During your baby’s first year, the pediatrician’s office can begin to feel like a second home. It seems that even if your baby is perfectly healthy all the time, you still have to be there quite often for well visits. During these check-ups, parents are often told their babies will be receiving shots. Typically, pediatricians hand the parents some literature on the vaccines scheduled to be given at the beginning of the visit and send a nurse in at the end to administer them. This does not allow much time to go over the paperwork and obtain a good understanding of the shots or the diseases they’re meant to prevent. It also does not allow much room to mentally prepare for the baby’s inoculations and the cries that will surely follow.
In order to feel better prepared and to ensure you are on track with your baby’s shots, here is a typical immunization schedule for your baby’s first year.
- Birth – The first immunization is generally given at the time of birth, and this first shot contains the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis is a serious illness that affects the liver and can be fatal if contracted. This vaccine contains thimerosal, also known as mercury. Your baby will eventually need another dose at one or two months of age.
- Two Months – This well visit usually contains a high number of vaccines being administered. Sometimes, doctors will combine more than one vaccine into one shot in order to reduce the number of injections. At this age, you can expect your child to receive the second dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. Additionally, the first dose of the rotavirus vaccine will be administered. Rotavirus is an illness that most people refer to as a stomach flu that causes of severe diarrhea. While not usually fatal, rotavirus is more dangerous to infants and the elderly. Next, the first dose of the Hib to prevent haemophilus influenzae, a disease that typically affects children under the age of five that can cause meningitis, pneumonia and infections of the blood, bones and joints, is given. This injection contains trace amounts of formaldehyde. An initial dose of DTaP for Diphtheria and Tetanus is also administered. Diphtheria is an upper respiratory infection that can be deadly, while tetanus is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system. This vaccine contains aluminum hydroxide and thimerosal. IPV is given for Polio, a disease that can cause paralysis and even death. This vaccine also contains trace amounts of formaldehyde. Finally, an initial dose of PCV13 for pneumococcal will be given. Pneumococcal is known as the number one preventable cause of death in infants and children under five, according to the World Health Network. This disease can cause pneumonia, infection of the blood (bacteremia/sepsis), middle-ear infection (otitis media) and bacterial meningitis.
- Four Months – At four months, your baby will receive the second doses for all the first dose shots she was given at two months. These include rotavirus, diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP), haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) and polio.
- Six Months: –Yet a third round of immunizations is given when your baby is six months old. Your child’s doctor will probably also suggest an annual flu shot. If you opt for her to receive the flu vaccine, it is often split into two shots because it is the first time the child is receiving it. You can usually request this shot in the thimerosal-free version, which has much less mercury in it than the regular vaccine. So again, your child will be receiving Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, DTaP, Hib, PCV13 and IPV.
- One Year: When your baby turns a year old, she will be due for the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella), Var (Varicella or chickenpox), PCV and Hib vaccines. Measles, mumps and rubella were once quite common childhood illnesses, and all three can lead to serious and potentially fatal complications. Chickenpox, also known as varicella, was also very common until fairly recently. While most recovered fully, this disease could occasionally lead to severe skin infections, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death. The varicella vaccine contains aluminum.
Now that you have a brief overview of what vaccines you can expect to be given to your baby during her first year, you can prepare by doing further research into the vaccine, its ingredients and the disease it protects against. You can also write down any questions you have for your doctor before heading into the appointment. Don’t ever feel bad about asking questions or obtaining second opinions when you visit a medical professional; after all, your child’s health and wellbeing are at stake. Ultimately, your child’s well-being is in your hands, and obtaining objective information on your child’s health is one of the best things you can do as a parent.