Eight Questions Answered About Immunizations

  1. Why should your child be immunized? Vaccinations protect children from dangerous childhood diseases that can have serious complications and even result in death.
  2. What diseases do childhood vaccines prevent? Immunizations can prevent diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, rubella, tetanus, and chicken pox. Vaccines can also prevent several major causes of bacterial meningitis.
  3. How many doses of a vaccine does your child need?
    • 4 doses of diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
    • 4 doses of Hib vaccine
    • 4 doses of pneumococcal vaccine
    • 3 doses of polio vaccine
    • 2 doses of hepatitis A vaccine
    • 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine
    • 1 dose of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR)
    • 3 doses of rotavirus vaccine
    • 2 doses of varicella vaccine
  4. What are the side effects of vaccines? Most vaccines have only minor side effects. Your child may experience a slight fever, a rash, or soreness at the injection site. Slight discomfort is normal and should be expected.
  5. What are the chances of a serious reaction? The risk of a serious reaction to a vaccine is extremely low. The risk of serious disease from NOT vaccinating is much greater than the risk of a serious reaction to the vaccination itself. If you think your child is experiencing a severe reaction to a vaccination, call your doctor immediately. Ask your doctor to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Report form with your local health department.
  6. When is the best time to vaccinate? Children under the age of five are more susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up their full defenses. If you make sure your child is fully immunized by age two, you can protect your child from disease — and also protect other children your child may have contact with at school or daycare.
  7. What if you can’t afford vaccinations? Some children are eligible for free vaccines under a federal program called Vaccines for Children.
  8. What if you have more questions? Contact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).