The importance of vaccines
Vaccines are key to preventing
disease. Vaccines benefit both the people who get them and the vulnerable, unvaccinated
people around them. That's because the infection can no longer spread through the
community if most people are immunized. Plus, vaccines reduce the number of deaths and
disability from infections like measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox.
Children get most of the
vaccinations. But adults also need to be sure they are already immune to certain
infections and stay up-to-date on certain vaccines, including varicella, tetanus,
pertussis (whooping cough), shingles, and the flu. Childhood illnesses, such as mumps,
measles, and chickenpox, can cause serious problems in adults.
About guidelines for routine childhood
Many childhood diseases can now be
prevented by following these guidelines for vaccines:
Meningococcal vaccine. It
protects against meningococcal disease.
Hep B vaccine. It protects
against hepatitis B.
Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).
It protects against polio.
DTaP vaccine. It protects
against diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough).
Hib vaccine. It protects
against Haemophilus influenzae type b, which causes spinal meningitis and other
MMR vaccine. It protects
against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).
(pneumococcal conjugate vaccine). It protects against pneumonia, infection
in the blood, and meningitis.
Varicella vaccine. It
protects against chickenpox.
Rotavirus (RV) vaccine. It
protects against severe vomiting and diarrhea caused by rotavirus.
Hep A vaccine. It protects
against hepatitis A.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
vaccine. It protects against HPV, which is linked to cervical cancer and
Seasonal influenza vaccine.
It protects against different flu viruses.
A child's first vaccination is
given at birth. Vaccines are scheduled throughout childhood. Many start within the first
few months of life. By following a regular schedule and making sure your child is
immunized at the right time, you are ensuring the best defense against dangerous
Reactions to vaccines
As with any medicine, vaccines may
cause reactions. They often may cause a sore arm or low-grade fever. Serious reactions
are rare. But they can happen. Your child's healthcare provider or nurse may discuss
these with you before giving the shots. The risks for getting the diseases the shots
protect against are higher than the risks for having a reaction to the vaccine.
You can help ease these mild
reactions in children:
Fussiness. Children may need
extra love and care after getting immunized. The shots that keep them from getting
serious diseases can also cause discomfort for a while. Children may experience
fussiness, fever, and pain at the injection site, after they have been
Do not give
aspirin. You may want to give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen to
reduce pain and fever, as directed by your child's healthcare provider. Also:
Give your child plenty to drink.
Clothe your child lightly. Do not cover or wrap your child tightly.
Sponge your child in a few inches of lukewarm (not cold) bath water.
Swelling or pain.
Do not give aspirin. You may want to give your child acetaminophen to
reduce pain and fever, as directed by your child's healthcare provider. Apply a
clean, cool washcloth over the sore area as needed for comfort.
Aspirin and the risk for Reye syndrome in
Aspirin should not be given to
children or teenagers because of the risk for Reye syndrome. This is a rare but
potentially fatal disease. Pediatricians and other healthcare providers recommend that
aspirin not be used to treat any fever in children.
Call your child's healthcare
provider right away if these more serious symptoms occur:
Your child has large area of
redness and swelling around the area where the injection was given. The skin area
may be warm to the touch and very tender. There may also be red streaks coming
from the initial site of the injection.
Your child has a high
Your child is pale or
Your child has been crying
Your child has a strange cry
that is not normal (a high-pitched cry).
Your child's body is shaking,
twitching, or jerking.