One of the most important services of the health department is to provide immunizations for children and adults.

Immunizations are given by appointment only. Health department nurses can make sure patients immunizations are up to date. Vaccines offer safe and effective protection against infectious diseases such as polio, measles, and whooping cough. Since children can easily become infected, most vaccines are given before your child turns 6 years of age.

By staying up to date on immunizations, individuals can protect themselves, their families and friends, and communities from serious infections and diseases that could be life-threatening.

While most immunizations are for infants and school-age children, teens and college freshmen need certain vaccinations. There are immunizations recommended for adults and for some booster immunizations must be given throughout life. Vaccines against certain diseases are required or recommended before traveling outside the United States to some regions of the world.

Are you protected? Call the health department at 649-3531 for information.

Foreign Travel: Many immunizations must be obtained from the Buncombe County Health Department, (828) 250-5096.

For more immunization resources:

CDC Childhood Immunization Resource List
This is the first resource for immunization information

American Academy of Pediatrics
Additional information on immunizations

CDC Parents Guide to Childhood Diseases
This booklet describes how vaccines protect your child

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are vaccines given at such an early age?
Vaccines are given at an early age because the diseases they prevent can affect children at an early age. These ages are chosen to give children the earliest and best protection against disease.

Why do children need so many shots?
Some of us did not receive many vaccines when growing up. There were no vaccines for the measles, chicken pox, or mumps. So, we got those diseases! The simple answer as to why children get so many shots is because they can. There are more vaccines that help prevent more diseases in our children. More combination vaccines are available to reduce the number of shots children will need.

How safe are vaccines?
Vaccines are very safe but they are not perfect. Sometimes they can cause a reaction such as a sore arm or slight fever. Serious reactions are rare. It is important to remember that the vaccines are much safer than the diseases. Your health care provider will discuss the benefits and risks for each vaccine your child will receive.

What will happen if my child does not get vaccinated?
If your child is never exposed to any of these diseases then nothing will happen to your child. However, if your child is exposed to one of these diseases, there is a good chance he/she will get the disease. Your child could become sick for a few days or a few weeks from one of these diseases. At the very worst, your child could be hospitalized or even die. Also, your child could spread the disease to other children or adults that have not been vaccinated.

What should I do if my child has a reaction to an immunization?
The majority of reactions are minor, local reactions such as pain or redness at the injection site or a mild fever. These go away in a day or two and do not require any special treatment.

If your child has a serious reaction, symptoms may be a severe allergic reaction, difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, weakness, dizziness, high fever or a fast heart beat. If these symptoms occur, call or go to see your doctor right away. Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened and when the immunization was given.

How Vaccines Work

When disease germs enter your body, they begin to reproduce. Your immune system realizes there are foreign germs and responds by making antibodies to destroy the germs. Antibodies help you to get well.

Antibodies also protect you from future infections because they stay in the bloodstream and will destroy these same germs if they enter your body again. This is called immunity. The problem is that you have to become sick with the disease in order to gain immunity.

Vaccines help you to develop immunity and create antibodies without having to get sick first.

Childhood Vaccination Schedule

Childhood Vaccination Schedule

Age Vaccinations
Birth Hepatitis B
2 months Rotavirus; DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis);
H. influenza type b; Polio; Hepatits B;
Pneumococcal Conjugate (Pneumonia)
4 months Rotavirus; DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis);
H. influenza type b; Polio; Pneumococcal Conjugate (Pneumonia)
6 months Rotavirus; DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis);
H. influenza type b; Hepatits B;
Pneumococcal Conjugate (Pneumonia)
12-15 months DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis); H. influenza type b; Polio; Pneumococcal Conjugate (Pneumonia);
MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella); Varicella (Chicken pox);
Hepatitis A
18 months Hepatitis A (second dose 6 months after the first dose)
4-6 years DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis); Polio;
MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella); Varicella (Chicken pox)
11-18 years Tdap (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis);
HPV (Human Papillomavirus-3 doses); Meningococcal

This is a great resource for childhood and adolescent immunization information.

