Childhood Immunization Schedule
Why Vaccinations Are Important
Vaccinations are some of the most important tools available for preventing disease. Vaccinations not only protect children from developing a potentially serious disease but also protect the community by reducing the spread of infectious disease.
Diseases spread from person to person. If enough people are immunized, the disease may not be transmitted through a population, thus protecting everyone. This concept is called "herd immunity." The concept is that the strongest (those immunized) protect the weakest (those not immunized). Diseases such as smallpox and polio have nearly disappeared because of immunization.
Most children start their immunizations during the vulnerable period of infancy. A community awareness campaign called Every Child by Two urges parents to make sure their children are protected against many of the diseases of childhood before the child reaches 2 years of age.
Parents should consult their doctors about which vaccines their children should have and when. Keep track of your children's immunizations yourself. You will be asked for these records when the child enrolls in school and throughout the child's school career. Most physicians will provide a small yellow card or other statement for recording received vaccinations. It should be brought to all medical appointments.
Childhood shots can be distressing for parents. Information explaining what parents can do before, during, and after shots is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and state health organizations.
Every year, the AAP, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the CDC, and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) issue an updated recommended childhood immunization schedule. This schedule is published in January of each year. Changes may be made during the year if necessary.
The CDC publishes annually the most current childhood immunization schedule. For more information, see the childhood immunization schedule from the CDC. There is a "routine" schedule for vaccinations as well as one for children involved with a "catch up" vaccination program. A separate vaccination schedule also exists for those with unusual medical circumstances or those with a potentially higher than routinely expected exposure possibility (for example, doctors or those doing medical research).
The vaccines discussed in this article are recommended for children residing in the United States. Individuals traveling to foreign countries may need unique vaccines. A review of the CDC web site or consultation with a physician knowledgeable regarding travel medicine should be pursued several months in advance of departure if such travel is anticipated.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/10/2015
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