Staying current on vaccinations is important for all people, especially babies and children. When babies, children and teens follow the recommended immunization schedule outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), they are better protected against potentially life-threatening diseases.
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Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines are one of the most important things we can do to help protect our children’s health. Vaccines and proper handwashing, more so than all other interventions, have proven to be the safest and most effective ways to prevent disease.
Is it better to do multiple vaccines at one time or space them out?
The best way to keep your child safe from vaccine-preventable diseases is to get all their vaccines on time. There is no advantage to spacing them out. Instead, a longer wait increases the risk of children catching a preventable disease before they receive protection.
The amount of antigen (protein) in each vaccine is so tiny that your child’s immune system can process multiple vaccines at one time and build an antibody “army” to protect against those potentially fatal diseases. In fact, the amount of antigen in each vaccine is 100,000 times less than what a child has with a common cold. So, there’s no concern about overwhelming their immune system when they get their vaccines.
Can I delay my child’s vaccines during COVID19?
Getting vaccinated on time is important because even though we have the threat of COVID-19 to contend with, all the other diseases that we can prevent easily with vaccines are still a threat. These diseases — such as whooping cough and measles — are ready to emerge at any time that we don’t have the majority of our kids vaccinated.
If we don’t keep our kids protected against measles and other fatal diseases, the risk for further emergence is going to be very high. It is up to us to keep our kids safe and prevent any future epidemics by using the tools we already have to prevent disease.
Immunization schedule and tips
The current immunization schedule below by the AAP and U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has been researched and proven to be the most effective and safest way for children to be vaccinated against potentially fatal diseases. It’s important to know that no alternative schedule has been shown to be as safe and effective.
Studies have shown that preparing your child for vaccinations should ideally include three components: explaining what will happen, how it will feel, and strategies for coping with any related stress or discomfort.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, your CHOC pediatrician’s office is a safe, physically distant environment to keep your child and family safe while still delivering high-quality preventive care.
Why eligible children and teens should get the COVID-19 vaccine
Getting a COVID-19 vaccination can help protect your child from getting COVID-19 and spreading it to others. It can also keep your child from becoming seriously ill or needing hospitalization if they do contract COVID-19.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reported that since the beginning of the pandemic, about 1.9 million children ages 5-11 years have been infected with COVID-19 — which is about 9% of all U.S. cases. Of children infected, more than 8,300 children have been hospitalized and 94 have died, according to federal data. The death toll within this past year puts COVID-19 in the top 10 causes of death for children ages 5-11 years.
Most children who are infected with the COVID-19 virus only experience mild symptoms such as low-grade fever, fatigue, and cough. However, some children have experienced severe illness and required hospitalization, or have experienced “long-haul” or recurring symptoms of COVID-19 in the weeks or even months after becoming infected—even if their initial illness was mild.
Children with underlying health conditions may be at an increased risk for developing complications and severe illness.
The restrictions on children’s activities, in-person learning and other socialization opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic caused a mental health crisis in this age group. The COVID-19 vaccine may give families the peace of mind to safely return to activities more fully, which will benefit their kids’ mental health tremendously.
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Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine
The HPV vaccine is a preventative vaccine. The human papillomavirus affects nearly all sexually active men and women at some point in their lives according to the CDC. A percentage of people with the virus do not clear their infections and may develop genital warts, cervical cancer, head and neck cancers, and penile cancers.
Studies have shown that in patients who never had HPV, the effectiveness of preventing pre-cancerous changes to the cervix was 97 to 100 percent. This is why the vaccine is recommended in all girls before they begin to be sexually active. The vaccine is also known to be more effective when given at a younger age. It is recommended in girls 9 to 26 years of age.
The vaccine is recommended in all boys ages 9 to 21 years due to the fact that many head and neck, penile and anal cancers are directly linked to HPV serotypes 16 and 18. Vaccinating males can also help prevent cervical cancer in their female partners by reducing the rate of transmission.
Flu shot (influenza vaccine)
The CDC recommends annual influenza vaccinations for everyone age 6 months and older. Vaccinations are especially important for those at increased risk for flu complications, including pregnant women. Encourage family members and caregivers who spend time around your child to get the flu shot.
People forget that children and adults can die from influenza. Since the 2004-2005 flu season, flu-related deaths in children have ranged from 37 to 171 each season, according to the CDC.
The vaccine is not a live vaccine, so it’s impossible to get the flu from getting a flu shot.
Measles is one of the most contagious infections. It is so contagious that someone with measles could infect up to 90% of close contacts who are not immunized.
Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It’s easily spread through coughing and sneezing. The virus can live up to two hours on a surface or in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed. In other words, even after an infected person leaves a room, an unvaccinated individual could get measles as a result of breathing the contaminated air or touching the infected surface.
Measles does carry complications, from mild to severe. The most common complications are diarrhea and ear infections, which can result in permanent hearing loss. Severe complications include pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children, and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and leave a child with hearing loss and cognitive delays.
There is no treatment for measles. Vaccination is the best protection against the disease.
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Guide to COVID-19 vaccines for children & teens
Medical experts agree that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 5 and older and is the best way to protect children from COVID-19. We understand you may have questions about the vaccine and have created this guide to help address them.
The guide includes the following content:
COVID-19 vaccine authorization status by age group
COVID-19 vaccine FAQs
COVID-19 vaccine and fertility
COVID-19 vaccine and myocarditis
COVID-19 vaccine and pediatric asthma
The guidance on this page has been clinically reviewed by CHOC pediatric experts.
The contents of this webpage, including text, graphics, audio files, and videos (“Materials”), are for your general information only. The Materials are not intended to substitute qualified professional or medical advice, diagnoses, or treatments. CHOC does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, or other information that may be mentioned on or linked to this webpage. Always call your physician or another qualified health provider if you have any questions or problems. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the nearest emergency department, or call 911.