It can be hard to keep up with the recommended vaccine schedule for children. There are so many different vaccines, and they all need to be administered at specific times in order for your child to receive optimal health benefits and be fully immunized.
Here is a guide to the vaccine schedule for children who are age 6 and younger so you can stay informed on your child’s health – and where you can go in Purchase to ensure that your child is fully vaccinated.
What Is the Vaccine Schedule?
The vaccine schedule is a list of the recommended vaccines for children at specific ages. The schedule is created by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which is made up of medical experts on diseases, vaccines, and immunizations.
The ACIP continually reviews the latest research on vaccines and makes recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on which vaccines should be given and when. Importantly, many vaccines for young children are administered in multiple doses, anywhere from a month to years apart, so the CDC has developed a schedule for when each dose of each vaccine should be administered.
Which Vaccines Are Recommended for Young Children?
The CDC recommends that children 6 years and younger receive the following vaccines:
- HepA–Protects against hepatitis A, a disease that is transmissible through direct contact or contaminated food/water. In severe cases, it can cause liver failure, kidney problems, and death.
- HepB–Protects against hepatitis B, a disease that is transmissible through body fluids. It can lead to liver failure.
- RV –Protects against rotavirus, a disease that causes diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
- DTaP–Protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). Diphtheria and pertussis cause respiratory disease, and tetanus causes muscle spasms and fever.
- Hib–Protects against Haemophilus influenzae type B, which is a bacterium that can cause brain inflammation and lung infection.
- PCV13–Protects against pneumococcus, which is a streptococcus bacterium. It can cause pneumonia and infection in the blood and brain.
- IPV–Protects against the polio virus, which can cause fever, paralysis, and death.
- Influenza (yearly flu shot) –Protects against the flu, which is a respiratory virus. It can be serious in young children.
- MMR–Protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Measles can cause brain swelling, mumps can cause brain swelling and deafness, and rubella can cause fever in young children and miscarriage or stillbirth in pregnant women.
- Varicella–Protects against chickenpox, which causes rash and fever in mild cases and infected blisters, pneumonia, and death in severe cases.
Ages When Young Children Should Get Certain Vaccines
- Birth: first dose of HepB
- Between 1-2 months: second dose of HepB
- At 2 months: first dose of RV, DTaP, Hib, PCV13, and IPV
- At 4 months: second dose of RV, DTaP, Hib, PCV13, and IPV
- At 6 months: third dose of RV, DTaP, Hib, and PCV13; first flu shot (thereafter annually)
- Between 6-18 months: third dose of Hep B and IPV
- Between 12-15 months: fourth dose of Hib and PCV13;first dose of MMR and varicella
- Between 12-23 months: first dose of HepA, with the second dose given 6 months after the first
- Between 15-18 months: fourth dose of DTaP
- Between 4-6 years: second dose of MMR and varicella, fourth dose of IPV, and fifth dose of DTaP
Certain brands of the vaccine for COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) can also be administered as early as 6 months, with at least 3-8 weeks between doses. Talk to your pediatrician about what is best for your child.
Why Is It Important to Follow the Vaccine Schedule?
Following the recommended vaccine schedule is the best way to protect children from being infected with serious diseases they may be exposed to. Vaccines work by forcing your immune system to develop a defense against various viruses and bacteria. Each vaccine has a dead, weakened, or synthetic version of the pathogen.
When more people are vaccinated, it creates what is known as “herd immunity.” This means that there is less of a chance for the disease to spread, and even people who can’t be vaccinated (such as infants or those with weakened immune systems) are less likely to get sick.
How to Keep Track of Your Child’s Vaccine Schedule
The best way to make sure you are following the schedule is to keep track of it. You can do this by writing down when each vaccine is given to your child, or by using a phone app or an online tool. In addition, at each visit to the pediatrician, the doctor will tell you which upcoming vaccines your child needs.
It is a good idea to bookmark or print out this article for your future reference. You can keep a printed version on your desk or refrigerator, and mark when your child has received each vaccination.
What to Do if Your Child Misses a Vaccine
If your child misses a scheduled vaccine, they don’t need to start over. All you need to do is go back to the pediatrician for the next shot.
Children’s Vaccines in Purchase, New York
At Westchester Park Pediatrics, we offer all of the recommended vaccinations for children. We understand that it can be confusing to keep track of the vaccine schedule, which is why we are here for you and your child.
Give us a call at (914) 761-1717 or schedule an appointment through our patient portal now. We can answer any questions you have, make sure your child is up-to-date on their vaccinations, and help your child stay happy and healthy!