The Basics: Overview
Shots (also called vaccines or immunizations) help protect children from serious diseases. Vaccines can save your child's life.
Getting all the shots recommended by age 2 will help protect your child from diseases that can be dangerous or even deadly, including:
- Whooping cough (pertussis)
- Hepatitis A and B
It’s important for your child to get all the shots.
Each vaccine protects your child from different diseases. And each vaccine usually requires more than one dose (shot). For the best protection, your child needs every dose of each vaccine. If your child misses a shot, she may not be protected.
It's important for every child to get shots.
The bacteria and viruses (germs) that cause serious childhood diseases are still around. Each child who isn't vaccinated can spread those germs to other children.
The Basics: Recommended Shots
When does my child need shots?
Shots work best when children get them at certain ages. Doctors follow a schedule of shots that begins at birth.
Ask the doctor for a list of the shots your child has received. Keep the list in a safe place – you will need it for school and other activities. Kids who don't get all their shots may not be allowed to attend certain schools.
The Basics: Safety and Side Effects
Are there any side effects from shots?
Side effects from shots are usually mild and only last a short time. The most common side effect is pain or redness where the shot was given. Some children have no side effects at all. Ask the doctor what to expect after your child’s shots.
Shots are very safe.
Vaccines are tested for years before doctors start giving them to people. And the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) checks vaccines every year to make sure they are safe. The chance that a vaccine will cause a serious problem is very small.
Shots don’t cause autism.
Research shows that shots don’t cause autism. Autism is a disorder of the brain. Kids with autism have trouble talking and connecting with other people.
Some parents of children with autism notice the first signs of autism at the same age their children get certain shots. They may think these things are connected, but research shows there's no link between vaccines and autism.
To learn more, read these answers to common questions about children and vaccines.