Vaccines protect your child from serious and deadly diseases. Mothers give their baby short term protection against some diseases before birth; however, as babies grow they need protection against more diseases. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body's natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to the disease. By following the recommended childhood immunization schedule, your child will be protected against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases by age two. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions and check to make sure your child is up-to-date on all their vaccinations. More information about reasons to vaccinate.
Vaccines are very safe and effective in preventing serious diseases. Vaccines, like any other medicine, can have side effects. Many people who get vaccines have no side effects at all. Some people report having very mild side effects, like a sore arm from a shot. The most common side effects are usually mild. Common side effects can include: pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, fever, or headache. More information about vaccine safety.
Recommended Immunization Schedule
Infant and Child Vaccines
Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine protects your child against hepatitis B disease. Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease and the infection can range from a very mild illness to a serious condition requiring hospitalization. All babies should get the first shot of hepatitis B vaccine before they leave the hospital to reduce the risk of getting the disease from the mom or family members. Some people may not know they are infected with hepatitis B. This vaccine is a one time series of three doses. Learn more about the hepatitis B vaccine.
Rotavirus (RV) Vaccine
The rotavirus vaccine protects your child against rotavirus. Rotavirus causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration (loss of body fluid), which can be very dangerous, especially for babies and young children. The vaccine is a one time series of either two or three doses (depending on the brand of vaccine). Learn more about the rotavirus vaccine.
Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTaP) Vaccine
The DTaP vaccine protects your child against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Diphtheria can cause a thick covering in the back of the nose or throat that can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure and paralysis. Tetanus can cause painful muscle stiffness and lockjaw. Pertussis (whopping cough) is a highly contagious disease that can cause violent coughing and often makes it hard to breathe. This vaccine is a one time series of five doses. Learn more about diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine.
The hib vaccine protects your child against a serious illness caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae type b. The most common type of Hib disease is meningitis. This is an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. Hib disease can also cause throat swelling and joint, skin, lung and bone infection. This vaccine is a one time series of 4 doses. Learn more about the hib vaccine.
Pneumococcal (PCV) Vaccine
The pneumococcal vaccine protects your child against pneumococcal disease. There are many types of pneumococcal disease and symptoms depend on the part of the body that is infected. Pneumococcal pneumonia (lung infection) is the most common serious form. This vaccine is a one times series of four doses. Learn more about the pneumococcal vaccine.
Polio (IPV) Vaccine
The polio vaccine protects your child against poliovirus. Poliovirus is very contagious and spreads through contact with the stool of an infected person and droplets from a sneeze or cough. Poliovirus can cause lifelong paralysis. This vaccine is a one time series of four doses. Learn more about the polio vaccine.
Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) Vaccine
The MMR vaccine protects your child against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella. Measles is a serious respiratory disease that causes a rash and fever. Measles spreads when an infected person breaths, coughs or sneezes. Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. There is no treatment for mumps, and it can cause long-term health problems. Rubella “German measles” is a disease caused by a virus. The infection is usually mild with a fever and a rash. This vaccine is a one time series of two doses. Learn more about the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine.
Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine
The varicella vaccine protects your child against chickenpox disease. Chickenpox can cause a itchy rash of blisters and a fever. Chickenpox can be serious and even life-threatening for babies, adults and people with weakened immune systems. This vaccine is a one time series of two doses. Learn more about the varicella vaccine.
Hepatitis A Vaccine
The hepatitis A vaccine protects your child against the hepatitis A virus. Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease and is transmitted through person-to-person contact or through contaminated food and water. This vaccine is a one time series of two doses. Learn more about the hepatitis A vaccine.
The influenza or "flu" vaccine protects your child against influenza viruses. Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of influenza infection can result in hospitalization or death. Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to get a vaccine. This vaccine is administered annually. Learn more about the influenza vaccine.
Additional Vaccine Information
Paying for Vaccines
All children in Montana are eligible to receive low or no cost vaccines through their health plan or the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC). The VFC program provides vaccines for children in Montana ages 18 years and younger, who are uninsured, Medicaid-eligible, American Indian or Alaska Native. Learn more about the VFC Program.
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