One of the first lessons of parenting is to expect the unexpected. When planning for the arrival of a new baby, you probably don’t anticipate needing a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). However, if your baby is born prematurely or develops any complications after birth, comprehensive care is vital. Here’s why you should choose a hospital with a NICU.
Babies are exposed to thousands of germs each day. Although their immune systems protect against most harmful microorganisms, some can be severe or fatal. Vaccines strengthen your baby’s immune system so it can recognize and fight off dangerous diseases.
“Timely vaccination is vital because it helps provide your baby immunity before exposure to potentially life-threatening illnesses,” said Gopi Ponnaganti, M.D., a Nemours pediatrician and pediatric hospitalist at Inspira Medical Center Mullica Hill. “Vaccines go through rigorous testing to confirm their safety and effectiveness.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a vaccine schedule from birth that ensures your baby has protection from the following diseases by the time they are six years old:
- Haemophilus influenzae type b
- Hepatitis A and B
- Measles, mumps and rubella
- Pneumococcal disease
Vaccines for newborns and infants
Within 24 hours of birth, the CDC recommends that all babies get the first dose of HepB, which is the hepatitis B vaccine. “Hepatitis B can be asymptomatic, so infected individuals might unknowingly pass the disease onto others,” said Dr. Ponnaganti. “The vaccine reduces the risk of contracting hepatitis B, which can be a potentially serious illness.”
At 1 to 2 months old, your baby should receive their second dose of the hepatitis B vaccine. They should also receive their first dose of the following:
- DTaP shot, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis
- HiB shot, which protects against the harmful bacteria Haemophilus influenzae type b
- IPV, which protects against polio
- PCV13, which protects against pneumococcal disease
- RV, which protects against rotavirus
At their four-month and six-month checkups, your baby will receive second and third doses of these vaccines. Between 12 and 23 months, your pediatrician will administer additional doses according to the vaccine schedule.
Between 12 and 23 months, your baby should also receive their first dose of the following:
- HepA, which protects against hepatitis A
- Varicella shot, which protects against chickenpox
- MMR shot, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella
The CDC also recommends the flu shot each year in the fall, starting at 6 months. The flu vaccine reduces the risk of developing complicated cases of influenza, especially in babies and children younger than five.
Staying on track
“The immunization schedule is designed by the country’s top public health professionals to ensure optimal effectiveness,” said Dr. Ponnaganti. “By considering the development of your baby’s immune system and the likelihood of exposure to disease, it ensures your baby receives the protection they need.”
By following the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule, you can protect your baby from 14 harmful diseases by their second birthday. Talk to your health care provider about your questions and concerns.
Inspira offers pediatric emergency departments at Inspira Medical Centers Vineland and Mullica Hill in partnership with Nemours Children’s Health. Learn more about pediatric care.
Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.