The last couple of decades have seen a lot of controversy surrounding the topic of vaccinations, thanks to a 1998 report published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal. The findings of the report, compiled by Andrew Wakefield (no longer worthy of the title of Doctor since being banned from practicing medicine in his native UK in 2010) and twelve of his colleagues was that the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine had the potential to contribute to the onset of autism in young children (amongst other things). And although the report has since been discredited, the majority of co-authors have withdrawn support, The Lancet has printed a retraction, and Wakefield has been stripped of the privilege of practicing medicine, the damage has unfortunately been done.
So while the last 14 years have seen thousands of parents denying their children vaccinations with varying levels of consequence (outbreaks leading to hospitalization and even death amongst young children), the tide seems to be turning back in favor of vaccinations, which protect children from potentially life-threatening ailments such as measles, whooping cough, and polio, all of which were considered virtually dead diseases until they began resurfacing in ever-growing numbers over the last several years. But while a larger population of new parents are asking IF they should vaccinate their kids, the discrediting of the Wakefield report and the rise in incidents of harmful childhood diseases has led more parents these days to ask not if, but when to vaccinate kids.
In truth, most parents do not have to worry about setting up a schedule for vaccinations since any reputable pediatrician will know when to administer them. But if you find that you have to switch doctors for some reason, it couldn’t hurt to keep track on your own in order to ensure that your child gets all of the necessary immunizations (or that he doesn’t accidentally double dip). The first few years of your child’s life will see him receiving the majority of his lifetime vaccinations, and many will be administered within the first 18 months (although there is some amount of latitude concerning when immunizations may be given).
According to the schedule recommended by the CDC, Hepatitis B shots are given at birth, at 1-2 months of age, and again between 6 and 18 months of age, while a Hepatitis A shot comes only once, between 12 and 24 months. DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, or whooping cough) is administered at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, and finally at 4-6 years of age. Hib, which protects against haemophilus influenza (and potentially meningitis), is delivered at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months, as is PCV (to protect against pneumococcus). IPV, the polio vaccine, is given at 2 and 4 months, again between the ages of 6 and 18 months, and one final time at 4-6 years. MMR shots should be given at 12-15 months and then again at 4-6 years old, and Varicella (for chickenpox) will follow the same schedule. Finally, you may wish to get your child vaccinated for influenza on an annual basis and this can start at the age of 6 months and continue for life.
You practically need to attend pharmacy school to keep track of all the vaccinations your child will need! But you might simply ask your doctor for a chart or find downloadable and printable PDFs of this info on the CDC website.