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Your baby’s first vaccines : what you need to know
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  • Alternative Title:
    Measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine
  • Description:
    1. Why get vaccinated? -- 2. Some children should not get certain vaccines -- 3. Risks of a vaccine reaction -- 4. What if there is a serious reaction? -- 5.The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program -- 6. How can I learn more?

    These vaccines can protect your baby from 7 childhood diseases:

    1. Diphtheria

    Signs and symptoms include a thick coating in the back of the throat that can make it hard to breathe.

    Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis and heart failure.

    • About 15,000 people died each year in the U.S. from diphtheria before there was a vaccine.

    2. Tetanus (Lockjaw)

    Signs and symptoms include painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body.

    Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw that can make it difficult to open the mouth or swallow.

    • Tetanus kills 1 person out of every 5 who get it.

    3. Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

    Signs and symptoms include violent coughing spells that can make it hard for an infant to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for several weeks.

    Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death.

    4. Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)

    Signs and symptoms can include fever, headache, stiff neck, cough, and shortness of breath. There might not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases.

    Hib can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart; brain damage; and deafness.

    • Before there was a vaccine, Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children under 5 years of age in the U.S.

    5. Hepatitis B

    Signs and symptoms include tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), and pain in muscles, joints and stomach. But usually there are no signs or symptoms at all.

    Hepatitis B can lead to liver damage, and liver cancer. Some people develop chronic (long term) hepatitis B infection. These people might not look or feel sick, but they can infect others.

    • Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer in 1 child out of 4 who are chronically infected.

    6. Polio

    Signs and symptoms can include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all.

    Polio can lead to permanent paralysis (can’t move an arm or leg, or sometimes can’t breathe) and death.

    • In the 1950s, polio paralyzed more than 15,000 people every year in the U.S.

    7. Pneumococcal Disease

    Signs and symptoms include fever, chills, cough, and chest pain.

    Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings), blood infections, ear infections, pneumonia, deafness, and brain damage.

    These diseases are much less common than they used to be. But the germs that cause them still exist, and even a disease that has almost disappeared will come back if we stop vaccinating. This has already happened in some parts of the world. When fewer babies get vaccinated, more babies get sick.

    Babies usually catch these diseases from other children or adults, who might not even know they are infected. A mother with Hepatitis B can infect her baby at birth. Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound; it is not spread from person to person.

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