12 Vaccines Your Child Needs
A parent's guide to childhood vaccinations
Children get as many as 25 shots and boosters in the first 15 months of life alone. When you combine the sheer number of vaccines with an alphabet-soup-like jumble of acronyms it’s hard to keep track of what a youngster is getting—and why.
Here’s a rundown of 12 vaccines that help protect against potentially life-threatening germs. Most are required for school attendance, while some are not. (Legal requirements can vary from state to state.)
This virus spreads through contact with blood or other body fluids (sharing toothbrushes and utensils can put you at risk).
Soreness at the site of the shot, or a slight fever, is the most common side effect, according to Gabrielle Gold-von Simson, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
Five vaccine doses are given to children at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years. (And boosters at age 11 or 12 and then every 10 years.)
DTaP may be combined with other vaccinations to reduce the number of shots needed. “Now, it’s DTaP with hepatitis B and the polio vaccine. So, it’s five in one,” Dr. Gold-von Simson says.
The first shot is given at 12 to 15 months of age and once again between the ages of 4 and 6.
MMR is sometimes combined with the chickenpox vaccine into one shot (brand name ProQuad). “All these different preparations are designed to reduce the amount of shots the pediatrician has to give,” says Dr. Gold-von Simson.
Chickenpox infections can be especially dangerous in adults who don’t have immunity from the vaccine or haven't had it in childhood, and can also lead to shingles, an extremely painful blistering rash.
The shot is given to children at 12 to 15 months and again between 4 and 6 years. The vaccine can cause soreness at the site of the shot, fever, and, in some cases, a mild rash.
Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib)
Hib vaccines are generally given at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age. Depending on the vaccine used, the 6-month shot may not be needed.
Fever, swelling, and redness at the site of the shot are potential side effects.
There are no more in the United States that is. The virus hasn’t been eradicated worldwide, so kids still get the IPV, or inactivated polio vaccine, which is a shot containing killed virus.
Polio is bad news, and can cause paralysis and even death. Children are given the IPV at 2 months, 4 months, between 6 to 18 months, and then again between the ages of 4 and 6 years.
Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV)
A total of four shots are given to kids (at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age) to protect them against the germs, known collectively as pneumococcal bacteria.
The most common side effects of the vaccine include drowsiness, swelling at the site of the shot, mild fever, and irritability.
Common side effects from the vaccine include soreness, redness, or swelling at the site of the shot. Fever and aches may occur too.
“If you have an egg allergy, you shouldn’t have the influenza vaccine,” says Dr. Gold-von Simson.
It is not required for school attendance.
The vaccine is in liquid form and given by mouth to babies. It may make them a bit more irritable and can also cause mild diarrhea or vomiting.
Children ages 12 through 23 months generally get two doses of the Hep A vaccine, with a minimum interval of six months between shots. Some states require the vaccine for school attendance.
Soreness where the shot was given, headache, and loss of appetite are the most common side effects of the vaccine.
Meningococcal conjugate (MCV4)
Teens starting college should be vaccinated with MCV4 before going to school if they didn’t previously get the shot. (Freshman living in dorms are at increased risk of infection.)
A little pain at the site of the shot is the most common side effect.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
While there are over a hundred types of HPV, this vaccine protects against two sexually transmitted types that are the most common causes of cervical cancer. Gardasil also protects against two types that cause genital warts and is approved for boys between 9 and 26 as well.
The vaccine works only if given before an infection, so doctors recommend it for kids well before they could become sexually active. Although most states don’t require HPV vaccination, many are considering mandating it for preteen girls.