Nationally Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule

The currently recommended childhood immunization schedule for illnesses. Also, a description and definition of these vaccines: MMR, Varicella, DTP, HIB, Hepatitis B and Polio.

All childhood diseases are communicable, with the exception of tetanus. So, many school systems require an up-to-date record of immunizations before entering. In some areas, the school system may even require "double doses" of particular ones. While immunizations will guard against cross-contamination, there can be some side effects since the preparations actually contain live weakened viruses. More commonly, the side effects are fever and soreness at the injection site. There can be more serious side effects, although rare, they have occured. But, the risks are outweighed by the need for preventing these childhood illnesses.

Many manufacturers are now providing vaccines in combination preparations so that two vaccines, for example, can be given together at the same visit. This minimizes the number of injections, and the child's immune system responds the same just as if given separately. The consensus among many parents has been positive regarding these preparations, after-all, is there anybody that likes shots? It seems the smaller we are the less we like them, too! You can find out if your pediatrician utilizes these preparations by asking prior to the visit; most do.

Currently Recommended Vaccines:

Hepatitis B






Hepatitis B- guards against the Hepatitis B Virus. Three doses are given, the first usually shortly after birth before the baby leaves the hospital. The second dose is given between one to four months and the third is given between six to eighteen months.

DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus,and Pertussis)- guards against Whooping Cough. Five doses are given. This vaccine is a combination preparation used to protect against tetanus and diphtheria as well. This preparation usually contains a new cellular type of pertussis vaccine that causes fewer reactions than the old pertussis vaccine. Doses are usually at age two, four and six months. A fourth dose is given between ages fifteen and eighteen months and a fifth dose is given at the time the child starts school, between ages four to six years. A booster shot should be given between ages fourteen to sixteen years, then, every ten to fifteen years thereafter.

HIB- guards against Haemophilus Influenza Type B; Four doses are given. The first three doses are at two, four and six months. The fourth dose is given between ages twelve to fifteen months.

Polio- guards against Polio; Four doses are given. The commonly used schedule requires two doses between ages two and four months, followed by one dose at twelve to eighteen months and one dose between ages four to six years. *There are two ways to administer this particular vaccine. One is called an OPV, oral polio vaccine, consisting of a weakened live virus. The second way is called an IPV, injected polio vaccine, consisting of an inactivated virus. Most children receive this vaccine via the OPV. Children who have weak immune systems or who live in households with people who are immune-suppressed or immune-deficient, will receive the IPV.

MMR- guards against Measles, Mumps and Rubella; Two doses are given and these are almost always in a combination preparation that contains a live weakened virus. The first dose is given between twelve to fifteen months and the second dose is given between ages four to six years.

Varicella- guards against the Chicken Pox; One dose is given, between ages twelve to eighteen months.

Other Vaccines

There are situations where additional vaccines might be given to a child, due to a particular health care problem. The most common vaccines given in these scenarios are ones that guard against forms of influenza viruses and pneumococcal bacteria (pneumonia). In addition, vacations that involve travel outside the United States, may require additional immunizations.

Missed Immunizations

In the event a child has missed a vaccine, they may certainly begin at any time; of course, the drawback is, feeling closely related to a pin-cushion. But, the old adage, "Better late than never," stands true here, just try to have them started, if not completed, between the ages of eleven to twelve years. If the varicella vaccine was missed, two doses may be given, if the child is thirteen years of age or older. This happens to be the most susceptible age range for contracting chicken pox. So, two doses are given, at least one month apart.

As it stands now, The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Public Health Service, The American Academy of Pediatrics and The American Academy of Family Physicians have all agreed upon the following immunization schedule.

Nationally Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule:

0-2 months Hepatitis B

1-4 months Hepatitis B

2 months DTP, Hib, Polio

4 months DTP, Hib, Polio

6 months DTP, Hib

6-18 months Hepatitis B, Polio

12-15 months HIB, MMR

12-18 months Varicella

15-18 months DTP

4-6 years DTP, Polio, MMR

11-16 years DTP booster; then every 10-15 years thereafter.

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