Baby Vaccines

baby vaccines

The purpose of vaccinations is to prevent diseases that have commonly caused severe damage and even death to children throughout history. Many of these diseases are extremely contagious and difficult to fight. Without vaccines, many diseases, such as measles and mumps, would spread quickly and could have potentially deadly effects. According to the Ohio American Association of Pediatrics, one of the most important things you can do to keep your child healthy is to make sure she receive regular immunizations.

Types of Vaccines

Children typically receive vaccines designed to prevent 14 diseases that have threatened the lives of children throughout history. While you may not see many of these diseases today, most medical professionals credit the eradication of the diseases to the prevalence of individuals who have been vaccinated against them. Most children receive immunizations based on the immunization schedule created by the American Association of Pediatrics.

Hepatitis B (HepB)

Hepatitis B is a disease known for attacking the liver. It can lead to multiple liver problems, including liver cancer, liver failure and cirrhosis of the liver. Individuals with yeast allergies and those who have a severe reaction to the first dose of the vaccine are not recommended to get the vaccine. Some suggest that the HepB vaccine is also linked to multiple sclerosis, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not find evidence that the vaccine puts individuals at risk for MS.

This vaccine is typically administered in three doses, with the first dose often being given before a baby leaves the hospital. If the baby's mother is a carrier of the Hepatitis B virus, the vaccine will be given with 12 hours of birth. Otherwise, it will be done sometime in the first few days of the baby's life. This means the doses of the HepB vaccine are usually administered at:

  • Birth
  • Two months
  • Six months

If a child or adult did not receive the vaccine as a baby, it can still be administered in the same intervals.

Hepatitis A (HepA)

Similar to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A is also a liver disease that can cause flu-like symptoms, stomach and bowel problems and jaundice. Children typically receive the Hepatitis A vaccine between 12 and 23 months of age. It is given in two doses, six months apart. Most doctors administer the HepA vaccine at:

  • Twelve months
  • Eighteen months

Rotavirus (RV)

Rotavirus has been known to cause severe gastro-intestinal problems in babies and children. A highly contagious disease, it causes 500,000 deaths a year for infants and children worldwide. Two different vaccines have caused the number of cases in the U.S. to drop drastically. Babies receive either the RotaTeq or Rotarix vaccine. Both vaccines are given orally starting at two months. If your baby receives the RotaTeq vaccine, he will receive doses at:

  • Two months
  • Four months
  • Six months

If he receives the Rotarix vaccine, he will only receive the vaccine at two and four months.

Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP)

The DTaP vaccine helps prevent three different diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Both diphtheria and pertussis cause breathing problems, with diphtheria causing a thick membrane in the throat and pertussis creating a severe cough that makes it difficult to breathe. Tetanus typically causes a locked jaw. Babies and children are usually given five total doses of the DTaP vaccine with those doses being administered at:

  • Two months
  • Four months
  • Six months
  • Eighteen months
  • Four to six years

Hib Disease

Hib disease is a bacterial infection that can cause multiple other problems such as pneumonia, meningitis and cellulitis. Babies typically receive four doses of the vaccine given at:

  • Two months
  • Four months
  • Six months
  • Twelve months

A final fifth dose of the vaccine may also be given between fifteen months and four years of age.

Pneumococcal (PCV)

Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial disease that can lead to meningitis and pneumonia. The most common pneumococcal vaccine, PPSV, is not approved for use in children under two, so in 2000 babies started receiving the PCV and many now receive the newest version of the vaccine, PCV13, which is designed to prevent against multiple strains of pneumococcal disease. Babies receive four doses of the vaccine at:

  • Two months
  • Four months
  • Six months
  • Twelve to fifteen months

Inactivated Poliovirus (IPV)

Polio used to be a common disease known for causing paralysis and meningitis in children. The vaccine has helped eliminate polio from the United States. Children receive four doses of the polio vaccine at:

  • Two months
  • Four months
  • Six to eighteen months
  • Four to six years

Influenza

While not required, the influenza vaccine, more commonly known as a flu shot is designed to prevent babies from getting serious cases of the flu. The flu shot may be given at the beginning of flu season any time between six and eighteen months of age. Children who are allergic to eggs should not get the vaccine.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)

Measles, mumps and rubella used to be extremely common in the United States. Measles causes a severe rash and high fevers that can lead to brain damage and seizures. Mumps results in swollen glands and high fevers that may cause deafness and meningitis. Rubella is a rash that, while not as dangerous in children, could cause a miscarriage or birth defects if a pregnant woman gets the disease. The MMR vaccine is typically given in two doses: one at 12-15 months and once at four to six-years-old. It also occasionally combined with the chicken pox vaccine and called the MMR-VAR.

While problems with the MMR are rare, the CDC notes babies and children may experience a minor rash and swollen glands after receiving the vaccine. Babies with cancer, low platelet counts and those taking steroids should not receive the vaccine.

Varicella (VAR)

Varicella, also known as chickenpox, is a common illness in children. While the vaccine may not keep children from getting chickenpox, it will prevent more severe forms of chickenpox. It may sometimes be combined with the MMR vaccine. The chickenpox vaccine is given in two doses at:

  • Twelve to fifteen months
  • Four to six years

Talk With Your Doctor

If you have concerns about your baby's vaccinations or want to learn more about them, your pediatrician should always be willing to talk to you. Whenever your child is given a shot, you will be provided with information about each shot and told what side effects to watch for. It is never fun to watch your child get a shot, but when you know the reasons for the shots and how they can benefit your baby's health, it makes it a lot easier.

Baby Vaccines