Immunizations (also called vaccinations) are a set of shots given to infants and children at different ages to help keep them from developing dangerous childhood diseases. The diseases vaccinations protect against have serious complications and can even be fatal. Making sure your child receives immunizations when scheduled is the best way to help protect your child.

To schedule an appointment with a physician at the Children's Hospital, please call 1-800-492-5538.

The importance of immunizations:

Immunization is key to preventing disease among the general population. Vaccines benefit both the people who receive them, and the vulnerable, unvaccinated people around them, because the infection can no longer spread. In addition, immunizations reduce the number of deaths and disability from infections, such as whooping cough and chickenpox.

Although children receive the majority of the vaccinations, adults also need to stay up-to-date on certain vaccinations, including tetanus and diphtheria. In addition, those adults who have never had chickenpox or measles during childhood (nor the vaccines against these specific diseases) should consider being vaccinated. Childhood illnesses such as mumps, measles, and chickenpox can cause serious complications in adults.

Many childhood diseases can now be prevented by following recommended guidelines for vaccinations. The Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians have approved a series of vaccinations for all children to protect them against diseases:

  • MMR - to protect against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles).
  • Polio vaccine (IPV) - to protect against polio.
  • DTaP - to protect against diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Hib vaccine - to protect against Haemophilus influenzae type b (which causes spinal meningitis).
  • HBV - to protect against hepatitis B.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV7) - to protect against pneumonia, infection in the blood, and meningitis.
  • Varicella - to protect against chickenpox.

As of June 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends, for use in all children 23 months of age and younger, the pneumococcal vaccine to help prevent diseases caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, also known as pneumococcus.
Pneumococcus can cause bacterial infections, including pneumonia, infection in the blood, and meningitis (infection in the tissues around the brain and spinal cord).

The PCV7 vaccine is given at 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months. The vaccine is also recommended for children 24 to 59 months who are at high risk for developing pneumococcal infections. This includes children with HIV infections, sickle cell disease, or other immunocompromised conditions.


Tetanus Pertussis
Polio-myelitis (Polio)
Rubella (MMR)
pox (Varicella)
Hepatitis B (HBV) Haemophilus influenzae
b (Hib)
Birth-2 mos         (HBV)    
1-4 mos         (HBV)    
2 mos (DTaP) (IPV)       (Hib)  
4 mos (DTaP) (IPV)       (Hib)  
6 mos (DTaP)         (Hib)  
6-18 mos   (IPV)     (HBV)    
12-15 mos     (MMR)     (Hib)  
15-18 mos (DTaP)            
12-18 mos       (Varicella)      
4-6 yrs (DTaP) (IPV) (MMR)        
11-12 yrs     (MMR) (Varicella) (HBV)    
11-16 yrs             (Td)
Adult     (MMR)       Every 10 years

In 1999, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that the rotavirus vaccine no longer be used because of an increased risk for intussusception (a disorder in which the intestine folds into itself in a telescope fashion). Parents should be reassured that their children who received rotavirus vaccine before July, 1999, are not at increased risk for intussusception now.

Reactions to immunizations:

As with any medication, vaccinations may cause reactions, usually in the form of a sore arm or low-grade fever. Although serious reactions are rare, they can happen, and your child’s physician or nurse may discuss these with you before giving the shots. However, the risks of contracting the diseases the immunizations provide protection from are higher than the risks of having a reaction to the vaccine.

Treating mild reactions to immunizations in children:

Children may need extra love and care after getting immunized, because the shots that keep them from getting serious diseases can also cause discomfort for a while. Children may experience fussiness, fever, and pain after they have been immunized.

DO NOT GIVE ASPIRIN. You may want to give your child acetaminophen, a medication that helps to reduce pain and fever, as directed by your child's physician.

  • Give your child plenty to drink.
  • Clothe your child lightly. Do not cover or wrap your child tightly.
  • Sponge your child in a few inches of lukewarm (not cold!) bath water.

swelling or pain
DO NOT GIVE ASPIRIN. You may want to give your child acetaminophen, a medication that helps to reduce pain and fever, as directed by your child's physician.

A clean, cool washcloth may be applied over the sore area as needed for comfort.

If more serious symptoms occur, call your child's physician right away. These symptoms may include:

  • a large area of redness and swelling around the area where the injection was given. The skin area may be warm to touch and very tender. There may also be red streaks coming from the initial site of the injection.
  • high fever
  • the child is pale or limp
  • the child has been crying incessantly for several minutes
  • the child has a strange cry that is not normal (a high-pitched cry)
  • shaking, twitching, or jerking of the body

Aspirin and the Risk of Reye Syndrome in Children

Do not give aspirin to a child who has fever without first contacting the child's physician. Aspirin, when given as treatment for viral fevers in children, has been associated with Reye syndrome, a potentially serious or deadly disorder in children. Therefore, pediatricians and other healthcare providers recommend that aspirin not be used to treat any fever in children.