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The Smart Mom's Guide to Vaccines

You walk into the pediatrician's office with your smiling rosebud of a baby, but a few needle pricks later, you walk out with an armful of screaming human outrage.

There's a better way. We can't promise you that the numerous shots your child will get  -- most before she's 18 months old  -- won't be painful. They hurt. Nor can you wave a magic wand and prevent soreness, fever, or crankiness. But you can make it easier for your child at the doctor's office and especially at home when there are mild reactions  -- many of which may not feel so mild to your child (or to you). While the risk of serious adverse reactions is, fortunately, incredibly low  -- one in a million or less  -- solving these "minor" problems can mean the difference between a child who fears going to the doctor and one who actually likes it (or at least doesn't dread it!).

Here, the shots your child will need, and what to expect, age by age.


HepB. Most hospitals give it before discharge, often within hours of birth. This is the best guarantee of protection. (In rare circumstances, it can be delayed, but only with a physician's order and a copy of the mother's lab report showing that the mom is not a carrier.) Exception: Preemies under 4.4 pounds should wait until the 1-month checkup, unless the mother is a HepB carrier; they should get all their other vaccines on schedule at their actual age, not their gestational age.

HepB might cause
? In 1 in 11 babies: soreness where the shot was given that lasts a day or two
? 1 in 14: mild to moderate fever

When to call the doctor: Before you leave your pediatrician's office, ask her about any signs that mean you should contact her. That said, a temperature over 100.4°F (taken rectally) is considered a medical emergency in any infant under 3 months, but especially in a newborn. Your doctor may run tests to rule out an infection that is unrelated to the shot.