Skip to Content

Immunizations and Childhood Diseases

Immunizations are an important part of keeping your child happy and health, which is our main goal when providing care beyond treatment.

Vaccinations protect you, your family and your community from disease. Before vaccines, thousands of children and adults died each year. Vaccinations are the best protection against common diseases.

Infants and Children

Vaccinating infants and children provide the best protection against common childhood diseases that could lead to death.

Learn more

 

Preteens and Teens

Vaccinating preteens and teens provide the best protection against HPV, flu and meningitis.

Learn more

 

When your child should be vaccinated

At any age, you or your family member may be at risk for childhood diseases that can be prevented if the below vaccines are given at their recommended times.

 

Hepatitis B – Starting after birth

Vaccine recommendations

All children should get three doses of hepatitis B vaccine starting with a dose right after birth.

Disease protection

This vaccine protects children from hepatitis B, a serious liver disease caused by a virus. It spreads by contact with an infected person's blood or body fluids.

Babies can get infected from their mother during birth.

Infected people may have no signs or symptoms of being infected.

Hepatitis B may cause yellowing of the skin and eyes, weakness, joint pain, chronic liver infection, cirrhosis (severe scarring of the liver), liver failure, liver cancer and death.

Infants infected with Hepatitis B are more likely to have chronic liver infection. 

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Whooping Cough (Pertussis) – Starting at 2 months old

Vaccine recommendations

All children should get five doses of DTaP vaccine, beginning when they are 2 months old. 

Older children, teens and adults should receive booster vaccination (Tdap) and after that a Td booster (for tetanus and diphtheria) dose every 10 years.

Disease protection

The DTaP vaccine will protect your child from diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).

Diptheria

Diphtheria is a disease caused by bacteria that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The bacteria releases a toxin that can cause breathing problems, heart problems, paralysis and death. 

Diphtheria kills between 5-10 percent of those infected. An effective vaccine has greatly diminished, but not eliminated the threat of diphtheria. 

Tetanus

The bacteria that cause tetanus can enter the body through a cut or wound. Tetanus lives in soil, so children can get infected from a small injury. 

It is not contagious. Tetanus causes very painful muscle spasms, stiffness in the neck and abdominal muscles, difficulty swallowing and can lead to death. 

Tetanus is not limited to children. Adults also should remain current on the vaccination.

Whooping cough

Whooping cough is a serious disease caused by bacteria that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

It is very contagious. Whooping cough causes severe coughing that can lead to vomiting and broken ribs. In addition, whooping cough causes apnea (a pause in breathing in infants), pneumonia, bleeding in the eyes and brain, and death in severe cases. 

It receives its name due to the "whoop" heard when an infected person gasps for breath.

Whooping cough is most dangerous for babies, but anyone can become seriously ill.

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) – Starting at 2 months old

Vaccine recommendations

All children should receive three or four doses of Hib vaccine (depending on the brand of vaccine), beginning when they are 2 months old.

Disease protection

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a dangerous bacteria that is spread through the air. Hib spreads person-to-person from people who have the Hib bacteria in their nose or throat.

People infected with Hib may not appear sick. Hib can cause meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord) that can lead to permanent deafness and brain damage.

It also can cause pneumonia, blood infections and severe swelling in the throat that can block breathing and lead to death.

Hib infections are much lower in the U.S. thanks to the widespread vaccinations of children. In other parts of the world, the disease kills thousands of children each year.

Hib usually infects children younger than 5 years old.

Pneumococcal – Starting at 2 months old

Vaccine recommendations

Children should receive four doses of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. The first dose should be given at 2 months of age.

Disease protection

Pneumonia or pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria that spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes or with contact from respiratory secretions.

Pneumonia can cause serious infections in the lungs, blood and brain, which can lead to death. Pneumonia also causes up to half of all ear infections.

Providers treat pneumonia with antibiotics, but even infections treated early can lead to scarring of the lungs or problems with the brain.

The bacteria has developed resistance to some antibiotics. The very old, very young and those with heart or lung disease are most at risk, although anyone can get pneumonia.

The vaccine covers the strains most likely to cause severe disease.

Polio – Starting at 2 months old

Vaccine recommendations

All children should get three or four doses of polio vaccine (depending on brand of vaccine) starting at 2 months of age and a booster dose at 4-6 years old.

Disease protection

Polio is a disease caused by a virus. The polio virus lives in feces of infected people and spreads by direct contact with an infected person or contaminated food or water.

Polio in the U.S. has virtually vanished thanks to an aggressive vaccination program. However, polio is still a threat, as polio is still around in some countries.

Polio can paralyze breathing muscles, leading to death. Polio also can permanently paralyze arms and legs.

Before there was a vaccine, polio killed and paralyzed tens of thousands of people in the U.S, and millions overseas each year.

Rotavirus – Starting at 2 months old

Vaccine recommendations

All children should get two or three doses (depending on the brand) of rotavirus vaccine starting at two months of age.

Disease protection

Rotavirus causes diarrhea, fever and vomiting which can lead to severe dehydration.

It is one of the most serious causes of diarrhea in infants and young children.

