The 16 vaccines routinely given to American children — and how long immunity lasts for each
- In the US, there is no hard-and-fast vaccination requirement for everyone.
- Most children are vaccinated against a slew of dangerous infectious diseases as babies.
Their advice? Get vaccinated — but only if you're vulnerable.
That said, it's not always so easy to know whether or not you've been vaccinated against a specific disease, or how long the vaccine protection you have may last.
While immigrants to the US are required to be vaccinated by federal law, there are no hard and fast rules for citizens, and no official records to reference if you're not sure of your vaccination status. Each US state also makes it own rules about vaccination for schoolkids and daycares.
Generally, these organizations — plus many US universities, hospitals, private employers, and summer camps that require some vaccines — follow the recommendations drawn up by an independent panel of disease experts who advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Using existing evidence, they drew up a guide to the best timing and dosage for all pediatric and adult vaccinations. This is the same panel that reviews new vaccines as they become available, and decides how they should be rolled out, based on scientific studies.
As of 2022, here are the 16 diseases that the ACIP recommends all US children and teens should be vaccinated against:
What if I'm not sure if I was vaccinated?
There's no national registry or database you can look to for your records, so "you need to rely on YOU" to keep track of the vaccinations you've had, as the non-profit Immunization Action Coalition reminds readers in a tipsheet on how to locate old immunization records.
If you've lost your vaccine records, a few good places to start searching include:
- Your house, or the house your grew up in (are your vaccine records buried in a drawer somewhere?)
- The doctor or clinic that gave you the vaccines
- Your state's immunization information system or state health department
- Your school (or college/university)
- Your former workplaces (including the US Military)
If, in the end, you're not sure whether you've had a certain vaccine or not, you may need to get some more shots.
There are blood tests available that can determine if you're immune to some diseases, while for others, booster doses are what's recommended for people who can't locate their vaccine records.
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