Childhood Vaccinations

Childhood Vaccinations

No one likes a shot – least of all children. But their health often depends on it.

Pediatricians deliver vaccinations through shots, and these immunizations offer children their best protection against illness and disease. So, while it may sting for a second, it is a more than worthwhile discomfort for the shield that it provides to your child, family, and the whole community.

Vaccination is a tried-and-true medical practice that helps your child build immunity to the dangerous bacteria and viruses they may encounter during their lives. And that is why doctors here in Wilkes County, including the trusted and caring professionals at Community Medical Associates (CMA), believe in the vaccination process.

The immunizations that our doctors use are safe and effective. In fact, they are 90-99% effective in preventing disease.

“Their benefits far, far outweigh the risk. And it’s very well studied,” Dr. Johnston said. “It’s very efficient and very much proven to be successful.”

How do vaccinations work?

Created from a “killed” or “weakened” version of the bacteria or virus that is the source of a disease, immunizations help your child’s natural defenses to build an effective response to infection. In effect, vaccines give your child’s body a road map or cheat code of how to attack and defeat a specific infection.

The vaccination does this by stimulating your child’s body to produce antibodies. These antibodies react to the dead or weakened threat present in the immunization, and their body retains the memory of how to respond to this specific infection. That way if they are exposed to dangerous diseases later in life, the body can immediately respond and fight it, protecting your child against the illness.

Once vaccinated, even if your child does contract a specific disease, the symptoms will be far less serious than those of unvaccinated children.

And – except for very rare cases – there are few, if any, side effects to immunization. Most likely your child will only experience some swelling at the site of the shot.

When does my child need vaccinations?

The vaccination process starts within months of birth and then continues at intervals until your child is a young adult.

According to Dr. Johnston, vaccines are generally recommended at ages 2, 4, 6, 12, 15, and 18. “The reason why they’re staggered at those ages is we want to boost your immune system before the time you’re most likely to encounter that organism. So, we want your immune system to be prepared, so when it encounters that infectious process, you’re ready.”

Public schools (starting at the elementary level) require certain vaccinations to attend, and many colleges and universities also require certain vaccinations – to ensure a healthy student body.

Following is a complete list of immunizations and the schedule which they follow:

First dose of Hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine at birth.

2 months
HepB – Second dose of Hepatitis B vaccine
RV- First dose of Rotavirus Vaccine
DTaP – First dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis
Hib – First dose of Haemophilus Influenzae type B
PCV13 – First dose against pneumococcal infections
IPV – First dose of Inactivate Poliovirus

4 months
RV- Second dose of Rotavirus Vaccine
DTaP – Second dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis
Hib – Second dose of Haemophilus Influenzae type B
PCV13 – Second dose against pneumococcal infections
IPV – Second dose of Inactivate Poliovirus

6 months
HepB – Third dose of Hepatitis B vaccine
RV- Third dose of Rotavirus Vaccine
DTaP – Third dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis
Hib – Third dose of Haemophilus Influenzae type B
PCV13 – Third dose against pneumococcal
IPV – Third dose of Inactivate Poliovirus
Influenza Vaccine

12 months
MMR – First dose of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine
First dose of Varicella
HepA – First dose of Hepatitis A vaccine (2 doses given approximately 6 months apart)
Hib – Fourth dose of Haemophilus Influenzae type B
PCV13 – Fourth dose against pneumococcal infections
DTaP – Fourth dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis
Influenza Vaccine

Ages 2-3
HepA – Second dose of Hepatitis A vaccine if it was not received 6 months following the first dose
PCV13 – Fourth dose of Pneumococcal (if needed)
Influenza Vaccine

Ages 4-6
DTaP – Fifth dose of Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis
IPV – Fourth dose of Inactivate Poliovirus
MMR – Second dose of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine
Second dose of Varicella
Influenza Vaccine

Ages 7-10
Influenza Vaccine

Ages 11-12
Tdap – Single dose of Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Acellular Pertussis Booster
MCV4 – Single dose of Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine
HPV – Human Papillomavirus vaccine
Influenza Vaccines are recommended

Ages 16-18
Booster dose of MCV4-Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine
Influenza Vaccines are recommended

What if my child missed a vaccination?

You can always catch your child up on their immunizations.

For example, the ages of 7-10, when there are no scheduled common vaccines (other than influenza), is a good time to catch up on any missed immunizations. However, your pediatrician will work with you to ensure your child is as protected as possible, no matter their age.

“If an individual is behind on their vaccines, we’ll get them caught up. And, generally, we’ll get them caught up right away,” Dr. Johnston said.

What if I want to know more about vaccinations?

The Centers for Disease Control offers an in-depth look at immunizations, how they work, why they are important, and a look at the diseases that vaccinations have helped ether eradicate or almost eradicate.

And of course, the doctors at Wills Memorial are always happy to talk with you and help provide as much information as possible on immunizations.

Our health professionals believe in vaccines. They have seen, firsthand, how much good work they do and the results of vaccinations. But they also understand why some might be hesitant to receive a vaccine.

“With anything you put in your body, with any action you undertake, there’s a risk of something bad happening. You cross the street, there’s a risk of getting hit by a car. But there’s a big difference between crossing I-75 in Atlanta and crossing the street in front of my office here in Washington, Georgia,” Dr. Johnston said. “The same applies with vaccinations. Yes, there is a risk that something could happen whenever you take a vaccine, or your child takes a vaccine. But that risk is extremely, extremely small.”

Where can I get vaccinations?

A full range of immunizations can be obtained and distributed by any pediatrician within our region.

“We use the Georgia registry immunization tracking system,” Dr. Johnston said. “We basically follow their recommendations. Each and every vaccine we administered is registered into that database.”

Always talk with your child’s pediatrician about any questions or concerns regarding your child’s vaccine schedule. Contact us if you have questions or are looking for a pediatrician.