6-Month Vaccines: What You Should Know

When your baby reaches 6-months-old, they are experiencing a lot of fun developmental milestones. They may have started eating solid foods, sitting up, and trying to crawl. It’s also time for a well-baby check-up.

During their 6-month wellness visit, babies are scheduled to receive vaccines that protect against harmful diseases. This article provides an overview of the vaccines, how to comfort your baby, and how to treat mild side effects. 

6-Month Milestones

Developmental milestones 6-month olds are reaching also include:

  • Jabbering or babbling
  • Responding to their name
  • Knowing familiar faces
  • Showing joy or displeasure
  • Bringing things to their mouth
  • Passing things from one hand to another


Recommended 6-month Vaccine Checklist - Illustration by Danie Drankwalter

Verywell / Danie Drankwalter

6-month Vaccination Schedule

Vaccinations are given to children on a schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). They help a baby boost their immune system to prevent harmful diseases.

Alternate Names for Vaccinations

Vaccinations may also be called:

  • Injections or shots
  • Vaccines
  • Immunizations
  • Inoculation

Most vaccinations are given as a shot. However, the rotavirus (RV) vaccine is given by mouth through liquid drops.

Most likely, your baby has already received a few vaccinations at birth and their 2-month-old check-up. The following are recommended for their 6-month check-up.

Diphtheria, Tetanus, Acellular Pertussis (DTaP)

The second of five doses of DTaP is given at 6-months-old. The fifth dose is usually given around 4-6 years old. Immunity may start to wear off around 11-12 years old. A booster called the Tdap is generally given at that time or later in life as needed. This vaccine helps prevent:

Pertussis or Whooping Cough?

Pertussis is a respiratory disease that can cause severe coughing. It is commonly called whooping cough because of the sound you make when trying to catch your breath after coughing. 

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)

Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) is a bacteria that can cause:

  • Meningitis (inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord)
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)
  • Sepsis (bloodstream infection)
  • Epiglottitis (swelling in the upper airway or windpipe) 

Hib is rare in the United States due to routine vaccination. However, if contracted, it can be severe and sometimes fatal. At 6-months old, your baby is most likely receiving the third out of four doses. The last is given around 12-18 months.

Because of its name, Hib is often confused with seasonal influenza (flu). However, these are two different diseases. Hib is a bacteria, while the flu is a virus.  

Polio Vaccine (IPV)

Polio is a disease that causes symptoms that range from a sore throat to paralysis. It was very feared in the late 1940s before the vaccination program began, and infections in the U.S. decreased dramatically.  

Children in the U.S. get a shot called an inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). Other countries may still use an oral polio vaccine (OPV). IPV is given over four doses. At 6-months, your baby is most likely receiving the third dose in the series.

Worldwide Polio Cases

Efforts to eliminate polio worldwide increased in 1988. Since then, the yearly number of cases (about 350,000) has declined by more than 99.9%. It is estimated that 18 million currently healthy people would have been paralyzed by polio without this response.

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV)

Streptococcus pneumoniae or pneumococcus is the bacteria that causes pneumococcal disease. The PCV is given to protect against pneumococcal disease, which can cause:

  • Ear infections (otitis media, or inflammation and fluid in the middle ear, is common)
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Sinus infections 
  • Meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord)
  • Pneumonia (lung infection)

The Recommended PCV Vaccine Schedule

The CDC recommends four doses of PCV vaccine to be given at the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months 
  • 6 months
  • 12-15 months

Rotavirus (RV)

Rotavirus causes stomach pain, severe vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration (fluid loss). The RV vaccination is given as drops by mouth rather than as a shot. 

Two brands of the rotavirus vaccine are given in the United States. RotaTeq (RV 5) is given in three doses at 2, 4, and 6 months old. The other brand, Rotarix (RV1), does not include the third dose. 

Hepatitis B (HBV)

Hepatitis B is a viral infection passed through body fluids and damages the liver. Babies are vaccinated against hepatitis B in three doses. 

