A federal government Website managed by the National Vaccine Program Office,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Vaccines for Infants, Children, and Teens
Vaccines help protect infants, children, and teens from serious diseases. Getting childhood vaccines means your child can develop immunity (protection) against diseases before they come into contact with them.
And did you know that getting your child vaccinated also protects others? Because of community immunity, vaccines help keep your child’s younger siblings, older family members, and friends from getting sick, too. Learn more about community immunity.
In this section, you’ll find vaccine information and schedules for:
Why do vaccinations start so early?
Young children are at increased risk for infectious diseases because their immune systems have not yet built up the necessary defenses to fight serious infections and diseases. As a result, diseases like whooping cough or pneumococcal disease can be very serious — and even deadly — for infants and young children. Vaccinations start early in life to protect children before they are exposed to these diseases.
Can vaccines overload my child’s immune system?
No, vaccines do not overload the immune system. Your child’s immune system successfully fights off thousands of germs every day. Even if your child gets several vaccines in a day, the vaccines make up only a tiny fraction of the germs their body fights off.
Why does my child need more than 1 dose of a vaccine?
Children — and adults, too — need more than 1 dose of some vaccines. That’s because it can take more than 1 dose to build enough immunity against a disease. A vaccine’s protection can also fade over time.
That’s why every dose of a vaccine is important.
Do some vaccines protect against more than 1 disease?
Yes. In many cases, your child can get combination vaccines — or vaccines that protect them from more than 1 disease. This means fewer vaccines for them and fewer trips to the doctor for you. Learn more about combination vaccines (PDF - 401KB).
Can I delay my child’s vaccines or spread them out over a longer period of time?
Experts don’t recommend spreading out or delaying your child’s vaccines. There’s no benefit to spreading out vaccinations — and following the recommended schedule protects infants and children by providing immunity early in life. If your child misses vaccines or gets them late, they’ll be at risk for serious diseases that are preventable.
Can my child get vaccinated if they’re sick?
Probably, but ask your child’s pediatrician first. Children can usually get vaccines when they have a mild illness — like a cold, low fever, ear infection, or diarrhea (watery poop). Learn more about vaccines when your child is sick (PDF - 606KB).
Last reviewed: December 2017