Vaccines are among the most powerful tools for keeping people healthy. They allow us to prevent some of the world’s most dangerous diseases, many of which have the potential to be lethal. That is why we support National Immunization Awareness Month and urge everyone to stay up to date on their vaccines. The CDC provides a recommended schedule that can make that easier. There are a lot of important vaccines, but it can be easy to keep track of them with a little help from a doctor.
Vaccines for Babies
Babies are vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases. We often forget about that, because we are very good at prevention and rarely see the repercussions up close. Those who do contract these diseases can suffer lasting consequences for the rest of their lives, even if they recover. That is why it is so important to make sure that infants get the vaccines that they need.
Newborn babies should get their first vaccination before they leave the hospital. It offers protection from hepatitis B, which can lead to serious liver problems in the long run. They will need to get a couple more doses of that vaccine in the coming months, along with several others.
Babies will need to get most of their vaccines in several doses spread throughout their first year. Polio is one of the most famous of those vaccines, and it prevents a disease that can cause a permanent loss of movement or even death. There are also vaccines to prevent diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, rotavirus, and several other diseases that can cause serious problems.
Vaccines for Kids
Children will need more vaccines after their first birthday. They will continue to receive some of the older ones, but new vaccines will be introduced over time. One of those is the MMR vaccine, which covers measles, mumps, and rubella, all of which can be fatal. A chickenpox vaccine is also a good idea, and kids will need to add hepatitis A to their list of vaccinations as well.
Children older than 6 months should also get a flu shot. They will need a new one every year to protect against the strains that are most likely to cause problems. Preteens need to get the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, the HPV vaccine, and another dose of the diphtheria vaccine.
Vaccines for Teens
Teens should keep getting their flu shots every year. The last required vaccination for teens is the Menactra booster shot that needs to be administered prior to starting the eleventh grade. However, some teens may need to get other vaccines depending on their general health and lifestyle, or if they need to catch up on any that they missed when they were younger.
Vaccines for Adults
There aren’t many vaccines that are aimed at adults, but the zoster vaccine stands out as an exception. It offers protection from shingles, which is a serious disease that often strikes people who had chickenpox as children. Most adults will want to get it when they turn fifty or so.
This list does not cover every vaccine. There are a lot of specialized ones that are only necessary for people who are likely to get exposed to the disease. They can be important for travelers, those with other conditions, or those who have specific jobs. We always encourage people to talk to their doctor about vaccines to make sure that they are up to date on everything that they need.