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About Pediatric Immunizations

What are immunizations?

Immunizations are medicines (called vaccines) given to a person to begin a chain of events to help their body make an internal army to fight off germs that could otherwise cause them to get sick.

Why are immunizations important?

Immunizations are one of the safest and most effective ways to prevent people from getting sick. Before vaccines, children were at great risk for developing terrible illnesses which could sometimes result in death. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, before vaccines parents could expect that every year:

Polio would paralyze 10,000 children,
Measles would infect about 4 million children, killing 3,000,
Diphtheria would be the most common cause of death in school-aged children,
Rubella would cause birth defects and developmental delays in as many as 20,000 newborns,
Whooping cough (pertussis) would kill thousands of infants, and
Hib, a bacterium, would cause meningitis in about 15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage.

How many children are immunized each year in Maine?

About nine out of 10 Maine children receive some of the vaccines experts recommend. Most get all the vaccines but only 65 out of 100 get their flu vaccine. For a list of vaccines suggested for your child, visit our recommended immunizations page.

How are immunizations given?

Most immunizations are given as an injection or shot.  The polio shot is a liquid taken through the baby’s mouth like food.

What do parents need to remember after their baby has been immunized?

As you should at any time, call your child’s pediatrician if your baby develops a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher.  Wash your hands after you change your baby. Your baby may be carrying germs that could be passed on to you or someone else in your family. For more common side effects visit or explore our immunization resources page.

Information reviewed by Dr. Amy Belisle, MD, of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services

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