Vaccine Resources

Vaccine Resources | Common Vaccines and Diseases They Prevent

Common Vaccines and the Diseases They Prevent

Many parents understand the importance of vaccinations. However, because some diseases have been held in check for so long by vaccines, parents may not be familiar with the names of the illnesses and their potential consequences. Here’s a quick refresher on the most common immunizations your child will receive at his or her well-check visits and the diseases they prevent:

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DTaP Vaccination

Protects your child against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as whooping cough). Diphtheria can cause heart failure, pneumonia, paralysis and airway obstruction. Contracting tetanus can lead to serious muscle contractions and impede breathing. Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease, which is most dangerous for babies younger than 1 year old. The FDA licensed the DTaP vaccination in 1991.

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MMR (measles mumps rubella) Vaccination

Keeps your child safe from the measles, mumps and rubella. The measles can cause mild symptoms such as fever, rash, eye irritability, cough and runny nose – or more serious implications such as pneumonia, brain damage, seizures and sometimes death.  Contracting mumps can lead to meningitis, swollen ovaries or testicles, deafness, and sometimes death. The side effects of rubella are typically mild, but it can cause serious birth defects for a baby in utero. In 1971, the three vaccines became available.

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HepA Vaccination

Immunizes your child from hepatitis A, which is a viral infection that manifests in and can damage the liver. People get hepatitis A from contaminated food and water or from close contact with someone who has the infection. The vaccine has been on the childhood immunization schedule since 1994.

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HepB Vaccination

Protects your child from hepatitis B virus infection. Hepatitis B can range from a mild illness to a lifelong disease – and even lead to death.  It manifests as a liver disease. This has been a part of the childhood immunization schedule since 1994.  

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MCV4 (meningococcal) Vaccination

Protects your child from four varieties of the meningococcal bacteria, which can cause bacterial meningitis, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, ear infections and arthritis. In serious cases, it can cause brain damage, hearing loss, amputation of a limb, or even death. The vaccine has been on the childhood immunization schedule since 2005.

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Meningococcal B Vaccination

Protects your child against Type B meningococcus, which causes all the same diseases listed for MCV4. Testing of a vaccine that adds meningococcus B to the MCV4 vaccine is underway, and an MCV5 vaccine may be available in the near future.

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Influenza Vaccination

Immunizes your child from the seasonal flu, which is a highly contagious respiratory illness.  While the majority of flu cases are mild and can be treated at home, the flu can have serious implications. Approximately 100 to 200 children in the U.S. die from influenza each year. The flu vaccine was added to the childhood immunization schedule in 2004.

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Hib (Haemophilus influenza B) Vaccination

Keeps your child safe from many diseases, including meningitis, pneumonia, cellulitis (skin infection), septic arthritis (joint infection) and epiglottis (closing of the windpipe). Before the Hib vaccine existed, over 20,000 children in the U.S. would have serious or fatal cases each year. Haemophilus influenza B was the most common cause of meningitis prior to the vaccine. The first vaccine was introduced in 1985.

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IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) Vaccination

Protects your child from polio, a viral infection that can cause breathing problems, paralysis and sometimes death. The oral vaccine, developed at Cincinnati Children’s by Albert Sabin, MD, was licensed in 1962. Since then, reports of polio have dropped from 350,000 cases worldwide in 1988 to just 22 cases in 2017.

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Rotavirus Vaccination

Immunizes your child against rotavirus, a cause of vomiting and severe diarrhea that often leads to serious dehydration and hospitalization. When the most recent version of the vaccine, Rotarix, was introduced in 2008, an estimated 55,000 hospitalizations were avoided that year alone.

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Varicella (chickenpox) Vaccination

Protects your child from chickenpox, which is a highly contagious viral infection that manifests as an itchy skin rash and full-body blisters. While many people have these mild symptoms, others develop more serious complications such as brain infection and pneumonia. In 1995, the chickenpox vaccine was licensed for use.

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PCV13 (pneumococcal 13) Vaccination

Immunizes your child against pneumococcal bacteria, which is responsible for many diseases – including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, meningitis, sinusitis and middle ear infections. The pneumococcal vaccine has been on the immunization schedule since 2001.

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HPV (human papillomavirus) Vaccination

Both girls and boys should receive the human papillomavirus vaccine, starting at 11 years old, or as early as age 9. HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer as well as rectal, penile and mouth cancers. The human papillomavirus is an extremely contagious disease that infects approximately 80% of adult men and women in the U.S., many of whom do not know they have the virus. Both men and women are affected by cancers and warts caused by HPV. It can take years or even decades for cancers to develop after an HPV infection, so a vaccine is the best prevention. The vaccine has been available since 2006.


Reviewed January 2021 by Robert Frenck, MD, director of the Gamble Vaccine Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s; and Mary Carol Burkhardt, MD, Cincinnati Children’s associate division director, Primary Care, Division of General and Community Pediatrics, and medical director of Hopple Street Health Center.