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Recommended Immunizations for Babies

In early childhood, vaccines are particularly critical. They help protect babies and young children from a host of life-threatening illnesses when they’re most vulnerable.

New parents can consult the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) vaccination schedule. There, you can learn what shots and vaccines are recommended for children through age 18.

Should My Child Be Vaccinated?

Parents who refuse or delay vaccines are placing their children and others in harm’s way. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) assures that vaccines given in combination — starting at birth — neither overwhelm nor compromise the child’s immune system.

Most children never experience side effects from getting vaccines. And if they do, they are mild, temporary, and not dangerous. Some children feel tenderness, redness, or swelling at the injection site, but this is rare. The benefit of protecting your child against preventable diseases should outweigh any minor reaction.

The required and lifesaving vaccines your child needs are 90% to 99% effective. That’s why it’s important to talk with your pediatrician about an immunization schedule.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC strongly support following the existing guidelines. Doing so protects children, family members, and friends.

Know Your Key Vaccines

The following is an overview of important vaccines and what they protect against:

  • COVID-19: Protects against severe complications from the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which can lead to mild to severe respiratory illness, hospitalizations, and even death.
  • DTaP: Combined protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Hepatitis A and B: Protects against the Hepatitis A and B viruses. Both viruses can lead to liver infection or failure, blood disorders, and even cancers.
  • Hib: Protects against Haemophilus influenzae type B. This is a bacteria that can cause serious infections, including life-threatening meningitis in young children.
  • Influenza: Protects against the flu virus, which can lead to pneumonia and even death.
  • IPV: Protects against polio, which can cause disability, paralysis, or death.
  • MMR: Combined protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. All three diseases can lead to serious illness or hospitalization and, for rubella, possible infection of unborn babies.
  • PCV: Known as the pneumococcal vaccine, it protects against life-threatening bacterial meningitis and pneumonia.
  • Rotavirus: Protects against rotavirus infections, the leading cause of severe diarrhea in young children.
  • Varicella: Protects against the chickenpox virus, which can cause a mild to life-threatening illness.

First-Year Vaccines: Immunization Schedule for Babies

Vaccines at birth

  • First dose of Hepatitis B*.

Vaccines at 2 months

  • First dose of DTaP.
  • First dose of Hib.
  • First dose of IPV.
  • First dose of PCV.
  • First dose of rotavirus.
  • Second dose of Hepatitis B*.

Vaccines at 4 months

  • Second dose of DtaP.
  • Second dose of Hib.
  • Second dose of IPV.
  • Second dose of PCV.
  • Second dose of rotavirus.
  • Third dose of Hepatitis B*.

Vaccines at 6 months

  • Third dose of DtaP.
  • Third dose of Hib.
  • Third dose of IPV.
  • Third dose of PCV.
  • Third dose of rotavirus.
  • Influenza**.
  • COVID-19***.
  • Fourth dose of Hepatitis B*.

The CDC requires three doses of Hepatitis B immunization. These are typically administered during the first year of a baby’s life. Many pediatricians, however, administer four doses by including the Hepatitis B shot as a part of a routine combination vaccine.

** The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccination for children aged 6 months and older. When children receive the vaccine for the first time, it is administered in two doses, with each shot separated by one month.

*** The CDC recommends an annual COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 6 months and older. Children receiving the vaccine for the first time receive a three-dose primary series. There are three to eight weeks between the first and second shots and eight weeks between the second and third shots. COVID-19 vaccine dosage is based on age on the day of vaccination, not on size or weight. Children get a smaller dose of COVID-19 vaccine than teens and adults.

Vaccines at 12 months

  • First dose of Hepatitis A.
  • MMR.
  • Varicella.

Vaccines at 15 months

  • Fourth dose of Hib.
  • Fourth dose of PCV.

Vaccines at 18 months

  • Fourth dose of DTaP.
  • Second dose of Hepatitis A.

This completes the infant/toddler series of vaccines. The next recommended boosters occur with school entry at 4 to 5 years of age. However, the CDC and AAP do recommend yearly COVID and influenza boosters for all children and adults.

Your baby’s vaccination schedule will continue well beyond the first year. Talk to your doctor about vaccination specifics. And work with your child’s pediatrician to find out if any necessary vaccines were missed during the first year of life. For more information, contact UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on , and was last reviewed on .

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.