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Postnatal Immunisation

Babies are usually born with natural immunity to certain infections. This is a result of the disease-fighting antibodies that have passed through the placenta from the mother to the unborn child. Afterwards, the breast-fed baby gets the continued benefits of additional antibodies in breast milk. But in both cases, the immunity is only temporary.

Immunisation or vaccination , is an artificial way of creating immunity to certain infections by using relatively harmless antigens (molecules) that come from, or are similar to, the micro-organisms that cause the diseases. Micro-organisms can be viruses , such as measles, or they can be bacteria .

Vaccines stimulate the immune system into reacting as if there were a real infection. The immune system then fights off this infection and remembers the organism so it can fight it off quickly if it enters the body at some future time. Immunisation is one of the best means of protecting children against many of the contagious diseases that caused serious illnesses before vaccinations were available.

The following vaccinations and schedule are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics [ 1 ] .

*Please note that some children may have conditions that affect the timing and other aspects of the immunisation schedule. Your paediatrician will determine the best vaccinations and schedule for your child.

Immunisation Schedule
Age Vaccine Vaccine Explanations
Birth HBV HBV . Hepatitis B vaccine. The second dose should be administered at least one month after the first dose. HBV series should be administered at age 11 or 12 if not given in early childhood.
1-4 months HBV DTaP or DTP . Diphtheria, tetanus, and (acellular) pertussis vaccine.
2 months DTaP or DTP , Hib , IPV Hib . Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine.
4 months DTaP or DTP , Hib , IPV IPV . Inactivated poliovirus vaccine. Other polio immunisation schedules are acceptable.
6 months DTaP or DTP , Hib MMR . Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. The second dose may be postponed to age 11 to 12 years if not required prior to school entry.
6-18 months HBV Var . Varicella vaccine. May be given at any visit after first birthday. Varicella should be administered at age 11 or 12 if not given in early childhood.
12-15 months Hib, MMR Td . Tetanus booster. Delay if less than 5 years since last DTaP or DTP injection.
12-18 months IPV , Var  
15-18 months DTaP or DTP  
4-6 years DTaP or DTP , MMR , IPV  
11-12 years Td  
Source [ 1 ]

See also the section on common screening tests and their timing.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians:

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Contact Last modified: Jun 25 2002