For a period of time after their birth, newborns are immune to many diseases—thanks to antibodies passed from their mothers’ in breast milk. However this immunity wears off within a year. After that, immunization protects babies and small children and helps prevent the spreading of disease. In addition to the seasonal flu vaccine, doctors recommend that infants and toddlers get vaccinated for a several other diseases. Below are the recommended vaccines for infants and toddlers.
There are several vaccinations recommended by the medical community for infants and toddlers, ages 0 to 24 months.
- HepB: protects against hepatitis B (infection of the liver)
- DTaP: protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)
- Hib: protects against Haemophilus influenzae Type b
- PCV: protects against pneumococcal disease
- IPV: protects against polio
- RV: protects against Rotavirus
- Influenza: protects against the flu; this is a seasonal vaccine
- MMR: protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles)
- Varicella: protects against varicella (chickenpox)
- HepA: protects against hepatitis A
When To Get Vaccinated
All vaccinations are not administered right after a baby is born. Rather, they are spaced throughout the first 24 months, some in multiple stages. Don’t worry, you don’t have to remember the vaccination schedule yourself; your pediatrician will guide you through the process and send reminders to you when it’s time for the next round of vaccines. The recommended timeline is as follows:
- HepB: The HepB vaccine protects against hepatitis B, infection of the liver, and is recommended for newborns and children through 18 years. HepB is a series of vaccines, administered in three shots, preferably over a six-month period; although the CDC’s immunization schedule lists the ages between 6 months and 18 months for receiving the third dose. It is recommended for newborns should receive their first dose immediately following birth, and most states require children to have been vaccinated against hepatitis B to enter school.
At 2 Months
- HepB: Dose two is recommended between one month and two months old.
- DTaP: DTaP protects against three
diseases: diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough). The
CDC recommends that children receive five doses of this vaccine, administered
at specific ages, beginning at 2 months old. The second dose should follow at 4
months; the third dose at 6 months; the fourth dose between ages 15 to 18
months; and the fifth and final dose between 4 to 6 years old. DTaP is not
licensed for older children, adolescents, or adults.
- Tdap: For protection as you age, you should receive one dose of Tdap between age 11 to 18 (preferably at age 11-12 years) and then once again between ages 19 and 64. Following the initial dose, a booster shot is recommended every 10 years, or after exposure to tetanus in some cases. For a while now, typical booster shots were one dose of Td (which only protects against tetanus and diphtheria. However, new evidence shows that pertussis is actually on the rise because of waning vaccine efficacy among adults. For this reason, some medical professionals are recommending a full Tdap booster every 10 years.
*What the letters mean: DTaP, Tdap, and Td are all similar vaccinations given for the same diseases at various times in a person’s life. Depending on age, certain amounts of each of the vaccine’s components are administered. The lettering system and upper/lower cases denote the component of the vaccination and the amount that’s included within. As the CDC explains, “Upper-case letters in these abbreviations denote full-strength doses of diphtheria (D) and tetanus (T) toxoids and pertussis (P) vaccine. Lower-case “d” and “p” denote reduced doses of diphtheria and pertussis used in the adolescent/adult-formulations. The “a” in DTaP and Tdap stands for “acellular,” meaning that the pertussis component contains only a part of the pertussis organism.”
- PCV: Protects against pneumococcal disease (an infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae). There are various types of pneumococcal disease, including, among others:
PCV is given in a series of four doses; recommended to start with infants at 2 months, then 4 months, 6 months, and the fourth dose between ages 12 to 15 months.
*For children between ages 24 months and 4 years old, one dose is recommended if the child is healthy and has never received the vaccination or needs to complete the series.
*It’s best to speak with your doctor regarding PCV if your child has a medical condition.
- Hib: This protects against the
bacterial infection, Haemophilus influenzae type b. The CDC states that
before the vaccine, “Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis
among children under 5 years old in the United States,” affecting about 20,000 each
- Hib vaccine is recommended for all children under 5 years old to start at 2 months of age. The second dose is recommended at 4 months, the third at 6 months, and the fourth and final dose between 12 to 15 months.
- Polio: Before the vaccine, polio
afflicted thousands each year in the United States. The two vaccines that are
used are IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) and OPV (oral polio vaccine). Developed
to cut the risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis, IPV has been
used in the United States since 2000; while use of OPV can still be found in
- The IPV shot is a series of four doses to start at 2 months, with the second at 4 months, the third dose between 6 to 18 months, and the fourth dose between 4 to 6 years old.
- RV (rotavirus): Protects against severe acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea). In the United States, there are currently two licensed vaccines. Rotavirus vaccine is recommended to be administered in two or three doses, with the first dose given at 2 months old, the second at 4 months, and the third (if necessary) at 6 months.
At 4 Months
At 6 Months
- Seasonal influenza (flu): To
protect against influenza viruses.
- The flu shot—a seasonal, annual vaccine—is recommended for healthy individuals starting at 6 months and continuing through life. Flu season falls approximately between September through January.
- A second option is the nasal-spray flu vaccine, approved for people between the ages of 2 to 49, except for women who are pregnant.
- The CDC recommends that certain
individuals get the flu vaccine each year, including:
- pregnant women
- children under 5 years
- adults over 50 years
- individuals with chronic conditions
- seniors living in nursing homes and related facilities
- caregivers of high-risk individuals
- Individuals who are advised not to get the flu vaccine include
those who have any of the following:
- severe allergy to chicken eggs
- severe reaction to the flu vaccine in the past
- moderate-to-severe illness
- children under 6 months
- development of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)—disorder in which immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system—from the flu shot
At 1 Year
- MMR: Protects against mumps, measles, and rubella (German Measles). The MMR involves two doses. The first dose is recommended between 12 to 15 months; the second dose between ages 4 and 6. *These are recommended ages, however the second dose may be given at any age, allowing for 28 days between the first and second dose.
- Varicella: Protects against chickenpox (characterized by fever and itchy rash on the body). The chickenpox vaccine is recommended in all healthy children, in two doses, the first dose given at one
year to 15 months; the second recommended between 4 and 6 years old. *It is recommended to avoid use of aspirin
products for 6 weeks following the chickenpox vaccination.
- People who should not receive the chickenpox vaccine
include anyone who exhibits the following:
- severe allergic reaction to gelatin
- moderate-to-serious illness
- inability to fight infection due to cancer or cancer treatment
- immune diseases that lessen the ability to fight infection
- use of steroids or drugs that affect ability to fight infection
- family history of immunodeficiency
- recent blood transfusion or blood products
- HepA: Protects against hepatitis A, liver disease. All children, at one year old, are recommended to get the HepA vaccine.
- seasonal influenza
- People who should not receive the chickenpox vaccine include anyone who exhibits the following:
At 15-18 Months
- seasonal influenza