Vaccines prevent disease and save lives

Vaccines work with the body's natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to a disease. Childhood vaccines offer life-saving protection from many very serious diseases, including those in the box below.

whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), hepatitis B, chickenpox (varicella), pneumococcal disease (including pneumonia), rotavirus, and hepatitis A.

Protect children through vaccination

Since diseases that can be prevented by vaccines are often more serious in young children, it is particularly important to vaccinate children in their first two years of life. However, it is important for people of all ages to receive recommended vaccines.

Vaccinating children not only protects them from serious diseases, but it also protects the health of the community. Making sure all vaccine-eligible children receive the full childhood immunization series protects people who are too young to be vaccinated and, in rare cases, who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or do not respond to vaccines. Vaccination can also help stop or slow the spread of disease outbreaks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes an annual schedule of recommended vaccines based on medical and public health data. The childhood schedule is approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). According to the schedule, young children should receive most recommended vaccines before 19 months of age, but school-age children need certain vaccines as well. See the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Immunization Schedules for Healthcare Providersweb page for more information about recommended vaccines.

What is being done about childhood vaccinations?

  • The MDH Immunization Program is Minnesota's leading public health resource for immunization and vaccine-preventable disease information. This program administers the Minnesota Vaccines for Children program to ensure affordable vaccinations for all children. The Immunization Program also provides education and training on vaccinations for the public and health care providers.
  • The Minnesota Immunization Information Connection(MIIC) is a confidential immunization information system operated by the MDH Immunization Program. MIIC electronically stores immunization records for Minnesota residents. It also offers tools to support immunization practice, monitoring, and improvement. MIIC is available to authorized users, such as health care providers, public health agencies, child care centers, and schools.
  • The School Immunization Law in Minnesota requires all students enrolled in grades kindergarten through 12 to show they have received certain immunizations or an exemption. Schools are required to report immunization data to MDH each year through the Annual Immunization Status Report (AISR).
  • CDC provides a wealth of immunization resources for the public and for health care providers (see Vaccines and Immunizations). In addition, CDC publishes an annual immunization schedule, administers the federal Vaccines for Children program, and provides funding and guidance to state immunization programs.

Where can I learn more about vaccinations for my child?

Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect their children from potentially harmful diseases. To learn more about vaccines and the diseases they prevent, check out the resources available on the following websites:

  • Immunization Basics
    MDH’s immunization website with immunization schedules, information about obtaining free or low cost vaccines, links to reliable sources of immunization information, immunization stories, and more.
  • For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children
    Information from the CDC on vaccinations needed at each age and resources for making vaccination decisions.
  • Vaccinate Your Baby
    News and information about immunizations, including videos of experts answering common questions about immunization.
  • For Health Care Providers
    Information from MDH on vaccinations needed at each age, forms, and resources.