And that's exactly what has been happening recently, leading to outbreaks of measles, mumps, and pertussis. A 2008 outbreak of measles in San Diego, the largest in 17 years, began after an unvaccinated 7-year-old contracted the disease while on a trip to Switzerland. Eleven more cases were diagnosed, mostly in kids whose parents intentionally did not have them vaccinated. In 2009, an 11-year-old brought the mumps home from England, and more than 1,500 people in New York and New Jersey were infected. Last year's massive pertussis outbreak in California has claimed the lives of ten babies so far -- all infants who were too young to be fully vaccinated. Experts say that many of these deaths might have been prevented if caregivers and family had received booster shots, which are recommended for all adolescents and adults.
You can't rely on strangers to protect your baby -- you have to guard her yourself. To start, it's smart to know what shots she's getting. We'll take you through all the vaccines on the docket for the first 18 months, and why each is important.