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August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Learn about vaccines so you can make the best choice for your kids.

Learn which vaccines you should get for your kids.

Everything You Need to Know about Vaccines

Keeping up with vaccines is not always easy, particularly if you live in a household with family members of different ages. Vaccination needs can also change quickly if there’s an outburst of a disease.

These days, however, figuring out who needs to get vaccinated, when and where is as easy as visiting, the federal government’s centralized portal for everything related to vaccines. The portal recently launched a Spanish-language version of the site.

"Vaccinations protect you but also protect family members and the community, and this website will help everybody get answers to some of the most basic questions about vaccines," said Guillermo Avilés-Mendoza, a Public Health Advisor to the National Vaccine Program Office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Useful Information about Vaccines

The site offers information about vaccines from a practical and useful perspective. You’ll find, for example, vaccination calendars, explanations on how vaccines work and resources on which vaccines you need to take before going abroad.

In addition, you can:

  • Read about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.
  • Learn which diseases are preventable through vaccines.
  • Become familiar with the many acronyms and abbreviations surrounding vaccinations.

"It’s a place where you can find practical and useful tools," said Guillermo Avilés-Mendoza.

Who Needs to Get Vaccinated and When

It’s a myth that vaccinations are only for children, pregnant women and senior citizens. In fact, every year thousands of adults get vaccinated against flu. There are different factors that determine if you need to get vaccinated, including your age, lifestyle, medical conditions and the places you visit. You might also want to get vaccinated if there’s an outburst of a particular disease, like whooping cough.

Dozens of people died during an outbreak in 2010, most of them children under the age of one who couldn’t get vaccinated because they were too young. That’s why the federal government recommends that 11 or 12 year-olds get a booster of whooping cough vaccine, and that all adults get vaccinated against the whooping cough and get a booster every 10 years.

"The vaccine protects the person who took it, but also those who can’t get vaccinated, such as small children and people with weak immune systems," said Avilés-Mendoza.

Find out who needs to get vaccinated and when.

Where to Get Vaccinated

Vaccinations are available in many places, from your doctor’s office and hospitals to pharmacies, churches and even schools and colleges. And many insurance companies cover the cost of vaccines. But what if you don’t have insurance?

You can always get vaccinated at the many community clinics funded by the federal government across the country. These clinics offer low cost vaccinations, so you pay what you are able to afford. has a community clinic locator. Just type in your ZIP code.

"These clinics are great because they also offer other types of services such as prenatal care, dental and mental health services," said Avilés-Mendoza.

Keep Your Child’s Immunizations Up-to-Date

If your child is heading back to school soon, make sure his or her immunization shots and vaccines are up-to-date. Each state has its own requirements, and your child’s school may require documentation of immunization records. Depending on the state, children could need to be vaccinated against mumps, measles, tetanus or other diseases. If you have questions, schedule plenty of time to ask your healthcare provider, doctor or school for answers. If your child doesn’t have the proper vaccinations and documentation, he or she may not be allowed to attend school.

Children under 6:

Children under the age of 6 are more likely to contract a disease or the flu than older children. All children in this age group should get a seasonal flu shot, as well as other shots as recommended by their doctor. Before entering school, it is the parent’s job and responsibility to find out which shots are required. Failure to get the proper immunizations and vaccinations could lead to health problems for your child and others in your family and community.

Children 7-18:

Older children need vaccinations also. They should still get a yearly flu shot to protect themselves from possibly contagious students at school. Once your child reaches this age, your school and state will have specific requirements in order to attend school. Other pre-teen and teen shots like HPV and tetanus are usually recommended.

Learn more from the CDC about what immunizations are required for your children: