Vaccines provide protection against a host of childhood illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a comprehensive vaccine schedule for children from birth through adulthood, with appropriately timed and spaced immunizations to provide maximum health benefits. Here’s a brief primer on vaccines for babies and older kids.
Commit to Vaccines
There’s quite a bit of discussion about vaccines, despite the fact that they are safe and effective. It is critically important that you commit to vaccines and get them for your children on the approved timeline. The CDC has a standard timeline as well as a delayed one. Some parents with concerns about immunizations for very young children opt for the delayed schedule, which spreads required vaccines out over a longer period of time. However you choose, commit to completing each series of vaccines. Starting then stopping an immunization program poses health rises from decreased immunity, among other things.
Discuss with Your Pediatrician
Discuss immunizations with your pediatrician. They can discuss recommendations based on your child’s individual medical records and answer any questions you may have. It’s important to make decisions as soon as possible – even before the birth of your child – as some immunizations are given at the hospital immediately after birth.
The Vaccine Schedule
There are interactive immunization schedules available at a variety of sites online. The CDC site includes the standard schedule for babies through 6 years, a full schedule to age 18, and a catch up schedule if you’ve fallen behind or decide later to have your child immunized. Become familiar with the schedule so that you know when you visit your pediatrician when shots are to be given.
Well Child Visits
Take advantage of well child visits – a series of doctor visits during the first six years of life to ensure proper growth and development of your child. Most insurance plans cover well child visits with no deductable or co-pay.
When Vaccines are Administered
Some of the stress around childhood vaccines centers on access to medical information. Take a proactive stance regarding vaccines: know which well child visits include shots, research or discuss with your physician the possible side effects for each and monitor your child closely for 24 hours after each immunization. For some vaccines, such as Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), the reaction is delayed by 7-10 days. While it’s not an official recommendation, many parents opt to have immunizations early in the day so they can monitor the child for possible side effects for several hours before bedtime.
Make the decision to get all of the recommended vaccines for your baby or older children. You’ll be protecting their health as well as the health of others who and weakened immune systems and cannot get vaccines. This collective protection is called “herd immunity” and it’s only effective if the majority of individuals receive their vaccinations on schedule. If you have questions or concerns about vaccines, discuss them with your pediatrician or health care provider.