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Childhood Immunizations

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What immunizations does my child need?

  • ​Every province and territory has different recommendations for children’s immunizations. Immunizations protect against diseases (give immunity​) or make a disease less severe if children get it. This information outlines the immunizations that children need from birth until they’re 18 years old. To learn more about the routine immunization schedule in Alberta, go to Immunize Alberta​.
  • If your baby was premature, follow the same schedule for immunizations as a full term baby.
  • More than 1 dose is often needed for many immunizations, which are given at different times.
  • Although your child might not need to restart the series if a scheduled dose is missed, book the immunization as soon as you can. Talk to a public health nurse if your child missed an immunization or to find out more about immunizations.

Alberta Immunization Information

Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccine

  • There are 2 types of vaccines for chicken p​ox. There is a:
    • combination vaccine called MMRV that’s available in Alberta and may be given instead of the chickenpox vaccine. This vaccine protects your child from chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella and it’s all together in one injection.
    • vaccine that protects against chickenpo​x​ only
  • ​Children get one dose if they’re 1 year old. Another dose is given when they’re between 4 and 6 years old.

Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Vaccine

  • This immunization protects children from diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough​ (pertussis).
  • All children get 6 doses. They’re given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months, and between 4 and 6 years of age. The last dose is given to teens when they’re 14 to 16 years old.
  • The first 4 doses include polio and Hib vaccines.

Influenza (Flu) Vaccine

  • This immunization helps protect against influenza. Influenza viruses change each year, so the flu vaccine needs to be given every year.
  • The influenza vaccine is strongly recommended once a year for anyone older than 6 months. It’s really important for people who are high risk for flu complications, which includes:
    • children between 6 months and 5 years old
    • children 2 years or older with some medical problems (e.g., asthma​​, heart problems, lung problems, or a weak immune system)
    • anyone who lives with or cares for children 5 years old or younger
    • anyone who lives with or cares for children 2 years or older who are high risk for influenza complications
  • Healthy children 2 years and older may be able to get the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine (FluMist™​​) instead of the injection. Both forms protect people for up to a year.​
Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) Vaccine
  • This immunization protects against a bacteria that can cause an infection in the lungs (pneumonia​), the covering of the brain (meningitis​), skin and bones, and other serious illnesses in young children. It doesn’t protect from the type of influenza that’s caused by viruses.
  • Children need 3 or 4 doses of this vaccine. The injections are given between 2 months and 18 months of age.
  • Children older than 5 years with some health problems might also need this immunization.
  • This immunization can be given with other vaccines (e.g., diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio).

Hepatitis B Vaccine

  • This immunization protects against hepatitis B disease.
  • If a pregnant woman tests positive for hepatitis B, her baby will get this immunization within 12 hours of childbirth. Other doses are given at 6 to 12 months of age, depending on which type of vaccine was used.
  • Children who haven’t been immunized for hepatitis B as babies will be offered this immunization in Grade 5. It’s 3 doses, which are given over 6 months.

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine

  • This immunization protects against measles​, mumps​, and rubella​ disease.
  • One type of MMR vaccine (MMRV) also protects children from chickenpox (varicella).
  • Children are given one dose at 1 year of age and a second dose between 4 and 6 years of age.

Meningococcal Vaccine

  • This immunization protects against meningitis​ and blood infections (sepsis).
  • Babies get this vaccine in 2 doses. The first is given when they’re 4 months old and the second when they’re 1 year old.
  • Children between 1 and 4 years of ​​age only get 1 dose. It might also be given to children 5 years and older who haven’t been immunized.
  • Children 2 years and older who are high risk (e.g., damaged or missing spleen, weak immune system) for getting and having problems from meningitis need another type of this vaccine.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

  • This immunization protects against meningitis, blood infections (sepsis​), pneumonia, and ear infections.
  • Children need 3 doses of this vaccine. They are given at 2 months, 4 months, and 1 year of age. An extra dose may be given at 6 months of age if a child has some types of medical problems.

Polio Vaccine

  • This immunization protects against polio disease.
  • Children get 5 doses. They’re given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18 months, and between 4 and 6 years.
  • The first 4 doses can be given with some other vaccines.

Rotavirus Vaccine

  • This immunization protects against rotavirus infection​, which causes severe diarrhea. Rotavirus is common in children younger than 5 years old. It’s most common in children between 6 months and 2 years of age.
  • The rotavirus vaccine is recommended for children between 6 weeks and 32 weeks of age. It’s given by mouth. The first dose is given before the child is 20 weeks of age. In Alberta, it’s a 2 dose series (2 months and 4 months of age). There is another vaccine that protects against rotavirus that’s given as a 3 dose series (2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age).

Other Immunizations

  • Your child's doctor or public health nurse may recommend other immunizations, depending on your child’s health.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

  • This immunization protects against hepatitis A disease.
  • It’s recommended for anyone 1 year or older who is travelling to or living in a place where there’s an increased risk for hepatitis A.
  • You have to pay for this vaccine. Check with your health insurance provider about your coverage.

Things to Think About

  • People need more than 1 dose for most immunizations, which are given at different times. If your child misses a dose in any immunization series, get it as soon as you can. Ask your healthcare provider or public health nurse for more information about what immunizations your child needs.
  • If your child gets combination vaccines, it means fewer injections are needed and there are no delays between different types of immunizations. For example Pentacel® contains vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and Haemophilus Influenzae type b.

Keeping Good Records

  • It’s important to keep accurate records of immunizations, including reactions to vaccines. When your child starts day care or school, you might need to show these records. Your child might also need these records later on for university, work, or travel.
  • Know when immunizations are needed and put reminders on your calendar or in your phone. Ask your doctor to review your child's immunization records at appointments.
  • Keep the record in a safe place, and don’t throw it away. It’s important for your child's lifelong medical records.

Immunization Safety

  • If your child is sick (e.g., cough, cold) or taking medicine, immunizations can usually still be given. If you have questions about this, call Health Link at 811. Your child’s doctor or public health nurse will tell you if you need to delay an immunization.
  • Some parents think that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism​. People talk a lot about MMR vaccine and autism​ and there are lots of stories on the Internet and in the media. Research shows that there is no link between autism and the MMR vaccine.​​​

Current as of: June 10, 2015

Author: Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services