What is the recommended vaccine schedule for children?

Your pediatrician will follow a vaccine schedule for children that can help protect against potentially deadly infections.

Norton Children’s Medical Group

Schedule an appointment with your pediatrician to ensure your child remains protected from diseases and illnesses with recommended vaccines.

Book your appointment directly via location or provider.

Vaccine schedule for children

Vaccines can save your child’s life by protecting them against preventable diseases. Your pediatrician will follow an immunization schedule that can help protect against potentially deadly infections.

“These vaccines are administered at intervals that allow the doses to provide the best immunity early in life, before a child is exposed to potentially life-threatening germs and illnesses,” said Joseph C. Pappalardo, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. “It’s important for parents to keep their child on a vaccine schedule by attending yearly well-child checkups.”

Vaccines for young infants (under 6 months old)

The recommended vaccine schedule for children begins after birth. Newborns get their first shots in the hospital, likely on the day they’re born. The hepatitis B (hep B) vaccine, which protects against a viral liver infection,is administered quickly. This disease can be present without any symptoms. Babies who are infected with hepatitis B have a higher risk of developing cancer and deadly infections later in life. After the first shot, babies will be boosted for hep B at least twice before their first birthday.

Before a baby is 6 months old, they will start to receive combination vaccines, which help protect against multiple diseases in the same dose. The first shots in this series are given at 2 months.

The Pentacel vaccine is a five-in-one vaccine that helps protect against diphtheria, a serious respiratory illness; tetanus, a deadly bacterial disease also known as “lockjaw”; pertussis, also known as whooping cough, which can cause pneumonia, respiratory failure or death in young infants; polio, which can cause a child to be unable to walk or breathe; and Haemophilus influenzae type B, a type of bacterial pneumonia that can cause serious or life-threatening infections in infants.

The Prevnar vaccine offers protection against 13 types of bacteria that cause pneumonia. The rotavirus vaccine, which is given by mouth, protects against rotavirus, an infection that can cause diarrhea so severe that it can require hospitalization.

All three of these vaccines are administered in several doses that are spaced out during the baby’s first two years.

Vaccine schedule for toddlers (1-2 years old)

When a child turns 1, they should receive new shots that protect against additional diseases and infections.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). Serious cases can lead to brain infections and death. The varicella vaccine can protect against chickenpox or make infections less severe. The hepatitis A (hep A) vaccine protects against a liver infection caused by the hep A virus.

Vaccine schedule for younger children

At age 4, a child should receive the MMRV vaccine. This is a combination vaccine that can protect against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). A 4-year-old also should receive the DTaP/IPV vaccine, which offers protection from four deadly illnesses: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and polio.

Vaccine schedule for adolescents

At 11 years old, a child should receive the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. They also will receive their first Menactra vaccine, which can prevent meningococcal disease, deadly bacterial illnesses that include meningitis.

Children of all genders also should receive the HPV vaccine at age 11 (although it is offered as early as age 9). This vaccine can help prevent various cancers that are caused by HPV infections.

At age 16, teens will receive their Menactra booster vaccine as well as Bexsero, which offers protection from meningococcal disease – group B.

Annual vaccines and boosters

The influenza vaccine (flu shot) should be administered annually, starting at age 6 months. The flu can be a serious illness in young children, and the vaccine helps prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths every year.

Parents also should ensure their children remain up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines in order to help offer protection from viruses that continue to change and circulate among communities.