FAQs: Infant & Children

What you need to know about infant and children’s vaccinations.

Getting your child vaccinated is very important. In the first 2 years of life, babies need protection against 11 potentially life-threatening diseases, such as polio and measles. For information about which vaccines are needed, and when they should be given, please review the Vaccination Schedule. Use the assessment tool below to find out more.

Some people are concerned that giving babies or small children several vaccines at once may overload their immune system. No evidence supports this belief. In fact, studies have shown that giving a child multiple vaccinations for different diseases at the same time is safe and effective, with no increased risk of side effects.

Babies are exposed to disease-causing bacteria and viruses every day starting at birth; the immune system is constantly being challenged. Vaccines, instead of weakening or stressing the immune system, provide a safe way of boosting immunity by prompting the body to produce antibodies (protection) against various diseases. When immunity is acquired through a vaccine rather than by catching the disease, the possibility of serious illness or death is virtually eliminated. There is no evidence to suggest that multiple injections during one office visit “overload” the immune system.

Babies are exposed to a large number of bacteria and viruses in the environment from the moment they are born. Experts describe vaccines given during the first 2 years of a child’s life as “a raindrop in the ocean of what infants’ immune systems successfully encounter in their environment every day.”*

These and other concerns about vaccines continue to be publicized on the Internet and in other media. Some statements link vaccines to specific diseases in children, such as autism, diabetes, and asthma. However, the evidence is overwhelming that vaccination outweighs the risks.

In the rare event of a serious side effect occurring after vaccination, parents can apply for compensation through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

As with any vaccine, vaccination may not protect 100% of individuals.

It’s always best to consult with your child’s doctor, but generally, children can still receive vaccinations even if they have a mild illness such as a cold, earache, mild fever, or diarrhea. If your child’s doctor approves, it’s safe to proceed with the vaccination.

The highest risk of serious illness or hospitalization from a disease is among young children. Delaying or spacing out vaccine doses leaves children vulnerable during the time when they need protection the most. For instance, illnesses like Hib or pneumococcus usually occur during the first two years of a baby’s life. Additionally, some diseases such as hepatitis B and whooping cough (pertussis) can have more severe consequences when contracted by infants.