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How Do I Know Which Vaccines My Kids Need?

I've heard so much lately about new vaccines, 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 get all the vaccinations recommended for them by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other health experts.

Vaccines are given on a schedule. Kids get each vaccine when they're at highest risk for getting sick from that disease. Choosing not to vaccinate, only getting some of the recommended vaccines, or delaying a vaccination all can put a 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.

If the cost of vaccines are a concern, talk to your doctor. The U.S. government's Vaccines for Children (VFC) program makes it possible for many children to get vaccines even if their families can't pay. Kids can also get 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: March 2018