What Shots Babies Get
The array of vaccinations your baby will receive may seem dizzying. Most parents are unaware of what PCV even stands for, let alone when or why it's given. And your baby needs several doses of certain vaccines in order to be fully immunized, which is why there are so many shots. Here's a look at what's on the schedule.
- Hepatitis B protects against a serious liver disease that's spread through contact with the blood of an infected person.
- DTaP is a combined vaccine for diphtheria (a bacterial respiratory disease), tetanus (a nervous-system disease also known as lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough).
- PCV (Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) protects against pneumococcal pneumonia, blood poisoning, and meningitis.
- Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate) protects against a severe bacterial infection whose complications include sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, skin infections, and arthritis.
- IPV (Inactivated poliovirus) protects against the once-widespread disease that can lead to paralysis.
- Rotavirus protects infants from getting the most common cause of severe childhood diarrhea, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance worldwide.
- Influenza helps prevent your child from getting the flu, which is particularly dangerous for babies and can lead to ear and sinus infections, severe dehydration, pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, and even death.
- MMR is the combination vaccine that protects against measles (a virus that can lead to pneumonia, seizures, and brain damage), mumps (a virus that can cause deafness and meningitis), and rubella (also called German measles, a virus that can cause birth defects if a pregnant woman contracts it).
- Varicella protects against chickenpox, which, though usually mild, can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
- Hepatitis A protects against another serious liver disease.
Combination vaccines: You can limit the number of jabs your baby receives by requesting combination vaccines, which protect your child against multiple diseases with a single shot. "Only 50 percent of pediatricians in private practices are now using combination vaccines, so parents need to ask for them," says Dr. Pichichero. Options include DTaP/Hib, Hepatitis B/Hib, MMR/Varicella, and the five-in-one combo of DTaP, Hep B, and polio.
Originally published in the July 2008 issue of Parents magazine.
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