Newborns Immunization Vaccine

Vaccines and immunizations are important for a baby’s health. While newborns receive antibodies, or disease fighters, from their mothers’ breast milk, these antibodies do not last forever. Ensuring that babies get the recommended immunizations during the first few months of their lives is essential to helping them avoid developing any harmful diseases or conditions.

Vaccination Risks

Many parents worry that their children will react negatively to a vaccine or will actually get the disease that the vaccine is designed to prevent. The risks associated with vaccines, however, are far less than the risks associated with getting the diseases they protect a baby against. In most cases, redness or soreness at the injection site are the worst side effects of vaccines.

In most cases, baby immunizations follow this immunization schedule:

  • Birth: Hepatitis B (This vaccine will be given again before the baby is two months old.)
  • Two months and four months: Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP); H. influenze type B (Hib); Inactivated polio (IPV); and Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV).

Boosters, or re-vaccinations, may be necessary at later stages in a baby’s life as the effects of the initial vaccine wear off.

Diseases Vaccines Prevent

The following outlines the particular functions of each type of newborn vaccination:

  • DtaP: This immunization works to protect babies against three damaging diseases, namely diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. While diphtheria causes a severe infection in the throat that can block airways, tetanus is a nerve disease caused by bacteria. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, results in a very serious respiratory illness.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine: Because Hepatitis B causes liver problems, this vaccine can help prevent cirrhosis of the liver, liver disease and liver cancer.
  • Hib: The Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine prevents meningitis and some serious types of pneumonia in children. Meningitis is a very serious condition that sometimes results in fatality.
  • Pneumococcal conjugate: This vaccine protects babies against pneumonia, meningitis, blood infections and some other afflictions.

Vaccine Types

Vaccinations come in one of four different types:

  • attenuated, or weakened, live viruses
  • biosynthetic vaccines (These contain man-made substances.)
  • killed, or inactivated, viruses or bacteria
  • toxoid vaccines (These contain a toxin that is produced by the bacteria being vaccinated against).

All of these vaccine types are effective at preventing disease. Your doctor can explain which types of vaccines you get and how they work at preventing disease.

Vaccines for Infants and Children

Slightly later in life, children will also need the following vaccines:

  • Hepatitis A
  • MCV4 (bacterial meningitis)
  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
  • Varicella (chickenpox).

These vaccines are recommended for children from one to 12 years old.

In some cases, schools (including elementary schools and colleges) will require your child to be vaccinated. Certain vaccines will also be required if your child visits certain countries.

Following the recommended immunization schedule is important for the health of your baby. Not staying up-to-date with vaccinations can put your child at risk for diseases and infections that could lead to severe health problems or even death.

Most doctors will provide new parents with a chart or booklet to keep track of immunizations that have been given and those that are still needed. This makes it easy to follow the recommended immunization schedule.

Resources

iVillage (2008). Your Newborn’s Immunization Schedule. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from the iVillage Web site. Kids’ Health (2006). Your Child’s Immunizations. Retrieved February 1, 2008, from the Kids’ Health Web site.