Babies get a lot of vaccinations.

In fact, from birth through age 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends kids receive multiple doses of 11 different vaccines.

It seems like a lot, especially for such small people. But the shots prevent kids from serious illness or death from diseases like whooping cough, measles, tetanus and diphtheria.

Naturally, parents often have questions about the shots. Below, Julie Holland, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Endeavor Health, answers some FAQs about childhood vaccines.

Dr. Holland also serves as the Vice President of Pediatric Primary Care for the Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance, a partnership between Endeavor Health, Advocate Children’s Hospital and University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital.

Q. What vaccines are required for infants and toddlers?

A. The CDC, backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other physician organizations, promotes a vaccination schedule that protects against chickenpox, diphtheria, Hib (a bacteria that can cause meningitis), hepatitis A and B, measles, mumps, influenza, polio, pneumococcus (a bacteria causing ear and bloodstream infections and pneumonia) rotavirus, rubella, tetanus and whooping cough.

Q. Can my infant/toddler’s body handle that many inoculations?

A. Yes. Babies encounter thousands of antigens — foreign substances that stimulate the body’s immune response — every day as they interact with their environment. Vaccines contain only a tiny, but specific amount of antigens children need to withstand vaccine-preventable disease.

Q. Why should I follow CDC vaccination guidelines?

A. These guidelines protect children early-on when they are most vulnerable to diseases with serious health implications, including death. It’s clear that delaying vaccines puts children at risk for contracting one of these diseases.

Q. Are there children who should not receive vaccines?

A. Nearly all children can be safely vaccinated. Some of the very rare exceptions include children with weakened immune systems from chronic illness, cancer and chemotherapy treatment, or allergies to specific ingredients within the vaccine. Discuss these cases with your pediatrician.

Q. What are the overall benefits of childhood vaccines?

A. Vaccines are one of the most successful public health interventions in human history. Diseases that once threatened the lives of children (and adults) have been nearly eradicated in the U.S. Unfortunately, the success we’ve realized in eliminating disease has persuaded some people to believe that vaccination is no longer necessary. But as we’ve learned from recent measles outbreaks that’s not the case, and vaccinations are still a crucial part of protecting the public’s health.

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