The best way to fight disease is to prevent it. Keeping your vaccinations up to date is one way you can make that happen.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are currently 16 diseases that have recommended immunization schedules. Your specific recommendations will vary depending on your age, where you live and other risk factors.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines work by exposing your body to weak or dead versions of disease-causing germs or viruses. Your immune system then builds up resources to fight those bugs in the future.
Vaccines for children.
Talk to your child's pediatrician to get an immunization schedule specifically for your child. Special schedules are available for high-risk children, or those who fall behind on their vaccines.
Vaccines for adults.
Adults of all ages may need the Tdap and MMR vaccines, along with shots against flu, pneumonia, hepatitis A and B and meningococcal disease. Young women ages 19 to 26 should receive the HPV vaccine.
Pregnant women and adults with HIV, diabetes or other diseases may or may not have different recommendations. Talk to your doctor to be sure you're getting all the vaccinations you need.
These diseases can be prevented by following the CDC's recommended immunization schedule:
Diphtheria: highly potent, bacterial toxin that inhibits protein development and is often fatal (covered under the DTaP/Tdap vaccine; given at 2, 4 and 6 months, between 15 and 18 months, between 4 and 6 years and between 11 and 12 years of age)
Hemophilius influenza type B (Hib): bacterial infection that leads to conditions such as meningitis (covered under the Hib vaccine; given at 2, 4 and 6 months and between 12 and 15 months)
Hepatitis A: type of viral hepatitis transmitted through oral contact with feces; affects the liver, but is usually the least harmful type of hepatitis (covered under the HepA vaccine; 2 doses given 6 months apart between 12 and 23 months of age)
Hepatitis B: potentially more severe form of viral hepatitis transmitted through blood and bodily fluid exposure (covered under the HepB vaccine; given at birth, between 1 and 2 months, at 4 months and between 6 and 18 months)
Human papillomavirus (HPV): common sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts called condylomas (covered under the HPV vaccine; 3 doses given to girls between 11 and 26 years of age over a 6-month period; boys may also be vaccinated between 9 and 26 years of age)
Influenza (flu): acute infectious respiratory disease caused by various strains of influenza viruses (covered under the yearly seasonal flu vaccine; given yearly starting at 6 months of age)
Measles: acute viral infection marked by fever, dusky red rash and inflamed respiratory mucous membranes (covered under the MMR vaccine; given between 12 and 15 months of age and between 4 and 6 years old)
Meningitis: inflammation of the brain or spinal cord due to various bacterial or viral infections (covered under the MCV4 vaccine; given between 11 and 18 years of age and to 19- through 21-year-olds attending college)
Mumps: infections of salivary or parotid glands and sometimes other areas of the body (covered under the MMR vaccine; given between 12 and 15 months of age and between 4 and 6 years old)
Pertussis (whooping cough): acute bacterial infection of the throat causing high-pitched coughing spasms (covered under the DTaP/Tdap vaccine; given at 2, 4 and 6 months, between 15 and 18 months, between 4 and 6 years and between 11 and 12 years of age)
Pneumococcal disease (pneumonia): inflammation of lungs from viruses, bacteria, chemicals, trauma or other organisms; vaccination protects against most common occurring bacterial pneumonias (covered under the PCV vaccine; given at 2, 4 and 6 months of age and between 12 and 15 months)
Poliomyelitis (polio): acute infection that affects gastrointestinal tract and sometimes central nervous system (covered under the IPV vaccine; given at 2 and 4 months of age, between 6 and 18 months and between 4 and 6 years of age)
Rotavirus: highly contagious virus and the leading cause of severe diarrhea among children (covered under the RV vaccine; given at 2, 4 and 6 months of age)
Rubella (German measles): acute viral infection characterized by a rash (covered under the MMR vaccine; given between 12 and 15 months of age and between 4 and 6 years old)
Tetanus (lock jaw): disease marked by painful contractions of the muscles (covered under the DTaP/Tdap vaccine; given at 2, 4 and 6 months, between 15 and 18 months, between 4 and 6 years and between 11 and 12 years of age)
Varicella (chickenpox): acute contagious disease usually occurring in children and caused by varicella-zoster virus and marked by skin eruptions (covered under the varicella vaccine; given between 12 and 15 months of age and between 4 and 6 years of age)
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