Vaccination Schedule

What Is a Vaccination Schedule?

A vaccination schedule is a plan with recommendations for which vaccines your children should get and when they should get them. Vaccines are one of the most important ways to prevent children from getting some dangerous diseases. By exposing you to a germ in a controlled way, vaccines teach your body to recognize and fight it.

Government vaccine recommendations are just that -- recommendations. You aren’t forced to get them. But state laws require your kids to have certain vaccines before they can go to daycare, school, or college, with some exceptions. Vaccines protect not just your child, but everyone they come in contact with. The more people who get vaccinated, the harder it is for a disease to spread.

Before they’re approved for use and added to the schedule, vaccines go through years of testing to make sure they work and that they’re safe. The government keeps track of any reports of side effects to make sure no problems come up.

Types of Vaccines

These are the vaccines recommended for children, and the diseases they protect against:

  • Hepatitis B vaccine guards against hepatitis B virus, which damages the liver. Your child may have already received the first vaccine in the series in the hospital. The second dose comes at 1 or 2 months, and the third between 6 and 18 months.
  • Getting vaccinated for rotavirus protects against the most common cause of diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration in babies. It’s recommended at 2 and 4 months.
  • Diphtheria, tetanus , pertussis (DTaP) is a combo vaccine that protects against three very serious diseases. Diphtheria swells up the throat, tetanus painfully tightens the muscles, and pertussis (whooping cough) makes it hard for kids to breathe. It’s a five-dose series that comes at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, between 15 and 18 months, and between 4 and 6 years. Kids get a booster shot with a different formulation (Tdap) at age 11 or 12, and then every 10 years as an adult.
  • Hib vaccine protects against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), a type of bacteria that causes an infection in the brain and spinal cord that can damage a baby's brain and hearing. Babies need four doses, at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and between 12 and 15 months.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine protects against Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes meningitis, pneumonia, and some ear infections. It’s also a four-dose series, coming at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 to 15 months.
  • Polio is a disease that used to paralyze more than 25,000 people each year before the polio vaccine was invented. Now children are vaccinated against it at 2 months, 4 months, between 6 and 18 months, and between 4 and 6 years.
  • MMR is another combo vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Measles gives you a rash and in rare cases, can lead to dangerous brain swelling. Mumps causes painful, swollen salivary glands. And rubella, also called German measles, can cause serious birth defects or miscarriage if a pregnant woman is infected. The MMR vaccine is recommended between 12 and 15 months and between 4 and 6 years.
  • Chickenpox used to be an itchy childhood rite of passage. It too, can have serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis.  But the varicella vaccine has made it much less common. It comes between 12 and 15 months and between 4 and 6 years.
  • Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease. The vaccine against it comes in two doses, given at least 6 months apart, starting at 12 months.
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine guards against four different strains of bacteria that cause potentially deadly infections of the brain and bloodstream. Kids get it between ages 11 and 12, with a booster at age 16. A vaccine against an extra bacteria strain, meningococcal B, is available for older teens and young adults at high risk. 
  • The human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) protects against a group of viruses that cause nearly all  cases of cervical cancer and most cancers of the vulva, penis, anus, rectum, and throat. It’s recommended for children aged 11 to 12 in two doses, 6 to 12 months apart. Teens older than 15 who haven’t gotten it need three doses. 
  • An influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone every year, from 6 months on.

If you still have questions, talk to your baby's doctor about your concerns. Your doctor will provide you with literature about each vaccine that you can review and discuss with the doctor before your baby is vaccinated.

RECOMMENDED VACCINE VACCINE SCHEDULE

PROTECTS AGAINST

 

DTaP

Dose 1: age 2 months

Dose 2: age 4 months

Dose 3: age 6 months

Dose 4: Between ages 15 months and 18 months

Dose 5: Between ages 4 years and 6 years

Influenza

Every year, starting at age 6 months

Extra dose recommended for children under age 9 the first year they receive this vaccine

Influenza (flu), which can cause pneumonia
HepA

Dose 1: Between ages 12 months and 23 months

Dose 2: 6 months to 18 months after first dose

Catch-up series for those ages 2 years and older who have not already completed the HepA series. Two doses may be given, separated by at least 6 months.

