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Protect Your Baby with Immunization

Mother and sonImmunization is one of the best ways parents can protect their infants from 14 serious childhood diseases before age 2. Vaccinate your child according to the CDC's recommended immunization schedule for safe, proven disease protection.

It is important for children to be fully immunized. Diseases that can be prevented with vaccines can be very serious—even deadly—especially for infants and young children. Immunizations have helped to greatly improve the health of children in the United States. Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community. Although most of these diseases are not common in the United States, they persist around the world. It is important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines because outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can and do still occur in this country.

The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, and Elmo want you to stay healthy and get vaccinated!

Immunization Quick Links

Protect Your Child From Serious Diseases

One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases is the increase in whooping cough (pertussis) cases and outbreaks reported recently. More than 28,000 cases of whooping cough were reported to CDC during 2014 and this number is expected to increase as case counts are reconciled. 2012 was a record year with more than 48,000 cases, the most cases that we had seen in the past 60 years. Whooping cough can be deadly, especially for young babies. From 2000 through 2014, there were 277 deaths from whooping cough reported in the United States. Almost all of the deaths (241 of the 277) were babies younger than 3 months of age, who are too young to be fully protected against whooping cough through vaccines.

Measles cases and outbreaks continue to occur in the U.S. So far this year, over 150 people in the United States have been reported as having measles. Most of these cases are part of an outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. Measles spreads easily, and it can be serious, causing pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and even death. Young children are at highest risk for serious complications from measles. Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated U.S. residents and visitors who get infected when they are in other countries. Measles can spread when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated.

Learn more about measles cases and outbreaks.

Vaccinating your baby according to the recommended immunization schedule gives him the best protection against 14 serious childhood illnesses—like measles and whooping cough—before he is 2 years old. The recommended schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.

The recommended immunization schedule for babies includes vaccination protection against all of the following diseases:

If you're preparing to travel abroad with your family, CDC recommends that all Americans 6 months and older be protected from measles and receive MMR vaccine, if needed, prior to departure. Visit the Travelers' Health page to learn more.

The Diseases Vaccines Prevent

Vaccinate On Time, Every Time

Visit CDC's vaccine website for parents.

Even though the United States experiences outbreaks of some vaccine-preventable diseases, the spread of disease usually slows or stops because most people are vaccinated or protected through immunity against the disease. If we stopped vaccinating, even the few cases we have in this country could very quickly become tens or hundreds of thousands of cases.

Fortunately, most parents choose to vaccinate their children and immunization rates in this country are at or near record high levels. In fact, fewer than 1 percent of children do not receive any vaccines. However, some children have not received all of their vaccines and therefore are not fully immunized. It's important that children receive all doses of the vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule. Not receiving all doses of a vaccine leaves a child vulnerable to catching serious diseases.

That's why it's important to make sure that your child is up to date on his immunizations. Call your pediatrician to find out if your child is due for any vaccinations.

Mother holding baby

Protect your baby from 14 serious diseases before age 2.

Paying for Immunization

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccinations, but you should check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. If you don't have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover vaccinations, your child is eligible for vaccines through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.

The VFC Program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to recommended childhood vaccines. This federal program provides vaccines for eligible children at no cost for the vaccine itself, although an administration fee may apply. These fees help providers cover the costs of giving the vaccines, including storing the vaccines and paying staff members to give vaccines to patients.

Children younger than 19 years of age are eligible for VFC vaccines if they are:

  • Medicaid-eligible
  • Uninsured
  • American Indian or Alaska Native,
  • Underinsured and vaccinated through a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), Rural Health Clinic (RHC), or from providers with an approved deputization agreement in their state.

A child that meets one or more of the above eligibility requirements is eligible to receive VFC vaccine from a provider enrolled in the VFC program. VFC vaccines cannot be denied to an eligible child if the family can't afford to pay the administration fee.

Have Questions about Immunization?

  • Talk with your child's health care professional, contact your local or state health department, or call the CDC at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
  • Visit CDC's vaccine website for parents