Your baby’s getting a lot of shots during their first year. Here’s why.
Seeing your sweet newborn receive their first shot can be unsettling—nobody likes needles, after all. Add in the quantity of vaccinations, and it can become overwhelming.
As much as you don’t want to see your child cry from the poke of a needle (or if you’re worried about things you’ve heard about potential vaccine side effects), rest assured that the immunization schedule has been carefully researched, studied, tested, and studied again to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness.
“We give children several immunizations at once in order to stimulate their immune system,” says Dyan Hes, MD, a pediatrician in New York City. “We’ve actually found in studies that children actually respond better to multiple immunizations at once than getting one at a time.”
Here’s a look at the vaccines your baby gets during those first-year checkups:
Hepatitis B. Hep B is an infection that attacks the liver and can leave permanent damage and scarring. Immunization against hepatitis B is usually given in the hospital after delivery. This is crucial because mothers can transmit the infection to their child during delivery, but immediate vaccination can prevent the infection. Subsequent vaccines for hepatitis B are given in three doses: at birth, at two months, and at six months.
Polio. This serious infection caused thousands of illnesses each year in the United States until vaccination began in 1955, according to the CDC. Polio can lead to permanent paralysis, as in the case of President Franklin Roosevelt, or even death. Vaccines for polio are given at the two-, four-, and six-month mark.
Rotavirus. This easy-to-spread virus causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, particularly among infants and toddlers. Vaccines for rotavirus (which are oral, not shots) are also given at two, four, and six months.
Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB). Prior to vaccination became routine, Hib disease was a major cause of bacterial meningitis—swelling of the brain and spinal cord—in young children. (Learn more about how meningitis affects the body here.) Children receive this vaccine at months two, four, and six months old, as well as a booster between 12 and 18 months.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). Infection by pneumococci can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, and febrile bacteraemia. An estimated 1.6 million people die from these diseases each year, according to the World Health Organization. This vaccine is also given to babies at two, four, and six months, as well as a booster between 12 and 18 months.
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP). Diphtheria once caused tens of thousands of deaths a year in America, but infection is very rare since routine vaccination began. Tetanus, a bacterial infection, causes lockjaw and other painful tightening of muscles. Pertussis is more commonly known as whooping cough; it can be life-threatening for infants. DTaP vaccines are given at two, four, and six months, and again between 12 and 18 months.
Influenza. Many people experience the flu several times throughout their life. Though many people treat the flu like it’s a really bad cold, flu virus actually causes thousands of deaths each year in the United States, according to the CDC. Those with weakened immune systems, like infants and people over age 65, are at the greatest risk of serious flu complications. When baby gets vaccinated for the first time, after age six months, they get two doses of the flu vaccine. Then they get one dose annually after that. (Learn more about how the flu affects the body here.)
Mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR). These three viruses are all life-threatening on their own, according to pediatrician Alok Patel, MD, of New York Presbyterian-Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. This vaccine is given between 12 and 18 months.
Varicella (chickenpox). This vaccination is relatively new, so many Gen X or older millenial parents have memories of having chickenpox themselves and may not see what the big deal is. However, chickenpox causes 10,600 hospitalizations and 100 to 150 deaths each year, according to the CDC, and used to be another leading cause of meningitis. Children receive this vaccine between 12 and 18 months.
Hepatitis A. Like hep B, this virus affects the liver. Children receive this vaccine between 12 and 18 months.
“Many of these vaccines are going to need booster doses as your child gets older,” says Preeti Parikh, MD, a pediatrician at The Mount Sinai Hospital and chief medical editor at HealthiNation. “Research has shown that sometimes the immunity wanes.”
While needles and injections can make you a little anxious, keep in mind that these vaccinations are one of the most comprehensively studied subjects in medicine and their success rate has saved millions of lives.
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As a new parent,
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it can be overwhelming to see your
baby getting all these vaccines.
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But I just wanna reassure you that
pediatricians are using an immunization
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schedule that is based on research and
science behind it.
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We give children several immunizations
at once in order to stimulate their immune
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We've actually found in studies that
children respond better to multiple
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immunizations at once than
getting one at a time.
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So I think that it's a point for
parents to kind of break them down and
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really realize what their
children are getting.
