When should my child get immunized?

You should contact you baby’s doctor for the infant and childhood immunization schedule. You can also find the immunization schedule on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. Briefly, the baby will start with a vaccination at birth and then a number of vaccinations at 2, 4, 6, 12, and 15 months. The schedule from 18 months until 18 years of age calls for less frequent vaccinations. It’s important to stay on schedule, but if you get behind, your doctor will provide you with a catch-up schedule.
Your child should receive her first immunization (vaccine) before she leaves the hospital after being born, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The first vaccine is an HBV (also called Hep B) shot to protect against hepatitis B. Here's how the CDC recommends children up to 2 years old be immunized after that initial shot: 
  • at age 2 months — a second hepatitis B shot, plus the first doses of DTaP (for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), IPV (polio), PCV (protects against the pneumococcal bacteria that can cause ear infections and other serious infections), Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) and RV (rotavirus, the most common stomach virus). 
  • at age 4 months — additional doses of DTaP, IPV, PCV, Hib and RV. 
  • at age 6 months — additional doses of DTaP, PCV, Hib and RV. The final doses of HepB and IPV can be given between 6 and 18 months.
  • at age 12 to 15 months — the first MMR (protects against measles, mumps and rubella), and varicella (chickenpox), as well as final doses of PCV and Hib. The first HepA (hepatitis A) dose may be given between 12 and 23 months. 
  • at age 15 months — the final DTaP. 
Your child should also get a flu vaccine every year once she's 6 months old. 
Louise E. Sivak, MD

Immunization schedules are based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in turn based on research data on safety and effectiveness. They are updated regularly as newer vaccine combinations (same vaccines but fewer actual shots) are developed. Current recommendations are for standard immunizations to be given at 2, 4, 6, 12, and 18 months, with "boosters" at 4 years, 11-12 years, and then 16-18 years.

Infant and child immunization schedules are set by Public Health Agencies, Medical authorities, etc. You can check out the requirements that apply to you by calling or googling your local Public Health Unit, the CDC in the USA or PHAC in Canada. Immunization controls the spread and/or occurrence of childhood diseases that can have severe consequences and are therefore highly recommended. Contentious objectors can be exempt depending on the rules in place in your area.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.