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Infants & Children

Vaccinations for Infants & Children

Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases, so it’s critical to protect them through immunization. Immunization helps prevent the spread of disease and guard against dangerous complications, making it one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your child’s health.

The CDC’s recommended immunization schedule (available in Spanish) is designed to protect infants and children early in life when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Check the schedule for the age or age range when each vaccine or series of shots is recommended. If your child has missed any shots or if you have any questions, talk with your child’s healthcare provider.  

Guide to evaluating reliable vaccine resources

When it comes to important health issues like vaccination, it’s vital to get sound, credible information, not simply opinions. We've seen firsthand the damage done when people accept unreliable or just plain false information as fact — often because it has been hyped and spread online by unreputable sources — and choose not to vaccinate. Recent measles outbreaks in Europe and the United States, as well as the rising incidents of pertussis (whooping cough), illustrate how quickly diseases can come back when people stop vaccinating.

We encourage you to talk to your doctor and seek other expert sources — including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.,. Legitimate medical associations and state and federal agencies have the most experience, expertise and resources to produce reliable, scientifically sound, and fact-based information.

To make sure the information you're accessing is accurate, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the source a properly trained expert in the field they are commenting on?
    Celebrities are not necessarily health experts. Even if the source is a doctor, make sure they are commenting on an area or topic in which they have expertise.

  • Is the source peer-reviewed — meaning is it agreed upon by multiple credentialed members of the same field?
    One passionate and well-publicized source does not equate to accuracy. Before you believe someone’s published report, make sure it has also been evaluated and confirmed by other experts to ensure there has been no error or misconduct in developing the findings. The damage caused by discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield's fraudulent claims about autism are a reminder of the importance of this step.
  • Are the findings conclusive?
    Make sure the study quoted followed all research protocols and resulted in statistically significant findings that are conclusive. These findings should also be peer-reviewed.
  • Is the connection noted "causal" or "correlated"?
    These are two very different findings. Don't let yourself get caught up on correlations. Correlated findings are only suggestive, and further research is necessary to determine if the two factors under investigation are truly related. Causal findings suggest the factors under study are actually related.
  • Was the sample large enough to provide stable and projectable data?
    This is a significant detail that determines whether data is scientifically sound. If a sample size is not large enough, the findings are not statistically sound, and the same research could produce different results when conducted among a larger group. Small-sample research is often the first step in the learning process, but should not be the last.
  • Who funded the research, and why?
    Understanding the source helps frame how to interpret the information. Unfortunately, almost anything today can get published, whether it's from a sound and long-standing health organization, a concerned parent searching vigilantly for answers, or a misguided doctor looking for attention and financial gain. Be careful, and make sure you put your trust in long-standing organizations with a proven track record.