what parents should know about vaccines

What Every Parent Needs to Know About Vaccines

As a parent, nothing is as important as keeping your child happy, healthy and safe. For many parents, safety begins with vaccinations at birth. Vaccines can reduce the risk of many serious diseases, which is especially important when it comes to developing immune systems as they can’t protect against illness as well as adults can. The recommended immunization schedule can be confusing for new parents. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the scheduled vaccines be administered at the specified time frame during the first year of a baby’s life. Your pediatrician, family practice physician, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant will be able to help you with questions you may have about the various vaccines and the vaccine schedule. The primary vaccinations typically given during the first year of a baby’s life include those that protect against contagious diseases that are spread through air or by direct contact such as:

  • Varicella (protects against chickenpox)
  • Hib (protects against Haemophilus influenza type b)
  • Hepatitis A (protects against Hepatitis A virus)
  • Hepatitis B (protects against Hepatitis B virus)
  • DTaP (protects against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis)
  • Flu (protects against types of influenza viruses)
  • MMR (protects against Measles, Mumps and Rubella)
  • IPV (protects against polio)
  • PCV (protects against pneumococcal)
  • RV (protects against rotavirus)

What happens if you fall behind on getting your baby the recommended vaccines on the immunization schedule? After 18 months, there are certain catch-up immunizations that are recommended through adolescence. To learn more, look at the CDC’s helpful chart.

Vaccines can save your baby’s life. Dangerous childhood diseases like Hepatitis B, the measles and the mumps can quickly become a reality without the right protection. If your child is exposed to these diseases in places like theme parks or schools, they will have much better protection against illness if they’ve been vaccinated appropriately. Kids under five years are very susceptible to these kinds of diseases, since their immune systems are not fully developed yet.

You can receive vaccinations while pregnant to protect yourself and your baby. Pregnant women are encouraged to get vaccinated against the flu and whooping cough not only to protect themselves, but also their developing babies. If you’re expecting, it is important that you take the time to talk to your doctor to ensure you’re following the right recommendations and guidelines.

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Photo credit: Donnie Ray Jones

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