Childhood immunizations or childhood vaccines can seem overwhelming when you are a new parent. Vaccine schedules suggested by organizations and agencies, such as the CDC, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics cover approximately 14 different diseases.
Vaccines for children not only guard your child against deadly diseases, such as tetanus, polio, and diphtheria, but they also keep other kids safe by eradicating or greatly decreasing life-threatening diseases that used to spread from direct contact.
How do vaccines for children work?
A vaccine is a dead or sometimes weakened version of the germ that causes the disease it’s supposed to protect from. When children are exposed to a weakened disease in vaccine form, their immune system, the body’s germ-fighting protection, can build up antibodies that protect the kids from contracting the disease if they get exposed to the actual disease.
Over time, vaccines and immunizations have generated some controversy over efficiency and safety, but no substantial evidence of serious risks has been found. Nevertheless, even though children can have a reaction to any vaccine, the important thing to know is that the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the possible side effects.
Keeping track of immunizations from your children’s pediatrician
Most of your child’s vaccines are completed between birth and 6 years. Many vaccines are given more than a couple of times, at different ages. This means that you will need to keep an accurate record of your child’s vaccinations. Although your child pediatrician’s office will also keep track, people change doctors, records get misplaced, and the person responsible for keeping track of your kid’s immunizations is you.
Ask your pediatrician for an immunization record form. Keep your child’s record as you would a birth certificate and keep it with your other pertinent documents.
Even though a lot of doctors and parents do a stellar job of keeping up with vaccinations, studies show that about a quarter of preschool children are missing at least one important vaccination. Almost all states will not allow your child to start to school without a complete immunization record. Sometimes, though, a vaccination is missed when a child is sick. Nevertheless, no matter what the reason, it’s vital to make up missed vaccinations.
If your child has missed an immunization, though, you do not have to go back and start over. The previous vaccinations are still good. Your doctor will just proceed with the immunization schedule.
How many shots do children need?
Although vaccines for children are mixed to lessen the number of shots needed, the list is still long.
Here is a typical immunization schedule recommended by age 2:
- A vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
- Four vaccines for Haemophilus influenza (Hib), a common upper respiratory infection that can cause meningitis
- Three to four polio vaccinations (IPV)
- Four shots for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DPT)
- Three immunizations for hepatitis B
- One shot for varicella (chickenpox) for age 12 months above, and only if your kid does not develop chickenpox on his own.
- Three shots for rotavirus, a type of infection that causes acute diarrhea.
- Four vaccines for pneumococcal disease, a common cause of pneumonia and ear infections
From age 4 to 6, your child will also need booster shots for DPT, MMR, IPV, and chickenpox. Kids should also start getting a yearly flu shot after 6 months of age. A shot for hepatitis A is advised for all children. This is quite a lot to keep track of, hence you need an immunization records form.
Final tips on immunizations
Keep this info in mind to help your child’s immunizations go more smoothly:
Common side effects of vaccines for children include swelling at the spot of the injection, soreness, and slight fever.
Ask your doctor’s office if it has in an immunization registry. This is a source you can go to if your child’s vaccination records get lost.
Also, ask your doctor’s office if it has a vaccination reminder system. This will call to notify and remind you when your child’s immunizations are due and it will warn you if a shot has been missed.
Vaccines and immunizations are some of the most effective and safest medicines we have against life-threatening diseases, so much so that they have made a lot of dangerous childhood diseases rare today.