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Immunization Schedule, Children

Why Vaccinations Are Important

Vaccinations are some of the most important tools available for preventing disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 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. Diseases such as smallpox and polio have nearly disappeared because of immunization.

Most children get all their shots during childhood. A community awareness campaign called Every Child by Two urges parents to make sure their children are protected against some 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.

Childhood shots can be distressing for parents. Information explaining what parents can do before, during, and after shots is available from the 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 a 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 the most current childhood immunization schedule. For more information, see the childhood immunization schedule from the CDC.

Changes in the 2007 childhood immunization schedule include the following:

  • The new rotavirus vaccine (Rota) is recommended in a three-dose schedule at ages 2, 4, and 6 months. The first dose should be administered at ages 6 weeks through 12 weeks with subsequent doses administered at four to 10 week intervals. Rotavirus vaccination should not be initiated for infants aged >12 weeks and should not be administered after age 32 weeks.
  • The influenza vaccine is now recommended for all children aged 6-59 months.
  • Varicella vaccine recommendations are updated. The first dose should be administered at age 12-15 months, and a newly recommended second dose should be administered at age 4-6 years.
  • The new human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) is recommended in a three-dose schedule with the second and third doses administered two and six months after the first dose. Routine vaccination with HPV is recommended for females aged 11-12 years; the vaccination series can be started in females as young as age 9 years; and a catch-up vaccination is recommended for females aged 13-26 years who have not been vaccinated previously or who have not completed the full vaccine series.
  • The main change to the format of the schedule is the division of the recommendation into two schedules: one schedule for persons aged 0-6 years) and another for persons aged 7-18 years. Rota, HPV, and varicella vaccines are incorporated in the catch-up immunization schedule.

The vaccines discussed in this article are recommended for children.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2014
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