New, simpler childhood vaccine schedule

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(CNN) – Each year the vaccines children and adolescents should receive are updated to reflect any changes based on new research or new developments.

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians, published the latest edition.

The new vaccine schedule for children and adolescents has been consolidated into one comprehensive list from birth to age 18, rather than separating it into two different lists (ages 0 to 6 and 7 to 18 years of age) as it’s been done in previous years. The new schedule will also include an additional column that highlights which vaccines 4-to-6-year-olds and adolescents need.

Another big change applies to adolescent and adult women who are pregnant. It is now recommended that pregnant women receive a whooping cough (Tdap) shot in the second half of their pregnancy – during each pregnancy.

“After mom gets the booster dose during pregnancy number one, the immunity peaks and then wanes pretty quickly,” explains Meissner.

Still, some have suggested there are alternate ways to vaccinate children by either spacing out the vaccines or even dropping some.

“There is no “alternate” vaccine schedule,” says Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the infectious diseases division at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, co-inventor of a rotovirus vaccine and author of “Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All.” He says about 13% of parents are choosing not to vaccine or delay vaccinating their children and “that’s a dangerous thing to do” because the vaccine-preventable diseases can kill.

The 2013 vaccine schedule calls for vaccinating against 16 diseases: Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenzae type b (can cause meningitis, arthritis, pneumonia), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Human papillomavirus (HPV), Influenza (flu), measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), meningococcal (can cause meningitis, sepsis), pneumococcal (incl. ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis), Poliomyelitis (polio), rotavirus and varicella (chickenpox).

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