By Julianne Deveraux
Immunizations protect your baby against many dangerous childhood
diseases. Your pediatrician will advise you when to schedule
appointments for your baby's vaccinations. Here's what you should know
about your baby's vaccines
For a complete schedule of immunizations, visit The Medem Website.
childhood immunizations are an important safeguard against serious
illnesses for your baby. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP), The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that
children be immunized against eleven different diseases during the
first two years. While it may be difficult to hear baby cry when she
gets a shot, remember the pain only lasts seconds, but the benefits
will last a lifetime. Here is a brief rundown of each of the vaccines
your baby needs:
- Hepatitis B vaccine
Hepatitis B is an infection of the
liver that's caused by a virus and can result in liver damage or
failure. Some babies can develop Hepatitis B if their mothers are
infected with it before or during pregnancy. If mom tests positive for
Hepatitis B or her status is unknown, baby may be given the vaccine in
the hospital right after birth. If baby doesn't receive the vaccine in
the hospital, this vaccination should be given within the first 2
months. Two additional doses also are recommended within baby's first
- Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
This vaccine protects against three diseases -- diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (or whooping cough):
- Diphtheria is a serious infectious disease caused by bacteria that
produce toxins which inflame the nervous system and heart and can
result in heart failure and paralysis.
- Tetanus results from bacteria that grow in wounds and that
produce a toxin which affects the nervous system and causes muscle
spasms and paralysis, especially in the jaw area. It's also called
- Pertussis, or whooping cough, another infectious disease
caused by bacteria, is especially dangerous for babies under the age of
1. It's most well-known symptom is a debilitating racking cough.
vaccine comes in two forms -- the DTP form, which includes diphtheria,
tetanus, and whole cell pertussis vaccines, and the DTaP form, which
includes diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccines. In
1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending the DTaP
vaccine as the preferred form of the vaccine because it's less likely
to cause a reaction in baby. The vaccine should be given in five doses
at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, around 18 months, and before your
child enters school, between 4 and 6 years of age. A sixth dose of
diphtheria and tetanus vaccine is recommended between 11 and 16 years
Baby may have a mild reaction to this vaccine, which
includes a slight fever (under 102 degrees F), fussiness, and redness
in the thigh area where the shot is given. These symptoms typically
last up to 2 days and your baby's doctor may suggest giving baby
acetaminophen to your child to ease the fever.
- Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (HIB) vaccine
influenzae type B isn't the viral infection that everybody calls the
flu. Instead, it's a fast-moving bacterial infection that can cause
baby to have ear and bronchial infections. HIB also can lead to
meningitis in children under the age of 2, so it is important that you
protect your child with three doses of the HIB vaccine during the first
year -- at age 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. Experts also recommend
that a fourth dose be given before your child's second birthday.
- Polio vaccine
Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a
serious viral disease that starts with a fever and can lead to
paralysis, muscle atrophy, and permanent disability. In its most severe
forms, polio can cause death. Polio vaccine comes in two forms, IPV
(inactivated polio vaccine) which is given by injection and OPV (oral
polio vaccine) which is given by mouth. The American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends giving the vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, 12 to
18 months, and between 4 and 6 years of age. You and your baby's doctor
can decide whether a schedule of all-OPV, all-IPV, or a combination of
both forms is best for your baby.
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
This vaccine provides coverage for three diseases in a single shot -- measles, mumps and rubella (or German measles):
- Measles is a viral infection that causes distinctive red spots and is characterized by cold-like symptoms and a high fever.
- Mumps is an infectious viral disease that results in swelling
of the parotid gland that's just in front of the ear and the salivary
glands. The swelling can occur on the sides of one or both cheeks.
Mumps usually is accompanied by a fever and pain when the patient opens
his mouth or eats.
- Rubella, or German measles, is similar to measles in that it's
a viral infection that results in a fever, swollen glands and a rash.
The first MMR vaccine is usually given when baby is between 12 and 15
months and seldom has any serious side effects. The second shot
(booster) is recommended between 4 to 6 years of age. Baby, however,
may be more sleepy than usual and have a mild rash, slight fever, or
slight swelling in the neck or diaper area.
- Varicella Vaccine
This vaccine protects against
chicken pox, a viral infection which is highly contagious and results
in a blisterlike rash that's very itchy. The American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends that all children receive the varicella vaccine
between the ages of 12 and 18 months. A second dose also is recommended
at between 11 and 12 years of age.