Your child's shots prevent tragic diseases. Make sure your baby gets five sets of shots before they're two.

Immunizations are not a one shot deal. Children also need shots prior to kindergarten and 7th grade. Everyone needs a tetanus booster every 10 years. We never outgrow the need for immunizations.

Like car seats, shots provide life-saving protection for your child. Immunizing your child is one of the most loving things you can do for your child. It prevents tragic diseases. And it protects our community since most of these diseases can spread quickly. These diseases do still exist and can be deadly.

When shots are due:

  • Birth - HepB
  • 2 Months - DTaP, Hib, HepB, Polio, PCV, Rotavirus
  • 4 Months - DTaP, Hib, Polio, PCV, Rotavirus
  • 6 Months* - DTaP, Hib, HepB, Polio, PCV, Rotavirus
  • 12-15 Months  - DTaP, MMR, Hib, Varicella, PCV

*All children 6-23 months and any child with a high risk condition 6 months or older should receive an annual influenza vaccine.

Shots prevent these diseases:

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)

Diphtheria: A very dangerous throat infection that can make it hard to breathe and can cause paralysis or heart failure.

Tetanus: Also known as "lockjaw." It makes a person unable to open the mouth or swallow and causes severe muscle spasms.

Pertussis: Also called "whooping cough." It causes prolonged coughing and can lead to pneumonia, seizures or brain damage. About half of all children under age one who have pertussis require hospitalization.

Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib)

Do not confuse this with common flu viruses. Before this vaccine, Hib was the major cause of meningitis in children.

Pneumococcal (PCV)

A serious disease that can lead to infections of the lungs, blood or brain. This bacteria can cause deafness or even death.

Hepatitis B (HepB)

This is a serious infection of the liver that can lead to liver failure, chronic liver disease or liver cancer.

Polio (IPV/OPV)

This disease can cause paralysis and life-long disabilities.


Rotavirus is a serious intestinal virus that can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration, especially in young infants.

Chicken Pox (Varicella)

This is an itchy skin rash caused by chicken pox virus. Close to 100 children die each year in the U.S. from problems due to chicken pox.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

Measles: A serious viral infection causing high fever, cough and rash. May also cause pneumonia, infection of the brain, meningitis or death. It is worse in babies than in older children.

Mumps: An infection causing fever, headache and painful swollen glands under the jaw. Can also cause brain complications.

Rubella: An infection causing a rash, mild fever, swollen glands and arthritis. If a pregnant woman contracts this disease, she could lose the baby or the baby could have serious birth defects such as deafness, blindness, heart disease and brain damage.

Influenza (flu shot)

Influenza: A serious viral infection causing fever, cough, congestion, and significant body aches. Because young children (under 2 years of age) die from influenza at the same rate as elderly people, this has now become a recommend vaccine for all 6-23 month olds every fall.

What parents can do

Here's how to protect children against these diseases:

  • Start shots at birth.
  • Make sure your child stays on schedule--birth, two months, four months, six months, and 12-15 months, 4-6 years, 11-12 years and every 10 years through adulthood.
  • Each time you visit or call your clinic, ask when the next shots are due and make an appointment.
  • Always carry your child's shot card in your wallet in case of an emergency. Any time a shot is given, make sure the doctor or nurse writes it in your child's shot card.
  • Most shots are required for child care/school entry. Legal exemptions due to beliefs are acceptable. First, talk to your provider.
  • Ask about shots even when your child is seen for minor illnesses such as an ear infection.
  • Carefully read over the information given at the clinic about the shots that your child will receive. Let the clinic staff know if you have any questions.

If you are unable to pay for your child's shots, let your health care provider know. There are many options available.

Here's what parents can do to comfort their child during the shots:

  • Prepare your child for what will happen (and why) during a medical visit. If you don't know, find out.
  • Bring along a security item (such as a blanket or stuffed animal) to help the child cope with the shots.
  • Alert the staff if your child has had a hard time in the past. But do it in a way that won't embarrass your child or set the scene for another bad experience.
  • Do whatever helps your child during the shots. You may also need to accept and deal with your own fears before you can offer your support and comfort.

What health care providers do at well child check-ups:

Since most shots are given as part of well child exams, here is what parents can expect the health care providers to do at those appointments:

  • Give shots.
  • Find and treat health problems early.
  • Check height and weight, hearing and vision, nutrition and development.
  • Perform physical exam--listen to heart and lungs; check ears, nose, throat, etc.
  • Do lab tests, if needed.
  • Give health information and referral sources.
  • Answer questions.
  • Counsel on the child's upcoming developmental stages.
  • Inform when the next appointment is due.

Immunization is an important part of all child and teen check-up screenings.

Where parents can get information:

Minnesota Department of Health Immunization Hotline: 1 (800) 657-3970.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Immunization Hotline: English 1 (800) 232-2522; Spanish 1 (800) 232-0233

Children's Hospitals and Clinics Immunization Project: (651) 220-6444.

Reliable Internet Vaccine Resources:

(download brochure)

Expert Resources (Immunization Action Coalition) (American Academy of Pediatrics) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) (National Network for Immunization Information)

Travel (Minnesota Department of Health) (Travel and Vaccine)

Education (Institute for Vaccine Safety) (Vaccine Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) (Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases) (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)


What Every Parent Should Know, revised edition, New York, IDG Books; 1999 by Offit PA and Bell LM.

Vaccinating Your Child: Questions and Answers for the Concerned Parent, Humiston SG and Good C, Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers; 2000, by Humiston SG and Good C.

Updated 7/04