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Protect Your Baby with Immunization

Photo: Mother holding smiling babyImmunization 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.

Immunization Quick Links

Photo: Woman holding a baby.

Protect your baby from 14 serious diseases before age 2.

Protect Your Child From Serious Disease

One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases is the increase in whooping cough (pertussis) cases or outbreaks reported in 2012. More than 48,000 cases of pertussis were reported across the United States during 2012 and 16 babies died. Many of these babies were too young to be fully protected from whooping cough. This was the most reported cases since 1955. From January 1–June 16, 2014, almost 10,000 cases of whooping cough have been reported to CDC by 50 states and Washington, D.C. These numbers represent a 24% increase compared with the same time period in 2013.  

We have also had recent outbreaks of measles in this country. In 2013, more than 180 people were reported to have measles in the United States. This year, the United States is experiencing a record number of measles cases. From January 1 to August 1, 2014, there have been 593 cases of measles reported in the United States. And so far, there have been 18 outbreaks of this disease. Measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated U.S. residents and foreign visitors who get infected when they are in other countries. Measles is still common in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Measles spreads easily, and it can be serious, causing hospitalization and even death. Young children are at highest risk for serious complications from measles.

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:

Making plans to travel internationally?

If you’re preparing to travel abroad with your family, CDC recommends that all U.S. residents older than 6 months 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 of immunization. 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. Or, you can use this online tool to enter your child's current record and quickly see if any doses have been skipped or missed. It is important to your child's health to stay up to date on immunizations.

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 in Federally Qualified Health Centers or Rural Health Clinics.

A child that meets one or more of the above eligibility requirements is eligible to receive VFC vaccine. 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
  • Page last reviewed: August 20, 2014
  • Page last updated: August 20, 2014
  • Content source:
    • Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs
    • Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs