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What are the Reasons to Vaccinate My Baby?

Mother and baby lying on carpetProtecting your child's health is very important to you. That's why most parents choose immunization. Nothing protects babies better from 14 serious childhood diseases. Choose immunization. It's the powerful defense that's safe, proven, and effective.

Raising a child comes with many decisions. Some are a matter of taste, like what color to paint the nursery. Others are essential, especially when it comes to safety, like baby proofing your home for potential hazards. But, what about the hazards that you can't see and that can cause serious illness, disability, or even death in young children? Immunization gives you the power to protect your baby from 14 serious childhood diseases.

There are many reasons to vaccinate.

Serious Diseases Are Still Out There

Reducing and eliminating the diseases that vaccines prevent is one of the top achievements in the history of public health. But, because of this success, most young parents have never seen the devastating effects that diseases like polio, measles, or whooping cough (pertussis) can have on a family or community. It's easy to think of these as diseases that only existed in the past. But the truth is they still exist. Children in the United States can—and do—still get some of these diseases. In fact, when vaccination rates drop in a community, it's not uncommon to have an outbreak.

Diseases Don't Stop at the Border, and Many Can Spread Easily

You may have never seen a case of polio or diphtheria, but they still occur in other countries. All it takes is a plane ride for these diseases to arrive in your community. One example is measles. Measles is not very common in the United States due to vaccination, but it is still common in many parts of the world.  The disease is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who are infected while abroad. After reaching this country, measles can spread quickly among unvaccinated people. This year, the United States is experiencing a record number of reported measles cases. Many of these cases have been associated with people who got infected while in the Philippines, where a large outbreak is happening. Most of the measles cases in the United States occurred in people who were not vaccinated or whose vaccination status was unknown.

Have More Questions, Need Fast Answers?

Visit this vaccine site for parents, designed with the help of parents.

  • Review vaccine information for your child at every age
  • Learn the symptoms and complications of vaccine-preventable diseases
  • Read about vaccine safety information, including possible side effects and how safety is monitored
  • Refer to easy-to-read immunization schedules

Vaccines are the Safe, Proven Choice

The United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Before a vaccine is approved and given to children, it is tested extensively. Scientists and medical professionals carefully evaluate all the available information about the vaccine to determine its safety and effectiveness. As new information and science become available, vaccine recommendations are updated.

Although there may be some discomfort or tenderness at the injection site, this is minor compared to the serious complications that can result from the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects from vaccines are very rare. Learn how to make your child's shot visit less stressful.

Nearly all children can be safely vaccinated. There are some exceptions including children with allergies to something in a vaccine. Children with weakened immune systems due to an illness or a medical treatment, such as chemotherapy, also may not be able to safely receive some vaccines.

Children Need Protection Early

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sets the U.S. childhood immunization schedule based on recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—a group of medical and public health experts. This schedule also is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). The recommended childhood immunization schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life, when they are most vulnerable.

To be fully immunized, children need all doses of the vaccines according to the recommended schedule. Not receiving the full number of doses leaves a child vulnerable to catching serious diseases. Check with your child's doctor to find out if your baby 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 be up-to-date on immunizations.

Mother and young daughter smiling

VFC helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to immunization.

Vaccines Mean Fewer Missed Work Days and School Days

A child who gets a vaccine-preventable disease may have to miss school or day care for many days or weeks. Time lost from work to care for a sick child can cause a financial burden for the family. These diseases can also cause lasting disabilities that result in expensive medical bills and long-term care.

Vaccination Protects Your Family, Friends, and Community

Getting your child vaccinated helps protect others in your community—like your neighbor who has cancer and cannot get certain vaccines, or your best friend's newborn baby who is too young to be fully vaccinated. When everyone in a community who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated, it helps to prevent the spread of disease and can slow or stop an outbreak. Choosing to protect your child with vaccines is also a choice to help protect your family, friends, and neighbors, too.

Immunization Helps Give You the Power to Protect Your Baby

For more reasons to vaccinate, talk with your child's doctor, call 800-CDC-INFO, or visit CDC's vaccine website for parents.

Need Help Paying For Immunization?

If you don't have health insurance or if your insurance doesn't cover vaccinations, the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program may be able to help with the cost. VFC helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to immunization. The program provides vaccinations at no cost for the vaccine itself, although an administration fee may apply.

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

For help locating a health care professional near you who can provide VFC vaccines, contact your state's VFC coordinator. You can find your state's VFC coordinator contact information online, or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636) and ask for the phone number of your state's VFC Coordinator to get more information.

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