Updated: Aug 23
Childhood vaccinations are extremely important to protect your child against most of the major childhood illnesses. Many childhood diseases, such as measles, polio and rubella, have almost been eliminated because of the current childhood vaccine schedule.
There is some debate surrounding childhood vaccinations due to the side effects that children can possibly encounter. Some children do have side effects after being administered a childhood vaccination, but this is usually a very limited percentage with very minor side effects. If not immunized, contracting the disease is usually far worse than the side effects that they might suffer by having their immunizations. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that all children be vaccinated against these diseases. A typical current childhood vaccine schedule is discussed below.
The typical schedule also has some options for parents when considering varicella vaccinations, HPV, meningitis and how the MMR vaccine will be administered.
At birth, babies are given their first Hep B (Hepatitis B) vaccines. Immunization is required by the school systems because this disease is airborne as well as blood borne and highly contagious. Then between 1 and 2 months, during a well child visit, baby will be given the second Hep B vaccine. During the 2 month visit the baby also has the option of receiving vaccines for rotavirus (virus that causes extreme diarrhea), PCV, IPV, DtaP and Hib vaccinations.
By four months baby will definitely have received these vaccinations. Because the dates can be spread between 2 and 4 months some parents choose to have the number of vaccinations broken up between the two visits. By six months they'll have their second DtaP and PCV vaccinations as well as rotavirus if parent choose to have their child immunized against rotavirus.
Just as with adults a flu or influenza vaccine may be given yearly after the age of 6 months and until the child is 5 years. After 5 years the physician may recommend that the flu vaccine for children who have risk factors that make contracting the flu dangerous such a chronic illnesses or asthma.
Once your child has reached 12 months they'll receive 2 doses of Hepatitis A vaccine 6 months apart and before the age of 2. The final dose of Hep B can be given anytime between 12 and 15 months. At this point the MMR and varicella vaccines are administered.
There is some controversy about both of these vaccines. The MMR has been linked with the development of autism in a small population of children who received the vaccine. To decrease the risk parents are able to ask for these immunizations to be given separately over several months.
At 12 months the PCV vaccine is scheduled and between 15 and 18 months is the DtaP vaccination. Boosters of the DtaP, IPV, MMR and varicella are scheduled between 4 and 6 years. Most school systems want to know that these vaccinations have been given prior to starting kindergarten.
The meningitis vaccine is given between age 11 and 12 to protect the children in their teens and as they enter college. They also receive the Tdap and if the parents choose this is also the time for girls to receive HPV, a series of three injections.
The current childhood vaccine schedule may always be changed based on the most current research. As scientists find more ways to protect the population against other viral and bacterial infections more vaccinations are added to the schedule.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Immunization Schedules
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Immunization Schedules for Infants and Children in Easy-to-Read Formats
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Birth-18 Years and "Catch-Up" Immunization Schedules
Institute of Medicine: The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety
American Academy of Pediatrics: Immunization
NHS: The NHS Vaccination Schedule