Rx for Healthy Kids: Schedule Routine Immunizations

Published on 
May 19, 2020

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By Candace Pearson
 

Keeping your child safe and healthy is a multifaceted priority for families, starting with the ride home from the hospital in a properly installed car seat. One of the most effective, lifelong protections families can provide is ensuring that children get all of their vaccinations on schedule.

“Maintaining the recommended vaccination schedule is important, especially for younger children,” says Children’s Hospital Los Angeles pediatrician Mona Patel, MD. “Vaccine-preventable illnesses can arise at any time, and younger children are particularly susceptible, especially babies under 6 months old.”

Developed by Experts

The U.S. childhood immunization schedule is set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on recommendations from a group of medical and public health experts. The schedule is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The recommended schedule is designed to give infants and toddlers a healthy start in life by providing immunity before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases like whooping cough (pertussis), chickenpox, polio, pneumonia, diphtheria and measles—all of which can cause serious illness and even death.

In this safer-at-home period, parents may be reluctant to stick to that schedule, but it’s more important than ever to stay on track with vaccinations in order to keep child safe from preventable diseases.  

“The timing is aligned with a child’s growing immune system to optimize their well-being,” says Dr. Patel, director of Clinical Ambulatory Operations at Children’s Hospital.

For all children, maintain an up-to-date immunization record and bring it to doctor’s office visits. (Patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles can view their vaccination record using the MyChildren’sLA Patient Portal.) If you do miss a routine vaccination or fall behind schedule, talk to your child’s doctor. The CDC and AAP have developed “catch-up” schedules to keep your child on track.

Recommended Vaccination Schedule

Birth to Age 2:

  • Chickenpox (varicella): between 12 and 15 months
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP): four times — at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and between 15 and 18 months
  • Flu: Yearly by the end of October, if possible; beginning at 6 months
  • Haemophilus influenza (Hib), common upper respiratory infection that can cause meningitis: at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months (depending on brand) and between 12 and 15 months
  • Hepatitis A: between 12 and 23 months, with a second dose 6 months after the first one
  • Hepatitis B: three times — shortly after birth, between 1 to 2 months and between 6 and 18 months
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR): between 12 and 15 months
  • Pneumococcal (PCV13): four times — at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months and between 12 and 15 months
  • Polio (IPV): three times — 2 months, 4 months and between 6 and 18 months.
  • Rotavirus (RV): at 2 months and 4 months (Rotarix brand) or 2 months, 4 months and 6 months (RotaTeq brand)

Ages 3 through 10:

  • Chickenpox: between 4 and 6 years
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP): between 4 and 6 years
  • Flu: yearly by the end of October, if possible
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR): between 4 and 6 years
  • Polio (IPV): between 4 and 6 years

Ages 11 through 18:

  • Flu: yearly by the end of October, if possible
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV): first, between 11 and 12 years, then a second dose 6-12 months after the initial dose
  • Meningococcal conjugate: between 11 and 12 years, then a booster at 16 years
  • Meningococcal serogroup B: between 16 and 23 years
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap): a booster to the DTaP, between 11 and 12 years

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention