“From the time you are born, your body is bombarded with thousands of different microbes, some of which can cause illness,” says Jon S. Abramson, M.D., professor and chairman of pediatrics at Wake Forest University Health Sciences in Winston-Salem, N.C., and a member of the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts for Immunizations. “Vaccines protect infants from these serious diseases.”
The following are the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics before your baby reaches 1 year. Keep in mind that recent international research suggests giving your baby acetaminophen to prevent post-vaccination fever dampens the vaccine-induced immune response.
Hepatitis B vaccine protects against a serious liver disease that can lead to cancer. An infant can be exposed during delivery. Given at: birth, 2 months and 6 months.
Rotavirus vaccine prevents 74 percent of rotavirus cases, 98 percent of severe cases. The most common cause of acute diarrhea in infants, it leads to more than 400,000 doctor visits a year in the U.S. Given at: 2, 4 and 6 months.
DTaP is a combination vaccine that prevents diphtheria (a bacterial respiratory disease now rare in the U.S.), tetanus (a potentially deadly nerve ailment once called “lockjaw”) and pertussis (whooping cough, a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection that’s very dangerous for infants). Given at: 2, 4, 6 and 12 months.
HIB vaccine (Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate) prevents a serious bacterial infection that mainly affects infants and can lead to meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis and brain damage. Given at: 2, 4, 6 and 12 months.
Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV) protects your baby from an infection that is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia and bacterial meningitis in this country. Given at: 2, 4, 6 and 12 months.
Polio vaccine (IPV) prevents a viral illness that can cause paralysis and death. It is still common in developing countries. Given at: 2, 4 and 6 months.
Influenza vaccine protects against a serious illness that sends 226,000 Americans a year to the hospital. Given at: 6 months or older and yearly thereafter.