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Immunizations (vaccines) are usually a set of shots given to children at different ages to help keep them from getting certain childhood diseases. Some vaccines are given by mouth or in the nose. There are vaccines to prevent:

  • Diphtheria
  • Whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Tetanus
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Haemophilus Influenza B
  • Polio
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Influenza
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)
  • Rotavirus
  • Human Papillomavirus

These preventable diseases can cause your child to become paralyzed, blind, deaf, or even die. Making sure your child receives vaccines when scheduled is the best way to help prevent your child from getting one of these diseases. If your child started his vaccines late, or is one month or more behind, your doctor will give you a “catch up” schedule to follow.

When your child receives vaccines, you will be given a Vaccine Information Statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Program for each vaccine he/she will receive. These handouts are available online at www.CDC.gov. Be sure to read these handouts to learn about the vaccine, its uses and side effects before your child receives the vaccine.

False information about side effects of a form of mercury (thimerosol) in vaccines caused concern about the safety of vaccinations. Studies have proven that vaccines do NOT cause autism or developmental delays. Most vaccines do not contain mercury. The trace amounts present in a few vaccines prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus in the vaccine. The tiny amount of mercury in vaccines, much like chlorine in our water supply, is not harmful.

If your child has an egg allergy, you may be concerned about vaccine reactions because a few vaccines are started in eggs. Although eggs are used to make the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella), the vaccine is processed in a manner that makes it safe for children with egg allergies. The two vaccines that are not given to people with SEVERE egg allergies are the influenza and yellow fever vaccines. People who have SEVERE egg allergies have difficulty breathing, huge wheals, swollen lips and tongue, and/or vomiting when they eat eggs. People with SEVERE allergic reactions should NOT get the influenza or yellow fever vaccines. If your child can eat a lightly scrambled egg and not have a reaction, he probably does not have an egg allergy; he can receive the influenza vaccine. If your child only gets hives when he eats eggs, he can receive the influenza vaccine if he is observed by medical staff for reactions for 30 minutes after the vaccination.

Some vaccines will be combined in one shot, others will be given separately. Combination vaccines are usually preferred over separate shots when two or more vaccines are due at the same time if they can safely be mixed together. Check with your child's nurse or doctor if you have any questions.

Each vaccine given should be marked on your child's record. Bring the record with you for each check-up and keep it in a safe place; you will need it for your child to start school. A skin test for tuberculosis (TB skin test) may be required by your local school system. Ask your local health department or your child’s school office if this is needed. This skin test is not a vaccine, and will not prevent your child from getting TB. It is a test to check if your child has already been infected with tuberculosis.

Before your child gets a vaccine, let your child's nurse know if he/she has severe allergies to eggs, gelatin, yeast, antibiotics such as neomycin or streptomycin, or has had a seizure.

Basic Vaccines:

