Vaccines: Frequently Asked Questions
Every year, top disease specialists and pediatricians work together to establish guidelines for the recommended child and adolescent immunization schedule. This applies to all healthy children ages 18 years or younger and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health care organizations. While vaccines and immunizations have been around for quite some time, we recognize that new parents may have questions about the recommended immunization schedule. Not to fear, we’re here to help clear up any questions you might have!
The first thing to note is that there are two recommended immunization schedules depending on your child’s age: one for ages birth to six years, and one for ages six to eighteen years.
We’re going to answer some commonly asked questions next, but please feel free to ask your pediatrician if you have any questions outside of these.
Q: Should all children follow the recommended vaccine schedule?
A: Yes, the schedule is considered the ideal schedule for healthy children! There are very few, rare exceptions. For instance, if your child has a weakened immune system, they may need a booster dose or a different type of vaccine. Your pediatrician will help you make an informed decision about what approach is best for your child.
Q: Why are some vaccines given in multiple doses?
A: Some vaccines are broken into multiple doses to make them as effective as possible. Sometimes, these can even be spread apart to different ages. That’s why your child may be due for a few different shots at any given time, or they may receive a “booster” or second or third doses.
Q: What if my child has missed a vaccine dose?
A: If your child misses a vaccine, we recommend scheduling them for a visit to their pediatrician so they can catch up as soon as possible. Getting your child vaccinated on the recommended schedule is the best way to protect them from disease and keep them healthy. The recommended schedule is designed to work best with a child’s immune system at certain ages and at specific time intervals between doses.
Q: Is it bad to get multiple shots in one visit?
A: Nope! Vaccines are proven to be safe for children, even when multiple shots are given together. In fact, a vaccine doesn’t expose your child to any more germs than what they naturally encounter every day. Most children are exposed to about 2,000-6,000 germs on a daily basis. That is way more than the antigens in any combination of vaccines on the current immunization schedule (about 150 for the whole schedule)! So, your child’s immune system will not be overwhelmed by vaccines.
Q: Should my child get vaccines if they are sick?
A: Most of the time, yes! Oftentimes a sick child can still safely get vaccinated even if they have a mild illness like a cold, earache, low fever or diarrhea. Since vaccination does not place an extra burden on the immune system, there is no reason to prevent your child from getting vaccinated if they have a cold or similar illness. If you’re unsure, talk with your pediatrician. We won’t recommend vaccinating in the event that it would hurt your child.
Q: Can you get a disease from a vaccine?
A: No. A vaccine does not cause illness in healthy people! This is because the virus or bacteria used in the vaccine is either not alive or very, very weak. It is simply there to provide your child’s immune system with the information necessary to create antibodies to protect against the disease.
From the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Similar to how a child learns to read and write, the immune system reads and remembers details about the disease from each vaccine. A vaccine teaches your body’s immune system to recognize the virus or bacteria so you can build up your own immunity against that disease. All it takes is a tiny amount of active ingredients in each vaccine for the immune system to understand and remember what to do when it sees the actual virus or bacteria.”
Q: Are there side effects for vaccines?
A: Side effects are a normal and expected part of how vaccines work. Sometimes when you get a vaccine, you may get a low fever or body aches. This is a sign your body’s immune system is working to get stronger. After the vaccine does its job, it quickly leaves your body. The side effects go away shortly, too. Negative reactions can occur from a vaccine, but it is very rare, much less than that of getting the disease itself!
Remember, we recommend vaccinating your child, because we want to protect them and keep them as healthy as possible! If you have any questions or hesitations about vaccinations or your child’s recommended immunization schedule, please talk to your pediatrician during your next visit. We are here to help!
Information in this article is sourced from Healthychildren.org, a division of The AMerican Academy of Pediatrics and aligns with our guidelines for immunizations. You can read more about Immunizations at Augusta Pediatrics here.
For questions, to book an appointment, or any other concerns, Augusta Pediatrics can be reached at (706) 868-0389. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.
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