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What are the Reasons to Vaccinate My Baby?

Mom holding baby and a grocery bag

Protecting your child’s health is very important to you. Giving your baby all the recommended vaccines by age two is the best way to protect her from 14 serious childhood diseases. Choose immunization; it’s the powerful defense that’s safe, proven, and effective.

Raising a child means you’d do anything to help them grow up healthy and safe. You watch them as they explore new places and baby proof your home against potential hazards. But, what about the hazards you can’t see 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. No matter what parenting challenges come your way, there are many reasons to vaccinate.

Serious Diseases Are Still Out There

Vaccines are one of the top public health achievements because they have reduced or even eliminated many diseases. Thanks to vaccines, most young parents have never seen the devastating effects diseases like polio, measles, or whooping cough (pertussis) can have on a child, family, or community. It’s easy to think these are diseases of the past, but they still exist. Children in the United States can—and do—still get some of these diseases. In fact, when vaccination rates are low 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 these diseases still occur in other countries. For example, measles is rare in the United States because of vaccination, but it is still common around the world. Unvaccinated travelers who are infected while abroad can easily bring the diseases to the United States.

After reaching the U.S., measles can spread quickly among unvaccinated people. In 2014, the United States had a record number of measles cases (667) and many were associated with cases brought from the Philippines, which experienced a large measles outbreak. Most of these people were not vaccinated, or didn’t know if they were vaccinated, and nearly all the cases were associated with international travel. From January 1 to July 14, 2018, 107 people from 21 states were reported to have measles. The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated.

Mom holding smiling baby

Giving your baby all the recommended vaccines by age two is the best way to protect her from 14 serious childhood diseases.

Vaccines are the Safe, Proven Choice

The United States currently has the safest 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 your child may experience 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 ways to make you and your child’s shot visit less stressful.

Nearly all children can be safely vaccinated, but there are exceptions and some children may not be able to receive some vaccines:

  • Children with allergies to something in a vaccine.
  • Children with weakened immune systems due to an illness or a medical treatment, such as chemotherapy.

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. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) also approve this schedule. 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 all vaccines in the recommended schedule. If your child does not receive the full number of doses they are vulnerable to serious diseases. Check with your child’s doctor to find out if your baby is due for any vaccinations. 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. If you are unsure which vaccines your child needs at any age, you can find out what they need by taking this short quiz.

Vaccines Mean Fewer Missed Work Days and School Days

If your child gets a vaccine-preventable disease, they may have to miss school or day care for many days or weeks. Time lost from work to care for a sick child can burden your family financially. Many vaccine-preventable 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 immunized. When everyone in a community who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated, it prevents the spread of disease and can slow or stop an outbreak. Choosing to protect your child with vaccines is a choice to 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?

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccinations, but check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor. If you don’t have health insurance, your child may be 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.

If a child meets one or more of the following eligibility requirements, they are eligible to receive VFC vaccine from a provider enrolled in the VFC program:

  • Medicaid-eligible.
  • Uninsured.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native.

VFC vaccines cannot be denied to an eligible child if the family can’t afford to pay the administration fee.