Vaccination Schedule for Babies and Toddlers: Everything You Need to Know

With immune systems still developing, children and toddlers are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases. Vaccinations are a crucial aspect of infant and toddler healthcare. Here’s an easy schedule that you can follow for your little one.

By Simran
22 Mar 2023

Vaccinations provide immunity against a range of diseases and help protect your child's health. However, with so many vaccines available, keeping track of the recommended schedule can be confusing. We spoke to Dr. Prashanth S Urs, Senior Consultant Neonatology & Pediatrics at Apollo Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, Bengaluru to create a vaccination schedule for babies and toddlers.


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Importance of Vaccinations For Babies And Toddlers

1. Vaccines prevent severe illness and death

Vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing serious illnesses in babies and toddlers. For example, before the introduction of the measles vaccine, measles was one of the leading causes of death among young children worldwide. Today, thanks to the widespread use of the measles vaccine, measles-related deaths have been reduced by 79 per cent between 2000 and 2019, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).


2. Vaccines protect against multiple diseases

Vaccines protect against a range of infectious diseases that can be particularly dangerous for babies and toddlers. For example, the recommended childhood vaccine schedule includes vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). By protecting against these diseases, vaccines help to be children healthy and reduce the risk of serious illness.


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3. Vaccines prevent outbreaks of disease

When enough people in a community are vaccinated against a disease, it becomes much harder for that disease to spread. This is known as herd immunity, and it helps protect vulnerable individuals who are unable to get vaccinated, such as those with weakened immune systems. For example, India's fight against polio was a long and challenging one. In 1985, the Indian government launched its first polio vaccination campaign, but it was not until 2009 that the country was declared polio-free. This achievement was the result of a massive vaccination drive that involved millions of healthcare workers, volunteers, and government officials.

The vaccine played a crucial role in preventing outbreaks of the disease. By vaccinating millions of children every year, India was able to interrupt the transmission of the poliovirus, reducing the number of new cases significantly. The vaccine not only protects children from the disease but also prevents the virus from spreading to others in the community, ultimately leading to the elimination of polio from India.


4. Vaccines are safe and well-tested

Vaccines are rigorously tested for safety and effectiveness before they are approved for use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that vaccines are among the safest medical products available, with many years of testing and monitoring for safety. While some people may experience mild side effects from vaccines, serious side effects are extremely rare.


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How Vaccines Work To Prevent Diseases

First, let's understand what vaccines are. Vaccines are biological preparations that stimulate the immune system to produce a protective response against a specific pathogen or infectious agent. They contain either dead or weakened versions of the pathogen or specific proteins that mimic the pathogen's surface.

When a vaccine is injected into the body, it triggers an immune response by activating immune cells such as B cells and T cells. B cells are responsible for producing antibodies, which are specialised proteins that bind to the pathogen and neutralise it. T cells, on the other hand, play a role in destroying infected cells and providing long-lasting immunity.

Once the immune system has been exposed to the vaccine, it produces a memory response. Memory B cells and T cells remain in the body, ready to quickly recognise and respond to the pathogen if it enters the body in the future. This means that if the person is later exposed to the actual pathogen, their immune system can quickly produce the antibodies and T cells needed to neutralise it before it can cause harm.


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Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to produce a protective response against specific pathogens. They help the body build immunity to these pathogens without causing the disease itself. This helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases and ultimately saves lives. It is important to get vaccinated according to recommended schedules to ensure maximum protection against these diseases.


Common Misconceptions About Vaccines

Vaccines have been one of the most effective public health interventions in human history. Despite their overwhelming success, there are still many misconceptions and myths about vaccines that persist today. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common misconceptions about vaccines and provide accurate information to help you make informed decisions about your health.

Misconception: Vaccines can cause autism.

One of the most persistent and damaging myths about vaccines is that they can cause autism. This myth originated from a now-discredited study by Andrew Wakefield published in 1998. Wakefield claimed that the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine was linked to autism, but subsequent studies have found no such link. In fact, the original study was retracted, and Wakefield was stripped of his medical licence for falsifying data and conducting unethical research.

Fact: Multiple studies have found no link between vaccines and autism. The scientific consensus is that vaccines are safe and do not cause autism.


Misconception: Natural immunity is better than vaccine-induced immunity.

Some people believe that natural immunity, acquired through contracting a disease and recovering, is superior to vaccine-induced immunity. They argue that vaccines can weaken the immune system or cause long-term harm.

Fact: Natural immunity can come at a high cost. Vaccines are designed to stimulate the immune system without causing disease. Contracting the disease can lead to serious complications and even death. Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect against diseases without the risks associated with natural infection.


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Misconception: Vaccines are not necessary because diseases have been eradicated.

Thanks to vaccines, many infectious diseases that once caused widespread illness and death have been eradicated or are now rare. Some people argue that vaccines are no longer necessary because the diseases they protect against are no longer prevalent.