The first HBV dose is usually given within 12 hours of an infant’s life. This is done in case their mother unknowingly passed Hepatitis B to them at birth. The final dose of HBV is given between 6-18 months.

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza, or the seasonal flu, is a virus that causes respiratory infection. At 6-months-old, your baby is due for their first vaccination. Because this is their first flu shot, they usually receive two doses at least four weeks apart. After that, it can be given once yearly during flu season, which typically begins in October and goes through May.

Injection or Nasal Spray

While the influenza vaccine is available as an injection (shot) or nasal (nose) spray, the nasal spray is only approved for children 2-years or older.

Side Effects

The most common vaccination side effects are tenderness, redness, or swelling at the shot site or a low-grade fever (101 degrees or lower). 

Occasionally the following mild side effects may occur:

  • Fussiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Achiness

Severe Side Effects Are Rare

Severe side effects or allergic reactions from vaccinations are rare. Those that do occur usually begin 20 minutes to two hours after giving the vaccine. Talk to your healthcare provider before your appointment if you are concerned about rare side effects or allergic reactions.

What to Do If Baby Has Side Effects

If your baby experiences mild side effects or reactions, you can use the following techniques at home to help them: 

  • Place a cool cloth at the shot site to reduce redness, tenderness, or swelling
  • Give them a room temperature sponge bath for low-grade fevers
  • Try feeding your baby more often to increase their fluids 
  • Give Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin/Advil (ibuprofen)

Medications to Reduce Fever and Discomfort

Motrin/Advil and Tylenol are safe for 6-months and older. Children should not receive aspirin unless directed by their healthcare provider.

When to Contact the Pediatrician

If your baby has any of the following symptoms, contact their healthcare provider:

  • Temperature (fever) greater than 104 degrees
  • Fever lasting more than three days 
  • Redness at the shot site larger than 1 inch or lasting longer than three days
  • High-pitched crying lasting over one hour
  • Nonstop crying more than three hours 
  • Fussiness for more than three days 
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea

When to Call 9-1-1

If you think your infant is having a life-threatening emergency or any of the following rare reactions, call 9-1-1 immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Lethargy (not moving or very weak)
  • Not waking up
  • Seizures

Summary 

Vaccinations are given to help prevent serious diseases. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend a schedule for children that includes seven vaccines covering nine diseases given around 6-months old. Side effects or reactions are generally mild and can be treated at home. 

A Word From Verywell 

Parents are often concerned about comforting their babies during vaccinations. Smiling and using a soothing voice is one of the best ways to reassure your 6-month old during their appointment. It can be helpful to bring their favorite toy or blanket for distraction and comfort during and after their wellness check. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I make it easier for my baby to receive the vaccines?

    For babies this age, distraction is a good technique. You can try singing or using toys to get their attention. It’s also helpful to smile and talk in a soothing, calm voice. This helps reassure your infant that everything is ok.

  • How will my baby feel after receiving the vaccinations?

    The most common vaccination side effect is soreness at the shot site. Your baby may also experience mild side effects such as a low-grade temperature, fussiness, decreased appetite, or stomach upset. Severe side effects or reactions are rare. 

20 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  6. MedlinePlus. Epiglottitis.

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  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pneumococcal vaccine recommendations.

  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rotavirus.

  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hepatitis B.

  13. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccines for your children: flu (influenza).

  14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza (flu).

  15. Seattle Children’s Hospital. Immunization reactions.

  16. Daley MF, O’Leary ST, Nyquist A, Cataldi JR. Immunization. In: Hay Jr. WW, Levin MJ, Abzug MJ, Bunik M. eds. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics, 25e. McGraw Hill; 2020.

  17. Immunization Action Coalition. After the shots. Immunize.org.

  18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccines for your children: 1 to 2 months.

  19. St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) dose table.

  20. American Academy of Pediatrics. Ibuprofen dosing table for fever and pain. Healthychildren.org.

Additional Reading

By Brandi Jones, MSN-ED RN-BC
Brandi is a nurse and the owner of Brandi Jones LLC. She specializes in health and wellness writing including blogs, articles, and education.