Each year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers (ACIP) for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), issues a new childhood and adolescent immunization schedule.
While the new immunization schedule sometimes means new shots, like when Prevnar was added to the schedule in 2001 or when Menactra was added in 2007, other times we see more modest changes.
The release of the "Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule - United States, 2013," which will be published in the February issue of Pediatrics, does include several new changes, but most won't affect the average child.
Among the changes are:
- a recommendation that pregnant teens and adults get a Tdap vaccine with each pregnancy, no matter how many years it has been since their previous dose. This will hopefully protect newborns and younger infants from pertussis, at a time when they are most at risk and aren't fully protected from their own pertussis vaccines.
- clarifications for which high-risk children should get the Prevnar 13 vaccine and Pneumococcal 23 vaccine.
- addition of the new MenHibrix vaccine that should be given to certain high-risk children that are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.
The biggest change though is that the 2013 immunization schedule has undergone a full redesign "due to the complexity of the schedules." The latest immunization schedule combines previous separated immunization schedules for children younger and older than age 7 years into a single schedule that will hopefully be easier to follow.
The release of the schedule each year is also a good reminder to get your child's vaccines up-to-date.