As we prepare for another school year, one important way to keep kids healthy is to follow the current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) required and recommended vaccine schedule for kids from birth through age eighteen. The CDC vaccine schedule was updated last month after careful evaluation of health risks at various ages for children and the safety profile of the vaccines recommended.
According to Dr. Anita Chandra-Puri, a Chicago pediatrician and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, following this schedule is important because it provides maximum protection for kids when they are most susceptible to the serious consequences of the vaccine preventable illnesses.
“By vaccinating all children who are eligible to be vaccinated, we also create community immunity – preventing the bacteria or virus from circulating in the community because there is no place for it to continue to multiply or spread,” says Chandra-Puri.
Chandra-Puri suggests that parents with any concerns regarding vaccination should have a frank conversation about any of their fears with their pediatrician.
“It is important to have a good working relationship with your pediatrician as you are both trying to do what is in your child’s best interest,” she says.
Here’s a look at the current CDC vaccine schedule for children as of 2022.
Before leaving the hospital, an infant will receive the first shot in a three-shot series for hepatitis B. Later, at two months, they will be given first doses of five shots: rotavirus; diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, haemophilus influenzae, pneumococcal conjugate, and poliovirus. The child will get the second shot in the series for hepatitis B, as well.
Chandra-Puri says that these vaccines are critical in protecting children in their first year of life.
“Children outgrow any immunity they may have received from their mother within the first few months of life,” she says. “Additionally, children are most susceptible to the serious consequences of the vaccine preventable illnesses in the first year of life.”
At 4 months, a baby is given the second dose of the five shots given in the first months of life. At 6 months, they’ll receive a third round of those same five shots, and can also begin the annual vaccination against influenza. Certain high-risk children can receive the measles vaccine and meningococcal vaccine at 6 months. All kids can receive their third hepatitis B vaccine starting at this age, as well.
The Pfizer version of the COVID-19 vaccine is currently available for kids ages six months and older. The CDC recommends that everyone who is both eligible and physically able to get the COVID-19 vaccine gets one. Chandra-Puri recommends the vaccine to all of her patients.
“Finally, we have the opportunity to protect our youngest kids. Fortunately, the majority of children have relatively mild illness with COVID, but it is unpredictable who could become really sick, and we still need to stop the spread to other more vulnerable people they may encounter,” she says. “Additionally, there aren’t treatment medications for this age group so prophylaxis with the vaccine is one of the best things we can do.”
The child will be given the fourth dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, haemophilus influenzae and pneumococcal conjugate between 12 and 15 months. For a child who did not already receive the measles vaccination, they will need three new shots at 12 months: measles, mumps and rubella, varicella, and hepatitis A.
At 18 months, the window for the third shot of hepatitis B, the fourth shot of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, and the third dose of poliovirus closes. The window for the second shot of hepatitis A closes at 23 months.
At this age, the vaccine schedule for children begins to slow down, aside from the annual flu vaccine. At 4 years old, children will get another dose of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, poliovirus; measles, mumps and rubella, and varicella.
At 11 or 12 years, kids will receive three shots: HPV, meningococcal, and another round of the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine. At 16, kids need to get a booster against the meningococcal viruses.
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