Every mother wants to protect the health of their baby. This is why we babyproof our homes by putting child-proof latches on the cabinets and covers on the electrical outlets.
Another way to protect your baby is with immunizations. During the first two years of your baby’s life, he or she should receive certain vaccinations, including vaccinations against dangerous infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis, polio, pneumonia, diphtheria, and tetanus. These are serious illnesses that can cause lasting problems–including deafness, blindness, and paralysis–as well as death.
Vaccines protect a person from an infectious disease by imitating that infection. This causes the body’s immune system to recognize the disease when you are exposed to it and go to work against it quickly. Each vaccine works specifically against one virus or one bacteria. However, some immunization shots contain two or three vaccines, such as the MMR, which immunizes against measles, mumps, and rubella.
There is a lot of misinformation about vaccines and vaccine safety out there. Many large studies have been done to see if there is any evidence that vaccines are connected to autism, but no link has been found. Two of the best sources for information about vaccine safety is the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Another good source for information about why you should vaccinate your baby is here, a website by the Every Child by Two organization, which also has a list of links to more sites with valid information here.
Immunization helps protect everyone by reducing the risk of an outbreak. Even diseases that have been wiped out in the United States can be brought back into the country at any time. Because of this, it is important that as many children and adults be vaccinated as possible. When more than 90% of the public is vaccinated against a disease it gives the whole population what is called “community immunity” or “herd immunity.” This immunity protects the few individuals who cannot be vaccinated for some reason and babies who are not old enough for a vaccination.
Many states require that all children receive certain immunizations before they can attend school. All states allow exceptions for children who have a medical reason not to be vaccinated. Some states also allow parents to choose not to have their child vaccinated for religious or other reasons.
If you have any questions about vaccines, talk to your pediatrician or healthcare professional. Make sure that you are getting your information from people who understand the seriousness of these diseases and what is best for your baby.
When Should Your Baby be Immunized?
You can see a list of vaccinations that are recommended for babies and small children here. This list also gives the ages that the vaccinations are usually given. It was created by the Nemours Foundation. The CDC also has a list of the vaccination schedule for children from birth through age 18 here.
Where to Have Your Baby Vaccinated
Most babies receive their immunizations during well-baby visits to their pediatrician, family physician, or other healthcare professional.
In some locations, local public health organizations have created well-baby clinics where babies and small children can receive their immunization shots. You can find out about vaccination programs or well-baby clinics in your area by calling the health department in your city, county, or state.
How Much Does Vaccination Cost?
Most health insurance policies cover the cost of vaccinations. They do this because the costs of a serious infection like measles or hepatitis outweighs the cost of the vaccine. However, it is a good idea to check with your health insurance company before having your baby vaccinated.
If you and your baby have no insurance, or have insurance that does not cover vaccinations, there are ways to get your child immunized for free or at low cost. There is a federally funded CDC program called Vaccines for Children that provides vaccines for children for families that cannot pay for them otherwise.