Children’s Health

Childhood vaccinations – Essential things you need to know

Getting children immunized can be a daunting experience for new parents. However, the good news is that there are several health organizations, including the American Academics of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that guide parents with vaccine schedules. These organizations cover approximately 14 different infections.

Vaccinations not only defend children from potentially fatal illnesses such as diphtheria, polio, and tetanus but also keep the other kids safe by significantly lowering the chances of an outbreak. Oddly, in the past, vaccination has been a controversial topic among several parents who question its safety. However, there has been no concrete, empirical evidence that demonstrates any hazardous effects of immunization. In most cases, vaccines cause zero or mild side-effects. Moreover, all vaccines distributed for public use are approved by the FDA only after undergoing rigorous testing.

Maintaining a record of childhood vaccinations
Typically, a majority of the vaccines are administered to a child before they turn 6. Numerous vaccinations have to be given more than once, i.e., at different ages, doses, and in different combinations. This implies that parents have to keep a track of the type and frequency of the shots. Fortunately, doctors also maintain a record of the child’s immunizations. However, parents can find themselves in a fix if those records are misplaced or if the doctor is changed. Therefore, parents should always keep a copy of the immunization schedule and record. One can request for vaccination records from the pediatrician’s office.

Sometimes, a vaccination has to be missed if the child falls sick. Once they recover, parents should make it a point to make up for the skipped immunization. If the child receives an extra dose of the vaccine, it shouldn’t be a cause of concern. However, a child will still be required to get any future doses as per the proposed schedule. Also, one should remember that most states don’t allow kids to start school if the parents fail to submit a complete vaccination record.

Types of childhood vaccinations
To reduce the number of shots, many vaccines are combined. The following is the list of immunizations that need to be taken by the age of 2.

  • A single shot of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
  • 3 to 4 shots of polio vaccinations (IPV)
  • 3 shots for rotavirus, a form of infection that causes acute diarrhea
  • 4 shots for Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), a type of upper respiratory infection that is also capable of causing meningitis
  • 4 shots for pneumococcal disease that causes pneumonia and ear infections
  • 1 vaccination for varicella, a virus that causes chickenpox
  • 3 vaccinations for hepatitis B
  • 4 shots for DPT (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis)

When the child is between the age of 4 and 6, parents should ensure that they receive booster shots for MMR, IPV, DPT, and chickenpox and vaccination for Hepatitis A. Likewise, children should also be given flu shots after they complete 6 months of age.

If the child has missed any of the aforementioned immunizations, then parents should talk to their pediatrician.