There are a lot of opinions on vaccines and whether they’re safe. While some research has shown that there are links between vaccinations and autism, there are others that show no links at all. Then there are reports of various infections and diseases spreading that could have been preventable.
In some parts of the country, children aren’t allowed to attend public school unless they’ve had their vaccinations. If you want them to go to school or daycare with others, you need to make sure they are completely up to date. But when should your child have vaccinations and what exactly do they need? This is a common question for all parents.
Here’s a look at everything you could need to know about vaccinations for your children, including when to have them.
Why Are Vaccinations Given?
While vaccinations tend to get a bad reputation by some, they are extremely beneficial additions to the health care of children. At young ages, children don’t have the immune system to fight against diseases. Some of the most common diseases that are now vaccinated from are those that are highly infectious and cause serious complications. Some of the diseases can lead to immunity and other health problems, while others can lead to death.
Vaccinations are always going through stages of testing to ensure they are safe for individuals. While there are some allergic reactions to the ingredients, the benefits far outweigh the cons. Allergies are uncommon, although those with children who have had allergic reactions will find doctors suggest not to risk them for subsequent children to avoid the risk.
There have been cases of vaccinations helping to eradicate some health conditions. This is the case for smallpox and polio is also on its way out.
Do Vaccines Overload the System?
The immune system doesn’t become overloaded with the vaccinations. While the body does receive some of the diseases, this isn’t enough to come down with the disease. The immune system will fight the infection and create the antibodies needed to fight off real bouts of the infection during life.
It’s amazing what the immune system can do. It’s affected by millions of germs daily and manages to prevent serious infection.
The schedule created is done in mind of the various benefits of the doses and to prevent overloading the system completely. When you stick to the schedule, your child gets full protection throughout their younger years. There’s no need to spread out the infections further. While spreading them out doesn’t have any major side effects, it also doesn’t have any benefits.
The only time to avoid vaccinating on the schedule is if your child is currently sick. Some of the vaccinations can affect the healing from conditions. Your doctor will discuss your options with you.
The Immunization Schedule Depends on Where You Live
There isn’t one set immunization schedule for the entire world. Some countries’ health organizations put more weight on some vaccinations than others, due to the rise and spread of diseases and infections. For example, the UK will have a meningitis B vaccination for younger children, but this isn’t part of the schedule in the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world.
Different states will also carry their schedules. However, there are certain vaccines that are more routine than others. In some parts, the vaccines will be given as single shots, and in others, they will be broken down. This is a rough guide to your child’s vaccination schedule from birth.
Birth to Two Months
The first vaccine is usually hepatitis B, which is usually given within 24 hours of being born. Your child will also usually have a vitamin K shot, which helps with clotting.
Sometimes, the vaccinations will be held off for the first month. This is often the case for low birth weight babies. Parents can choose not to get the vaccination right away, as it can be given at a later stage.
The second dose of the HepB vaccine is often given between the first and second month. It’s usually 1-2 months after the first dose, so if the first dose was later, then the second dose will be held off.
At month two, the DTaP vaccine is given, which is diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccine. Your baby will also get the Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b) vaccine, the inactivated polio vaccine, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and the vaccine against the rotavirus.
The rotavirus vaccine is especially important. This is a dangerously serious illness for babies, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
Between Four and Six Months
In month four, babies will get all the vaccines they got in the second month. These are second-round shots to ensure the vaccination remains permanently.
The sixth month will see all but the inactivated polio vaccine given. However, there are certain others that may not require a third dose.
Hib and rotavirus vaccines may not be required in the sixth month. This will depend on the brand and the strength is given in the younger years.
Another IPV round is usually given between the ages of six months and 18 months. Another HepB vaccine is also usually given around this time.
During the Second Year
At around 12 months, your child will be given another round of Hib and PCV. Your doctor may also recommend the chickenpox vaccine. If your child has already had the chickenpox, the vaccine may not be given as your child may have an immunity to the disease already. However, your doctor will discuss this with you before the vaccine. This is also known as the varicella vaccine.
The most debated about the vaccine is the MMR, which is the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. Rubella is also known as German measles. All are extremely dangerous diseases that can cause a variety of health side effects, including immunity and death. Of course, it’s also the vaccine that some research has linked to autism.
It is possible to get the MMR vaccine as three separate vaccinations. This will be more expensive, and not all doctors want to do it, but the option is available.
