Vaccines for babies can help protect your child against future diseases.
By following the proper vaccination schedule for your baby, you are protecting them from harmful diseases.

Vaccines for Babies

Parents want the best for their children. This includes keeping them as safe and as healthy as they can be. Vaccinations are a way to help prevent children from contracting diseases such as measles and diphtheria. By following recommended vaccination schedules, parents can keep children free from diseases which, in the past, would have had harmed them. Here we will take a look at vaccines for babies so you can make sure your child is healthy and protected.

Why Are Vaccines Important?

Vaccines prevent dangerous diseases. Preventing a disease is safer and easier than treating a disease once it has infected a person. If a person becomes ill with a virus, complications can occur that can result in injury or death. By proactively preventing diseases, vaccines drastically increase the likelihood of remaining healthy, strong and disease-free. Vaccines can also potentially eliminate harmful diseases (for instance, smallpox) from the human population. Vaccines have saved millions of lives through their use.

The Immune System

Immunity is a natural way the body prevents and fights diseases and illnesses. The body's immune system includes a network of organs, glands and cells throughout the body.

Foreign particles, viruses and bacteria called antigens can make people sick. The first time the immune system is exposed to a particular antigen, it responds by releasing proteins called antibodies. These antibodies are programmed to attack specific antigens. These antibodies remain in the body for a long time, ready to fight the antigen if it ever returns again.
How Do Vaccines Work?

A vaccine allows the body to produce antibodies by exposing the body to extremely small amounts of an antigen. If the body is ever exposed to another of that type of antigen, even after decades, it has antibodies prepared and ready to fight it off.

Without a vaccine, a person would have to be exposed and get sick from the actual disease to become immune to it. Unfortunately, many diseases cause pain and injury and, in some cases, even death. A vaccine allows a person to become immune to something without having to actually get sick from the disease.

What is in a Vaccine?

Within a vaccine are the antigens (or parts of the antigens) that cause a disease. For example, the flu vaccine contains the flu virus. However, the viruses within the vaccine are either not alive or extremely weakened and can not cause the actual disease.

They do, however, trigger the body’s immune response. The vaccines initiate antibody production, which creates immunity to the disease. Through vaccines, people can become immune to diseases without having to suffer from the disease itself.
Herd Immunity

Vaccines provide immunity to a high degree, but not 100%. Also, some areas of the world do not have access to the same vaccines. In these cases, people can still get diseases that others are immune to.

Fortunately, when most people in an area are immunized or vaccinated, it causes something called herd immunity or "community immunity." Herd immunity protects people who are susceptible to the disease from those who are carrying it by creating a circle of protection around those people. The disease is less likely to be able to reach anyone who is susceptible. A disease has much more difficulty spreading in areas where there is herd immunity. So, in short, vaccinations protect the entire community.

If there are not enough immunized people within a community, the disease can spread quickly. The most vulnerable group are babies, the elderly and unvaccinated people.

Why Do Babies Need Vaccines?

Vaccinations and herd immunity protect one of the most vulnerable groups, babies. Although babies have a small degree of antibodies from their mother, their own immune systems cannot fight off major diseases. Becoming infected would be dangerous. For example, the actual flu virus is so harmful for a baby that even the weakened versions in the flu vaccine cannot be administered too early in their first year. Babies must wait until they are at least half a year old to obtain a flu vaccine.

Vaccines strengthen a baby's immune system and protect them from some of the most harmful diseases.

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Vaccination Schedule Recommendations for Babies

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly encourage parents to maintain the following vaccination schedule for babies. Vaccination schedules are determined by a variety of factors, mainly having to do with a baby's immune response and timing of when a child will most likely require the vaccine.
At Birth

The first vaccine administered to babies shortly after birth is the hepatitis B Vaccine. The hepatitis B vaccine is administered in three doses. After the first dose is administered at birth, two more are due thing the following year.

Hepatitis B is a liver disease that is contagious and can cause cancer or liver failure with long term infection.

1 to 2 Months of Age

At one to two months, babies receive their second dose of the hepatitis B vaccine and their first dose of the following:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as whooping cough)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
  • Polio (IPV)
  • Pneumoccocal disease (PCV13)
  • Rotavirus

3 to 4 Months of Age

At about their fourth month, babies receive the second dose of the first dose vaccines received in their second month. These second dose vaccines are:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
  • Polio (IPV)
  • Pneumoccocal disease (PCV13)
  • Rotavirus

5 to 11 Months of Age

From five to 11 months of age, babies receive their first yearly influenza (flu) vaccine, depending on the current time of year and flu vaccine availability.

Babies also receive their third dose of the following vaccines at this time:

  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as the whooping cough)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
  • Polio (IPV)
  • Pneumoccocal disease (PCV13)
  • Rotavirus

What to Expect After a Baby’s Vaccination

Some children have minor reactions after receiving a vaccine. They may have some pain at the site of the injection, have a low fever, or may be less hungry for the 24 hours afterward. These are normal reactions.

To treat pain, a cool compress at the injection site may help. If recommended by a baby's physician, a non-aspirin pain reliever can be administered. Milk can be offered more frequently to encourage feeding.
Keeping Track of a Baby’s Vaccinations

Vaccinations are given at different times throughout a baby's first year. Some vaccines need to be given in small doses over some time. It can seem overwhelming to have to keep track of the schedule.

Luckily, pediatric clinicians can guide parents regarding tracking vaccinations. Vaccines are often administered during wellness checkups to save on time and appointments. Some pediatric offices provide a card or pamphlet, requiring a signature to check off each vaccination. The CDC also provides a vaccine tracker on its website to assist in organizing vaccines.
Vaccinating Your Baby

Vaccinations are an essential part of keeping a baby safe and strong. Newborns and babies are vulnerable to diseases because of their undeveloped immune system. By vaccinating your baby, you are protecting them from possible harm and giving them a chance at a healthy life.