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The very first shot that children
get is hepatitis B which is gonna
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prevent hepatitis which is inflammation
of liver which can lead to liver failure,
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long-term disease in adulthood.
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Typically, hep B is given at birth at
one to two months of age and then again
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the third dose at six months of age
At the two, four and six month visit,
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your child should also be getting
an inactivated polio vaccine and
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Now, polio is one of the great
marvels in the vaccine world.
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Polio is a virus that can cause,
well, it can cause paralysis.
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We all remember President Roosevelt
in the wheelchair from polio.
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Now rotovirus, rotovirus causes diarrhea.
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we see a lot of it in day cares.
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We see a lot of it in areas when
children are close together and
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they don't wash their hands.
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Another two shots that parents
will see in their two, four and
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six-month would be HIB and PCV.
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That stands for
haemophilus influenzae and pneumococcus.
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Now haemophilus, my pediatric mentors
tell me stories about haemophilus in
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the early 90s and 80s causing meningitis
and death in numerous children.
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I have never seen a case now.
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Thanks to that vaccine.
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Pneumococcus is also a cause of bacterium.
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Meaning, bacteria in your blood
can also cause pneumonia,
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can also cause meningitis.
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DTaP, we threw that acronym
out around all the time.
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It stands for diphtheria,
tetanus and pertussis.
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So diphtheria is a bacteria that
can be life-threatening and
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we used to see a lot of it
back before the vaccine era.
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Tetanus, a lot of people think of.
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They think of lock jaw and
muscle paralysis, and
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then pertussis may not sound familiar.
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But when I say whooping cough,
everyone knows what that is.
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And whooping cough can be life-threatening
in young children or the elder, or
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the immune compromise.
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You get the DTaP vaccine at 2 months,
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4 months, 6 months and
between 15 to 18 months.
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Flu vaccine protects against influenza,
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which is a type of virus that can
cause body aches, muscle aches.
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It really can knock you out and
all babies, 6 months and
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older get the flu vaccine.
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The first time they get the flu vaccine,
they'll two doses.
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And then after that, annually,
it'll only be one dose a year.
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At 12 to 15 months of age,
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there's another very important set
of vaccine that your child needs.
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MMR which is a combined of mumps,
measles and rubella and
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varicella which is a fancy name for
saying chicken pox.
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Now mumps, measles and rubella,
all individually can be life-threatening.
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I know when we were kids, we all had
chicken pox and it wasn't a big deal.
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But what people don't realize is
that before the varicella shot,
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chickenpox is actually a large cause of
meningitis, inflammation of your brain.
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Why take the risk?
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There's another hepatitis shot your
child needs, that's hepatitis A.
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Now with hepatitis A, your child is
eligible to get the vaccine at age 12
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a little bit older to finish the series.
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Many of these vaccines are going
to need booster doses as your child
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And the reason that booster doses are so
important is because research has shown,
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sometimes the immunity wanes.
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The amount of foreign antigens,
a child sees at the park or
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a day care is far greater than the amount
they see in their childhood vaccines.
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And vaccines have been studied so
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thoroughly that there is absolutely no
risk of overwhelming an immune system.
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Chickenpox/varicella vaccination. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. (Accessed on December 8, 2017 at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/varicella/index.html.)
Diphtheria. Washington, DC: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on December 8, 2017 at https://medlineplus.gov/diphtheria.html.)
Immunity: natural and acquired. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017. (Accessed on December 7, 2017 athttps://www.vaccines.gov/basics/prevention/immunity/index.html.)
Immunization coverage. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 2017. (Accessed on December 7, 2017 at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs378/en/.)
Inactivated influenza VIS. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. (Accessed on December 8, 2017 at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flu.html.)
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. (Accessed on December 8, 2017 at http://www.who.int/biologicals/areas/vaccines/pneumo/en/.)
Polio vaccination. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. (Accessed on December 7, 2017 at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/polio/index.html.)
Prevention. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012. (Accessed on December 7, 2017 at https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/prevention/index.html.)
Rotavirus vaccination. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016. (Accessed on December 8, 2017 at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/rotavirus/index.html.)
Safety. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012. (Accessed on December 7, 2017 at https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/safety/index.html.)
Tetanus. Washington, DC: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on December 8, 2017 at https://medlineplus.gov/tetanus.html.)