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Facts for Life


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Immunization is urgent. Every child should complete the recommended series of immunizations. Early protection is critical; the immunizations in the first year and into the second year are especially important. All parents or other caregivers should follow the advice of a trained health worker on when to complete the required immunizations.

Why it is important - All key messages - Resources

Children must be immunized early in life. It is essential that infants, both girls and boys, get all recommended vaccines at the right time. Some vaccines require multiple doses for full protection. It is important for every child to complete the full number of these immunizations.

To protect the child during and beyond the first year of life, the immunizations in the chart below are necessary. These are most effective when given at the ages specified, or as close to those ages as possible.

Immunization schedule for infants3
Age at immunizationLocationImmunization
At birthAll countriesBCG4
 Some countriesHepatitis B, polio
6-8 weeksAll countriesDTP5 (also known as DPT), polio
 Most countries Hepatitis B and Hib
 Some countriesPneumococcal (conjugate), rotavirus
10-12 weeksAll countriesDTP, polio
 Most countriesHepatitis B and Hib
 Some countriesPneumococcal (conjugate), rotavirus
14-24 weeksAll countriesDTP, polio
 Most countriesHepatitis B and Hib
 Some countriesPneumococcal (conjugate), rotavirus6
9 monthsSome countriesYellow fever
9-15 monthsAll countriesMeasles
12-18 monthsSome countriesMumps and rubella
15 months-6 yearsAll countriesMeasles7

3 Parents, caregivers and health workers should follow the national immunization schedule.

4 BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin) vaccine offers partial protection against some forms of tuberculosis and leprosy.

5 DTP (DPT) protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough); many countries use DTPHepBHib, a five-in-one combination, vaccine also known as a pentavalent vaccine.

6 This is only for those receiving Rotateq® vaccine, which has a three-dose schedule. A two-dose schedule is recommended for the Rotarix® vaccine.

7 A minimum gap of one month should be given between the first and second doses of measles vaccine.

As new vaccines become available, more vaccines are recommended for all countries. But some vaccines are only needed in countries where certain diseases are present.

Parents and health workers should follow the locally recommended immunization schedule.

If a child does not complete the full series of immunizations in the first and into the second year of life, it is extremely important to have the child fully immunized as soon as possible. This can be done during special campaigns.

In some countries, additional vaccine doses, called 'booster shots', are offered after the first year of life. These help to sustain the effectiveness of the vaccine so the child is protected longer.

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