Protect Your Baby with Immunization
Immunization is one of the best ways parents can protect their infants from 14 serious childhood diseases before age 2. Vaccinate your child according to the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule for safe, proven disease protection.
Diseases that vaccine prevent can be very serious—even deadly—especially for infants and young children. Vaccines reduce your child’s risk of infection by working with their body’s natural defenses to help them safely develop immunity to disease. Immunizations have helped improve the health of children in the United States. Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community. Although most of these diseases are not common in the United States, they still exist around the world, so it is important to protect your child with vaccines.
Protect Your Child from Serious Diseases
One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases is the increase in whooping cough (pertussis) cases and outbreaks reported over the last few decades. In 2016, more than 17,000 cases of whooping cough were reported to CDC. Whooping cough can be deadly, especially for young babies who are too young to get their own vaccines. Since 2010, there have been tens of thousands of whooping cough cases reported each year nationwide, with a peak of more than 48,000 cases reported in 2012. One recent study showed that many whooping cough deaths among babies could be prevented if all babies received the first dose on time at 2 months old, when they are old enough to get vaccinated.
Measles cases and outbreaks still occur in the United States. Thanks to an effective vaccine, measles isn’t as common in the U.S. anymore, but it still a common disease in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated U.S. residents and visitors who get infected when they are in other countries. Measles can spread easily when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated. The disease can be serious and can cause pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and even death. Young children are at highest risk for serious complications from measles. Learn more about measles.
Vaccinating your baby according to the recommended immunization schedule gives him the best protection against 14 serious childhood illnesses—like measles and whooping cough—before he is 2 years old. The recommended schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.
The recommended immunization schedule for babies includes vaccination protection against all of the following diseases:
The Diseases Vaccines Prevent
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Pneumococcal disease
- Rubella (German measles)
- Tetanus (lockjaw)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
Vaccinate On Time, Every Time
Visit CDC’s vaccine website for parents.
Even though there are outbreaks of some vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States, the spread of disease usually slows or stops because most people are vaccinated or protected through immunity against the disease. If we stopped vaccinating, even the few cases we have in this country could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases.
Fortunately, most parents choose to vaccinate their children and immunization rates in this country are at or near record high levels. In fact, less than 1 percent of children do not receive any vaccines. However, some children have not received all of their vaccines, so they are not fully protected. It’s important that children receive all doses of the vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule. Not receiving all doses of a vaccine leaves a child vulnerable to catching serious diseases.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that your child is up to date on his immunizations. Call your pediatrician to find out if your child is due for any vaccinations.
Paying for Vaccination
Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccinations, but you should check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. If you don’t have health insurance, or your insurance policy doesn’t cover all recommended childhood vaccines,* your child may be eligible for vaccines through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.
The VFC Program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to recommended childhood vaccines. This federal program provides vaccines for eligible children at no cost for the vaccine itself, although you may have to pay an administration fee. These fees help providers cover the costs of giving the vaccines, including storing the vaccines and paying staff members to give vaccines to patients.
Children younger than 19 years of age are eligible for VFC vaccines if they are:
- American Indian or Alaska Native
A child that meets one or more of the above eligibility requirements is eligible to receive VFC vaccine from a provider enrolled in the VFC program. VFC vaccines cannot be denied to an eligible child if the family can’t afford to pay the administration fee.
*Children under 19 years old may also be eligible for the VFC program if they are “underinsured” – they may have insurance, but their insurance doesn’t cover any vaccines or it doesn’t cover certain recommended vaccines for children 18 years and younger.
Have Questions about Immunization?
- Talk with your child’s health care professional, contact your local or state health department, or call the CDC at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
- Visit CDC’s vaccine website for parents.
- Make a personalized immunization schedule for your child
- Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old[321 KB]
- Immunizations and Developmental Milestones for Your Child from Birth Through 6 Years Old[542 KB]
- Infant Immunizations FAQ
- 14 Diseases You Almost Forgot About, Thanks to Vaccines
- If You Choose Not to Vaccinate Your Child, Understand the Risks and Responsibilities[448 KB]
- Vaccine Information Statements (including vaccine side effects)
- 9 Things to Make Shots Less Stressful… For You and Your Baby
- The Ultimate Babyproofing Plan: 6 Reasons to Follow CDC’s Immunization Schedule
- How to Hold Your Child During Vaccinations
- Keeping Track of Vaccination Records
- The Immunization Baby Book