Childhood and Adolescent Immunizations

Why Immunize?

Immunization is one of the most important things you can do to protect your children. Getting all of their recommended shots on time gives (PDF) them the best protection from serious and sometimes deadly diseases.

Unfortunately, every year babies and children get sick and die from illnesses that vaccinations could have prevented such as the flu, meningitis, and whooping cough. Vaccinations help make a child's immune system strong so they can fight disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 17.1 million lives have been saved since 2000, largely because of increased measles vaccination.

So it doesn't matter whether you call them shots, vaccines or immunizations. What matters is that they prevent disease. In fact, they have worked so well that many diseases that were once so feared are now very rare in the United States. Just 50 years ago, thousands died every year from diseases such as measles, mumps, whooping cough, polio, diphtheria and others.

Recommended Vaccines

It is very important that all vaccines be given according to the recommended schedule. The schedule is designed to provide children with the protection they need when they need it most.

In the United States, the vaccine schedule is developed by theCDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The ACIP is a group of medical and public health experts that develops recommendations on how to use vaccines to control diseases. Decisions about the age or ages when vaccines should be given, the number of doses needed, the amount of time between doses, and situations when vaccines should not be given, are carefully studied and calculated. The science-based recommendations are then adopted by other organizations, including the New York State Department of Health and most health care providers.

For fact sheets with answers to many of your questions about diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, visit:

Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule

The schedule helps ensure that children of all ages receive timely immunizations. Find out which vaccines your children need by referring to the schedules below.

For easy reference, print a copy of the schedule or bookmark it as a favorite.

Immunization Requirements for School Entrance

New York State requires certain immunizations for school entry. Make sure your child's immunizations are up-to-date before school starts.

Vaccine Safety

Decades of research show that vaccines prevent disease. And an overwhelming number of studies show that they are safe and effective. Myths and misinformation about vaccines and vaccine safety can cause confusion. This makes it hard for parents to make informed decisions about their children's care.

Many national and international health and medical organizations agree that vaccines are safe and save lives, including the New York State Department of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the National Association for Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Talk to your doctor and be sure to stay on top of the recommended vaccine schedule (PDF). Keep your child vaccinated and safe from disease as soon as possible.

To learn more about vaccine safety:

The harm in delaying or skipping vaccines

In recent years, there has been a lot of misinformation in the media and on the Internet about vaccination. Some celebrities, politicians, and even some doctors have claimed that parents should delay, separate, space out or even refuse vaccines. That has caused some parents to worry that multiple vaccines could harm their child. Unfortunately, this mistaken belief has led many parents to delay or even refuse vaccinations for their children. As a result, some diseases have begun to come back in children around the world. Without vaccines, children will be more at risk of developing serious diseases such as measles, mumps, whooping cough and the flu.

But babies' systems can handle vaccines. They already handle numerous viruses and bacteria all around them every day. Delaying vaccines only delays the protection that vaccines offer.

Schedules that space out or delay vaccines are not science-based. The recommended schedule has been studied for years and the vast majority of U.S. kids follow it. On the other hand, there is no research to show that other schedules are safe and no major medical group approves of them.

There are practical reasons to stick to the recommended vaccine schedule, too. Delaying vaccinations, or spacing them out, means more visits to the doctor's office. That can be hard for young families with busy schedules. And it can also be more expensive to schedule more visits.

Talk to your doctor and be sure to stay on top of the recommended vaccine schedule so your child is vaccinated, and protected, as soon as possible.

For more on the harm of skipping or delaying vaccinations, visit: The Harm of Skipping Vaccinations or Delaying.

Paying for Vaccines

All private insurance plans regulated by New York State are required to cover the cost of all ACIP-recommended vaccines for patients until they are 19 years old.

A federal program called the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program can help pay for your child's vaccines. This is true if your child is 18 or younger, not insured or underinsured, eligible for Medicaid, an American Indian or Alaska Native. For details, visit: New York State Vaccines for Children Program.

Protect your kids. Get their shots on time. Immunization is protection.