An updated schedule of recommended children's vaccinations was published today in the journal Pediatrics, with the aim of simplifying the list of shots that kids need to stay healthy and avoid preventable diseases.
Gone are the old schedules, which covered children from birth through 6 years and then from 7 through 18 years. The new scheme has merged those into a single schedule, covering people ages 0 to 18.
The redesign was made necessary by the increasing complexity of the old schedules and the need for more space in the footnotes to elaborate on certain recommendations, authors from the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) infectious diseases committee wrote in Pediatrics.
The Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule has been approved by the AAP as well as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
The schedule features several changes from the 2012 edition, including the new recommendation that pregnant women or teens be given the combined tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination during each pregnancy to protect their infant from pertussis (whooping cough), even if they have previously had a Tdap shot.
"The rationale is that by vaccinating the mother during pregnancy, she'll make antibodies that will cross the placenta and pass to the baby," said H. Cody Meissner, a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center and a contributor to the statement. This will give infants protection "for the first few months of life, when they are too young" to get their own shots, he told USA Today.
In related news, the recommended schedule of vaccines for children was determined to be safe and doing much to dramatically lower the incidence of devastating illnesses, according to a new national scientific study.
"Vaccines are among the most effective and safe public health interventions to prevent serious disease and death. Because of the success of vaccines, most Americans have no firsthand experience with such devastating illnesses as polio or diphtheria," according to the Institute of Medicine's report titled, "The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies."
The Institute of Medicine is an independent, nonprofit group that is the health arm of the National Academy of Science.