Children’s vaccinations are the best way to protect your child (and others) from serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including whooping cough, measles and polio. The current recommended children’s immunization schedule is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
This children’s vaccine list and vaccination schedule will help you know what to expect and when. Your healthcare provider may suggest variations based on your children’s health, available vaccines, and where you live.
Most babies should receive their first dose of hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine within 24 hours of birth. Hepatitis B is a virus that can be transmitted via blood or body fluids. It affects the liver and can cause chronic liver disease or liver cancer. It takes three doses of the hepatitis vaccine (delivered over a period of months) for children to be fully protected.
If your child weighs less than 4 ½ pounds at birth, your healthcare provider may recommend holding the HepB vaccine until your baby is one month old or discharged from the hospital.
Most children receive a series of immunizations at their two-month wellness appointment. Recommended vaccines include:
Diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP). This vaccine protects against diphtheria (a once-common disease that can cause heart and nerve damage and respiratory failure), tetanus (a serious bacterial infection that can cause death), and pertussis (also known as whooping cough).
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Hib is a type of bacteria that can cause a variety of problems, including ear infections, meningitis (an infection affecting the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia, and sepsis (a whole-body blood infection).
Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). Before the polio vaccine was available, polio caused 15,000 cases of paralysis and approximately 1,800 deaths in the United State each year. The inactivated poliovirus vaccine does not contain any live virus, so it cannot cause infection. Since 2000, the U.S. has exclusively used inactivated polio vaccine for inoculation.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). This vaccine protects children (and adults) against pneumococcal disease, which can cause ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis, and life-threatening blood infections. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, pneumococcal meningitis can cause deafness and brain damage, and kills about 1 child in 10 who get it. Children under age 2 are particularly susceptible.
Rotavirus vaccine (RV). Rotavirus can cause gastrointestinal sickness, including severe vomiting and diarrhea. A child who’s been vaccinated against rotavirus may still catch the illness, but is far less likely to land in the hospital due to dehydration.
HepB. Children should receive their second dose of the hepatitis B vaccine 1 to 2 months after their first dose.
Your child should receive second doses of many vaccines at his or her 4-month check-up, including:
Recommended vaccines for 6-month olds include:
Not all children will need a third dose of the Hib and RV vaccines. Depending on the brand of vaccine used, children require two or three doses of these vaccines to be fully protected. Ask your healthcare provider how many doses your child requires.
Your child will need a fourth dose of IPV. This dose can be administered any time between 6 to 18 months of age. A final HepB dose should also be given between the ages of 6 to 18 months.
An influenza (flu) vaccine is also recommended annually for children ages 6 months and older. This vaccine should be given in early fall, prior to the start of flu season.
Immunizations that should be given around 12 months of age include:
Hib. This will be your child’s last Hib immunization.
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR). Measles can cause brain damage and death. Mumps can cause deafness, brain swelling, and death. And rubella, or German measles, can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects if a woman contracts the disease while pregnant. The MMR vaccine protects against each of these diseases.
Varicella (chickenpox). In the early 1990s, 100 to 150 Americans died of chickenpox each year, according to the CDC. The chickenpox vaccine prevents approximately 9,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths annually. Some clinics administer a combined MMR-chickenpox vaccine, MMRV.
Hepatitis A (HepA). Like hepatitis B, HepA is a virus that can cause liver damage. The hepatitis A vaccine is normally administered between ages 12 to 23 months, but can be given as early as 6 months of age if the child will be traveling to a place where HepA is common.
Vaccines your child may need around age 1 ½ include:
DTaP. This will be your child’s last dose before starting school.
HepA. Children require two doses of the HepA vaccine to be fully immunized. The second dose should be given at least 6 months after the first one, so if your child got dose 1 at his 12-month check-up, he’ll need dose 2 around 18 months of age.
Before beginning school, most children should receive another dose of:
Recommended vaccinations for this age group include:
Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a common virus that can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. It is also a leading cause of head and neck cancer. Both boys and girls can receive the HPV vaccine. Children need a total of 2 shots over a 6- to 12-month period to be fully immunized.
Tdap. This booster shot provides additional protection from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine. This vaccine protects againstfour different types ofbacteria that can cause meningitis and blood infections.
Immunizations recommended for older teenagers include:
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine. A booster shot should be given at age 16.
Meningococcal B (MenB). This vaccine protects against an additional strain of meningococcal bacteria.
Your healthcare provider can tell you which immunizations are recommended for your child and help you plan a vaccination schedule. Your provider can also answer questions about side effects.