Every year the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates the recommended immunization schedules for children and adults. The recently released 2014 recommended immunization schedules don’t contain major changes, but it’s always good to make sure everyone in your family is up to date.
Timing of vaccines
With the exception of the hepatitis B vaccine, which is typically given in the hospital after birth, vaccines are most often given during children’s well-visits. More specifically, children receive vaccines at visits scheduled around 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 to 15 months, and 15 to 18 months of age. Children typically get vaccines again around the start of school, between 4 and 6 years of age. Between 11 and 12 years of age, adolescents receive vaccines they did not receive previously, such as those to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) and meningococcus, as well as a booster dose of Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
The Vaccine Education Center (VEC) provides a simplified, printer-friendly immunization schedule [PDF, 611KB] for children up to 2 years of age that can easily be printed for reference before heading to your baby’s next well-child visit. A similar online version provides hyperlinks to additional information about each vaccine and the diseases it prevents. Immunization schedules are also available in our baby [PDF, 4MB], teen [PDF, 874KB] and adult [PDF, 1.2MB] immunization booklets.
Multiple vaccines in one visit
During some visits, children will receive more vaccines than during other visits. Studies have shown that children can safely receive multiple vaccines at one time. For more information related to this topic, check out the VEC’s Q&A sheet, “Too Many Vaccines: What You Should Know." [PDF, 319KB]
Preparing for vaccines
It’s important to prepare for vaccines before it is time for the shots to be administered. Simple things like bringing a favorite toy or blanket are often enough to keep children calm during their vaccinations. It’s also important to remember that children can tell when their parents are nervous, so parents should be sure their questions are answered and they are comfortable with their children being vaccinated. Other age-appropriate ideas for improving vaccine visits can be found here:
Although it might be uncomfortable to watch children get needles, the protection provided by those few seconds of pain often lasts a lifetime.
For more information about the recommended immunization schedule, such as who should receive vaccines, or why so many vaccines are necessary, check out the Q&A sheet, “Recommended Immunization Schedule: What You Should Know.” [PDF, 338KB]
For more information about the different vaccines that children receive and the diseases they prevent, check out the Vaccine Education Center’s website or free mobile app.
For questions about vaccine safety topics, check these resources: