What is a vaccine?

Vaccines, also called immunizations or shots, are given to children and adults to produce or increase the body's defenses to a particular disease. The word "shots" describes all childhood vaccinations, even though one of them-oral polio-is not really a shot, but is given by mouth as drops. Some vaccines are given to prevent a single disease while others will take care of two or three diseases in one dose.

What diseases can be prevented with vaccines?

There are ten diseases that can be prevented with vaccines given before your child reaches two years of age. While many parents have not experienced or seen the effects of these diseases, other parents can tell sad stories about them. These ten diseases can cause numerous disabilities or even the death of a child.

●     Hepatitis B

●     Diphtheria

●     Tetanus

●     Pertussis

●     Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib)

●     Polio

●     Measles

●     Mumps

●     Rubella (German Measles)

●     Varicella Zoster (chicken pox)

When should my child be immunized?

Many parents believe that their children should be immunized right before entering public school; however, immunization starts from the time your baby is born. Infancy (birth to 2 years) is the time when your children are in more danger of getting contagious and deadly diseases. From the time your baby is born until two years of age, he or she needs only five visits to the doctor or the health clinic to receive the necessary infant vaccines.

Which vaccines should my child receive?

By age two your child should have received all of the following vaccines;

3 doses of HB 4 doses of DTP 3 or 4 doses of Hib 3 doses of OPV 1 dose of MMR 1 dose of VZV

What should I do if my child is not up to date on vaccinations?

Even if you start late or get behind schedule your child needs all the recommended vaccine doses. If your child gets behind, doses already taken do not have to be repeated- just pick up where you left off. You need to call or visit your health provider to plan a new schedule for your child. Most importantly, keep your appointments and the vaccine records.

What is a vaccine reaction?

"Vaccine reaction" or side effects means the way the body may respond when a vaccine is given. Reactions can be mild or severe. Mild reactions are, for example, mild fever, fussiness, redness or swelling where the injection was given, and reduced appetite. Severe reactions are, for example, seizures, decreased consciousness, and serious allergic reactions. Be sure to ask your doctor or nurse to explain to you the possible reactions for each vaccine. Follow his or her instructions for each case.

Are vaccines safe for my child?

Vaccines, like many other medicines, may sometimes cause different reactions in a child. However, most of the time the reaction to a vaccine is mild or there is no reaction at all. It is very rare when reactions are severe. Remember! The risks from the vaccine are much smaller than the risk from the diseases the vaccines help to prevent.

What should I do if there is a serious reaction?

Call a doctor or get the child to a doctor right away. Write down what happened and the date and time when it happened. Fill out and file a Vaccine Adverse Event Report form. Your doctor, nurse, or health department will give it to you.

Can my child receive vaccines if he or she has a low grade fever?

Yes. Furthermore, a physical examination of your child is not required before he or she receives the shots. However, if your child had a high fever or is very sick you need to check with your doctor or nurse. Also, your child should have regular physical examinations.

Where do I go and and how much will it cost me to have my child immunized?

Getting your child immunized does not have to be expensive. In public health clinics or centers, vaccines are free. In some cases they can charge you a small fee for administration.

Why do I need to keep records of my child's vaccines?

Although clinics and private providers keep records of all vaccines given to children, it is always a good idea to keep your own records. There are many reasons why you should keep your own records; for example: If you move to a different neighborhood or state, you can show the immunization status of your child and avoid repeated doses of vaccines and misunderstandings. If for some reason (fire, water damage, theft) the clinic loses its records, you will still have your own. Vaccine records are required upon entry to day care, nursery school, or public school.


As your baby grows, you may use these records to document the information about his or her vaccines by filling out the date and the place each vaccine was given. Remember, your baby needs vaccines at birth, and at two, four, six, and twelve to eighteen months.