Vaccines and the diseases they prevent

Find out more about the most commonly recommended vaccines.

A girl receives an MMR vaccine, Ukraine.
UNICEF/UN0284080/ Dyachyshyn

Vaccines help protect children and adolescents from serious, often fatal illnesses. The table below outlines the vaccines that are recommended by most governments and doctors to keep children and populations safe from outbreaks.

Vaccine
Disease
Symptoms and effects
BCG Tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infection that most often attacks the lungs, but in infants and young children, affects other organs like the brain. A severe case could cause serious complications or death.

TB is very difficult to treat when contracted, and treatment is lengthy and not always successful.
Hep B Hepatitis B Hepatitis B virus is a dangerous liver infection that, when caught as an infant, often shows no symptoms for decades. It can develop into cirrhosis and liver cancer later in life.
Polio Poliovirus Polio is a virus that paralyzes 1 in 200 people who get infected. Among those cases, 5 to 10 per cent die when their breathing muscles are paralyzed. There is no cure for polio once the paralysis sets in – only treatment to alleviate the symptoms.
DTP Diphtheria Diphtheria infects the throat and tonsils, making it hard for children to breathe and swallow. Severe cases can cause heart, kidney and/or nerve damage.
DTP Tetanus Tetanus causes very painful muscle contractions. It can cause children’s neck and jaw muscles to lock (lockjaw), making it hard for them to open their mouth, swallow (breastfeed) or breathe. Even with treatment, tetanus is often fatal.
DTP Pertussis Pertussis (whooping cough) causes coughing spells that can last for weeks. In some cases, it can lead to trouble breathing, pneumonia, and death.
Hib Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) Hib is a bacterium that causes pneumonia, meningitis and other severe infections almost exclusively in children under 5 years old.
Pneumococcal Pneumococcal diseases Pneumococcal diseases range from serious diseases such as meningitis and pneumonia to milder but more common infections like sinusitis and ear infections.

Pneumococcal diseases are a common cause of sickness and death worldwide, especially among young children under 2 years old.
Rotavirus Rotavirus Rotaviruses cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and shock in young children. This can lead to death if treatment, especially fluid replacement, is not immediately started.
MMR Measles Measles is a highly contagious disease with symptoms that include fever, runny nose, white spots in the back of the mouth and a rash. Serious cases can cause blindness, brain swelling and death.
MMR Mumps Mumps can cause headache, malaise, fever, and swollen salivary glands. Complications can include meningitis, swollen testicles and deafness.
MMR Rubella Rubella infection in children and adults is usually mild, but in pregnant women it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death or birth defects.
HPV Human papillomavirus (HPV) HPV usually has no symptoms, but some strains can cause cervical cancer – the fourth most common cancer in women. Almost all cases of cervical cancer (99 per cent) are caused by HPV. HPV can also cause genital warts in both men and women, as well as cancer on other parts of the body.

For a full schedule of the vaccines recommended in your country, check with your doctor, health centre or Ministry of Health.