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Unlike many other health interventions, they help healthy people stay healthy. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Safety monitoring begins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who ensures the safety, effectiveness, and availability of vaccines for the United States. Before the FDA approves a vaccine for use by the public, highly trained FDA scientists and doctors evaluate the results of studies on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. FDA also inspects the sites where vaccines are made to make sure they follow strict manufacturing guidelines. Vaccine manufacturers strive to develop vaccines that:

  • Are effective in preventing or reducing severity of infectious disease.
  • Provide durable, long-term protection against the disease.
  • Achieve immunity with a minimal number of doses.
  • Provide the maximum number of antigens that confer the broadest protection against infection.
  • Cause no or mild adverse events.
  • Are stable at extremes of storage conditions over a prolonged period of time.
  • Are available for general use through mass production.
  • Are affordable to populations at risk for infectious disease.

What you can do

Talk to your doctor and your child’s doctor about which vaccines are right for your family.

Preventive service at no cost

Medicare-covered Immunizations
  • Flu shots
  • Hepatitis B shots
  • Pneumococcal shots
Non-Medicare Adults
  • Influenza
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella
  • Zoster
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Pneumococcal
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b

Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule

  • Pertussis
  • Flu

Maternal Vaccines

  • Hepatitis B
  • Rotavirus
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenza type b
  • Pneumococcal
  • Poliovirus
  • Influenza
  • Measles, mumps, rubella
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Meningococcal B

Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule

Why vaccination is important

While some babies are too young to be protected by vaccination, others may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.

Additional tips

The side effects from vaccines are almost always minor (such as redness and swelling where the shot was given) and go away within a few days. If you or your child experiences a reaction at the injection site, use a cool, wet cloth to reduce redness, soreness, and swelling.

Serious side effects after vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare and doctors and clinic staff are trained to deal with them. Watch for any of these reactions for a few days after vaccination. If you see something that concerns you, call the doctor.

Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines

Additional resources