What vaccinations should my child receive?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that babies receive the following vaccinations or immunizations:
DTap (Diptheria, Tetanus, & Pertussis) Vaccine: 5 doses administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, 4-6 years
Hepatitis B Vaccine: 3 doses administered at birth, 1-2 months, 6-18 months
Polio Vaccine: 4 doses administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, 4-6 years
Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) Vaccine: 3* or 4 doses administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12-15 months
*With one type of Hib vaccine, your baby does not need to get vaccinated at 6 months of age
Pneumococcal Vaccine: 4 doses administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12-15 months
Rotavirus Vaccine: 2 or 3 doses administered orally (not a shot) at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months
*With one type of rotavirus vaccine, your baby does not need to get vaccinated at 6 months of age
MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) Vaccine: 2 doses administered at 12-15 months, 4-6 years
Flu (influenza) Vaccine: administered annually
Varicella (chicken pox) Vaccine: 2 doses administered at 12-15 months, 4-6 years
Hepatitis A Vaccine: 2 doses administered at least 6 months apart between the ages of 12-23 months
Meningococcal (MCV4) Vaccine: 1 dose administered at 11-12 years
HPV Vaccine (females only): 3 doses administered at 11-12 years
Are there any risks associated with getting vaccinated?
Although some of the vaccinations have side effects, the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks as they protect against serious diseases. Most side effects are mild and consist of tenderness, redness, and/or swelling at the site of the injection. Your child may also develop a mild fever. A mild fever does not indicate that your child is sick; a fever indicates that your child's immune system is learning to fight off infections. Approximately 25% of children (1 out of 4 children) will experience these side effects.
Rarely (less than one in a million vaccines), a child may have an allergic reaction to a substance in a vaccine. Allergic reactions usually occur soon after the shot is administered, although they could also occur several hours after the shot. If your child has breathing problems, wheezing, hives, dizziness, fainting, an irregular heartbeat, or weakness, you should call your healthcare provider immediately.
Other rare reactions include high fevers or seizures that occur within a few days of the vaccine. Call your healthcare provider immediately if your child has these symptoms.
Is there a link between vaccines and autism?
There is no known link between getting vaccinated and developing autism. A series of highly-controlled studies have convincingly demonstrated that there is no identifiable increase in risk of developing autism or autism spectrum disorders as a result of receiving childhood vaccinations (e.g., Madsen & Vestergaard, 2004; Mrozek-Budzyn, Kieltyka, & Majewska, 2009; Thompson et al., 2007). There is also evidence that the rates of autism have not fallen in response to the elimination of Thimerosal (mercury) in several areas, including California (Schechter & Grether, 2008).
In fact, some of the most recent studies have demonstrated that there is an increased risk of developing autism among children who are not vaccinated with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) or the single measles vaccine, relative to those who are vaccinated (Mrozek-Budzyn et al., 2009).
Madsen, K. R., & Vestergaard, M. (2004). MMR vaccination and autism: what is the evidence for a causal association? Drug Safety, 27, 831-840.
Mrozek-Budzyn, D., Kieltyka, A., & Majewska, R. (2009). Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case control study. Pediatric Infectious Disease, in press.
Schechter, R., & Grether, J. K. (2008). Continuing increases in autism reported to California's developmental services system: mercury in retrograde. Archives of General Psychiatry, 65, 19-24.
Thompson, W. W., Price, C., Goodson, B., Shay, D. K., Benson, P., Hinrichsen, V. L., Lewis, E., Eriksen, E., Ray, P., Marcy, S. M., Dunn, J., Jackson, L. A., Lieu, T. A., Black, S., Stewart, G., Weintraub, E. S., Davis, R. L., DeStefano, F., & Vaccine Safety Datalink Team. (2007). Early thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years. New England Journal of Medicine, 27, 1281-1292.