Children need vaccines because their immune systems aren’t able to fend off diseases. Infants and young children under the age of five are at risk of contracting diphtheria, mumps, tetanus, whooping cough, chickenpox and polio (the latter has been eliminated in the United States in 1979, but it’s still present in Africa and Asia). Vaccines are safe and unless they are living in an underdeveloped region, there are seldom good reasons for children not to receive them. The first two years of life are the most critical time to get the recommended shots.
Vaccinations for Newborns
At two to four months of age, infants should receive the following vaccinations: diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (these are given simultaneously with one injection). Additionally, pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines are administered during this time. The former is an infection causing pneumonia and the latter, vomiting and diarrhea. At four and six months of age, the same round of three vaccinations is repeated, with two injections for the DTP and pneumococcal disease and oral drops for the rotavirus.
Vaccinations at One Year of Age
Twelve-month old infants are at an important stage in the vaccination cycle. The MMR vaccine is for protection against measles, mumps, and rubella – all of which are transmitted from one person to another in the air. Some infants younger than one year should be immunized if they will be outside of North America. The second round of vaccines is given much later, around four to six years.
Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is unpleasant. Many people in North America and other developed countries can recall having this illness, which causes painful rashes. This vaccine is given around twelve to fifteen months of age, with a booster shot between four and six years.
Any injection can cause side effects, but they are rarely serious. Most of the time, problems that stem from vaccinations are mild fevers and sore arms. “Needle pain” causes anxiety and resistance to vaccinations, but these shots will do more good than harm because these illnesses are far less frequent in the developed world.