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How Do I Know Which Vaccines My Kids Need?

I've heard so much lately about new vaccines coming on the market, but I'm reluctant to get my son any shots that he doesn't really need. How do I know which ones he really should get?
– Graham

To protect them from many serious and life-threatening diseases, kids should receive all the vaccinations recommended for them by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other immunization authorities. Choosing not to vaccinate a child, only letting a child get some of the recommended vaccines, or delaying a vaccination can all put your child at risk.

Some parents worry about the safety of vaccines. But new vaccines are licensed and recommended only after being thoroughly studied. Safety monitoring continues even after a vaccine has been approved -- so researchers make sure that only safe vaccines stay on the market.

Vaccines are scheduled to be given so that they cover children when they are most at risk of getting sick with a disease. So delaying vaccines exposes your child to the unneeded risk of getting sick.

If you are worried about the cost of vaccines, talk to your child’s doctor.  The government program Vaccines for Children (VFC) makes it possible for many children to get vaccines even if their families are unable to pay. Kids can also receive inexpensive or free vaccines through local public health clinics or community health centers.

If you have questions or concerns about which vaccines your son needs, talk to your doctor.

Date reviewed: July 2016