About Immunizations

Immunizations protect children from many diseases that can be easily prevented. Most of these diseases are spread from person to person, and children are at special risk because their bodies lack all the protection that adults have. For many available vaccines or immunizations, your child will require several shots in a series to get all the protection they need. Several doses are required because the medicine causes your child's body to build its own protection against the disease gradually rather than all-at-once.

Infants are at the highest risk of these diseases, so many of these vaccines are given at the same time at well-baby visits, starting at six to eight weeks of age and continuing through 18 months of age.

This practice has proven to be one of the safest and best things you can do for your child. Because infants see their doctor or health clinic provider on a frequent basis for checkups, most receive all the recommended vaccines until 12 months of age. However, after 12 months of age, many children do not receive their 4th dose of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine. Many times, this is not discovered until it is time for the children to receive their 5th booster dose at age 4 or 5 before entering kindergarten or school.

Young children who have not had all of these shots are at the highest risk of contracting a severe illness that can affect their breathing, vision and hearing, organs, such as their heart and liver, and can even cause death.

Making sure your child gets all needed shots by the age of two years will protect him or her from these harmful diseases:

  • hepatitis B
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus (lockjaw)
  • pertussis (whooping cough)
  • H. influenzae, type b disease
  • polio
  • measles
  • mumps
  • rubella (German measles)
  • varicella (chicken pox)
  • influenza (flu)
  • pneumococcal disease

Preschools, day care centers and all schools require children to be up-to-date with their immunizations. You should talk to your doctor or local health care clinic to find out when and where your child can get these. Many healthcare insurance plans, including Medicaid and Peach Care, cover the cost of immunizations. If you do nor have insurance or your plan does not pay for these shots, ask if your healthcare provider offers the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. This program provides free vaccines to doctors and clinics for children who meet certain guidelines.

A minor illness should not prevent your child from getting his shots. Common side effects may include a slight fever or redness, tenderness and swelling at the site of the vaccination for a day or two. If you feel your child has an unusual or severe side effect, you should call your doctor or nurse right away.

Here is a checklist that will help you keep your child healthy and on track for the important first two years.

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