Pediatric Immunization Schedule FAQs
We get it—being a new parent is hard! Especially when you’re trying to sort through the constant influx of information (and misinformation) about your baby’s health.
At Kid Care Pediatrics, we strive to provide reassurance through education, leading you towards medical care that is safe and effective.
Below, you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about pediatric immunization schedules so you can make informed decisions about your child’s health.
Q: Why does my child need so many vaccinations at such a young age?
A: Babies’ immune systems simply have not had time to develop the antibodies that enable them to fight off serious disease.
During pregnancy, babies are “immunized” against illnesses through antibodies present in the mother’s blood. However, this temporary immunity only lasts for about two months, leaving your baby at risk for many serious—but vaccine-preventable—diseases.
The recommended immunization schedule was developed to give babies the protection they need as early as possible.
Q: Why does my child receive multiple doses of the same vaccine?
A: Most vaccines work by introducing part of a germ, causing the body to create antibodies which fight the actual live germ off.
However, if enough time passes without encountering that germ, the body can “forget” how to make those antibodies. As a result, your immunity to that disease decreases.
By introducing additional doses of the vaccine at strategic points in your child’s life, we can help them develop more long-term immunity.
Q: Can the pediatric immunization schedule be adjusted?
A: The pediatric vaccination schedule was designed to provide maximum protection in the most efficient way possible. Allowing too much time between vaccines can put your baby at risk during the time when they are the most vulnerable.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all parents follow the recommended pediatric immunization schedule.
Q: What happens if my child skips a vaccine?
A: Each vaccine has its own scheduling requirements and your child’s doctor will have to consider their age, medical history, and how many doses of the vaccine they have had. For example, the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine will have different requirements than the hepatitis B vaccination.
If your child misses a dose of a vaccine, reach out to their medical provider to get them back on track.
Q: How many types of vaccines are there?
A: There are four main types of vaccines:
- Inactivated vaccines (such as the flu, Hepatitis A, rabies, and polio) introduce a killed version of a germ.
- Live vaccines (such as MMR and chicken pox) introduce a living, but weakened, form of a germ.
- Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, mRNA, and conjugate vaccines (such as COVID-19, human papillomavirus, and DTaP) introduce certain portions of a germ, such as a sugar or protein.
- Toxoid vaccines (such as diphtheria and tetanus) introduce the toxin produced by the germ rather than the germ itself.
Q: Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines have to undergo rigorous testing and be approved by the FDA before they can be administered, and they are continually monitored for adverse side effects.
While there is no shortage of misinformation on the subject, the truth is that vaccines are far safer than the alternative—contracting a serious, preventable disease.
Q: Can my child get sick from a vaccine?
A: It is impossible for your child to get sick from an inactivated vaccine.
If they receive a live vaccine, there is a small chance that they may contract a mild case of the disease. However, the illness will be much less severe than if they caught it at school or on a playground.
Q: What are the side effects of vaccines?
A: The most common side effects after receiving a vaccination are headaches, tiredness, and soreness at the injection site. These side effects are usually mild and go away after a day or two.
Q: What if my child experiences an allergic reaction to a vaccine?
A: Serious allergic reactions after receiving a vaccine are incredibly rare.
In nearly all cases, children will start having a reaction only a few minutes after their immunization.
Q: Why is my child getting immunized against a rare or eradicated disease?
A: Just because a disease is rare in the United States doesn’t mean that it is rare in other parts of the world. In fact, “foreign” diseases can be easily introduced in the United States by just one infected person hopping on a plane.
As for eradicated diseases, only one illness has been completely wiped from existence—smallpox. Diseases such as polio and measles are still present in humans, although they are rare.
Following the recommended pediatric immunization schedule helps to create herd immunity, which keeps everyone safe.
Q: Why does my child need a flu vaccine every year?
A: The virus that causes influenza, commonly known as the flu, changes very quickly and dramatically. So much so that the flu vaccine that was developed in one year will no longer be effective against the virus the following year.
The flu virus is updated each year to best match the version of the virus that is expected to circulate most widely. (This is also why it’s possible to get the flu even if you have been vaccinated.)