May 7, 2024

Understanding the Vaccination Schedule for Newborns

Understanding the Vaccination Schedule for Newborns

Why is vaccination important?

As a parent, your top priority is always your baby, whether it's their safety, their needs, or their health. As someone once said, there are no days off when you're a parent. However, when you see them smiling at the end of the day, it all becomes clear. Therefore, you strive to do everything possible to ensure their smile never fades, and keeping track of the newborn immunization schedule is a crucial aspect you can't overlook.

With a newborn, ensuring they receive timely vaccinations is imperative.

Children encounter numerous germs on a daily basis, especially considering their immune system isn't fully developed at birth. Thus, it's crucial to ensure they receive the appropriate vaccinations at the right age, as vaccines instruct the immune system to develop defenses against germs. This underscores the importance of knowing the vaccination schedule for newborns as early as possible.

Vaccinations essentially introduce antigens against diseases, acquainting our immune system with specific diseases and aiding in the formation of resistance against them.

What are vaccines made of?

Vaccines are quite safe for your little one and, in fact quite important. Every country recommends a newborn immunization schedule and has its own newborn vaccination chart that needs to be followed by the parents.

Photo by: Garrett Jackson on Unsplash

As a parent, especially if you're new to parenthood, it's completely normal to be concerned about the details, and often, it's important to understand them. Vaccines are primarily composed of key ingredients, including adjuvants like aluminum salts, which enhance the body's response to vaccines. Other components, such as stabilizers (like sugars or gelatin), formaldehyde, and thimerosal, make up the rest of the ingredients.

What major diseases can be prevented with vaccines?

As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a set of vaccines recommended for children until they reach a certain age. In the United States, the medical community suggests a list of 14 vaccines for a child's well-being. However, this article focuses on discussing the newborn shot schedules for up to 18 months.

The major diseases against which vaccination is recommended for newborns include:

  • Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV-mAb [Nirsevimab])
  • Hepatitis B (HepB)
  • Rotavirus (RV)
  • Diphtheria, Tetanus & Acellular Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
  • Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine
  • Pneumococcal conjugate: Vaxneuvance (PCV15) or Prevnar 20 (PCV20)
  • Inactivated poliovirus (IPV)
  • Covid-19
  • Influenza (IIV4)
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
  • Varicella (VAR) vaccine
  • Hepatitis A (HepA) vaccine

What is the newborn injection schedule, age-wise?

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Respiratory syncytial virus:

  • This dosage is to be administered if the mother has not received the RSV vaccine.
  • For children born between October and March, it is to be administered within one week of birth in the hospital.
  • For infants born between April and September, this vaccine is to be administered shortly before the start of the RSV season.

Hepatitis B:

  • The Hepatitis B vaccination should be given in three doses right from birth. This is one of the major vaccines of the infant's vaccination schedule. The first dose should be given right after birth, in case the mother is Hepatitis B positive or otherwise.
  • If the mother is Hepatitis B positive, the first dosage must be administered immediately within 12 hours of birth.
  • The second dosage should be given within 1-2 months, while the third one needs to be completed within 6-15 months.
  • For infants with HepB-positive mothers or other immunocompromised persons, the doctor may recommend revaccination or serology testing.


The rotavirus vaccine is given in two or three doses, depending on the manufacturer of the vaccine. The first dosage is to be administered at 2 months, followed by the second dosage at 4 months. If the vaccine needs a third dosage, it should be given until your newborn is 6 months old. It is important to note that the RV vaccine should not be given after 6 months or started after 15 weeks.

Diphtheria, Tetanus & Acellular Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine:

This vaccination should be completed before the age of 7 years and in five doses. The first dosage should be given at 2 months of age, followed by 4 months, 6 months, and 15-18 months. The last dosage must be given at 4-6 years of age.

Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine:

This particular vaccine, too, depends on the manufacturer for the number of dosages. If your child is given ActHIB, Pentacel, Hiberix, or Vaxelis, you will have to go for the 4-dose series. These shots should be given at the ages of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and between 12 and 16 months. On the other hand, if your newborn is given Pedvax HIB, a 3-dose series is recommended. In this case, the shot at the age of 6 months can be skipped.  

Pneumococcal conjugate: Vaxneuvance (PCV15) or Prevnar 20 (PCV20):

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended to prevent any pneumococcal diseases and is a series of four doses. This vaccine should be given at the age of 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and between 12 and 15 months.  

Inactivated poliovirus (IPV):

The poliovirus vaccination needs to be given in four doses to protect against polio or poliomyelitis disease. This disease usually affects the spinal cord to causes paralysis in the body. IPV must be taken in 4 doses at 2 months, 4 months, within 6-18 months, and 4-6 years. Usually, in the US, it is given as a shot in the arm or leg.

Covid-19 vaccine:

The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended to be given by 6 months of age, but it depends on the type of vaccination. If you are opting for Moderna, two doses must be given immediately after birth and within 4-8 weeks, respectively. If you go for Pfizer’s BioNTech, you will have to give 3 doses to your little one starting immediately after birth, followed by the next one within 3-8 weeks and then within 11-16 weeks.

Influenza (IIV4):

The influenza vaccine must be given annually, starting at the age of 6 months. It will protect your newborn against the flu.

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine:

The MMR vaccine, as its name suggests, is a crucial part of the newborn immunization schedule, protecting against measles, mumps, and rubella, which are airborne or spread through direct contact. Given the contagious nature of these diseases, administering this vaccine shortly after birth is imperative for immune system development. The vaccine is administered in two doses, with the first recommended between 12 and 15 months of age and the second between 4 and 6 years of age. However, if your child is traveling abroad, it's advisable to administer the vaccine earlier, between 6 and 11 months.

Varicella (VAR) vaccine:

The varicella vaccine provides protection against chickenpox and is administered in two doses. The initial dose is given between 12 and 15 months of age, with the second dose typically administered between 4 and 5 years of age.

Hepatitis A (HepA) vaccine:

Hepatitis A is a potentially severe disease, warranting two vaccine doses for children. The first dose is recommended between 12 and 23 months of age. Hepatitis A may not always exhibit symptoms in children but can still be transmitted to others. Transmission occurs through contaminated water, food, or direct contact.

Side Effects of Vaccination:

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Mild side effects from vaccines are common and typically resolve within one to two days. When an antigen is introduced to the body, the immune system needs time to familiarize itself with it in order to better combat the disease.

These side effects may manifest as body aches, fever, tiredness, swelling, or redness at the injection site. While allergic reactions are rare, it's important to promptly contact your healthcare provider or doctor if they occur.

What if I miss the newborn immunization schedule?

It is possible that you may have missed some of the vaccine schedules or were not aware of them. After all, the vaccination schedule for newborns is quite a list!

If you are behind schedule, do talk to your doctor and check out the catch-up guidelines, as they may vary for each disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and CDC strongly recommend using the catch-up schedule to get back on track for the vaccinations.

Can I miss vaccinations?

In case your infant has any life-threatening allergies or has faced an allergic reaction to the previous dose, your healthcare provider may suggest delaying a dose or not getting one. Regardless, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before you make a decision.

Regardless, it is important to vaccinate and immunize your baby against potentially harmful diseases and illnesses that can be prevented. As the old adage goes, 'Prevention is better than cure'. The best way to do the same is to follow a planned out vaccination schedule for babies.

Raising Superstars has several problems for parents to guide them through this turbulent and exciting time as a new parent. Make sure to look up their programs for a smooth transition into parenthood.

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