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Blue-StethoscopeIn the United States, vaccines have reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed thousands of infants and young children each year. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable disease and death still exist and can be passed on to people who are not immunized. Vaccine-preventable diseases have many social and economic costs. These diseases result in doctor visits, hospitalizations, and even death. Sick children miss school and can cause parents to lose time from work.


This serious disease is caused by bacteria that produce a toxin (poison). Diphtheria can cause blockage of the airway, making it impossible to breathe. It can also cause heart problems, paralysis of the muscles needed for swallowing, and sometimes death.

Vaccinate with DTaP vaccine (a combination vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 through 18 months, 4 through 6 years, and 11 through 12 years.

Hib Disease

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria cause meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain and spinal cord). Hib can also cause pneumonia (infection in the lungs) and infection of the blood, joints, bones, throat, and heart covering. The disease is very serious for children younger than age 5, especially infants. Before vaccines were available, about 3% to 8% of Hib meningitis cases were fatal and, of those children who survived, 15% to 30% suffered severe nerve damage.

Vaccinate with Hib vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 through 15 months.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Symptoms can include fever, tiredness, poor appetite, vomiting, stomach pain, and sometimes jaundice (when skin and eyes turn yellow). Hepatitis A virus is found in large quantities in the feces (or stool) of an infected person. Hepatitis A is spread by contact with people who are infected or through contact with contaminated objects such as food or water.

Vaccinate with hepatitis A vaccine between 12 and 23 months (2 doses).

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. It spreads through contact with blood or other body fluids due to sharing of personal items, such as toothbrushes. Symptoms of hepatitis B include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, pain in joints and stomach, dark urine, grey-colored stools, and jaundice (when skin and eyes turn yellow). The virus stays in the liver of some people for the rest of their lives and can result in severe liver diseases or cancer.

Vaccinate with hepatitis B vaccine at birth, 1 through 2 months and 6 through 18 months.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus is a common virus. HPV is most common in people in their teens and early 20s. It is the major cause of cervical cancer in women and genital warts in women and men.

Vaccinate your pre-teen girl with three doses of HPV vaccine beginning at ages 11 through 12. Pre-teen boys may also be vaccinated at this time.

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs. It is one of the most severe illnesses of the winter season and spreads easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Influenza may lead to hospitalization or even death. Typical symptoms include a sudden high fever, chills, a dry cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, and muscle and joint pain. Extreme fatigue can last from several days to weeks.

Vaccinate with influenza vaccine annually after 6 months of age.

Source: Center for Disease Control

This document can be found on the CDC website at: