Immunize to Keep Your Kids Safe and Healthy

Immunize to Keep Your Kids Safe and Healthy

It’s hard to keep your children safe every minute of the day. Still, there’s one thing you can do that helps protect them 24/7. Make sure they get all the recommended childhood vaccines. 

What Shots Do Kids Need?

From birth, babies and young children need certain shots to help them stay healthy as they grow.  Older children — even busy preteens and teens — need vaccines from time-to-time, too. Your doctor will remind you about them during an annual well-child visitleaving site icon

Why Are Vaccines So Important?

When your children don’t get their needed shots, they have a greater risk for many deadly diseases. They can also spread these diseases to their friends and family.

Vaccines are a reliable way to prevent many diseases that were once deadly. They expose the body to a very small amount of weak or dead germs and viruses. The immune system then builds up the ability to fight these bugs in the future.

Vaccines have slowed or stopped the spread of polio, measles, mumps and other diseases in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put together this downloadable quick-reference chart.leaving site icon It lets you know what your child needs and when.  

A hundred years ago, millions of people died from a single outbreak of infectious diseases. That’s not the case today. Yet there’s still talk about the safety of vaccines. Some parents worry and refuse shots for their children. For example, a common fear is an alleged link between autism and vaccines. Research has found no such link. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leaving site icon reports that vaccines do not cause autism.

Measles Makes a Comeback

One rare disease made a comeback due to a small number of parents who decided not to get their children vaccinated. It started when several children who visited an amusement park in 2014 came down with measles. That hadn’t happened in the U.S. in 15 years. Another outbreak happened in 2019. This time the outbreak was related to airplane travel from countries where the risk of measles is higher. 

“The overwhelming number of people who have gotten infected, particularly among children, are those who have not been vaccinated,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “It’s really unfortunate because vaccination can prevent all of this. One of the things we do know about the measles vaccine is that we have one of the most effective vaccines we have for any viral disease or for any microbe.”

While we are lucky that some diseases no longer exist in the U.S., they are often only a plane ride away. For example, polio still affects some children in certain Middle-Eastern, leaving site icon African and Pacific Island countries. People who are infected can spread the disease for weeks — before and after symptoms appear.

These examples highlight why the CDC says “we could soon find ourselves battling epidemics of diseases we thought we had conquered decades ago.”

Keeping Everyone Healthy

When kids and adults get the recommended vaccines, they help protect the people around them. Along with preventing the spread of disease to friends and family, they help safeguard others, too. Very young babies, pregnant women, cancer patients, people with HIV and other conditions can all have vulnerable immune systems.

If you have concerns or questions about vaccines, talk to your doctor or your child’s doctor. That way, you can make the best decision for the health of your family and your community.

Sources: Immunization Schedules, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023; Common Vaccine Safety Questions and Concerns, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaving site icon 2020; Measles Outbreak, leaving site icon Precision Vaccinations, 2024

Originally published 8/10/2015; Revised 2019; 2022, 2024