It’s that time again — the American Academy of Pediatricians has released the updated 2013 immunization schedule for children and teens. The changes in terms of actual shots aren’t major, though there have been some serious revamps done on the visual design of the schedule to make it easier to read and to include all the necessary footnotes.
The most substantial change is one that’s already been announced by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP): pregnant teens and pregnant women should get a Tdap shot even if they would not otherwise be due for a booster. The Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough. With pertussis infections at record-high levels last year, including deaths among babies under 2 months old, ACIP is hoping an extra dose to pregnant women will offer a bit of extra protection to babies until they’re old enough to get their first DTaP shot against pertussis at 2 months.
The only other significant shot-related change is that children over 15 months are now only advised to get one dose of the Hib vaccine. The design changes involved condensing all the ages onto the first page, from newborn through 18 years old, instead of two separate schedules. This single sheet lets doctors see the shots all at once for all ages, including a couple extra columns in the 4-6-year and 11-12-year sections for info on typical school vaccine requirements. (States set their own school entry requirements related to vaccines, but they tend to be nearly identical across all states.)
The additional four pages of the schedule include all the footnotes, which are primarily for doctors to refer to for catch-up schedules, children with contraindications, dosage amounts and other info. The schedule does not include any catch-up schedule changes for those who got started late, delayed or are otherwise more than a month behind on the schedule.