The HepA (hepatitis A) vaccine is also given at this point. This is given in two rounds, six months apart. Many will have around at 15 months and then at 23 months. Your doctor will discuss the best option for you and your baby.
At some point between 15 and 18 months, another DTaP vaccination is available.
This will be it for the school years.
Between Four and Six Years
During the Kindergarten years, your child will have another round of some vaccines above. These are the DTaP, IPV, MMR and chickenpox vaccines. These are the booster vaccines to keep the immunity up and make sure children are protected against some of their most dangerous periods of life.
There will be no more vaccinations until your children are in their teenage years.
The Teenage Ages
Between the ages of 11 and 12, teenage girls are often given the HPV. This is the human papillomavirus vaccine, often given in two shots within the space of six to 12 months.
In some cases, this vaccine can be given at the age of nine, but for most, it’s given just before the teenage years. If it’s given later, it will be given in three shots instead. By the time someone turns 26, the vaccine isn’t usually given.
While it is a vaccine to prevent cancer, it can also be given to boys. It is known to prevent genital warts.
A Tdap booster, for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis are also given around this point. This is also often recommended for each pregnancy a woman has.
Around the age of 16, the Meningococcal B vaccine (MenB) may be given. This isn’t part of the compulsory schedule for health boards, but your doctor may recommend it. Depending on the brand, it can be given in two or three doses, usually six to 12 months.
At this time, the meningococcal conjugate vaccine is given. This is highly recommended for all, while the MenB isn’t.
The Annual Vaccinations
From six months, everyone is recommended to get the influenza vaccination on a yearly basis. This is adapted each year, vaccinating against the most common flu from the previous years. It, unfortunately, doesn’t protect all types of flu and there is still a risk of catching the flu during the year.
Since 2017, those who get it for the first time or are younger than nine will get two shots of the flu a month apart. The idea is to offer the extra boost.
There are two types of flu vaccines. The nasal spray was often given to younger children but proved to be ineffective for many. A lot of states have now removed the nasal spray, and most health providers now opt for the needle injection for all.
The flu is highly important for those with certain illnesses. Pregnant women are recommended to get the flu shot (and the immunity can temporarily pass onto children). Those in high-risk groups, including those with some illnesses such as asthma.
When Vaccinations Are Recommended Early
There are times that children will be recommended for vaccinations early. The MMR is one of those that can be given from the age of six months, although it is often held off for longer. Those who are traveling internationally, to countries that tend to get a lot of the three diseases, are often recommended to get the vaccinations early.
It’s possible to get the MMR from as young as four weeks old. However, doctors will recommend that the usual vaccination schedule is followed afterward. The child may not gain full immunity with the earlier vaccination.
There are times that the infections can spread in the local area. Mumps and measles outbreaks have occurred in parts of the United States in recent years. Children more than one-year-old are recommended to get the vaccination if they’re not already booked in for their routine shot. Those within close contact with someone with one of the infections are recommended to get an extra dose.
Likewise, HepA is a vaccination many people are recommended to get extra. This is the case for those who travel, adopt from areas where hepatitis A is a major concern and those who live in areas with hepatitis A problems. Those who have liver disease and clotting disorders are also recommended to get an extra boost of the vaccine.
This is also a vaccine that can be given at a later stage. Those who work in childcare or healthcare facilities are recommended to get an extra boost of the vaccination.
Some children who are at risk of meningococcal infection may be given the meningococcal vaccines at an earlier stage. It can be given from eight weeks old, depending on the brand, and is sometimes offered to those traveling to countries where a meningococcal infection is common or where there has been a vaccine.
Those with conditions affecting their immune systems or with conditions like chronic lung and heart diseases will be offered the pneumococcal vaccines at different times. This will be something your doctor discusses with you to make sure your child is protected always.
A whopping cough is another vaccination often given depending on the circumstances. This is often given to pregnant women, so young babies get the immunity from the earlier stage. In recent years it has become a major concern due to the rise of the illness again.
Getting Your Child Vaccinated
Now you know more about the schedule, it’s time to organize your child’s vaccinations. Your doctor will work with you to help you remain up to date. If you have any questions about vaccinations, your doctor will be able to answer them, including when to get them, any side effects, and whether your child needs them early.
Remain up to date on your schedule. This is the best way to keep your child protected from some of the deadliest diseases.