Adult Vaccination Schedule

Adult Vaccination Schedule

Tetanus/Diptheria (Td)
Tetanus spores are found in dirt and in the ground. Any deep cut or wound could be at risk for developing Tetanus. If an adult has never had a Td shot, he/she must get a 3-shot series for protection. Usually, adults receive a Td booster shot every 10 years to maintain protection.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
Sometimes adults need a dose of MMR to protect against these diseases. This is true if the adult is a college student; works in a health care setting or plans to travel outside the country. *Pregnant women should not take the MMR vaccination but should be vaccinated after the baby is born if needed.

Varicella (Chicken Pox)
Chicken pox vaccine is recommended for adults who are not immune to varicella. If contracted as an adult, chicken pox can cause a painful rash called “Shingles” years later. If you have never had chicken pox, talk to your doctor about receiving this vaccine.

Influenza (Flu)
Adults aged 50 years and older should always get a flu shot each year during flu season (usually around the beginning of October). Adults under age 50 are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot each year.

Pneumococcal (Pneumonia)
Adults may need to get 1 or 2 doses of Pneumonia vaccine depending on their age and risk factors. This can be given any time of year.

Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is usually foodborne. Certain adults should receive this vaccine. Talk to your doctor or the health department to see if you are at risk.

Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is also a liver disease and is contracted through exposure to blood or body fluids. This can happen through a needle stick or by having sex with someone who has Hepatitis B. Health care workers, people who use illegal drugs and people with more than one sex partner are encouraged to receive Hepatitis B vaccine

Meningococcal (Meningitis)
Meningitis is an infection of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes blood infections. College students who are living on campus in dorms or resident halls are encouraged to receive the Meningitis vaccine. Other adults traveling to certain countries are also encouraged to receive the vaccine.

Vaccination Schedule for Foreign Travel


Foreign Travel Vaccine Schedule


What is the Foreign Travel Vaccine Schedule?
There are two types of foreign travel vaccines:

  • those you have to have
  • those you should consider having

In addition, Malaria (a mosquito-borne illness) is a consideration. There is no vaccine for malaria but there are medications to help prevent you from getting it while you travel. Currently, Stromectol (Ivermectin) is one of the most popular drugs that combat malaria. If you want to find out more on how to take this drug and read studies dedicated to this problem, follow the links below:

Foreign Travel Vaccines You Have to Have
Yellow Fever is the only vaccine required when traveling. It is a mosquito-borne illness, causing a high fever and a yellow skin/eye color in its victims. It is found only in South America and parts of Africa. If you are traveling to either of these areas it is important you check with the health department to see if the vaccine is required. If it is, the Buncombe County Health Department’s Foreign Travel Immunization Clinic can vaccinate you and give you the required paperwork to prove you have had the vaccine.
Contact the clinic at (828) 250-5096

Foreign Travel Vaccines You Should Consider
These vaccines vary from country to country. For example, the vaccines you need to visit Europe are much the same as the adult vaccines described earlier. However, if you are traveling to parts of Africa, Asia and South America, there are a number of vaccines to consider. These include the adult vaccines already mentioned as well as vaccines for Typhoid, Polio, and Japanese Encephalitis.

Also, Rabies in animals in other countries can be a problem. The health department offers this vaccine but it can be very expensive and health insurances do not pay for these. Travelers are usually advised to avoid animals, even dogs and cats, to prevent rabies.

Figuring out what vaccines you need depends on where you are traveling to, how long you plan to stay and if you will be stopping in other countries along the way. Nurses at the health department can help you decide which vaccines are recommended for the area you will be visiting.


Foreign Travel Vaccine Schedule

Should I worry about Malaria?
Malaria is a mosquito-borne illness that is spread when the mosquito bites someone with Malaria and then bites another person. There is no vaccine for Malaria, however there are medications that can prevent you from getting the disease. These medications vary from country to country.

When you visit the health department to check on vaccines, be sure to ask about Malaria medications. There are other things you can do to prevent contracting Malaria. These include wearing mosquito repellant and wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants. For more information contact the Buncombe County Health Department at (828) 250-5096.