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Young Childhood Immunizations

Why Do We Need a Childhood Immunization Schedule?

Because of a child's developing immune system, doctors have found that vaccines work best when they are given at certain ages.

For example, measles vaccine is not usually given to children until they are at least a year old. If it is given earlier, it might not work as well.

Also, some vaccines require multiple doses before complete immunization occurs. For these to be effective, it is important that the doses are not given too close to one another. This is why doctors have developed schedules for immunizations for your children. However, if a child misses a recommended dose at a given age, he or she can catch up later.

It is important that you maintain accurate records of your child's vaccinations. Proof of childhood immunization is required for public school and many day care programs.

Childhood Vaccine Precautions

Today, vaccines are regarded as very safe and very important to your child's health. If a child has any moderate or severe illness on the day a vaccine is scheduled, it should probably be delayed until the child feels better. However, your child should not skip a scheduled vaccine if he or she has a cold or minor illness.

Sometimes, minor side effects can occur with some vaccines, such as swelling or irritation at the injection site or a low-grade fever. Tylenol or ibuprofen given around the time of the vaccination can usually prevent this.

There have been some widely circulated reports that vaccines are somehow linked to autism. A recent, wide-ranging scientific investigation conducted by the Institute of Medicine concluded that there is no association between autism and vaccines. In fact, the original journal article previously linking autism and vaccines has been retracted.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 23, 2013
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