Newborns don't have strong immune systems at birth and are susceptible to contracting numerous dangerous and potentially life-threatening diseases. In the first few months of life, newborns receive several vaccinations designed to protect them from the most dangerous diseases. Following the vaccination schedule recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is one of the most effective ways to decrease your baby's risk. Always follow your pediatrician's recommendations, however, because the exact schedule for your baby can depend on other factors aside from his age, including his overall health and where you live.
Why Follow the Schedule
Most parents don't welcome the thought of watching a doctor stab their brand-new baby with a needle, but vaccinations are crucial for your baby's health and well-being. Following the vaccination schedule is a highly effective way to prevent your baby from illness. The vaccination schedule was created to give your newborn the most protection possible in the shortest amount of time. According to experts with the Mayo Clinic, the vaccination schedule for newborns is safe and you should stick to it as closely as you can by scheduling regular immunization appointments with your baby's pediatrician.
Shots From Birth Through 2 Months
The first shot your baby will probably receive is a hepatitis B vaccine, referred to as the HBV, and it's usually given at birth, according to child development professionals at the Kids Health website. A second dose of the HBV is given between 1 and 2 months of age. At your newborn's 2-month check-up, he'll receive a series of five additional vaccines. These include the DTap, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis; the Hib, which guards against haemophilus influenzae type b; the IPV, which protects your child from polio; the PCV, which guards against pneumococcal conjugate; and the Rota, or RV, which protects your child from the rotavirus.
Shots Between 4 and 6 Months
When your baby is 4 months old, she'll receive five follow-up vaccinations, including a DTap, Hib, IPV, PCV and Rota. These are additional doses following the ones she received at 2 months of age. Follow-up doses are given to boost your baby's immunity as she gets older and because her body can't tolerate huge doses at a time. At 6 moths of age, your baby will receive follow-up doses of the DTap, Hib, PCV and Rota vaccinations. She might also receive a third dose of her hepatitis B and polio vaccines, but these can be given at any time before 18 months of age, according to the AAP. Whether your child receives these at her 6-month check-up is up to you and her pediatrician.
If you're concerned about how many shots your newborn receives at one time, talk to his pediatrician about combining vaccinations into one shot. These are just as effective as giving the immunizations separately, but they can be less stressful to you and your baby. If your newborn misses a vaccination, discuss the catch-up schedule with her doctor. Newborns might also receive a Meningococcal vaccine, which protects against meningitis. According to the experts at Kids Health, most babies don't need it, but if your baby has an immune disorder or is traveling abroad, his pediatrician might recommend it. At 6 months of age, your baby will also receive a flu shot, which is repeated annually. However, your baby will get two doses of the flu vaccine the first time, and then just once a year thereafter.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 2013 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6 Years Old
- Kids Health: Immunization Schedule
- Mayo Clinic: Vaccination Schedule: Why So Many So Fast?
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Recommended Immunization Schedule For Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years -- 2013
- Paul Tearle/Stockbyte/Getty Images