Immunizing kids—babies, children, adolescents and also preteens—is often the best way to protect them from many contagious and serious diseases that can affect them throughout their lives. So it’s not surprising that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that childhood immunization rates remain high in the U.S., with coverage for most routine vaccines at or over 90 percent.
Talk to your doctor first
While immunizations help prevent and control outbreaks of diseases that were once common, parents may have questions and concerns about vaccines. PHS clinical staff members highly encourage you consult a doctor before getting an immunization or flu shot for your child. Every child has different needs, and some medically-fragile children may not be able to receive some of the routinely recommended vaccines.
Get facts about flu vaccines
Flu shots are especially important for children with chronic medical conditions that put them at high risk of having serious flu-related complications as well as their caregivers. Again, talk to your child’s doctor first. To avoid one more needle prick, parents may choose flu mist over a flu shot. Yet, flu mist, which is a live vaccine, isn’t as highly recommended for children with immunosuppression and a higher risk of getting the infection.
Vaccines recommended for children
The vaccines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) include:
- DTaP, to protect against diptheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough)
- Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, which can cause the liver disease hepatitis
- Polio to protect against polio
- MMR, to protect against measles, mumps and rubella
- Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), which can lead to meningitis and pneumonia
- Meningococcal (MCV), to protect against common types of meningitis
- Influenza (flu) to protect against seasonal flu
- Rotavirus (RV), to protect against rotavirus, which can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and dehydration
- Varicella, to protect against chickenpox
- Pneumococcal (PCV) to protect against pneumococcal disease, which can lead to meningitis, pneumonia, and ear infections
- HPV to protect against human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer
Immunization schedule: when to get shots
It’s important to get immunizations at the correct time. While immunization schedules may vary depending on your child, your doctor, and the vaccine, we recommend downloading these handy, easy-to-read immunization charts from the Minnesota Department of Health. You can choose from six languages (English, Hmong, Russian, Somali, Spanish or Vietnamese) and quickly see what shots are needed when for kids of all ages.
Keep up with flu news
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against 2009 H1N1, and two other viruses, an H3N2 virus and an influenza B virus.
Keep a record of your child’s vaccinations
Ask your doctor or nurse for a record card with all the dates of your child’s shots, keep it updated, and bring it to every visit.
If you have questions, get answers
- Talk to your health care provider about immunizations and vaccines
- Consult reliable online information resources, such as the immunization area on the AAP website; it has lots of information, all supported by scientific research
- Visit the PHS website Resource Library or talk to a PHS clinician
Do you have any questions, thoughts or comments on immunizations or vaccinations? Any experiences to share that might help others?
We’d love to hear from you.