Health Watch -- Infant Immunizations

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

While you're enjoying spring flowers and buying your spring wardrobe, you should consider adding another spring ritual.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services observes National Infant Immunization Week in April. This is a good time to remind parents to check their children's immunization records to make sure kids are protected from diseases like measles.

While school immunization requirements make sure children have been properly vaccinated, that leaves younger children potentially vulnerable to infection. Pediatricians at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say infant vaccinations should be complete by the time a child is 2 years old, if parents have stayed on schedule with vaccinations. Unfortunately, more than 2 million infants in the United States haven't been vaccinated against common childhood diseases. Some of these diseases may even be deadly.

The standard infant immunization schedule protects children against ten major diseases, including polio, measles, diphtheria, mumps, whooping cough, German measles, chicken pox and hepatitis B.

Although widespread immunization has reduced or nearly eliminated some of these diseases, some of them have come back in part because children haven't been properly immunized. In recent years, we've seen outbreaks of whooping cough and measles.

The next time you visit your child's pediatrician, do an immunization check-up and make sure you're on schedule.