Vaccinate Your Baby for Best Protection

Mother playfully holds up her baby daughter

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

Diseases that vaccines prevent can be very serious – even deadly – especially for infants and young children. Vaccines work with your baby’s natural defenses to help them safely build immunity to these diseases.

Most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community. Some diseases that are prevented by vaccines, like pertussis (whooping cough) and chickenpox, remain common in the United States.

National Infant Immunization Week is April 27-May 4, 2019. Since 1994, local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have worked together through NIIW to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children, and to call attention to immunization achievements.

Protect Your Child from Serious Diseases

Measles is an example of the how serious vaccine preventable diseases can be. Cases and outbreaks still occur when the disease is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers (Americans or foreign visitors) who get infected when they are in other countries. Measles is still a common disease in many parts of the world. The viral disease is highly contagious and can spread easily when it reaches a community in the U.S. where groups of people are unvaccinated. Measles can be serious and can cause pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and even death. Young children are at highest risk for serious complications from measles.

Another example is whooping cough (pertussis). The U.S. has experienced an increase in whooping cough cases and outbreaks reported over the last few decades. Whooping cough can be deadly, especially for young babies who are too young to get their own vaccines. Since 2010, there have been tens of thousands of whooping cough cases reported each year nationwide, with a peak of more than 48,000 cases reported in 2012.

Father holds young child

If you’re planning to travel outside the United States, make sure you are protected against measles.  CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get protection from measles and receive MMR vaccine, if needed, prior to departure. Visit the Traveler’s Health page to learn more.

The Diseases Vaccines Prevent

Stay on Schedule with Your Child’s Vaccines

It is very important to stay up-to-date on your baby’s vaccinations. It can take weeks for a vaccine to help your baby make protective disease-fighting antibodies, and some vaccines require multiple doses to provide best protection. If you wait until you think your child could be exposed to a serious illness – like when he starts child care or during a disease outbreak – there may not be enough time for the vaccine to work.

Fortunately, most parents choose to vaccinate their children. However, some children have not received all of their vaccines, so they are not fully protected. 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 vaccinations. Ask your child’s doctor if your child is due for any vaccinations. You can also review CDC’s parent-friendly immunization schedule for infants and children (birth through 6 years).

Paying for Vaccination

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 your insurance policy doesn’t cover all recommended childhood vaccines, your child may be eligible for vaccines through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Ask your child’s doctor if he or she is a VFC program provider.

Have Questions about Your Child’s Vaccines?

Page last reviewed: April 29, 2019