When Do Babies Get Shots?

Immunizations and Your Infant

Watching your tiny baby cry when she gets a shot is hard, but it’ s nothing compared to the pain of watching her suffer from flu or chickenpox and knowing that you may have been able to prevent her sickness. Still, immunizations are controversial these days, and you should feel free to ask your pediatrician as many questions as you can before signing off on your baby having shots. Most pediatricians strongly recommend that parents follow an established vaccine schedule, which starts shortly after birth.

Birth Through 6 Months

Infant gets an injection

List of Infant Vaccine Shots by Month Through Age One

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Newborns have antibodies that protect them from some diseases, so they don’t need a lot of shots right away. As that protection wears off, though, they’ll have to endure a number of sticks.

The only vaccine that newborns usually get at the hospital is to protect against hepatitis B. The first dose is generally administered within the first few days of life, followed by a second dose one to two months later.

Pediatricians recommend that babies receive a series of shots at around 2 months old. In addition to the second hepatitis B shot, babies this age are given the first doses of five vaccines that protect against a number of diseases, including diphtheria, tetanus, polio and rotavirus. At 4 months, they receive second doses of these five vaccines.

At 6 months, babies who follow the traditional immunization schedule receive third doses of some vaccines and get their first annual flu shot.

6 Months Onward

The vaccine schedule slows down after 6 months. When your child is anywhere from 12 to 15 months old, her pediatrician will probably want her to receive the first doses of vaccines that protect against measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox) and hepatitis A. She’ll also need a fourth dose of some of the vaccines she previously received.

After a few more booster shots between 15 and 18 months, your baby should get a nice long break from shots other than the annual flu vaccine. She’ll need her next round of immunizations when she’s around 4 years old.

Travel Vaccines

Infant gets an injection

My Newborn Is Sick With the Flu

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Your baby may need additional shots if you’re planning to take her on an international trip. If diseases such as yellow fever and meningitis are common in the country you’re planning to visit, your pediatrician may recommend your child receive immunizations against those. Mention any upcoming international travel plans to your pediatrician as soon as they come up.

Other Considerations

Some children can’t be vaccinated safely. If your baby has any medical condition that weakens her immune system, she may not be able to handle the disease antigens that vaccines contain. Other kids have severe allergies to components of some vaccines. For those kids, it’s important that their peers and friends are vaccinated, because coming in contact with someone who is sick with a vaccine-preventable disease can be dangerous for a child who hasn’t been immunized against it.

Talk to your pediatrician if you’re worried about vaccines. He can address your concerns and talk through the ramifications of not getting your child vaccinated, so you can make an informed decision.