In the United States, vaccines are administered beginning at birth on a schedule that lasts into adolescence. The same vaccine is frequently given in multiple doses over the course of several years—this helps build up full immunity. Some vaccines lose potency over time, too, so “boosters” are given to reinforce the original vaccine.

Some vaccines are given over a range of months. For example, the third dose of polio vaccine is given between age 6 months and 18 months. Your doctor will help you determine when each vaccine is best for your child. Children with special needs or certain medical conditions may have an altered vaccine schedule. Vaccines are an important part of your child’s overall health.

Recommended immunizations in the United States from birth to 18 months:
(Italicized dates indicate a range in which the shot can be given.)

VaccineBirth1 mo.2 mo.4 mo.
Hepatitis BHepBHepBHepB
RotavirusRVRV
Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussisDTaPDTaP
Haemophilus influenza (Hib)HibHib
Pneumococcal (PCV)PCVPCV
Polio (inactivate)IPVIPV
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Vaccine6 mo.12 mo.15 mo.18 mo.
Rotavirus RV
Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussisDTaPDTaPDTaP
Haemophilus influenza (Hib)HibHibHib
Pneumococcal (PCV)PCVPCVPCV
Polio (inactivate)IPVIPVIPVIPV
Influenza (annually)FluFluFluFlu
Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)MMRMMR
VaricellaVar.Var.
Hepatitis AHepAHepAHepA
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The first dose of hepatitis A is given between 12-18 months, with a second dose at 19-23 months, or at least 6 months after the first.

The influenza vaccine should be given annually, beginning at 6 months of age.  The first year a child receives the flu vaccine in 2 doses separated at least a month apart.  This serves to boost the initial immunity.  By the age of 2, most children can receive an intranasal dose, eliminating the dreaded “needle.”

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, February 2019

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References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule for ages 18 years or younger, United States, 2019.

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