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Vaccines for Infants and Children
In 1983, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) published the first immunization schedule for children. At that time, the immunization schedule was relatively simple. During the 1990s, the childhood schedule became more complex as new immunizations became available. Over the past decade, the addition of new vaccines, such as varicella, pneumococcal conjugate and rotavirus vaccines, and changes to existing vaccines, such as polio, has made it increasingly more difficult for providers and parents to stay abreast of childhood immunization recommendations.
Beginning in 1995, the ACIP, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians began publishing an annual childhood immunization schedule.
The recommended childhood and adolescent immunization schedules contain several important messages. The importance of the birth dose of hepatitis B is emphasized, and the use of new combination vaccines is clarified. Recommendations are for all adolescents to receive tetanus, diphtheria and a cellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) and meningococcal vaccine (MCV4), and for all adolescent girls to receive human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Recommendations for the influenza vaccine have been broadened to include all children 6 months through 18 years of age.
Using the recommended childhood and adolescent immunization schedules in daily practice can be tricky. Fortunately, the Immunization Action Coalition provides a helpful summary of the current immunization recommendations.
To stay abreast of new recommendations and to promote timely immunization of children, providers should post copies of the current year’s immunization schedule in workstation areas and in patient exam rooms.