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Immunizations: Expecting a Baby?

Parents with their baby
The minute you find out you’re pregnant, you start to make plans. Be sure protecting your child with vaccines is part of your plan.

Vaccines can prevent many diseases that cause serious illness, even death. The viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases are all around us. Vaccines are one of the best ways you can protect your child.

The love you feel for your child provides a circle of safety. Strengthen that circle by making sure your child gets the vaccines they need on time. That’s the best way you can protect your baby’s health now and well into the future. Talk with your doctor about what vaccines are needed.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provides a schedule for vaccines. They use the best science to create this timeline. The schedule tells you when your baby needs vaccines. Other medical groups who approve this schedule include:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

View the CDC’s Vaccine Schedule

Vaccine safety

Vaccines are one of the most thoroughly tested medical products in the United States. A vaccine goes through years of testing before it’s given to the public. After it’s approved and being used, it continues to be monitored by:

  • The CDC.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Independent health organizations.

Check out the CDC’s The Journey of Your Child’s Vaccine.

Are vaccines natural?

When your baby is exposed to a germ, they can get sick. If a child recovers from the disease, they will have developed antibodies to fight off the germ, but they may have complications from the illness too. Vaccines help the body develop those same natural defenses without the risks of getting sick first. That’s because vaccines are made by taking the germ and weakening it. The germ in a vaccine is so weak that it can’t cause the disease.

Are vaccines effective?

Yes, vaccines are effective. Vaccines have been tested on thousands of people to make sure that they are effective. While no vaccine is perfect, they greatly increase the chances of your baby staying healthy. Vaccines are one of the best ways you can protect your child.

What’s in a vaccine?

Most vaccines contain a weakened or dead germ, also called an antigen. An antigen is the part of the vaccine that helps your body develop defenses. It helps your body learn to fight diseases cause by that germ.

Vaccines also have several other ingredients, just like many foods we eat and beverages we drink. These ingredients make the vaccine safer and work better. They also ensure the vial holding the vaccine stays sterile, or free from germs. Ingredients in vaccines have been carefully studied. The amount of each ingredient is safe for children.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effects from vaccines are:

  • Soreness.
  • Redness.
  • Swelling on the arm or leg where they got the vaccine.

Some babies will get a low-grade fever. Fever is a sign that your baby is building immunity to the disease.

Vaccine cost

Most private health insurance plans cover vaccines at no extra cost to you. Medicaid also pays for many vaccines. Call your insurance provider to ask what’s covered under your plan.

If you’re worried about the cost, find out if you’re eligible for free vaccines through our Wisconsin Vaccines For Children Program.

Learn more about vaccines

Just for health care providers

Help parents throughout Wisconsin understand the important role of vaccines in their babies’ lives. Use our Plan to Protect campaign materials to help give a strong recommendation for vaccines.

Most materials are available in English and Spanish. We offer:

  • Posters.
  • Take-home cards.
  • Website images and buttons.
  • Social media images.
  • Videos.

Person holding hand on pregnant person's abdomen
Last revised December 16, 2022