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Alison Rhodes, "The Safety Mom"

National Child Safety Expert, Alison Rhodes, “The Safety Mom,” is one of the country's leading child safety authorities, providing tips and advice to parents on a broad range of issues facing all children - newborns to teens.
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Immunizations

Pneumococcal - Given at 2, 4, and 6 months and then again between 12 and 15 months to protect against pneumococcal disease, which can lead to meningitis, pneumonia, and ear infections and can result in permanent brain damage and even death.

Selected states, regions, and certain high-risk groups also should receive vaccination against hepatitis A. Consult your local public health authority to find out if you need this vaccination. The two doses required in the series should be administered at least six months apart and children and adolescents in these populations who have not been immunized against hepatitis A can begin the immunization series at any time. An influenza vaccine is also recommended annually for children between 6 and 23 months.

There are some potential risks and side effects associated with vaccinations, although they are minor compared to the benefits. Some vaccines may cause your child to develop a low-grade fever (less than 102 degrees F), and a rash or soreness at the injection site. In rare cases, your child may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine (usually within a few minutes or a few hours after the shot is administered), characterized by difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, dizziness, fainting, an erratic heartbeat, and weakness. In very rare cases, a vaccination may cause a high fever or seizure within a few days of the shot. Seek medical treatment immediately if your child displays any of these symptoms.

Despite the overwhelming benefits of immunizations, many children in the U.S. are still not vaccinated against many diseases. To encourage universal immunization, Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act in 1993, which created the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The VFC program provides vaccines to children of families who may not otherwise be able to afford them, at little to no cost. Children who are eligible:

  • Are 18 years old or younger;

  • Are eligible for Medicaid;

  • Are Native American or Alaskan Native;

  • Have no health insurance; or

  • Have health insurance, but it does not cover immunizations. In these cases, children must go to a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic (RHC) for immunizations.

Your child can receive free vaccines through the VFC program at private doctor's offices, public and private clinics, hospitals, and select schools in some states. To find out about immunizations and the VFC program in your state, visit the State Immunization Program Website. To view the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) current immunization schedule (.pdf), click here.

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen


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