Childhood immunizations—when to vaccinate, and why

why vaccines are important for your child's health

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Last updated:
07/13/2021

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends childhood immunizations to protect your child from 14 serious diseases that can lead to disability or death. Vaccines are one of the easiest and most important ways you can protect your child.

This article provides an overview of vaccines, when they should be given, and why they’re important. Learning more about these vaccines will help you make informed decisions for your family’s health care needs.

Why Childhood Immunizations Are Important?

  • Vaccines protect your child from diseases. They do not cause the diseases they prevent.
  • Vaccines prevent many infectious diseases and can also prevent serious complications of those diseases if they occur. The vaccines listed in this article protect against 14 serious childhood diseases that can cause disability or death in the right circumstances: diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough),tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), polio, rotavirus diarrhea and vomiting center among others.
  • Vaccines are one of the easiest and most important ways you can protect your child.

Children should get all the vaccines they need to be protected from serious diseases during childhood. These vaccines are typically given in one or more visits, usually at 2, 4, and 6 months of age and once again at 12 to 15 months.

There is no absolute timeline for vaccination because diseases can vary in severity among individuals. The CDC recommends that your child’s immunization schedule be reviewed when the baby is 12 to 18 months old if you notice an illness in your child that’s not typical for kids his age or if a medical professional has told you that you should consider delaying some or all of the recommended vaccines.

If you have questions about the need to vaccinate your child at a specific time, talk with your child’s doctor.

Why vaccines are important for your child’s health?

There are several reasons why vaccines are important for your child’s health:

  • Vaccines cost much less than treating disease. If we didn’t have vaccines, our children could become sick and perhaps die. Vaccines may also help prevent serious complications of diseases if they occur. Here is an example: Rotavirus can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to dehydration and hospitalization in young babies. In 2010 there were about 53,000 hospitalizations in the United States from rotavirus-related illness—a number that has been falling because of vaccination against this disease.
  • It isn’t possible to develop immunity to all diseases. Some diseases can be prevented with vaccines, but others cannot. Some children’s immune systems are simply not strong enough to prevent even the common cold. Once a child is older, his or her immune system will provide effective protection against disease.
  • Vaccines are safe. As would be expected from medicines, vaccines contain substances that may cause mild side effects or even a mild allergic reaction such as redness and itching at the injection site (inflammation). Rarely, serious side effects can occur. In adults, most serious reactions are caused by the infection that was being prevented by the vaccine, not the vaccine itself.
  • Vaccines work. Vaccines have been shown to be effective in preventing certain diseases in children and they are generally safe. In fact, vaccines are much safer than many childhood infections (and far safer than many common childhood illnesses).
  • Vaccines can protect older children and adults from disease. Because people may not be able to safely receive all these vaccines on schedule once they reach school age, a booster shot at age 11 or 12 is recommended for all adolescents and adults who haven’t had a child’s recommended doses of some vaccines. Booster shots may be recommended for persons who may have weakened immune systems (e.g., people with HIV/AIDS) or who had some of their childhood vaccines in the era before they were recommended for use.
  • Vaccines are available free of charge to eligible individuals. Most vaccines are available at no cost to the individual receiving them in this country. Some vaccines, such as hepatitis B vaccine and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, must be distributed by a school nurse to students, but all others can be obtained without charge from a local health department, if needed.

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

  • Vaccines do not cause autism.
  • Vaccines do not cause autism. In fact, there is no evidence that any of the vaccines being given to school children causes autism.
  • Autism is caused by genetic and environmental factors. Vaccines simply do not fit into the equation. Autism is a neurobiological disorder and is not easily prevented or treated with vaccines. Autism rates actually increased dramatically in the years immediately following the introduction of immunizations for several different infectious diseases, including polio and diphtheria. The actual number of cases has since stabilized, but this may be because autism has been diagnosed on a more severe scale due to better diagnostic tools and practices.

If you have questions about vaccines, talk with your child’s doctor. Ask to see your child’s vaccination records and request a copy of the Vaccine Information Statement for the vaccines that were given to your child.”

It’s important to keep good records of your Child Vaccination. Find here our easy to use Child Immunization Record useful for seeing when various vaccinations should be given.