This Pediatrician’s 411 on Vaccines
I love when kids come in for their well checks and I get to tell them, “Guess what, no shots today!!” Unfortunately, that introduction is not always the case. Even though I wish all kids would happily trot into their pediatrician’s office without fear, vaccines are a standard of care in our line of work.
Vaccine education is a significant part of our visit when kids come in for their check ups. There are usually a lot of questions surrounding the routine schedule and number of vaccines and possible deviations from that standard schedule. Thankfully, there are many combination vaccines available now, which decreases the amount of injections your little one has to receive. While most doctors continue to recommend the standard CDC-approved vaccination schedule, modified schedules can be discussed with your child’s pediatrician.
Current United States Vaccination Schedule
- HepB: Hepatitis B vaccine. First dose is given within 24 hours of birth, as long as the baby is at a normal birth weight. Kids not previously immunized can get it at any age.
- HepB: Second dose should be given 1 to 2 months after the first dose.
- DTaP: Diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccine
- Hib: Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine
- IPV: Inactivated poliovirus vaccine
- PCV: Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
- RV: Rotavirus vaccine
- Hib: A third dose may be needed, depending on the brand of vaccine used in previous Hib immunizations.
- RV: A third dose may be needed, depending on the brand of vaccine used in previous RV immunizations.
6 months and annually
- Influenza (Flu): The flu vaccine is recommended every year for children 6 months and older:
- Kids younger than 9 who get the flu vaccine for the first time (or who have only had one dose before July 2019) will get it in 2 separate doses at least a month apart.
- Those younger than 9 who have had at least 2 doses of flu vaccine previously (in the same or different seasons) will only need 1 dose.
- Kids older than 9 need only 1 dose.
- The vaccine is given by injection with a needle (the flu shot) or by nasal spray. Your doctor will recommend which to use based on your child’s age and general health.
- MMR: Measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles) vaccine
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- HepA: Hepatitis A vaccine; given as 2 shots at least 6 months apart
- HPV: Human papillomavirus vaccine, given in 2 shots over a 6- to 12-month period. It can be given as early as age 9. For teens and young adults (ages 15–26 in girls and boys both), it is given in 3 shots over 6 months. It’s recommended for both girls and boys to prevent genital warts and some types of cancer.
- Tdap: Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis booster. Also recommended during each pregnancy a woman has.
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine: And a booster dose is recommended at age 16.
- Meningococcal B vaccine (MenB): The MenB vaccine may be given to kids and teens in 2 or 3 doses, depending on the brand.
One of the most well known studies against vaccines showed a link between MMR and autism and was conducted by Andrew Wakefield in 1998. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing a link between the vaccine, autism, and possible bowel disease. It caused a big uproar among parents and physicians and led to many people refusing to have their kids vaccinated against MMR. Since then there has been a ton of research conducted on the MMR vaccine and its possible link to autism and they found NO link between the two. But the damage was already done and it was hard to convince parents that they do not have to be scared of vaccinating their 1 year old kids against these very dangerous diseases.
Thank goodness we live in an era where small pox is something you only read about in books and the consequences of polio seem like they only happen in third world countries. But what we don’t realize is that these diseases are real. The fatalities from these diseases are real and the protection these vaccines provide is REAL.
Always Discuss Your Concerns with Your Pediatrician
Of course, there are always special circumstances and considerations that may need to be taken into account with your particular child. These are things that you and your child’s pediatrician should discuss together and formulate a vaccination plan that works best for your family and your child. While the chances of your child getting diseases such as measles, pertussis, or diphtheria might be low, you don’t want to risk leaving them unprotected should they be exposed to such illnesses.
We as moms are inherently over-protective of our children. The list of worries about them is pages long. In the end, we all just want to keep our kids healthy and safe. There are a great many things you can do besides vaccinations to prevent your child from getting sick. However, there is also wisdom in protecting your child from things you are not able to control, like the germs they come into contact with. You should absolutely naturally boost your baby’s immune system with breastfeeding, nutritious foods and daily vitamins. But also please add vaccinating your children to that very important list.