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Immunizations in Children

Immunizations in Children

Immunization is a critical step in the healthy development of your children. Vaccines are responsible for preventing dangerous infections that can result in disease, hospitalization, disability, and even death.

Following are some of the most common questions that parents ask about immunizations:
  1. What vaccines do children routinely need?
    Routine immunizations protect children against:
    • diphtheria (which can cause suffocation, heart failure and paralysis)
    • pertussis (whooping cough)
    • tetanus (lockjaw)
    • polio (a paralyzing disease)
    • Haemophilus Influenzae type b (a cause of meningitis, pneumonia and life-threatening airway infection)
    • hepatitis B (a liver infection that can lead to cancer and death)
    • measles (a serious disease that can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, and death)
    • mumps (potentially causes hearing loss and brain infection)
    • rubella (German measles)
    • varicella (chickenpox)

  2. How do vaccines work?
    They work by stimulating your body's defense system against infection.

  3. When should my child be immunized?
    Your child should receive most of his or her vaccinations by 18 months. The schedule below reflects the year 2000 recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Keep in mind that this is only a general guideline.

    Hepatitis B (if mother does not have hepatitis B) Birth to 2 months, 1 to 4 months, 6 to 18 months
    Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis (DTaP) 2, 4, 6, 15-18 months and 4-6 years; Td booster at 11-12 years and then every 10 years
    Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB) 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months (with a few exceptions)
    Polio (IPV) 2, 4, and 6-18 months; 4-6 years
    Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) 12-15 months; 4-6 years
    Varicella 12-18 months

  4. How are these vaccines administered?
    They are all given by injections.

  5. What are the more common side effects of vaccines?
    These include pain, slight redness and swelling over the injection site. Fever, irritability, and rash may also occur.

  6. Are there any risks from vaccinations?
    Yes, but the risk of a serious problem is extremely small. When you compare the risks from disease versus the risks from immunization, the choice to vaccinate becomes very obvious. Please consult your pediatrician if you have concerns.

By ensuring that your children are fully immunized on time, you can protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases that still pose a serious health problem today. Please remember to bring your vaccination card with you to your pediatrician's appointment.


About The Author

Linda Ho, M.D., is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics & Attending of Pediatrics Babies and Children's Hospital of Brooklyn at Maimonides Medical Center.

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.

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