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What You Need to Know About the Immunization Schedule

What You Need to Know About the Immunization Schedule

What’s the immunization schedule?

 The immunization schedule lists the ages and recommended vaccination times for babies, children, and adults in the United States. It was created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), other federal agencies, and professional medical organizations. A revised version of the schedule was published in 2018 to reflect new recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This article will break down what you need to know about the immunization schedule, including an overview of each part, as well as some frequently asked questions.

Why Are Children Given Shots?

While most vaccines help keep us healthy, some are designed specifically to protect children. Vaccines save lives and prevent disease by teaching your child’s immune system how to fend off potentially dangerous infections. One vaccine, called DTAP (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis), protects against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis). Other shots protect against meningitis and rotavirus. The schedule for giving vaccines is known as an immunization schedule.

Vaccines in General

Vaccines are a common method of immunization and are typically administered via injection. The word vaccine comes from cow – a reference to cowpox, which was one of the first vaccines ever created. Vaccines have an immeasurable impact on health throughout life – from protecting us from dangerous diseases like tetanus as children, to protecting us from new strains of influenza and SARS in adulthood.

The Disease(s) For Which There Is No Vaccine

Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria in your bloodstream. It’s rare but dangerous, with potentially deadly complications. Fortunately, there is a tetanus vaccine that you can get before (or after) becoming infected. That said, if you need a tetanus shot, it will likely be because of one or more other diseases or conditions that aren’t vaccine-preventable: for example, fighting cancer.

Combination Vaccines (More Than One Shot at a Time)

Combination vaccines, sometimes called polyvalent vaccines, protect against more than one disease. One example is Tripedia (for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), which replaces four previously administered shots: DTP, DTaP, DTPH and Tdap. The new vaccine is not only simpler (one shot instead of four) but safer; studies have shown that it doesn’t weaken immunity over time. Another example is Prevnar (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine), which protects against 13 different strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

When Should My Child Get the First Dose of Each Vaccine?

Vaccines are given at specific ages. If you need help remembering when, take a look at your child’s immunization schedule. The vaccine schedule provides an easy-to-follow timeline for dosing kids with certain vaccinations in a timely manner. For example, by following your child’s immunization schedule, you can make sure that your child receives all of his shots before he turns two years old.

How Do Vaccines Work?

The immunization schedule aims to immunize people at certain ages against specific diseases. Tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that can cause stiff muscles, particularly in your neck and jaw, as well as fever and chills. It's caused by a wound becoming infected with Clostridium tetani bacteria, which release a toxin that can enter your bloodstream. Vaccines help guard against disease by helping your body build up an immunity to it.

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated? (Contraindications)

If you’re in a high-risk group for tetanus, there are certain medical conditions that may prevent you from receiving a tetanus shot. Pregnant women should not be vaccinated unless they have been exposed to potentially contaminated soil or animal bites. Babies less than 12 months old should not receive vaccines until after their first birthday, and immunizations may need to be delayed if your child is sick with an illness like chickenpox or influenza.

Who Should Delay Their Vaccinations? (Ages and Medical Conditions)

Children younger than 6 months may not have received some of their vaccinations because it’s too young for most vaccinations, so doctors advise delaying vaccinations for them until they reach that age. Children with certain conditions may need to delay their vaccinations as well. If your child has a medical condition, you should follow your doctor’s advice on when and how often they should receive their vaccines. Be sure to discuss any specific health concerns you have with your doctor before having your child vaccinated or giving them any medications.

It’s All about the Timing! (Why Some Vaccines Are Given Together)

Vaccines, or immunizations, are given in a specific order and time frame. In fact, it’s crucial that your baby receive his or her shots on schedule, so pay attention! There are many factors involved in creating an individualized vaccination schedule—medical history, pre-existing conditions, age of child—so speak with your pediatrician about what’s best for your little one.

Flu, Hepatitis B, HPV & The Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) Information

There are two types of Varicella, which is also known as Chickenpox. The first type occurs in children and is usually a mild infection that only lasts a few days. The second form is more severe and usually affects those who have not had chickenpox as a child. Although it can be treated with antiviral medication, people who contract adult chickenpox are also at risk for developing Shingles later in life when they get older.

Tetanus & Diphtheria Protection

Our tetanus and diphtheria immunizations protect us from potentially deadly bacterial infections. Tetanus is a serious disease characterized by painful muscle spasms, while diphtheria can lead to breathing problems and heart failure. While no vaccines are 100% effective, following your doctor’s recommended immunization schedule can lower your risk of developing these diseases. It’s important that you receive all of your vaccinations on time and as scheduled.

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