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Children's Health

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Children’s Vaccines: The Basics

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7 Through 18 Years Old

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) - This is a follow-up shot to the DTaP vaccine kids get when they’re younger. They need it because the protection from DTaP fades over time.
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) – This protects against meningitis, a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.  Kids need their first dose at age 11 or 12 and another at age 16.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) – This common virus is linked to cervical cancer and genital warts. Children need three doses starting at age 11 or 12.
  • Influenza (Flu) – Recommended every year.

Your child will also need these shots if he didn’t get them before age 7:

  • Hep A
  • Hep B
  • IPV
  • MMR
  • Varicella

Why So Many Shots at Once?

Scientists base the timing of vaccines for children on a few things:

  1. The age when a vaccine works best in the immune system. Researchers have carefully studied the right age and dosage for each one.
  2. It’s important to prevent illness as early as possible. Spacing out shots means your child goes longer without protection. The diseases that vaccines prevent are often more serious for babies and young children than they are for adults.

You might wonder if it’s OK to space out your child’s shots. But keep in mind that there’s lots of evidence that the vaccine schedule recommended by the CDC is the best for children. And there’s no evidence that any other schedule is safer or works better.

A child's body fights off up to 6,000 germs every day. The total amount that a standard round of vaccines exposes him to is only 150. 

Why Is My Child Getting The Same Vaccine, Again?

Some vaccines need more than one dose to help the immune system build up enough tools to protect the body. It’s important to get all the doses in a vaccine series. If you don't, your child isn’t getting full protection.

Other vaccines wear off over time. "Booster" shots make sure the immune system can still fight a disease.

If your child misses a dose, talk to his doctor to get it rescheduled.The CDC has a “Catch-Up Immunization Schedule” for people who miss shots.

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