Editor’s note: This post was updated January 2023 to reflect current data.
Many parents ask the question “Why do kids need so many vaccines?” Undeniably, there are a lot of immunization vaccines for kids.
Marshfield Clinic Health System follows the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, which fortunately allow many of these vaccines to be combined safely in one visit.
Compared to years ago, we started with three vaccines in the early 20th Century with pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus (these three combined in 1948 as DTP).
Today, we have 14 vaccines for children: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, Hib, hepatitis B, varicella, hepatitis A, pneumococcal, influenza, and rotavirus (given in combinations are DTaP and MMR).
More vaccines are given than even a few years ago because, as science advances, we are able to protect your child against more diseases than ever before.
Vaccine timeline for children (newborn to six years old)
Although there are now 14 vaccines, the ages your child receives these vaccines differ. We recommend following the CDC and American Academy of pediatrics immunization schedule.
The schedule as follows:
- Newborns – Hep B (1st dose)
- 1-2 months – Hep B (2nd dose)
- 2 months – DTaP (1st dose), HiB (1st dose), polio (1st dose); pneumococcal (1st dose) and rotavirus (2-dose series) vaccine
- 4 months – DTaP (2nd dose), HiB (2nd dose), polio (2nd dose); pneumococcal (2nd dose) and rotavirus (2-dose series) vaccine.
- 6 months – DTaP (3rd dose), HiB (3rd or 4th dose), polio (3rd dose); pneumococcal (3rd dose); rotavirus (needed if you decide 3-dose series) vaccine and Hep B (3rd dose)
- Yearly Flu vaccine starting at 6 months of age.
- 12-15 months – MMR (1st dose); Varicella (1st dose), DTaP (4th dose), HiB (3rd or 4th dose); pneumococcal (4th dose); Hep A (2-dose series)
- 18 months – Hep A (2-dose series if needed)
- 4-5 years old – DTaP-IPV (5th dose) and MMR-Varicella (2nd dose)
Outbreaks can still occur
“Even though some of the diseases we have vaccinated against for years are no longer common, they could return very easily if we stopped vaccinating,” said Dr. Jenalin Uy, pediatrician with Marshfield Children’s.
It is not uncommon to have outbreaks of measles, whooping cough (pertussis), chickenpox and other diseases when vaccination rates drop.
While these diseases may seem mild, before vaccine was available, nearly four million people got chickenpox each year in the United States, over 10,500 people were hospitalized and about 150 people died of this disease every year.
Ask your pediatrician if there is any additional questions or concerns.