We know it’s painful to watch baby get poked and even worse to hear the inevitable crying, but immunizations are crucial for his or her health. If baby is extremely sick, then your pediatrician will probably modify the immunization schedule. Otherwise, baby should get vaccinated on a regular basis following the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC. Though some children do suffer from mild reactions to immunizations, very few become seriously ill, and any pediatrician will reassure you that the benefits of having antibodies (needed to fight infections) far outweigh the risks of baby getting shots. So what exactly do these shots protect baby from? We broke it down with help from the AAP:
Hepatitis B Vaccine (HepB)
It prevents: Hepatitis B, a chronic or acute liver disease that can lead to liver failure and cancer.
When baby gets it: The first dose should be given before baby's discharged from the hospital after birth. A second dose should happen between 1 and 2 months of age. If, for some reason, baby doesn’t get the hepatitis B vaccine at the hospital,he or she will need three doses—at 0, 1 and 6 months—and the final dosage should be administered no earlier than 24 weeks old.
If mom is hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positive, baby should get the vaccine—plus hepatitis B immune globulin—within 12 hours of birth, and then receive three more doses of the vaccine between 9 and 18 months, and be tested for HBsAg and the antibody to HBsAg one to two months after completion of the dosages.
Possible side effects: Brief soreness and fussiness
Rotavirus Vaccine (RV)
It prevents: Rotavirus, the most common cause of diarrhea and vomiting in infants and young children, which can cause severe dehydration in babies. It’s not a shot—this vaccine is taken orally.
When baby gets it: Between 2 months and 4 months of age, in two to three doses, depending on the brand of vaccine baby gets. He or she may also need another dose at 6 months, so double-check with your doctor.
Possible side effects: Fussiness, and some babies may have mild, temporary diarrhea or vomiting
Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine (DTaP)
It prevents: This is a combination vaccine to protect against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Diphtheria used to be a major cause of childhood illness and death. Now, it only occurs in a few cases a year, thanks to this vaccine. Tetanus is a serious illness that causes painful tightening of the jaw muscles. Pertussis is also known as the whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory infection.
When baby gets it: At 2 months, 4 months and 6 months, and then again between 15 and 18 months and 4 to 6 years
Possible side effects: Tenderness, swelling, redness, fever and/or loss of appetite within two days of receiving the shot
Haemophilus Influenzae Type B Conjugate Vaccine (Hib)
It prevents: “Hib” disease, which you probably haven’t heard of, but it’s very harmful. Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children before the vaccine was developed. Kids with Hib may suffer permanent brain damage or have serious complications, like pneumonia.
When baby gets it: At 2 months, 4 months and 6 months, and between 12 and 15 months
Possible side effects: Fever, redness and/or tenderness at the site of the shot
Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13)
It prevents: Streptococcus pneumoniae, an illness that can be serious and even lead to death. It can cause blood infections, ear infections, meningitis and pneumonia in children. The vaccine protects children for three years, when they are most vulnerable to the disease.
When baby gets it: At 2 months, 4 months and 6 months, and a booster given between 12 and 15 months
Possible side effects: Low-grade fever, redness and/or tenderness at injection site
Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV)
It prevents: Polio, once a widespread epidemic that killed and paralyzed thousands of people.
When baby gets it: At 2 months, 4 months, 6 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years
Possible side effects: Soreness or redness near the site of injection; an allergic reaction rarely occurs
Inactivated Influenza Vaccine
It prevents: The flu—which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is more dangerous to children than the common cold. The strains included in the 2015-2016 vaccine are H1N1, H3N2 and the influenza B virus.
When baby gets it: Annually, from age 6 months.
Possible side effects: Fever, aches, soreness, redness and/or swelling where the shot was given
Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine (MMR)
It prevents: Measles, mumps and rubella, dangerous diseases that can cause rashes and fevers and that can lead to serious conditions like pneumonia, meningitis, seizures and deafness.
When baby gets it: One dose at 12 to 15 months and a second dose at 4 to 6 years.
Possible side effects: Rash, slight fever, joint aches, and/or swelling in neck and salivary glands a week or two after receiving the shot
It prevents: Chicken pox—some people that get the vaccine may still get chicken pox, but it’s usually very mild and the recovery time is faster. The risks of chicken pox are fever and a severe rash. Complications from chicken pox include a bacterial infection of the skin, swelling of the brain and pneumonia. Many states now require children to get the vaccine before entering school; and it's now recommended because it results in less illness if your child does get chicken pox and less time missed from school, plus it prevents against severe infections.
When baby gets it: One dose at 12 to 15 months and a second dose at 4 to 6 years
Possible side effects: Soreness or swelling at the injection site, mild fever and/or rash
Hepatitis A Vaccine
It prevents: It protects against Hepatitis A, a disease that causes liver inflammation. Young children may not have symptoms, so often the disease is not recognized until the child’s caregiver becomes ill.
When baby gets it: One dose at 12 to 23 months and a second dose six months after.
Possible side effects: Soreness at the injection site, headache, loss of appetite and/or tiredness
Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Quadrivalent (MCV4)
It prevents: Meningococcal disease, which can cause meningitis, blood infections and other infections. Infants less than one year old and college freshmen who live in dormitories are most susceptible. The vaccine protects against this bacterial disease.
When baby gets it: It is recommended for high-risk children between the ages of 9 to 23 months to get two doses. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for all children and adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18 years old (the first at 11 or 12 years and a booster at 16 years).
Possible side effects: Redness and soreness at the injection site; very few people can develop a fever