Every 20 seconds a child dies as a result of vaccine-preventable diseases, which represents about 1.5 million child deaths a year, according to Unicef. It is estimated that vaccines could prevent up to 30% of deaths in children under five years of age. In fact, there are more and more studies , such as the one carried out by the National Academy of Medicine of the United States, that demonstrate the safety and benefits of vaccination schedules for children’s health, especially in the case of life-threatening diseases.
For this reason, each year the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Pediatric Association updates the childhood vaccination schedule and introduces new recommendations, taking into account the latest scientific research in the area of epidemiology and human biology. This year there have been no major changes that affect the vaccination schedule, but as usual, the Advisory Committee made some comments and recommended some guidelines that all parents should know to minimize the risk of their children getting sick.
The main updates in the 2021 vaccination schedule
In 2021, the key points of action in each of the vaccines are maintained, as well as the changes made last year in relation to non-discrimination by color between immunizations financed by the Spanish Public Health System and paid vaccines. Likewise, the recommendation of free and universal access to the vaccination system for all families is maintained and the vaccines that are not included in the vaccination schedules of the different autonomous communities are once again insisted on. Also, this year:
- The suggestion to introduce the rotavirus vaccine in all infants into the systematic calendar is maintained. This is because this virus is responsible for most cases of moderate or severe acute gastroenteritis in children, a disease that seriously endangers health at an early age.
- The proposal for vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, Haemophilus influenzae type b and polio continues with hexavalent vaccines, which also include the hepatitis B component, with a 2+1 schedule (2, 4 and 11 months), and includes the application of a dose of polio at age 6.
- The proposal to change vaccination against meningococci A, C, W and Y persists with the application of a dose of MenC-TT at 4 months, a dose of MenACWY at 12 months and another at 12-14 years , with a progressive redemption up to 18 years of age. For the rest of the ages, individual protection is suggested.
Once again, in the 2021 vaccination schedule, the vaccines that are recommended to be included in the system are taken up again, such as the meningococcal B vaccine as routine in infants, the use of the tetraviral vaccine as a substitute for the triple viral vaccine for second immunization and the application of the human papillomavirus vaccine between 11 and 12 years of age in both sexes.
In turn, and outside the children’s calendar, the recommendation to immunize pregnant women with Tdap against whooping cough from week 27 of gestation is consolidated to reduce the risk of infection in the fetus, as well as flu vaccination at any time of pregnancy, if it coincides with the seasonal calendar against the flu.
The official childhood vaccination schedule for 2021, by age
At two months of age, the vaccine against Hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus is applied. Children are also immunized against other conditions such as whooping cough, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type b, pneumococcus and rotavirus. At this time, immunization against meningococcus B is also introduced.
Two months after the first application of the first dose, he is immunized again against tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria, Hepatitis B, poliomyelitis, Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcus. Likewise, the vaccine against rotavirus and meningococcus B is reactivated, while a vaccine against meningococcus C is administered for the first time.
At this age , the last reactivation of the rotavirus vaccine is administered, but in this case, unlike monovalent immunization, the pentavalent vaccine is chosen.
At 11 months of age, they are immunized again against Hepatitis B, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, tetanus, whooping cough and Haemophilus influenzae type b. The latest reactivation of the VNC13 pneumococcal vaccine is also applied.
12 to 15 months
At 12 months the child receives the MenACWY vaccine against the meningococcus ACWY, although not all communities contemplate it, so if the parents decide not to administer the MenACWY vaccine, the community-funded MenC-TT should be applied. Likewise, immunization against rubella , mumps and measles is applied . Between 12 and 15 months the meningococcal B vaccine is reactivated and at 15 months the varicella vaccine is applied .
3 to 4 years
At this age, immunizations against rubella, mumps, measles, and chicken pox are reactivated.
At school age, a new dose of the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and poliomyelitis is applied to reactivate childhood immunization against these diseases.
12 to 18 years old
At the age of 12, two doses of the vaccine against the human papillomavirus are administered, at the moment only in girls. From 12 to 14 years of age, the vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough is reactivated. And, from 12 to 18 years of age, a new dose of the ACWY meningococcal vaccine is administered, thus ending childhood immunization against these conditions.