
This vaccine protects against chickenpox, a viral infection which is highly contagious and results in a blisterlike rash that’s very itchy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive the varicella vaccine between the ages of 12 and 19 months.


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This information is excerpted from the book Vaccinating Your Child: Questions and Answers for the Concerned Parent (Peachtree Publishers, Ltd., 2000). The book’s authors are Dr. Sharon G. Humiston, a pediatrician and clinical researcher at the CDC and the University of Rochester, and Cynthia Good, an award-winning journalist and host of the television show “Good for Parents”.