Follow This Vaccine Schedule to Protect Yourself at Every Age

We are all waiting for the COVID-19 vaccine for the last half-year to control the pandemic. You should follow the below-mentioned vaccine schedule to protect both children and adults from a long list of worrisome illnesses.

Yes, there are many other vaccines available for immunization. If you’re not already, get familiar with the vaccines that can save lives.

Why Vaccines are important?

The reason we give vaccines is to prevent illnesses that can kill people and cause them considerable harm or other problems.

The vaccine is a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.

The vaccines have helped to eradicate the major diseases like smallpox, diphtheria, and polio. They have taken countless lives before a vaccine introduced against them, but now very few cases are reported worldwide.

Thanks to vaccines. Vaccines can now also reduce the effects of some “adult” diseases, like pneumonia and shingles.

Unfortunately, even diseases that are now very rare due to vaccines haven’t completely disappeared and, in areas where vaccine rates are declining, outbreaks still occur, per the CDC.

How Effective Are Vaccines?

This depends on the particular vaccine. No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but most childhood vaccines are between 85 and 95 percent effective, according to the World Health Organization.

For the flu vaccine, on the other hand, rates usually hover between 40 percent and 60 percent. For the 2019 to 2020 flu season, the vaccine was 45 percent effective, per CDC estimates.

Because many illnesses don’t mutate, one or a series of shots early in life can provide protection for most of your life. For example, you’ll complete all the shots needed for polio immunization by around age 6, and then won’t need an update later in life.

But you have to get the flu vaccine every year. That’s because “the flu virus replicates faster than almost any other virus on earth.

How do Vaccines work?

Vaccines are made from the same germs (or parts of them) that cause disease; for example, the polio vaccine is made from the poliovirus. But the germs in vaccines are either killed or weakened so they won’t make you sick.

Vaccines containing these weakened or killed germs are introduced into your body, usually by injection.

A vaccine works by training the immune system to recognize and combat pathogens, either viruses or bacteria. To do this, certain molecules from the pathogen must be introduced into the body to trigger an immune response.

These molecules are called antigens, and they are present on all viruses and bacteria.

The vaccines prompt your body to create cells that know how to fight the full virus, should you encounter it in the future.

When scientists create vaccines, they consider:

  • How your immune system responds to the germ
  • Who needs to be vaccinated against the germ
  • The best technology or approach to creating the vaccine

Based on a number of these factors, scientists decide which type of vaccine they will make. There are 4 main types of vaccines:

Live-attenuated vaccines use a weakened (or attenuated) form of the germ that causes a disease.

  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR combined vaccine)
  • Rotavirus
  • Smallpox
  • Chickenpox
  • Yellow fever

Inactivated vaccines use the killed version of the germ that causes a disease.

  • Hepatitis A
  • Flu (shot only)
  • Polio (shot only)
  • Rabies

Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines use specific pieces of the germ — like its protein, sugar, or capsid (a casing around the germ).

  • Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) disease
  • Hepatitis B
  • HPV (Human papillomavirus)
  • Whooping cough (part of the DTaP combined vaccine)
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Shingles

Toxoid vaccines – Toxoid vaccines use a toxin (harmful product) made by the germ that causes a disease.

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus

Depending on the vaccine, you may need more than one shot, called a series. That’s because, with certain vaccines, each successive dose adds more immunity until your body gets up to speed.

You should not delay any vaccines because your child could get sick with the very illness that the vaccine is supposed to prevent between doses.

In some cases, a single vaccine will protect against several diseases. For example, the MMR vaccine, which inoculates against measles, mumps, and rubella.

The Vaccine Schedule

There are no two ways about it: The vaccine schedule can feel a little overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out alone. Your doctor will help you keep track of it.

Some of the healthcare systems also track who got which vaccine when. Here is a detailed recommended vaccine schedule from birth to adulthood.

0 to 24 Months

The lion’s share of vaccines is given in early childhood to make sure a little one is protected before any potential exposure. Babies are protected for a while by their mother’s antibodies, but that immunity wanes with the passing of time.

