The Hows and Whys of Baby Vaccines

When should my child get her shots?

In the United States, we routinely vaccinate against 14 diseases. Infants are generally immunized at 2, 4, and 6 months; 9, 12, 15, and 18 months; and at 2 years of age. In some areas with a high rate of hepatitis A, two doses of a vaccine are recommended at age 2 or 3. Children get booster shots for the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP); and poliovirus vaccines before starting school.

Babies receive so many immunizations because they have a higher risk of getting sick and dying. "Their immune response isn't going to be as good as if they got them later, and that's why they need multiple doses," explains Stephen Turner, MD, chief of general pediatrics at Long Island College Hospital, in Brooklyn, New York. "But at least they have some immunity to protect them from serious illness."

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