Vaccines provide immunity to potentially life-threatening diseases, and getting your child vaccinated on time is critical to keeping him or her healthy.
While there has been some talk in social media about whether parents should vaccinate, it’s important to know that vaccines have been proven safe and effective.
Discussing your concerns with your pediatrician and providing your child with the age-appropriate vaccines that he or she needs will help protect against preventable illnesses at every stage of childhood.
Which Vaccines to Get While Pregnant
Because you share everything with your baby when you are pregnant, vaccines provide immunity against serious diseases for both of you. When you’re pregnant, it’s a good idea to get the Tdap vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whopping cough).
A flu shot during flu season can be given before or during pregnancy, and your doctor will advise whether you should have a hepatitis B vaccine or vaccines for any travel you plan to do during your pregnancy.
Does Your Baby Get Vaccinated at Birth?
Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine for hepatitis B within the first 24 hours of life if the baby is a normal birth weight.
For low-birth-weight infants, the vaccine is given at 1 month of age or during discharge from the hospital. If your child has not yet been immunized for hepatitis B, he or she can get the vaccine at any age.
Vaccines to Get in the First Six Months
Within one to two months of your infant’s first hepatitis B vaccine, he or she should be given a second dose.
At 2 months of age, the CDC recommends the following vaccines:
- Diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis, which is also called whooping cough (DTaP)
- Rotavirus (RV)
- Inactivated poliovirus (IPV)
- Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
These five vaccines are repeated during the 4-month checkup.
A third dose of DTaP and PCV13 is given during the 6-month checkup. Your pediatrician will determine whether your infant needs third doses of Hib and RV. IPV is not needed.
When Should Your Child Get a Flu Shot?
The CDC recommends that children 6 months and older get the flu vaccine every year.
If your child gets the flu vaccine for the first time before the age of 9, it will likely be given in two separate doses at least a month apart. After the age of 9, only one dose is needed.
What Age Should Your Child Get Vaccinated for Travel?
Another question many parents ask is whether their child should be vaccinated before taking a trip, especially when traveling abroad. Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to keep your family fully protected against dangerous diseases.
Every country has its own health risks and typically requires specific immunizations. If you plan to travel internationally, check with your pediatrician to find out which immunizations are needed.
Most travel vaccines take at least a month to provide full immunity, so try to see a doctor at least four to six weeks before you take your trip. If your plans call for an earlier departure, it’s still worth making an appointment with your pediatrician. Your child may benefit from partial immunity from vaccinations, and your doctor could recommend medications to take along.
Common travel vaccinations.
While which vaccines your child receives is dependent on where you travel, your doctor may suggest that your child be vaccinated against typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis and Japanese B encephalitis.
It’s a good idea to bring your child’s immunization records with you on your trip.
How to Prepare for Your Child’s Vaccine Visit
The idea of preparing your child for a vaccination visit can seem overwhelming, but there are a number of things that you can do before, during and after to ease the stress.
Do your research before the appointment so you can come prepared with any questions you may have about the vaccines that your child is receiving.
Bring your vaccination record
Bring a current vaccination record to your child’s appointment so the doctor knows exactly what your child has already received.
Prepare your child
For a young child, bring a favorite toy or book that will offer a distraction during the vaccination process. If your child has older siblings who have received vaccines, have them share encouragement about their own experiences—but make sure they avoid telling scary stories!
For an older child, it’s usually best to just be honest about what to expect with the shot, like admitting that he or she may feel a pinch or sting.
What to do if your child is sick on the day of the appointment
Children can safely receive vaccinations while they have a mild illness. If you’re unsure, ask your doctor or refer to the CDC’s guidelines.
Offer a treat or do something special afterward
Reward your child after the vaccination appointment with a favorite treat or special outing.
At the end of the day, it’s important that your child understands that vaccines can keep him or her healthy, and this appointment is a necessary part of this process.
What Diseases Do Vaccines Prevent?
Some parents question whether they should vaccinate their children or if all of the scheduled vaccines are really necessary. It may help to know which diseases these vaccines protect against.
Before the age of 2, there are 14 vaccine-preventable diseases that can protect your child. These include:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Whooping cough
- Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
- Pneumococcal disease
- Rubella (German measles)
During your child’s next annual checkup, ask your pediatrician if any routine vaccines are needed, and before flu season, consider visiting the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care near you so your child can get the flu vaccine. (We can also give your child a tetanus shot if needed.)
At Medical City Children’s Urgent Care, our kid-friendly clinics are designed with children in mind, and we offer things that help to ease the stress of a visit, from a sticker collection to a pediatric-trained staff.
Whether you’re looking to make an appointment on the weekend or after hours when a regular pediatrician’s office is closed, we’re dedicated to providing the best possible care.
Be sure to use our Web Check-In® feature so you and your child can avoid the waiting room.
Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.