Keeping Up with Family Vaccinations
Vaccines are made from small amounts of weak or dead germs that cause a disease. When you receive a shot, the goal is to make your immune system fight off the disease when you are near it. There are several different types of vaccines:
- Live-attenuated vaccines use a weakened form of the germ that is causing that specific disease. These shots create a long-lasting immune response and you’ll likely only have to get one or two doses to be protected for life. Live-attenuated vaccines are used to protect against many diseases including measles, mumps, rubella (MMR combined vaccine), rotavirus (RV) and Varicella (chickenpox).
- Inactivated viruses use dead germs that cause a specific disease. These shots don’t provide as strong of an immunity as live-attenuated vaccines, so you or your child may need to get booster shots for ongoing protection. Inactivated viruses protect against diseases like Hepatitis A, flu and polio (IPV).
- Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines only use part of the germ —like its protein, sugar or capsid—and give a very strong immune response. You may need booster shots for ongoing protection. These shots are used to protect against hib disease, hepatitis B, HPV, whooping cough (pertussis) part of the DtaP or Tdap combined vaccine, pneumococcal disease (PCV 13), meningococcal disease or meningitis (MCV) and shingles.
- Toxoid vaccines use toxins made by the germ and create immunity to the parts of the germ that cause the disease. You may need booster shots with these vaccines, which protect against diseases like diphtheria and tetanus part of the Dtap or Tdap combined vaccine.
Childhood (0-6) Shot Schedule
Young children’s immune systems haven’t built up defenses that are needed to fight serious diseases or infections. Getting childhood shots lets kids develop an immunity to a disease before they come into contact with it. When children get older, they may need booster shots to help keep them immune to certain diseases. They may also need additional shots to help protect them from infections that can cause diseases like cancer caused by HPV.
The below schedule lists recommended shots for children from birth to age 20. Gateway Health encourages you to talk with your child’s PCP about which shots are right for them.
Childhood (7-18) Immunization Schedule
When children get older, they may need booster shots to help keep them immune to certain diseases. They may also need need additional vaccines to help protect them from infections that can cause diseases like meningitis, cancer caused by HPV and whooping cough. The CDC’s recommendations for shots for kids aged 7-18 is below.
Adult Immunization Schedule
Even as an adult, you’ll need certain shots. This is because some shots are recommended only for adults to protect against diseases that they are more at risk for. Also, the protection you gain from childhood shots wears off over time, so you may need booster shots and some viruses, like the flu, change over time, so you’ll need to get a new shot annually. Finally, you may need additional shots as an adult depending on your travel plans, job or health conditions. Below you can see the CDC’s recommendation for shots by health condition as well as age.
Getting shots is easy—your doctor can give you most of the recommended shots right at their office. You can also receive some shots at your local pharmacy, health center, state and local health departments or travel clinics. If you’re not sure which shots you or someone in your family needs, talk to your healthcare provider. Most shots are covered by insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.