The virus can live on surfaces for months. It spreads when contaminated hands, toys or other objects touch the mouth.

Some children with rotavirus infection have to be hospitalized to treat dehydration.

Influenza (flu) – Starting at 6 months old

Vaccine recommendations

All persons 6 months and older should get an influenza (flu) shot every year in the fall. Two doses are recommended for children 6 months through 8 years old who are getting the flu vaccine for the first time.

Disease protection

Influenza (flu) is very contagious and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even just talks in close proximity.

The virus responsible for influenza is very unpredictable and changes from year to year.

This is why everyone 6 months and older should get an annual vaccination.

Influenza is more than just a cold: it can cause fever, cough, chills, pneumonia, body aches and extreme weakness.

It is most dangerous for people with special health risks such as young children, the elderly and pregnant women. However, anyone can become seriously sick. Many people die every year from influenza (flu) or from complications from having the flu.

More information about the flu

Learn more about the flu and when to get your annual flu shot from Marshfield ClinicHealth System.

Chickenpox (Varicella) – Starting at age 1 year

Vaccine recommendations

Children should receive two doses of the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine or MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) vaccine starting at age 1 year. Some teens and adults also may need the chickenpox vaccine if they didn't get two doses when they were younger.

Disease protection

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by a virus that is spread through the air and by touching an infected person. 

The disease covers the body with itchy sores and blisters. It can lead to infected blisters, bleeding disorders, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and pneumonia.

Chickenpox is a serious disease for infants and some adults, especially those whose immune system is weak because of illness or medications.

Children and adults with chickenpox are contagious before they have any symptoms.

Vaccination is the best way to protect your child and your family from this serious disease.

Hepatitis A – Starting at age 1 year

Vaccine recommendations

All children should receive two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine starting at 1 year of age.

Disease protection

Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease.

Hepatitis A is a virus found in feces of infected people and spreads by contact with an infected person's feces, such as with diaper changes, or contaminated food or water. 

Infected people may have no signs or symptoms of being infected.

Hepatitis A may cause yellowing of the skin and eyes, stomach pain, vomiting, liver failure, kidney, pancreatic and blood disorders and death.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella – Starting at age 1 year

Vaccine recommendations

All children should get two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) or MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) vaccine starting at age 1 year to protect against measles. Some teens and adults also may need MMR vaccine if they did not get two doses when they were younger. 

Disease protection

The MMR vaccine will protect your child from measles, mumps and rubella.

Measles

Measles is a very contagious disease that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The measles virus can live up to two hours in airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed, even after they leave the area.

Measles can be serious for young children. It can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain) and death.

While the number and size of outbreaks is relatively low, there have been many recent outbreaks.

Some of the outbreaks originated in people from other countries, where measles is more common, bringing the disease into the U.S.

Vaccinating your child not only prevents your child from getting sick, but helps prevent outbreaks from reaching people who cannot be vaccinated against measles such as infants under 1 year of age or people with certain medical conditions.

Mumps

Mumps spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The mumps virus can cause fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite and swollen glands under the ears or jaw.

In some cases, the mumps virus can cause serious, long-lasting problems like deafness, infection of the brain or spinal cord, swelling of the testicles or ovaries, or even death.

The mumps virus is contagious and spreads easily through coughing and sneezing.

While the number of mumps cases in the U.S. is low, outbreaks have occurred on college campuses.

Rubella

Rubella (sometimes called German measles) spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Children infected with rubella virus can have a rash, fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Older children can develop swollen glands and an upper respiratory infection before they develop a rash.

Rubella is generally a mild illness, but can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects if it infects pregnant women.

HPV - starting at age 11-12 years

Vaccine recommendations

The HPV vaccine is most effective if you get it at a younger age, before becoming sexually active. Both girls and boys should get HPV vaccine, starting at age 11–12 years. 

Most girls and boys 9-14 years old should get two doses six to 12 months apart. People who start HPV vaccination at age 15 years or older should get three doses over six months.

Disease protection

HPV or human papillomavirus is a common family of viruses that causes infection of the skin or mucous membranes of various areas of the body.

Some types of HPV are more harmful than others.

Some types can cause changes in cells on the cervix, vulva, anus, penis, mouth and throat, sometimes leading to cancer. Other types can cause warts in the genital area.

HPV causes almost all cervical cancers and many oral cancers in young people in the U.S. It's important for parents to talk about getting the HPV vaccine with their children.

Meningitis – starting at age 11-12 years

Vaccine recommendations

All preteens and teens need the vaccination against meningococcal disease starting at age 11-12 years with a booster after age 16 years. Your provider may decide to vaccinate at a younger age or with an additional type of vaccine if they feel you are at increased risk.  

Disease protections

Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a life-threatening illness that can occur suddenly.

The bacteria infect the blood, brain and spinal cord. It is one of the most serious causes of meningitis (brain swelling).

The disease spreads from person-to-person through exchange of respiratory or throat secretions like saliva (by living in close quarters, sharing drinks or food, or kissing). 

You can catch meningitis from a person who looks healthy.

The disease most often strikes older teens and young adults.

Trusted Resources 

Centers for Disease Control 

Information for Travelers