Vaccines help your child’s body to learn how to fight an illness by delivering a weaken, dead or partial germ that causes the illness. When your child receives the vaccine, her immune system creates antibodies to fight off an infection of the germ. Afterward, should she be exposed to the live germ, her body will know how to combat it.
Here is a list of three critical vaccines for kids to receive to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases. This list is not exhaustive. Talk with your child’s primary care provider to learn about all the vaccines your child needs.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
- Why is it important? Hepatitis B is a virus that affects the liver. Should a child contract hepatitis B, the effects could range from mild (jaundice, nausea, vomiting) to severe (lifelong liver infection). Children who have hepatitis B are a higher risk than adults to carry the infection for life and may develop cirrhosis (scarring of the liver tissue) or liver cancer as a result.
- When should my child receive it? Your child will receive her hepatitis B vaccine in three doses: soon after she is born, at 1–2 months old, and between 6–18 months old.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine
- Why is it important? Measles, mumps and rubella are infections that can cause serious illness. When given this critical vaccine during childhood, more than 95% of people are protected from these diseases throughout their lives.
- When should my child receive it? Your child should receive her MMR vaccine in two doses: the first when she is 12–15 months of age, and the second when she is 4–6 years of age.
- Why is it important? The HPV vaccine protects against the strains of the human papillomavirus that most commonly cause genital warts, some types of cervical and penile cancers and other cancers.
- When should my child receive it? Your child should receive the HPV vaccine in two doses over six months at 11–12 years of age, ideally, or beginning as early as age 9. While the vaccine is more effective if administered to children in this age range, it can also be given during adolescence or into adulthood up to age 26 as a three-part vaccine.
- Why is it important? Flu viruses can change over time, so the flu vaccine is updated annually to protect people against the latest strain of the virus. Even if a flu vaccine doesn’t prevent your child from getting the flu, it can reduce the severity of illness.
- When should my child receive it? Your children ages 6 months and older — as well as everyone else in your family — should receive a flu shot every year when the new vaccine becomes available, typically in early fall. The only exceptions are for people with life-threatening allergies to vaccine ingredients.