Ask the Expert: Childhood Immunizations

Dr. Michael Martin, a Sharp Rees-Stealy pediatrician, answers common questions about childhood immunizations.

  Childhood Immunizations 
How many illnesses do vaccinations prevent against?
We now have up to 14 illnesses we can protect kids against in their early childhood years.

What are some typical side effects of vaccines?
The vast majority of side effects are very, very slight; a little redness in the arm or the leg, slight fever, feeling fussy for a day or so, but that’s about it. 
 
What is the consequence for not getting the vaccines?
A very real risk of preventable illness and death from some of these diseases that are easily prevented, I think the favor’s definitely for getting the vaccines.
 
What is a common misconception about vaccinations?

That we don’t actually need to use these vaccines because we’ve gotten rid of these illnesses. These illnesses still exist and they tend to resurface in the community when vaccination rates drop. So it’s absolutely critical that we do in fact keep vaccinating.
 
What are common vaccines that are recommended for infants?
One that you’ll think about at the time of delivery or in the first week thereafter is the hepatitis B vaccine. After that’s done, the next set of shots comes around two months, and we cover a lot at the two-month visit. That includes the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, or whooping cough.
 
It also includes protection against meningitis, polio, pneumonia and also against rotavirus.
 
Now you get a similar set of vaccines at the four-month visit, a similar set at the six months, you pick up another polio at the nine months.

What about for very young children?
At the one-year visit you’re offered protection against measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox. A couple more boosters at the 16-month visit, and then one last shot at the two-year visit, and then you’re essentially in the clear until prekindergarten where you get another set of boosters, and that will complete the vaccine series essentially until you get into high school.
 
What vaccinations are recommended for teenagers?
At high school, you’re offered another tetanus booster, and you’re also offered protection against meningitis, and that’s when we start having discussions with parents of young girls for protection against human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer.
 
How can parents keep track of all these immunizations?
Parents might feel overwhelmed trying to remember all of this stuff, and that’s the good news: You don’t have to remember it, that’s why we spend decades of our life training to help you with this as doctors. We’ll keep track of it for you and just make sure you follow up at your regular scheduled visits. 

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Dr. Michael Martin   
Ask the Expert
Dr. Michael Martin is a Sharp Rees-Stealy pediatrician