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Babies are typically given at least six types of vaccinations during the first year of life, typically in a series of doses beginning at birth. Serious side effects are rare, but it's not uncommon for babies to experience mild symptoms, such as fever or fussiness. Talk with your doctor about comfort measures, such as a warm, damp cloth at the injection site or over-the-counter pain relief. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual symptoms, such as a rash or difficulty breathing.
DTaP protects your baby against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, or whopping cough, three potentially serious diseases. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends three doses during a baby's first six months, followed by another dose at 15 months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that about one in four children may experience fever or redness, swelling or tenderness where the shot was given. Fussiness or tiredness are also common. Very rarely, the DTaP may cause more serious side effects, such as seizures, high fever or crying for more than three hours.
Hepatitis B causes serious lifetime liver damage or even liver cancer. The pediatrics academy recommends babies get their first dose at birth, followed by a dose at one to two months and again between six and 15 months. Side effects with this vaccination are rare, generally mild and may include soreness at the vaccination site or a low-grade fever, the CDC notes.
The Haemophilus influenzae type b, or HiB, vaccine protects your baby from HiB disease, which can cause bacterial meningitis, an infection of the brain and spinal cord. The infection can cause deafness, brain damage, pneumonia and swelling of the throat, according to the CDC, which adds that prior to the HIB vaccine, 20,000 children under age 5 became ill with meningitis in the U.S., and 3 to 6 percent of them died each year. The physicians academy recommends the HiB vaccine be given at birth, between one and two months, and again between six and 15 months. The most common side effects of the HiB vaccine include fever and swelling, tenderness or redness at the injection site. More serious side effects are rare, says the CDC.
Because the flu is such a common disease, you might wonder if it's really necessary to have your baby immunized. About 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu every year and 36,000 people die from it in the U.S., notes the American Academy of Physicians. Babies and young children are most at risk for serious complications from the flu. The AAP recommends vaccinating children yearly, starting at six months. The most common side effects of the flu vaccine include fever, headache, achiness, fatigue, sore throat or red, itchy eyes, says the CDC, which adds that the flu shot has been associated with an increase in seizures because of fever when given with the pneumococcal vaccine, which is typically given in three doses when your infant is between 2 and 6 months old.
Although it's true that polio has been eliminated from the U.S., the disease still infects children in other parts of the world, according to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. This means that your child may be exposed to it, either through travel or by exposure to someone coming from another part of the world. The AAP recommends two doses between two and four months, followed by a third dose between six and 15 months. The polio vaccine may cause slight tenderness at the injection site, but most babies show no symptoms.
Vaccinations are tested for safety for up to 10 years before they're licensed for public use, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and they're constantly monitored for potential problems after they're released.