Essential Vaccines by Age Group


As outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases grow, it is important to review vaccination recommendations by age group.

Earlier this year the World Health Organization (WHO) released a list of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Infectious diseases including Ebola, dengue, and influenza topped the list, but vaccine hesitancy was also mentioned as a serious threat could lead to the re-emergence of infectious diseases that were previously eliminated.

We are now 8 months into 2019 and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases including measles, mumps, and hepatitis A have sprung up across the United States. These outbreaks have proven to be difficult to control and have consumed public health resources in affected areas.

August has been designated National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In commemoration of NIAM, Contagion® has organized a list of essential vaccines by age group, as recommended by the CDC.

Infants and Toddlers (Birth to 2 Years):

  • Hepatitis B vaccine: The first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine should be administered during an infant’s first 12 hours of life, as mothers can unknowingly pass on the virus during birth. Three doses of the vaccine are needed in total, the second dose should be administered at 1 through 2 months of age and the second dose should be received at 6 through 18 months.
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine: Four doses of the DTaP vaccine are recommended during the infant and toddler years. Vaccinations should be given at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 15 through 18 months.
  • Pneumococcal (PCV13) vaccine: The PCV13 vaccine protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. During early childhood, 4 doses of the vaccine are recommended at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, and 12 through 15 months.
  • Polio (IPV) vaccine: The inactivated polio vaccine is administered in 3 doses during first 2 years of life at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 through 18 months.
  • Haemophilius influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine: There are multiple Hib vaccine brands available. Some vaccines require 3 doses, while others require 4. Doses are typically recommended at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months (if needed depending on brand), and 12 through 15 months.
  • Rotavirus (RV) vaccine: Two RV vaccines are approved for use. If Rotarix is selected, 2 doses at 2 months and 4 months are administered. For the RotaTeq vaccine, 3 doses are recommended at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months.
  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine: Children should receive the first dose of the varicella vaccine at 12 through 14 months.
  • Hepatitis A vaccine: The hepatitis A vaccine requires 2 doses for long-lasting protection. The first dose should be administered at 12 through 23 months with a second dose recommended 6 months following first dose. “Since 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that all children in the USA receive the hepatitis A vaccine,” Donald Jensen, MD, FACP, FAASLD, a professor of medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, told Contagion®. “Making it mandatory certainly raises the likelihood of broad immunity. That said, children rarely have serious outcomes with hepatitis A, so the vaccination of children is largely to produce a generation of later-protected adults.”
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine: Health officials typically recommend that 1 dose of MMR be administered at 12 through 15 months, with a second dose given later on in childhood. However, infants 6 through 11 months old should have 1 dose of MMR vaccine prior to traveling abroad.
  • Influenza vaccine: Children should receive a seasonal flu shot each year by the end of October, beginning at 6 months of age.

Preschool and Elementary School Years (Age 3 through 10 Years):

  • DTaP vaccine: The fifth dose of the DTaP should be given at 4 through 6 years in order to protect children from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis throughout childhood.
  • IPV vaccine: The fourth and final dose of the polio vaccine should be administered at 4 through 6 years.
  • Varicella vaccine: To protect against the chicken pox, a second dose of the varicella vaccine should be received at 4 through 6 years.
  • MMR vaccine: A second dose of the MMR vaccine should be given to children at 4 through 6 years.
  • Influenza vaccine: A seasonal flu shot is recommended each year by end of October.

Preteen and Teen Years (Ages 11 through 18 years):

  • Meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccine: The MenACWY protects against meningococcal disease caused by serogroups A, C, W, and Y. Two doses are recommended, the first at 11 through 12 years and the second at 16 years.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine: The HPV vaccine can prevent infection with types of HPV that are associated with certain cancers. The first dose of the vaccine is recommended at 11 through 12 years and a second dose should be given 6-12 months following the first dose. However, if the vaccination series is started after a child’s 15th birthday, 3 doses should be given over 6 months. "I think the biggest take-home message for this is we have a safe and effective vaccine that can prevent cancer that has been recommended for use for over a dozen years in the [United States],” Robert A. Bednarczyk, PhD, assistant professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, told Contagion®. “That information should really be reassuring for parents."
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine: To protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis throughout adolescence, 1 dose of the Tdap vaccine should be given at 11 through 12 years.
  • Serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine: The MenB vaccines can help prevent meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B. The vaccines may be given to anyone 16 to 23 years to provide short term protection. For best protection more than 1 dose of the vaccine is needed. "Invasive meningococcal disease is rare but extremely serious. Serogroup B is the most common strain affecting adolescents and young adults, and college students appear to be at higher risk than those not attending college. The routine MenACWY shot that adolescents receive at 11-12 and 16 years of age does not protect against MenB. Adolescents should know about MenB disease and about the availability of MenB vaccines, and they should discuss vaccination with their primary care providers,” Gary S. Marshall, MD, professor of pediatrics, and chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, at University of Louisville School of Medicine, told Contagion®.
  • Influenza vaccine: A seasonal flu shot is recommended each year by end of October.


  • Tdap vaccine: Pregnant women should receive a dose of the Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy to protect their newborn from pertussis.
  • Influenza vaccine: A seasonal flu shot is recommended each year by end of October.

Into Adulthood:

  • Tetanus diphtheria (Td) booster vaccine: Adults require a booster shot every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria.
  • Herpes Zoster vaccine: Healthy adults over 50 years should receive a herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine.
  • PCV13 and pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23) vaccine: Adults 65 years or older should receive 1 dose of PCV13 vaccine followed by 1 dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23) vaccine to protect against pneumococcal bacteria.
  • Influenza vaccine: A seasonal flu shot is recommended each year by end of October.
  • *Additional vaccines may be necessary based on health conditions, job, or travel habits
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