The Basics

Shots (also called vaccinations or immunizations) protect children from serious diseases.

Getting all the shots recommended by age 2 will protect your child from 14 dangerous diseases, including:

  • Mumps
  • Tetanus
  • Chicken pox
  • Hepatitis

Remember, your child needs all shots to be fully protected. Each vaccine protects your child from a different disease.

It’s important for all children to get shots.
The germs that cause serious childhood diseases are still around. Each child who isn’t vaccinated gives those germs a chance to spread to other children.

When does my child need shots?
Shots work best when children get them at certain ages. Doctors follow a schedule of shots that begins at birth.

  • If your child is age 6 or younger, find out which shots your child still needs.
  • If your child is late getting vaccinated, talk to the doctor. Your child may be able to get “catch-up” shots after age 6.
  • Doctors recommend that pre-teens ages 11 and 12 get important shots, too.
  • Ask the doctor for a list of your child’s shots. Keep the list in a safe place – you will need it for school and other activities.

Are there any side effects from shots?
Side effects from shots are usually mild and only last a short time. Some children have no side effects at all. Ask the doctor what to expect after your child’s shots.

Shots are very safe.
Vaccines are tested for years before they are put in use. The risk of harm from shots is very small.

Shots don’t cause autism.
Research shows that shots don’t cause autism. Autism is a disorder of the brain. Kids with autism have trouble talking and connecting with other people.

Some parents notice the first signs of autism at the same age their children get certain shots. They may think the two are connected, but there is no link between vaccines and autism.

Take Action!

Protect your child from serious childhood diseases by making sure she gets all recommended shots.

Find out which shots your child needs.
Check with your doctor to make sure your child is getting all the recommended shots. If your child is age 6 or younger, find out which shots your child still needs.

Get your child a seasonal flu shot every year.
Everyone age 6 months and older needs to get the seasonal flu vaccine every year.

What about cost?
All recommended shots for kids are covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get your child’s shots at no cost to you.

If you don’t have health insurance, you can still get important shots for your child.

  • Find out if your child qualifies for free shots.
  • Call your state health department to find a free or low-cost vaccination program.
  • Find a health center near you to learn more.

Tell the doctor about bad reactions.
Before your child receives a shot, tell your child’s doctor if you, your child, or another family member has ever had a bad reaction to a vaccine. If your child has a bad reaction to a shot, call your child’s doctor.

Help make shots easier for your child.

  • Stay calm.
  • Distract your child during the shot. For example, tell a joke, sing a song, or point to a picture on the wall.
  • Praise your child after the shot is over.

Immunization Schedule