The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend a specific childhood immunization schedule each year. Immunizations are recommended, because they protect against diseases (give immunity) or make a disease less severe if your child does get it. The schedule outlines the immunizations and booster shots needed from birth through age 18, as well as when catch-up immunizations should be given.
Every fall, millions of U.S. children get flu vaccinations at their pediatricians' offices. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for all Americans who are at least 6 months old.
You may have questions about the vaccination. Why can't last year's flu shot protect your child this year? Do you need to get her a separate vaccine for protection against the H1N1 strain? Should you request the vaccination in nasal spray rather than injection form?
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Many immunizations require more than one dose, given at varying intervals. Although your child does not need to restart the series if a scheduled dose is missed, the immunization should be given as soon as possible.
Immunizations recommended for children younger than 11 years of age include:5
Chickenpox (varicella)(What is a PDF document?)
This shot (called Varivax) protects against chickenpox.
Who should get it?
Two doses are given to all children 12 months of age and older who have not had chickenpox-one at age 12 to 15 months and one at age 4 to 6 years.
The combination MMRV (ProQuad) shot can be given in place of Varivax. The vaccines for chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella are all in this one shot.
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP)(What is a PDF document?)
Five doses are given to all children-one at age 2 months, one at 4 months, one at 6 months, one at 15 to 18 months, and one at 4 to 6 years.
Flu (influenza)(What is a PDF document?)
This immunization helps protect against the flu. Flu viruses are always changing, so the flu vaccines are updated every year.
Who should get it?
All people ages 6 months and older need one dose each year. Children younger than 9 years of age may need two doses depending on when they started getting this yearly immunization.
Healthy children ages 2 and older can usually get the nasal spray form (FluMist)(What is a PDF document?) instead of the flu shot(What is a PDF document?). Protection lasts up to a year for both vaccine types. For the most current CDC guidelines about the flu, go to www.cdc.gov/flu.