Hepatitis A , which can lead to liver failure
HepB

Dose 1: At birth

Dose 2: Between ages 1 month and 2 months

Dose 3: Between ages 6 months and 18 months

Catch-up series between ages 7 years and 18 years if your child has not received all three doses

Hepatitis B , which can lead to chronic liver infection, liver failure, or liver cancer
Hib

Dose 1: age 2 months

Dose 2: age 4 months

Dose 3: age 6 months, if needed

Dose 4: Booster between ages 12 months and 15 months

Catch-up vaccine(s) after age 15 months, if needed

Haemophilus influenzae type b, which can lead to a life-threatening infection such as meningitis and epiglottitis, cognitive disability, pneumonia, and death
HPV

Doses 1-3 between ages 11 years and 12 years for both boys and girls

Catch-up series between ages 13 years and 18 years if needed

Human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer in women and genital warts in both men and women

 

IPV

Dose 1: age 2 months

Dose 2: age 4 months

Dose 3: Between ages 6 months and 18 months

Dose 4: Between ages 4 years and 6 years

Catch-up series between ages 7 years and 18 years if your child has not received all four doses

Polio , which can lead to paralysis and death
PCV13

Dose 1: age 2 months

Dose 2: age 4 months

Dose 3: age 6 months

Dose 4: Between ages 12 months and 15 months

Extra dose of PCV13 recommended for children ages 24 months through 71 months with certain health conditions

Extra dose is recommended for previously unvaccinated children with immune conditions ages 6 years through 18 years

Pneumococcus, which can lead to sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, blood infection, meningitis, and death
MCV4

Dose between ages 11 years and 12 years, with a booster at age 16 years

Catch-up dose between ages 13 years and 15 years, if needed, with a booster between ages 16 years and 18 years

For children with high-risk conditions, a dose is recommended between ages 9 months and 10 years

Meningococcal disease, which can cause bacterial meningitis and lead to loss of limbs, disabilities, deafness, seizure, stroke, and death

 

MMR

Dose 1: Between ages 12 months and 15 months

Dose 2: Between ages 4 years and 6 years

Catch-up series between ages 7 years and 18 years if your child has not had both doses

RV

Dose 1: age 2 months

Dose 2: age 4 months

Dose 3: age 6 months, if needed, depending on the vaccine manufacturer of the previous doses

Rotavirus, which can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration
Tdap

Single dose recommended between ages 11 years and 12 years

Catch-up dose between ages 7 years and 10 years if your child has not had all five doses of DTaP

Check whether additional dose is needed between ages 13 years and 18 years

  • Tetanus, which can lead to painful muscle spasms, breathing trouble, and death
  • Diphtheria, which can lead to heart muscle swelling, heart failure, coma, paralysis, and death
  • Pertussis , which can cause pneumonia, seizures, and death
Varicella

Dose 1: Between ages 12 months and 15 months

Dose 2: Between ages 4 years and 6 years

Catch-up series between ages 7 years and 18 years if your child has not received both doses

 

Chickenpox, which can lead to infected blisters, bleeding disorders, brain swelling, and pneumonia

 

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on September 10, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 0 Through 6 Years."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Protection from Rotavirus."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Polio Vaccine: What You Need to Know."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Movement: Birth to 3 Months."

AboutKidsHealth: "Motor Development: The First Six Months."

AboutKidsHealth: "Holding and Dressing Your Baby."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Car Safety Seats: Information for Families 2011."

Nemours Foundation: "All About Sleep."

CDC: “Vaccines for Your Children,” “State School and Childcare Vaccination Laws,” “Immunization Schedules,” “Measles,” “Mumps,” “Rubella,” “Hepatitis A,” “Meningococcal Disease,” “How Many Cancers Are Linked with HPV Each Year?” “Flu (Influenza).” 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: “Vaccines Protect Your Community,” “Vaccine Safety.”

KidsHealth.org: “Your Child’s Immunizations: Meningococcal Vaccines.”

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