What Vaccinations Does My Child Need?

A guide for parents of children with chronic kidney failure or a kidney transplant

Why does my child need a vaccination?

Vaccinations, usually given as shots, protect your child from serious diseases. Some common diseases you may already know about are measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis B, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, chickenpox and Hemophilus influenza type b (Hib) disease. These are called the "big 10." Some of these are serious or potentially serious illnesses, and some may have no cure. Your child may die from certain diseases if he or she is not vaccinated against them. Vaccinations not only protect your child from disease, they protect others around your child. For this reason, proof of vaccination is often needed before your child can enter school or childcare.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines usually contain parts of the dead or weakened bacteria or virus that cause the disease. Once your child receives a vaccine, his or her body begins to make antibodies to fight the disease, which work to protect your child if they are exposed to that disease later.

What vaccines should my child have?

Even though your child has kidney disease, he or she needs the same vaccines as those given to children without kidney disease. Some vaccines may need to be given in a different dosage to make sure your child is protected. An additional vaccination, Pneumovax, is often recommended for children with kidney disease. All children over the age of 6 months, including those with kidney disease, should also receive seasonal influenza vaccination every year.

Note: If your child has an organ transplant or is immune suppressed, it is important not to use vaccines made from live viruses. Live virus vaccines are given to prevent measles, mumps, rubella, varicella and oral polio. Your doctor is the best person to ask about which vaccines your child should receive.

What about vaccines for the other children in my household?

Talk with your doctor before giving varicella zoster (chickenpox) to other household members since this vaccine is made from live viruses. It is safe, however, for other children in the household to receive measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

What should I do if my child is in daycare with other children who may have received live vaccines?

You should talk with your daycare provider about your child's medical condition. If your child has received an organ transplant, you should talk with your doctor about possible exposure to children who have received oral polio vaccine or other live vaccines.

How often does my child need a vaccination?

Depending on the vaccine, your child may need only one shot for protection. Other vaccines may require a series of shots to be given at standard times. However, if your child is sick when the next shot should be given, it is best to wait until he or she is well again. The shot should then be given as close as possible to the regular schedule.

Where can my child get vaccinated?

Your child will probably get his or her vaccines from your doctor. You may also be able to get them from your local public health department at no cost or at a reduced fee. Check to see if the cost of routine vaccines is covered by your health insurance company.

Are vaccines safe for my child?

Vaccines are among the safest medications available. Some common side effects are a sore arm or low-grade fever. As with any medication, there is a very small risk of serious problems occurring after a vaccination. However, the complications of illnesses are much greater than the risks from the vaccines.

How do I know when my child should receive his or her vaccines?

The following table is a schedule of the most common vaccines used today in the United States. Other vaccines might be needed if you are traveling to a foreign country with your child. Speak with your doctor about these vaccines.

Schedule for Childhood Vaccinations
Age Vaccines Exceptions for children with kidney disease
At birth HBV (Hepatitis B) Transplanted and immune-suppressed children should not receive this vaccine, but they can receive the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) at 2 & 4
1-2 months DT&P (Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis)  
2 months RV/DTaP(Diphtheria, Tetanus, acellular pertussis)/ Hib/ IPV/PCV13  
4 months RV/DTaP/Hib/IPV/PCV13  
6 months RV/DTaP/Hib/PCV13  
6-18 months HBV/OPV  
12-15 months PCV13/Hib/MMR/Varicella Children who have had an organ transplant or are immune-suppressed should not receive MMR or Varicella
15-18 months DTaP  
2-18 years PPSV23  
4-6 months DTaP/IPV/MMR/Varicella Children who have had an organ transplant or are immune-suppressed should not receive MMR or Varicella
Every year after 6 months old Influenza A and B (flu)  

If you would like more information, please contact us.

©2014 National Kidney Foundation. All rights reserved. This material does not constitute medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.