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Staying Healthy with Vaccines

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It’s National Immunization Month, so let’s talk about vaccines. Getting vaccinated throughout childhood is incredibly important, as it provides your child with potentially life-saving immunity before they’re possibly exposed to diseases. CDC-approved vaccinations have been thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness, meaning they’re safe for most children to receive at the recommended age. If you have any concerns about getting your child vaccinated, consult your child’s family medicine provider to discuss further.

During Pregnancy

Getting vaccinated before and during pregnancy allows you to pass on important immunities to your bundle of joy to help protect them during their initial months after birth. Vaccines will also protect you from serious diseases that can potentially cause miscarriage or birth defects.

  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine: If possible, 1 month before becoming pregnant
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine: During the 3rd trimester, renewed every pregnancy
  • Annual, seasonal flu vaccine: By the end of October, every year

Birth to 2 Years Old

Following the recommended vaccine schedule gives your child a healthy start. Many vaccines require multiple doses to build immunity, so make sure you stay on-top of what vaccines your child needs and when.

  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine: 12-15 months
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 -18 months
  • Flu vaccine: Every year by the end of October, starting at 6 months
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine: At 2 months, 4 months, 6 months (if needed; depends on brand), and 12-15 months
  • Hepatitis A vaccine: 12- 23 months, second dose 6 months following first dose
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: Shortly after birth, at 1-2 months, and at 6-18 months
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine: 12-15 months
  • Pneumococcal (PCV13) vaccine: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12-15 months
  • Polio (IPV) vaccine: 2 months, 4 months, and 6-18 months
  • Rotavirus (RV) vaccine: At 2 months and 4 months (for Rotarix brand); or 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months (for RotaTeq brand)

Preschool and Elementary School: Ages 3 through 10

As children begin to attend school, they will potentially be exposed to more harmful diseases. Some schools also require proof of immunization for enrollment.

  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine: 4-6 years
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine: 4-6 years
  • Flu vaccine: Every year by the end of October

Preteens and Teens: Ages 11-18

By this point, some childhood vaccine protection will begin to wear off and updates on some vaccines will be needed. Additional vaccinations are also need as the risk of exposure increases with age.

  • Flu vaccine: Every year by the end of October
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine: 11-12 and a second dose 6-12 months following the first dose
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine: 11-12 and 16
  • Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine: 16-23 years; if interested, talk to your child’s doctor
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine: 11-12

Adult years

Even as adults, vaccinations are still needed to stay in control of your health. Additional vaccines may be recommended by your primary care provider based on health conditions, environment, lifestyle, or other conditions.

  • Flu vaccine: Every year by the end of October
  • Shingles vaccine: Age 50+
  • Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine: 65+, followed by the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine

For more information on vaccinations, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ or talk with your primary care provider.

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