Fact: Vaccines are still necessary to prevent outbreaks and protect vulnerable populations. Even if a disease has been eradicated in one part of the world, it can still exist in other regions and transfer across borders through travel. The resurgence of diseases like measles in recent years is a reminder of the importance of vaccination.


Misconception: Vaccines contain harmful ingredients.

Some people are concerned about the ingredients in vaccines, such as thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative) or aluminium. They believe these ingredients can cause harm, such as neurological damage.

Fact: The safety of vaccine ingredients has been extensively studied, and they have been deemed safe. Thimerosal is no longer used in most vaccines, and even when it was, the amount of mercury it contained was extremely minimal and not harmful. Aluminium is commonly found in many foods and is also safe in the amounts used in vaccines.


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Misconception: Vaccines can cause the disease they are meant to prevent.

Another common myth is that vaccines can actually cause the disease they are intended to prevent. Some people believe that getting vaccinated can actually make them sick.

Fact: Vaccines cannot cause the disease they are intended to prevent. They are made from weakened or dead versions of the disease-causing virus or bacteria, or from parts of the virus or bacteria. These components are not strong enough to cause the disease but are enough to stimulate the immune system to create immunity.


Recommended Vaccination Schedule For Babies And Toddlers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a recommended vaccination schedule for children from birth to 18 years old. The schedule is based on extensive research and clinical studies, and it is designed to provide the best protection against serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. The recommended schedule includes a series of vaccinations given at specific ages, starting at birth and continuing through toddlerhood.

Here's a detailed timeline of when each vaccine is recommended for babies and toddlers:

Baby Immunization Schedule Table (based on IAPCOI recommendations)


Age Vaccine


BCG, Hep B1, OPV

6 weeks

DTwP /DTaP1, Hib-1, IPV-1, Hep B2, PCV 1,Rota-1

10 weeks

DTwP /DTaP2, Hib-2, IPV-2, Hep B3, PCV 2, Rota-2

14 Weeks

DTwP /DTaP3, Hib-3, IPV-3, Hep B4, PCV 3, Rota-3

6 Months


7 Months

Influenza -2

6 – 9 Months

Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine

9 Months

MMR 1 (Mumps, measles, Rubella)

12 Months

Hepatitis A- 1

12 – 15 Months

PCV Booster

15 Months

MMR 2, Varicella

16 – 18 Months

DTwP /DTaP, Hib, IPV

18 – 19 Months

Hepatitis A- 2, Varicella 2

4 – 6 years


9 – 15years (Girls)

HPV (2 doses)

10 – 12 Years

Tdap/ Td


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It's important to note that this timeline is just a general guide, and your child's paediatrician may recommend adjustments based on your child's specific health needs.


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Required Vaccines And Recommended Vaccines

In India, the government has established a robust immunization program that recommends certain vaccines to be administered to babies and toddlers. While some vaccines are required by law, others are only recommended.

Required Vaccines

Required vaccines are those that are mandated by law, and failure to vaccinate can result in legal consequences. In India, the law mandates that every child be vaccinated against certain diseases, which include all the vaccines mentioned under Baby Immunization Schedule Table.

The Indian government provides these vaccines free of cost at government health centres across the country. Parents are required to get their children vaccinated against these diseases within the recommended timelines.


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Parent-Recommended Vaccines

In addition to the required vaccines, the Indian government also recommends that infants and young children receive several other vaccines. These vaccines are not mandatory, but they are strongly recommended because they provide protection against several serious diseases.

While these vaccines are not legally required, parents are strongly encouraged to get their children vaccinated against these diseases, as they can cause serious health problems and even death.


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Preparing for Vaccinations

For parents, the idea of getting their babies and toddlers vaccinated can be daunting. Fortunately, there are several steps parents can take to prepare their child for a vaccine appointment, make the process less stressful, and manage any reactions that may occur.


Preparing for a vaccine appointment

Talk to your child

It's important to talk to your child about the vaccine appointment beforehand to help them understand what to expect. Use age-appropriate language and reassure them that getting vaccinated will help keep them healthy.


Schedule the appointment at a good time

Try to schedule the appointment at a time when your child is well-rested and fed, and when they are least likely to be fussy or irritable.


Bring a comfort item

Bring along your child's favourite toy or comfort item to help them feel secure during the appointment.


Reward your child

Consider offering your child a small reward after the appointment, such as a sticker or a trip to the park. This can help make the experience more positive and encourage them to be cooperative in the future.


Monitor for reactions

After the vaccine, it's important to monitor your child for any reactions. Most reactions are mild and go away on their own, but some can be more serious. Common side effects include fever, redness or swelling at the injection site, and fussiness. If your child experiences any unusual or severe symptoms, call your doctor right away.


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Follow Up With Your Doctor

It's important to follow up with your doctor after the vaccine appointment. They can answer any questions you may have and provide guidance on any symptoms or reactions your child may experience. They can also schedule future vaccine appointments to ensure that your child stays up-to-date on their immunizations.

It is important to note that while reactions to vaccines can occur, they are generally rare and mild. The benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks, as vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.


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