For parents and guardians of children younger than age 2, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the list of shots your child is supposed to receive. But with some patience and a little initiative, you can be sure your child is well protected from potentially dangerous infectious diseases. These questions can help get you started:
* Should my child get vaccinated and when?
Although that decision is ultimately up to the parents, vaccinations are one of the best investments you will ever make in your child’s life. Vaccines can protect them from getting sick, paralyzed or worse. This is even true for those diseases that aren’t common in the United States anymore: There is no guarantee that a disease such as polio, which causes paralysis, won’t return. The immunization schedule has been carefully developed to give your child protection at the most ideal time. Most immunizations can be given even if a child is not feeling well.
* Is it safe for my child to get several shots in a single doctor’s visit?
Yes, even for a newborn. And many of the diseases are so serious you can’t afford to wait. Doing so also ensures that your child stays up to date on her or his immunizations, and you won’t have to go to the doctor’s office as frequently.
* Should I wait until my child is old enough to go to school to get her or his shots?
No. Many diseases can strike earlier, so you shouldn't wait. School entrance immunization requirements are intended to catch children who missed their immunizations and to protect other students from catching diseases. Some diseases, such as the flu and the mumps, are very easily spread and can lead to outbreaks.
Simply put, making sure your infant gets the recommended shots can protect her or him for a lifetime against some very serious and sometimes deadly diseases. However, it’s more than just your own child’s health at stake. Making sure your child is immunized will also keep you healthier as well as children and adults your child interacts with at the playground, at school or anywhere else.
Myths and misinformation about vaccine safety can confuse parents who are trying to make sound decisions about their children's healthcare. Click here to see the CDC’s resources on the issue.
As last week was National Infant Immunization Week, now is the perfect time to learn more about protecting children from infectious disease. Visit the event's Web site for vaccination schedules, information resources and frequently asked questions.