Why and when to immunize your child

December 18, 2015 | by Anne Schneider, D.O.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way your child could become immune to a disease without getting sick first? Well there is.

Today, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before through vaccination. Vaccines are safe and effective, and work with your child’s immune system to prevent disease.

Over the years, vaccines have saved millions of lives. Before vaccines, many children died from serious or life-threatening illnesses that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles and polio (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Staying current on your children’s vaccinations will protect them from these once-common and dangerous illnesses. Immunizing your child will also help protect those who can’t be vaccinated, and prevent outbreaks of disease in your community and schools.

Here’s a run-down of recommended immunizations by age:

All ages: 6 months old and up

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Flu season runs from October to May. The flu vaccine reduces the chances you and your children will get the flu and spread it to others. It is especially important for those at greater risk of serious complications from influenza, including young children, pregnant women and new moms.

Newborns through age 6

  • DTaP: protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough)
  • HepB: protects against hepatitis B
  • RV: protects against rotavirus
  • Hib: protects against Haemophilus influenza type b
  • PCV: protects against pneumococcus
  • IPV: protects against polio
  • MMR: combines protection against measles, mumps and rubella
  • Varicella: protects against chickenpox
  • HepA: protects against hepatitis A

Children ages 7 to 18

  • TDaP: Pre-teens and teens need a booster for the DTaP vaccine received in childhood.
  • MCV4: The meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against some of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease, such as meningitis or sepsis (bloodstream infection). MCV4 is recommended for all preteens at age 11 or 12.  A booster shot is recommended for teens at age 16 to continue protection when their risk for meningococcal disease is highest. If a teenager missed getting the vaccine altogether, they should ask the doctor about getting it before moving into a college dorm or military barracks.
  • HPV: Protects against human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and the diseases that are caused by HPV. HPV vaccination is recommended for pre-teen girls and boys at age 11 or 12 years. Pre-teens and teens should get all three doses of an HPV vaccine long before their first sexual contact.

Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about your child’s vaccination schedule. Don’t let myths and misinformation about vaccine safety confuse you about what’s best for your child. As emphasized by the CDC: it is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs.

Learn about five important reasons to vaccinate your child.

Find a pediatrician for your child.

Learn more about children’s services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Anne Schneider, DO, is a family medicine physician with Edward Medical Group.

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