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.
For parents, childhood vaccines are a source of reassurance -- protecting your child against disease naturally helps you sleep better at night -- but also anxiety about side effects and reactions.
With misinformation about vaccines and health problems, it can be difficult for a parent to sort it all out.
For help, WebMD turned to the CDC's Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH, director of its immunization safety office.
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
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
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.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)(What is a PDF document?)
This shot protects against bacteria that can cause an infection in the
lungs (pneumonia) or the covering of the brain (meningitis), skin and bone infections, and other
serious illnesses in young children. It does not protect against viral