  1. DtaP - This is the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) given to infants and children. A Td booster (tetanus and diphtheria) is given to adolescents and adults every 10 years.
  2. Tdap – Tetanus and diphtheria and pertussis. This is for 11-12 year olds who have received the DTP/ DtaP vaccination series and have not received a Td booster dose. Adults may also receive the Tdap booster to reduce the risk they will transmit pertussis to infants.
  3. MMR - This is the vaccine against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. These are serious diseases that can be prevented by the vaccine.
  4. IPV - This is the injectable Inactivated Polio Vaccine. OPV - This is the oral (by mouth) polio vaccine, which is no longer recommended and is only used in special circumstances.
  5. Hib - This is the vaccine against Haemophilus influenza b. Serious diseases are caused by this bacteria, including one type of meningitis (infection of fluid around the brain and spinal cord). This bacteria can also cause pneumonia, breathing difficulties, infections of the blood, joints, bones, and heart and even death. Immunization prevents infection by this germ.
  6. Hep A- This vaccine protects children from Hepatitis A, a serious viral liver disease. It is usually spread by close contact with someone with the virus or by eating food or drinking water that contains the virus.
  7. Hep B- This vaccine protects against Hepatitis B, a serious liver disease caused by this virus. This vaccine may also prevent a form of liver cancer that results from Hepatitis B viral infection.
  8. Varicella - This vaccine protects children at risk against the Chickenpox virus. Usually this virus is mild, but it can be serious in young infants and adults, and especially in children and adults with weakened immune systems.
  9. PCV - Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine - This vaccine protects against disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae that can lead to bacterial meningitis (infection of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord) and serious blood and lung infections. The vaccine may also prevent some ear infections caused by these bacteria.
  10. Influenza - This virus spreads from person to person though coughing or sneezing. Some people get very sick from this virus. If your child is less than 9 years old when he/she receives the first influenza vaccine it  be given in 2 doses at least 4 weeks apart. The “live” vaccine (given into the nose) can only be given to children 2 years old and older. Live vaccine is not recommended for anyone with asthma, any child less than 5 years old who has had wheezing in the past year, or children on long term aspirin therapy. Influenza vaccine can prevent influenza infection.
  11. Rotavirus - This vaccine is swallowed. Rotavirus is a very common virus in infants and young children. It causes severe diarrhea and may also cause vomiting and fever. Some children with rotavirus have to be hospitalized.
  12. MCV4 - This is one of the Meningococcal vaccines. Meningococcal disease is a bacterial disease that causes very serious illness. These bacteria can cause bacterial meningitis (infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) and blood infections. One out of every ten people that get this disease will die from it. Many others will have life long affects from the disease such as loss of their arms or legs, deafness, mental retardation or will suffer seizures or strokes. The MCV4 vaccine can prevent most meningococcal diseases. The usual recommended age for the MCV4 vaccine is 11-12 years of age, but younger children with health conditions placing them at high risk may also receive this vaccine.
  13. HPV - Human Papillomavirus - HPV4 - This vaccine protects females from the virus that can cause cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers. It also provides protection against genital warts for both males and females. The HPV2 vaccine prevents cervical pre-cancers and cancers in females. Human Papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted virus. These vaccines are most effective when given before exposure to HPV through sexual contact, therefore HPV vaccines are recommended for future protection when your child becomes sexually active.

The chart below does not include the additional vaccines recommended for high risk groups. Your child’s doctor will let you know if your child needs additional vaccines.

Some vaccines may need to be delayed if your child is sick when these are due. If you have missed vaccines for any reason, tell your doctor. Your doctor will give you a “catch-up” immunization schedule as needed.

The Usual Schedule for Immunizations
1 to 2 monthsHepB
2 monthsDTaP, Hib, IPV (Polio), PCV, Rotavirus
4 monthsDTaP, Hib, IPV (Polio), PCV, Rotavirus
6 monthsDTaP, PCV, Rotavirus 
6 months to 18 yearsInfluenza - given each fall or winter to children 6 months and older.
6 to 18 monthsHepB, IPV (Polio)
12 to 15 monthsHib, PCV, MMR, Varicella
12 to 23 months Hep A (2 doses given 6 months apart)
15 to 18 monthsDTaP 
4 to 6 yrs

If your child's vaccinations were delayed or missed entirely, they should be given as soon as possible. Contact your child's doctor.

DTaP, IPV (Polio), MMR, Varicella
11 to 12 yrsHPV (3 doses given over a 6-month period. May be given as young as 9 years), Tdap, MCV4
11 to 18 years All teens 11-18 years need a dose of MCV4. Booster dose is needed at age 16-18 if dose was received at age 11-15. College students age 19-21 living in dormitories need a dose of MCV4 if they never received it before or if they received it when younger than age 16 years.

Home Care

Read the Vaccine Information Statement to learn about the normal reactions your child may have for the vaccine he received. If you have any questions or concerns or your child has any reaction other than those listed, please call your child’s doctor or the clinic where the vaccine was given.

Where to get immunizations

Every child in the United States should receive immunizations (vaccines) in order to be protected from serious diseases. Normally this is taken care of at regular well baby and child check-ups. If you do not have a doctor, this is a list of places where you can get the immunizations that are needed to protect your child from life- threatening diseases. If you do not have medical insurance, your child can receive immunizations that are required to attend public schools for no cost through your local public health department.


  • CHKD General Pediatric Medicine - 668-7189
  • Children’s Health Line, 668-7500, to find a CHKD Health System pediatrician in your area.
  • Chesapeake Public Health Department - 382-8609
  • Hampton Health District Immunization Clinic – 727-1172 Extension 21717
  • Newport News Public Health Department - 594-7410
  • Norfolk Public Health Department - 531-2130
  • Portsmouth Public Health Department – 393-8585 Extension 8716
  • Suffolk Public Health Department - 514-4700
  • Virginia Beach Public Health Department – 518-2700

North Carolina Public Health Departments:

  • Albemarle Regional Health Services (252) 338-4400

Bring your shot record.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 04/2014

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