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Immunizations for Children and Teens

Next to clean drinking water, immunizations have been called one of the most important public health interventions in history. They have saved millions of lives.

Each state has its own immunization requirements. Most ask for written proof of a student's immunizations from a doctor or clinic before you can sign your child up for school.

You can view the complete immunization schedule from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep on top of vaccinations. Note that the recommendations are based on a child's age and are updated from time to time.

Children (up to age 10)

Why vaccinate? The benefits of vaccination are tangible. Here are just a few vaccines that children under 10 should receive and the benefits of each:

Measles. Measles is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory system that is spread through fluids from an infected person's nose and mouth. There is no specific treatment for measles. In the decade before the measles vaccination was available, 3-4 million Americans were infected each year. In 2009, only 71 cases of measles were reported.

Polio. Polio is an infectious disease that used to be very common in the U.S. Most infected people experience no symptoms, but 1% of those affected develop paralysis that can be life-threatening. Thanks to the polio vaccine, there have been no cases of wild polio in the U.S. since 1979.

Chickenpox (varicella). Chickenpox is an extremely contagious disease that causes an itchy rash and fever. About 4 million people get chicken pox every year. In 1995, a vaccine became available that is 85% effective at preventing any form of the disease and 100% effective against the most severe form.

Note that this list is incomplete. For the full immunization schedule, visit the CDC .

Pre-Teens and Teenagers (ages 11-17)

Young children are not the only ones who need to be vaccinated to prevent illness. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both suggest immunizations for older children, including the following:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, also known as the cervical cancer vaccine. It is recommended for all girls and is given in three doses.
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4)
  • Tetanus-diphtheria – tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) vaccine
  • Influenza vaccine, which is recommended annually

Remember, no matter what your child's age is, you should ask your doctor to check for any shots that may have been missed. This article is not meant to replace a doctor's advice. Be sure to talk to your doctor about immunizations you may need.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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