About one month after your baby is born he or she is given the first of three hepatitis B (hepB) vaccinations. Then comes the diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine; haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib); pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV); inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV); measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and so on.
It’s a good rule of thumb to have the majority of these vaccinations taken care of by the time your child starts kindergarten. Schools require proof that your child has been vaccinated, and might not admit the child if all of the aforementioned vaccinations have not been given.
But did you know there are several other vaccines with which you might want to consider vaccinating your kids—as well as yourself.
1. Varicella (chickenpox) Vaccine
It wasn’t that long ago when parents would send their kids off to play with school mates and friends infected with chickenpox. The logic being that it was better to have chickenpox when you were young because it is not the most pleasant thing to have when you got older. For the kids, it meant a week off from school and lots of calamine lotion baths.
Now there is a vaccine for the chickenpox. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all healthy children, ages 12 months through 12 years, should have two doses of the chickenpox vaccination, administered at least 3 months apart.
2. Rotavirus Vaccine (RV)
According to the Rotavirus Vaccine Program, each year more than 500,000 children die from diarrheal disease caused by rotavirus, and another two million are hospitalized. Two, new, oral rotavirus vaccines are available to fight against rotavirus infection (Rotarix®, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline; and RotaTeq®, manufactured by Merck & Co., Inc.). Rotavirus vaccination is not required, but it is becoming recommended that infants get vaccinated against it at 2, 4 and 6 months of age.
3. Hepatitis A Vaccine (Hep A):
Hepatitis A is an acute liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus, lasting from a few weeks to several months. Hep A vaccination is recommended for all children starting at age 1 year. It should be given in two shots, 6 months apart. It is also recommended for travelers to certain countries.
4. Meningococcal Vaccine (MCV)
Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness that includes meningitis (the inflammation of the protective layer surrounding the brain and spinal cord) and blood poisoning. Kids can get meningococcal disease by living in close quarters, sharing utensils, kissing or inhaling secondhand smoke. The CDC recommends that children, ages 11 through 18 years, get one dose of the meningococcal vaccine (e.g. Menactra® by Sanofi Pasteur Inc.). In addition, college freshmen living in dormitories should also get the meningococcal vaccine.
5. Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV)
Genital human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) is a common virus that is passed on through genital contact. According to the CDC, some HPV types can cause cervical cancer in women. The HPV vaccine is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls. It is also recommended for girls and women age 13 through 26 years of age who have not yet been vaccinated.
6. TDaP Booster
There now exist TDaP boosters—or booster shots to protect adults from diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. Recently, the single-dose Boostrix® by GlaxoSmithKline was approved in use from children as young as 10 up to adults as old as 64. ADACEL®, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc. is given as a single dose to people, ages 11 through 64 years, for active booster immunization.