Vaccines for Children

The recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most helpless and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.You can check the schedule for the age or age range when each vaccine or series of shots is recommended. If your child has missed any shots, use the catch-up scheduler tool to see recommended vaccination dates for the missed or skipped vaccines.

Recently, there has been some interesting discussion in the media regarding the Hepatitis B vaccine. The CDC suggests that this vaccine be administered to infants soon after birth and before hospital discharge. Parents, who are often uninformed regarding the risks of contracting this disease or the chronic long-term effects of liver failure, cirrhosis, and liver cancer that come from being infected, may question why their infant needs to receive a vaccination at such a young age. As a parent to five children myself, I too wondered why it was so important to begin vaccinating my child before they had even left the hospital.

Polio, an infectious disease caused by a virus that lives in the throat and intestinal tract. Since the introduction of the polio vaccine in 1955, the disease has been eradicated in the U.S. But the disease is still common in some developing countries and until it is eradicated worldwide, the risk of it spreading to the U.S. still exists. For that reason, the polio vaccination remains one of the recommended childhood immunizations. In most parts of the U.S., polio immunization is required before a child can start school.

Immunizations have had an enormous impact on improving the health of children in the United States. Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community. While these diseases are not common in the U.S., they persist around the world. It is important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines because outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can and do occasionally occur in this country.

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