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Home > Health Library > Your Child's First Vaccines: What You Need to Know
The vaccines covered on this statement are those most likely to be given during the same visits during infancy and early childhood. Other vaccines (including measles, mumps, and rubella; varicella; rotavirus; influenza; and hepatitis A) are also routinely recommended during the first 5 years of life.
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Vaccine-preventable diseases are much less common than they used to be, thanks to vaccination. But they have not gone away. Outbreaks of some of these diseases still occur across the United States. When fewer babies get vaccinated, more babies get sick.
Seven childhood diseases that can be prevented by vaccines:
Signs and symptoms include a thick coating in the back of the throat that can make it hard to breathe.
Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, and heart failure.
Signs and symptoms include painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.
Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw that can make it difficult to open the mouth or swallow.
Signs and symptoms include violent coughing spells that can make it hard for a baby to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for several weeks.
Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. Pertussis can be very dangerous in infants.
Signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, cough, and shortness of breath. There might not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases.
Hib can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the ears, sinuses, blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart; brain damage; severe swelling of the throat, making it hard to breathe; and deafness.
Signs and symptoms include tiredness; diarrhea and vomiting; jaundice (yellow skin or eyes); and pain in muscles, joints, and stomach. But usually there are no signs or symptoms at all.
Hepatitis B can lead to liver damage and liver cancer. Some people develop chronic (long-term) hepatitis B infection. These people might not look or feel sick, but they can infect others.
Signs and symptoms can include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all.
Polio can lead to permanent paralysis (can't move an arm or leg, or sometimes can't breathe) and death.
Signs and symptoms include fever, chills, cough, and chest pain. In infants, symptoms can also include meningitis, seizures, and sometimes rash.
Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); infections of the ears, sinuses and blood; pneumonia; deafness; and brain damage.
Children usually catch these diseases from other children or adults, who might not even know they are infected. A mother infected with hepatitis B can infect her baby at birth. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound; it is not spread from person to person.
Vaccines that protect your baby from these seven diseases:
DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15–18 months, 4–6 years
Some children get a vaccine called DT (diphtheria & tetanus) instead of DTaP.
Birth, 1–2 months, 6–18 months
2 months, 4 months, 6–18 months, 4–6 years
An additional dose of polio vaccine may be recommended for travel to certain countries.
Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
3 or 4
2 months, 4 months, (6 months), 12–15 months
There are several Hib vaccines. With one of them, the 6-month dose is not needed.
2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12–15 months
Older children with certain health conditions may also need this vaccine.
Your healthcare provider might offer some of these vaccines as combination vaccines—several vaccines given in the same shot. Combination vaccines are as safe and effective as the individual vaccines, and can mean fewer shots for your baby.
Most children can safely get all of these vaccines. But there are some exceptions:
DTaP vaccine, if your child ever had any of these reactions after a previous dose of DTaP:
PCV13 vaccine, if your child ever had a severe reaction after a dose of DTaP (or other vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid), or after a dose of PCV7, an earlier pneumococcal vaccine.
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own. Most vaccine reactions are not serious: tenderness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; or a mild fever. These happen soon after the shot is given and go away within a day or two. They happen with up to about half of vaccinations, depending on the vaccine.
Serious reactions are also possible but are rare.
Polio, hepatitis B, and Hib vaccines have been associated only with mild reactions.
DTaP and Pneumococcal vaccines have also been associated with other problems:
Mild problems: Fussiness (up to 1 child in 3); tiredness or loss of appetite (up to 1 child in 10); vomiting (up to 1 child in 50); swelling of the entire arm or leg for 1–7 days (up to 1 child in 30)—usually after the 4th or 5th dose.
Moderate problems: Seizure (1 child in 14,000); non-stop crying for 3 hours or longer (up to 1 child in 1,000); fever over 105°F (1 child in 16,000).
Serious problems: Long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, and permanent brain damage have been reported following DTaP vaccination. These reports are extremely rare.
Mild problems: Drowsiness or temporary loss of appetite (about 1 child in 2 or 3); fussiness (about 8 children in 10).
Moderate problems: Fever over 102.2°F (about 1 child in 20).
Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at about 1 in a million doses, and would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.
The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety.
Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or unusual behavior.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, and difficulty breathing. In infants, signs of an allergic reaction might also include fever, sleepiness, and lack of interest in eating. In older children, signs might include a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would usually start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can't wait, call 911 or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.
Afterward, the reaction should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your doctor should file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS website at www.vaers.hhs.gov, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
VAERS does not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines.
Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.
Vaccine Information Statement
Multi Pediatric Vaccines
42 U.S.C. § 300aa-26
Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Many Vaccine Information Statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See www.immunize.org/vis.
Muchas hojas de información sobre vacunas están disponibles en español y en otros idiomas. Visite www.immunize.org/vis.
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