New Children's Vaccines Guide for Pharmacists to Provide

The start of the new school year brings a multitude of questions from parents and caregivers about children's vaccination requirements, so pharmacists need to be prepared with answers.

The start of the new school year brings a multitude of questions from parents and caregivers about children’s vaccination requirements, so pharmacists need to be prepared with answers.

To help facilitate this counseling, the FDA has published a helpful children’s vaccines guide that pharmacists can share with parents and caregivers.

Here’s what to know about routinely administered vaccines for children:

Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Acellular Pertussis Adsorbed (DTaP)

The DTaP vaccine series is given to infants and children age 6 weeks through 6 years to protect against the bacterial infections diphtheria, tetanus (lockjaw), and pertussis (whooping cough). DTaP brand names are Daptacel and Infanrix.

Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid, and Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Adsorbed (Tdap)

The Tdap vaccine is a booster shot for children ages 10 or 11 years to also prevent the bacterial infections diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Brand-name Boostrix is approved for all individuals ages 10 years and older, including the elderly, while the other brand-name Adacel is approved for ages 10 through 64 years.

Hemophilis b Conjugate Vaccine (Hib)

The Hib vaccine prevents Haemophilus influenzae type b invasive disease, which was formerly the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in US children under 5. Brand-name ActHIB and PedvaxHIB are approved for routine administration in infants and children beginning at age 2 months through 18 months and 71 months, respectively, while brand-name Hiberix is approved as a booster shot in children ages 15 months through before their 5th birthday.

Hepatitis A and B Vaccines

These vaccines are designed to protect against hepatitis A and B viruses, respectively, which are often spread through contaminated feces or body fluids from infected individuals to non-infected peers. Brand-name hepatitis A vaccines Havrix and Vaqta are both approved for use in those ages 12 months and older, while brand-name hepatitis B vaccines Engerix-B and Recombivax HB can be used in all ages, including newborns.

Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV)

This vaccine protects females from HPV as well as cervical cancer, vulvar, and vaginal cancers. Brand-name Cervarix prevents cervical and associated precancerous lesions caused by HPV types 16 and 18 in females ages 9 through 25 years. Gardasil prevents anal cancer and associated precancerous lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 in males and females ages 9 through 26 years, and also prevents cervical, vulvar, and vaginal cancer and associated precancerous lesions caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 in the same age group for females. Gardasil 9 covers 5 more HPV types than Gardasil, preventing cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers caused by HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58 in females ages 9 through 26 years and males ages 9 through 15 years. Gardasil and Gardasil 9 also prevent genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11 in both males and females.

Influenza Vaccine

This vaccine protects against seasonal flu and can be administered either with a needle or as a nasal spray. Different vaccines are approved for different age groups to prevent influenza disease caused by the strains of influenza virus that are included in the vaccine. Brand names for children include Afluria, Fluarix, FluLaval, Fluvirin, Fluzone, Fluarix Quadrivalent, FluLaval Quadrivalent, Fluzone Quadrivalent, and FluMist Quadrivalent.

Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)

This vaccine prevents MMR in children ages 12 months or older. The sole brand name is M-M-R II.

Meningococcal Vaccine

This vaccine prevents certain types of meningococcal disease, a life-threatening illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitides, a leading cause of meningitis in young children. Brand names Bexsero and Trumenba both prevent invasive meningococcal disease caused by N. meningitidis serogroup B in those ages 10 through 25 years. Brand names Menactra and Menveo both prevent meningococcal disease caused by N. meningitidis serogroups A, C, Y, and W, with the former approved for use in infants and children beginning at age 9 months as well as adults through age 55 years, and the latter approved for use in those ages 2 months through 55 years.

Pneumococcal 13-Valent Conjugate Vaccine

This vaccine prevents invasive disease caused by 13 different types of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae in infants, children, and adolescents ages 6 weeks through 17 years. It also prevents otitis media caused by 7 different types of the bacterium in infants and children ages 6 weeks through 5 years. Brand-name Prevnar 13 is also approved for adults ages 50 years and older.

Poliovirus Vaccine

This vaccine prevents polio, a disease that can cause paralysis or death, in infants ages 6 weeks and older. The brand name is Ipol.

Rotavirus Vaccine

This vaccine prevents gastroenteritis caused by rotavirus infection, the leading cause of severe diarrhea and dehydration in infants worldwide. It is approved for children as young as 6 weeks, and the brand names are Rotarix and RotaTeq.

Varicella Virus Vaccine

This prevents varicella (chicken pox) in children ages 12 months and older. The brand name is Varivax.

The FDA noted that these vaccines can help children get a healthy start for the school year.

“Parents should know that vaccines protect children from many serious illnesses from infectious diseases,” stated Marion Gruber, PhD, director of the Office of Vaccines Research and Review at the FDA. “The risk of being harmed by vaccines is much smaller than the risk of serious illness from infectious diseases.”

The FDA also stressed that vaccines are not linked to autism and the ingredients in them are safe. Most vaccines carry the risk of some mild side effects, which can be reported to health care providers.