Birth

  • Hepatitis B protects you against a virus that can cause liver disease. The first dose is usually given before a baby leaves the hospital.

1 to 2 Months

  • Hepatitis B, second dose

2 Months

  • The first dose of five for DTaP, which stands for diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (whooping cough)
  • First of three to four doses for HiB (Haemophilus influenzae type b), per the CDC.
  • First of four doses of IPV, or inactivated poliovirus vaccine, per to the CDC.
  • First of three doses of PCV or pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against pneumococcal bacteria, per the CDC.
  • First of 2 doses of RV or rotavirus vaccine, per the CDC.

4 Months

  • A second dose of DTaP
  • A second dose of Hib
  • A second dose of IPV
  • A second dose of PCV
  • A second dose of RV

6 Months

  • The third dose of DTaP
  • The third dose of Hib
  • The third dose of PCV
  • The third dose of RV (if needed — sometimes only two doses are given)
  • Influenza vaccine. After six months, this vaccination should be given annually.

6 to 18 Months

  • A second dose of Hepatitis B
  • The third dose of IPV
  • A second dose of influenza vaccine. (The first time any child under 9 gets the flu vaccine, they will be given two doses at least a month apart. After that, it should be given annually.)

12 to 15 Months

  • The fourth dose of Hib
  • The first dose of MMR
  • The fourth dose of PCV
  • Varicella (chickenpox)

12 to 23 Months

  • Hepatitis A. Two shots are needed at least six months apart.

15 to 18 Months

  • Fourth dose of DTaP

School-Aged Children

4 to 6 Years

  • The fifth (final) dose of DTaP
  • A second dose of MMR
  • The fourth dose of IPV
  • A second dose of chickenpox

11 to 12 Years

  • HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine. This vaccine is given in two shots over a 6- to 12-month period, with the first shot given as early as age 9. For teens and young adults ages 15 to 26, it is given in 3 shots over 6 months. It’s recommended for everyone to prevent genital warts and some types of cancer.
  • The first dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine

16 to 18 Years

  • Booster shot for the meningococcal vaccine should be given at age 16.
  • Meningococcal B vaccine. This can be given in two or three doses.

Adults

If you didn’t get all your childhood vaccinations, check with your doctor to see if you should still get any of them. Also, the effectiveness of some vaccines declines over time. Some vaccines are meant specifically for adults.

You’ll need to continue getting your flu vaccine annually in adulthood, since the flu virus changes from year to year.

After 18

  • Tetanus shot updates every 10 years
  • Hepatitis B update (if needed)
  • HPV if you didn’t get it earlier. It’s now been approved for adults up to the age of 45

After 50

  • Shingles vaccine (herpes zoster) at age 50
  • Pneumococcal vaccine at age 50

By getting vaccinated, you protect not just yourself, but your family and whole community as well.

Are Vaccines Safe?

The vaccines usually do not cause anything more than pain and redness around the injection site. Though, we are not saying that vaccines are 100% safe.

They get developed through rigorous research stages and often take years to reach the market.

People who have weakened immune systems — whether due to chemotherapy, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or another condition — the immunocompromised individuals need to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each vaccine.

One caution: Pregnant women should not get live virus vaccines even though these are weakened viruses, per the CDC. During your pregnancy, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before getting any vaccines or taking any medication.

During the Age of COVID-19…

Pandemics often weaken health, social, and communication systems in many countries and communities and result in lower immunization rates.

In the coming months, we all hope to have good news about a vaccine for COVID-19. But if and when we have an effective vaccine, we must also use it effectively.

Even though it’s not 100 percent perfect it’s better than nothing, and COVID-19 is going to be here at the same time.

We need a paradigm shift that engages those who have been most affected by the pandemic – such as low-income communities, communities of color, the elderly, and other marginalized and underserved groups.

It needs education and awareness about the vaccine to effectively address false or misleading information on any future COVID-19 vaccine.

Related Post l Life after Covid-19: A road to Recovery

Reference l Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

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