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Childhood diseases

​Many childhood diseases that were once common have largely been eradicated thanks to vaccinations.

Vaccines are one of the greatest public health successes of all time.

Safe, effective vaccines given to children (and also adults) have all be eliminated preventable diseases such as measles and polio.

All of the childhood diseases listed below have a vaccine that is safe and effective.

Your Marshfield Clinic pediatrician will recommend the right vaccinations to ensure none of these diseases harm your child.

Complete information on vaccines and their benefits can be found here.


Chickenpox causes an itchy, blistering rash and is easily spread to others.

Chickenpox infection was very common before a vaccine became available in 1995. 

Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for children, teens, and nonimmune adults.

Find more information on chickenpox here.


Diphtheria is a dangerous bacterial disease.

It was common childhood disease a number of years ago, but a vaccine now protects children and adults.

Find more information on diphtheria here.

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is serious disease caused by bacteria and it usually strikes children under the age of 5. 

If the germs spread to the lungs or bloodstream, Hib can cause serious illness.

Find more information on Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) here.

Hepatitis A (HAV)

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.

While not usually as severe as other forms of hepatitis, it can damage your child’s liver.

Find more information on hepatitis A here.

Hepatitis B (HBV)

Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. 

This is one of the several types of hepatitis, which are distinguished by the virus that causes the infection.

While it can be mild in some children, hepatitis B can also cause severe liver damage.

Find more information on hepatitis B here.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Human papillomavirus is a virus that causes warts.

Some strains of the virus can cause warts in the genital area, which can lead to cancer in some cases.

Find more information on human papillomavirus here.


Influenza (flu) is very contagious and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even just talks in close proximity.

The virus responsible for influenza is very unpredictable and changes from year to year.

This is why everyone 6 months and older should get an annual vaccination.

Find more information on the flu here.

Measles (Rubeola and Rubella or German Measles)

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory infection. There are two types of measles: Rubeola and rubella, which is also known as the German measles.

Different viruses cause the two forms.

Both are usually mild, however rubeola can lead to severe complications including death.

Find more information on rubeola here.

Find more information on rubella here.

Meningococcal Disease (Meningitis)

Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a life-threatening illness that can occur suddenly.

The bacteria infect the blood, brain and spinal cord.

It is one of the most serious causes of meningitis (brain swelling).

Find more information on meningococcal disease here.


Mumps spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

The mumps virus can cause fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite and swollen glands under the ears or jaw.

Find more information on mumps here.

Pneumonia (Pneumococcal Disease)

Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria that is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes or with contact from respiratory secretions.

You may hear pneumococcal disease referred to as pneumonia and the vaccination called the pneumonia shot.

Pneumococcal disease can cause serious infections in the lungs, blood and brain, which can lead to death. Pneumococcal disease also causes up to half of all ear infections.

Find more information on pneumonia here.


Polio is a disease caused by a virus.

The polio virus lives in feces of infected people and spreads by direct contact with an infected person or contaminated food or water.

Polio in the U.S. has virtually vanished thanks to an aggressive vaccination program. However, polio is still a threat, as polio is still around in some countries.

Find more information on polio here.

Rotavirus (RV)

Rotavirus causes diarrhea, fever and vomiting which can lead to severe dehydration.

It is one of the most serious causes of diarrhea in infants and young children.

The virus can live on surfaces for months.

Find more information on rotavirus here.

Tetanus (Lockjaw)

The bacteria that cause tetanus can enter the body through a cut or wound. 

Tetanus lives in soil, so children can get infected from a small injury. 

It is not contagious. Tetanus causes very painful muscle spasms, stiffness in the neck and abdominal muscles, difficulty swallowing and can lead to death.

Find more information on tetanus here.

Whooping Cough (Pertussis)

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a serious disease caused by bacteria that spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. 

It is very contagious. Whooping cough causes severe coughing that can lead to vomiting and broken ribs.

Find more information on whooping cough here.

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Take the Infant Immunization Quiz

Test your knowledge of vaccinations against a variety of diseases that can affect your child. This quiz is based on information from the CDC.

1. A pregnant woman passes antibodies to her unborn baby through the placenta to protect against certain diseases. About how long does this natural immunity last after birth?
2. Which vaccine is given soon after birth?
3. Bacterial meningitis strikes infants more often than any other age group. Which vaccine will help prevent one previously common type of meningitis?
4. What type of reaction commonly occurs after the diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine?
5. When should an infant not be given a DTaP vaccine?
6. In the combined DTP immunization used in the past, which of the three vaccine components reportedly caused severe reactions?