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Protecting your baby from infections

Immunizations can keep your baby healthy

Protecting your baby from infections is one of the most loving things a new parent can do. Here are easy, common-sense steps you can take to help your baby stay healthy.


Immunizations (baby shots) can prevent many childhood illnesses. These illnesses can make your baby sick, disrupt your family’s schedule and put your baby at risk of serious problems. Don’t wait until your child is ready for school. Start protecting your baby now! Keep your baby’s shots up to date and contact your doctor, clinic or health department if you have any questions.

Childhood diseases that immunizations can prevent:

Hepatitis B 

  • Hepatitis B can be spread to babies from infected mothers at the time of birth. This germ infects the liver and may lead to liver damage or cancer later in life. People with hepatitis B may not have symptoms. They may not know they are carrying this germ.

PT (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus)

  • Diphtheria is a severe respiratory illness. Germs pass from the nose or throat of an infected person to others, causing a thick coating in the throat. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis or death.
  • Pertussis (whooping cough) causes severe coughing and choking for several weeks. This disease can cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.
  • Tetanus (lockjaw) is caused when a germ enters the body through a cut or wound. This disease causes painful spasms of muscles leading to locking of the jaw. Very young children, elderly people and those with weak immune systems have a higher risk of death.


Polio is a serious disease that spreads from an infected person to the mouths of others. It can cause paralysis and death.

Haemophilus influenza meningitis (HIB) 

This infection in the spinal fluid around the brain is spread throught the air. HIB may cause fever, severe headache, nausea, vomiting, stiff neck, skin rash, sluggishness and coma. 

MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) 

  • Measles is caused when germs spread from an infected person to the nose or throat of others. Symptoms include rash, cough and fever. Measles can lead to ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea, seizures, brain damage and death.
  • Mumps is spread by germs from an infected person to the nose or throat of others. Mumps causes fever, headache and swollen glands in the neck. It can lead to hearing loss, meningitis (brain infection) and sterility in boys.
  • Rubella (German measles) causes rash, mild fever, swollen glands and arthritis (mostly in women). If a pregnant woman gets rubella, she can miscarry, or the baby may be born with defects (deafness, blindness, heart disease or brain damage).

Chickenpox (varicella)

Chickenpox is spread when germs pass through the air from an infected person to the nose and throat of others. Chickenpox causes skin rash, fever, itching and cold symptoms. Your child could develop pneumonia or encephalitis (brain inflammation).

What if your baby misses a shot?

It is important that your baby gets each dose as close to the right time as possible. Should you miss one, contact your doctor or health department as soon as possible to get back on schedule. Baby shots protect against serious childhood illnesses. 
Immunize your baby today.

Signs of infection

  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Not eating
  • Continuous crying
  • Redness around umbilical cord
  • Drainage from umbilical cord
  • Breathing problems
  • Baby just not acting like usual

Babies with these symptoms may need medical care. Call your doctor, clinic or health department.


Remember that a baby’s ability to fight infections is weak. Infections can make your baby very sick. Smaller babies and babies with heart or breathing problems are even more at risk for infections. Avoid contact with people who are ill (diarrhea, fever, sores on the skin, coughs, colds, flu, fever blisters) in the hospital and at home. Avoid anyone who recently has had an infectious disease like measles or chickenpox. Crowded places increase the chance of your baby getting sick. 

Hand washing

Remember that germs live everywhere. The best way to protect your baby from germs is to wash your hands with soap and water. Always wash before preparing food or formula for your baby and after handling or changing diapers.