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10 things to know about childhood immunizations

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Published: Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 3:06 p.m. CDT

1. Why your child should be vaccinated Immunizations protect children from dangerous childhood diseases. Any of these diseases can cause serious complications and can even kill.

2. Diseases that childhood vaccines prevent •    Diphtheria •    Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib disease - a major cause of bacterial meningitis) •    Hepatitis A •    Hepatitis B •    Human Papillomavirus (HPV - a major ause of cervical and other cancers) •    Influenza •    Measles •    Meningococcal •    Mumps •    Pertussis (Whooping Cough) •    Pneumococcal (causes bacterial meningitis and blood infections) •    Polio •    Rotavirus •    Rubella (German Measles) •    Tetanus (Lockjaw) •    Varicella (Chickenpox)

3. Number of doses your child needs The following vaccinations are recommended by age two and can be given over five visits to a doctor or clinic: •    4 doses of diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis vaccine (DTaP) •    3-4 doses of Hib vaccine (depending on the brand used) •    4 doses of pneumococcal vaccine •    3 doses of polio vaccine •    2 doses of hepatitis A vaccine •    3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine •    1 dose of measles, mumps & rubella vaccine (MMR) •    2-3 doses of rotavirus vaccine (depending on the brand used) •    1 dose of varicella vaccine •    1 or 2 annual doses of influenza vaccine (number of doses depends on influenza vaccine history)

4. Like any medicine, vaccines can cause minor side effects. Side effects can occur with any medicine, including vaccines. Depending on the vaccine, these can include: slight fever, rash, or soreness at the site of injection. Slight discomfort is normal and should not be a cause for alarm. Your health care provider can give you additional information.

5. It’s extremely rare, but vaccines can cause serious reactions – weigh the risks! Serious reactions to vaccines are extremely rare. The risk of serious complications from a disease that could have been prevented by vaccination is far greater than the risk of a serious reaction to a vaccine.

6. What to do if your child has a serious reaction If you think your child is experiencing a persistent or severe reaction, call your doctor or get the child to a doctor right away. Write down what happened and the date and time it happened. Ask your doctor, nurse or health department to file a VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) report or go to VAERS web site  to file this form yourself electronically.

7. Why you should not wait to vaccinate Children under 5 are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection.  By immunizing on time (by age 2), you can protect your child from disease and also protect others at school or daycare.

8. track your shots via a health record A vaccination health record helps you and your health care provider keep your child’s vaccinations on schedule. If you move or change providers, having an accurate record might prevent your child from having to repeat vaccinations he or she has already had.  A shot record should be started when your child receives his/her first vaccination and updated with each vaccination visit.

9. Some children are eligible for free vaccinations A federal program called Vaccines for Children provides free vaccines to eligible children, including those without health insurance coverage, those enrolled in Medicaid, American Indians and Alaskan Natives and those whose health insurance does not cover vaccines. 

10. More information is available General immunization questions can be answered by The CDC Contact Center at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) English and Español Contact CDC-INFO Questions about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases frequently asked by people calling the TTY Service Hotline at 1-888-232-6348 (TTY hotline)

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