10 Things you need to know about Immunizations

1. Why should my child be immunized?

Children need immunizations (shots) to protect them from dangerous childhood diseases. These diseases can have serious complications and even kill children.

2. What diseases do childhood vaccines prevent?

Measles, Mumps, Polio, Rubella (German Measles), Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Diphtheria, Tetanus (Lockjaw), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib disease - a major cause of bacterial meningitis), Hepatitis B, Varicella (chickenpox), Pneumococcal disease (causes bacterial meningitis and blood infections)

3. How many shots does my child need?

The following vaccinations are recommended by age two and can be given over five visits to a doctor or clinic:

  • 4 doses of diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis vaccine (DTaP)
  • 4 doses of Hib vaccine
  • 3 doses of polio vaccine
  • 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine
  • 3 doses of pneumococcal vaccine
  • 1 dose of measles, mumps & rubella vaccine (MMR)
  • 1 dose of varicella vaccine

4. Do these vaccines have any side effects?

Side effects can occur with any medicine, including vaccines. Depending on the vaccine, these can include: slight fever, rash, or soreness at the site of injection. Slight discomfort is normal and should not be a cause for alarm. Your health care provider can give you additional information.

5. Can they cause serious reactions?

Yes, but serious reactions to vaccines are extremely rare. The risks of serious disease from not vaccinating are far greater than the risks of serious reaction to a vaccination.

6. What do I do if my child has a serious reaction?

If you think your child is experiencing a persistent or severe reaction, call your doctor or get the child to a doctor right away. Write down what happened and the date and time it happened. Ask your doctor, nurse or health department to file a Vaccine Adverse Event Report form or call 1-800-338-2382 to file this form yourself. Information about the vaccine injury program is available at the US Department of Health and Human Services http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/

7. Why can't I wait until school to have my child immunized?

Children under 5 are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection. By immunizing on time (by age 2), you can protect your child from disease and also protect others at school or daycare.

8. Why is a vaccination health record important?

A vaccination health record helps you and your health care provider keep your child's vaccinations on schedule. If you move or change providers, having an accurate record might prevent your child from repeating vaccinations he or she has already had. All vaccinations provided to children in New York State are entered into the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS). This web-based electronic immunization record is available to authorized schools and health care providers. A system similar to NYSIIS protected vaccine records of victims of Hurricane Katrina.  Learn more about NYSIIS http://www.health.state.ny.us/prevention/immunization/information_system/

9. Where can I get free vaccines?

A federal program called Vaccines for Children provides free vaccines to eligible children, including those without health insurance coverage, all those who are enrolled in Medicaid, American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

10. Where can I get more information?

See Cattaraugus County Preventive Services. You can call the National Immunization Information Hotline at 1-800-232-2522 (English) or 1-800-232-0233 (Spanish).