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Immunizations for Premature Infants

Topic Overview

Routine immunizations

Starting at 2 months after birth, premature infants need all the recommended immunizations that full-term infants get. The one immunization that your preemie may not get on schedule is the hepatitis B vaccine, which is usually given at birth. This vaccine doesn't work as well in very small preemies and may be given one month after birth if the mother does not have chronic hepatitis B infection.

For more information about recommended immunizations, see the topic Immunizations.

Tdap and flu (influenza) vaccines for close contacts

It's dangerous for a newborn to get pertussis (whooping cough) or the flu. If you have not yet had the vaccines for these diseases, get immunized as soon as possible. Ask teens and adults who have never had a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) shot to get a dose at least 2 weeks before being in close contact with your baby. It's important for adults and children to get the yearly flu vaccine too. These vaccines can help protect your baby from severe problems from these diseases.

When your infant is 6 months old (chronological age), he or she can start getting a yearly flu shot. This is especially important for babies who have chronic lung disease.

Extra protection for your premature infant

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Premature infants, particularly those who have lung problems, have a higher risk of developing severe respiratory syncytial virus infection than full-term infants. Your infant's doctor may recommend a monthly injection of the RSV monoclonal antibody during the winter RSV season, which greatly reduces the risk of severe infection and hospitalization. For more information, see the topic Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
William Atkinson, MD, MPH -
Last Revised February 16, 2012

Last Revised: February 16, 2012

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