How do I know which vaccines my kids need?

Q: I've heard so much lately about new vaccines coming on the market, but I'm reluctant to get my son any shots that he doesn't really need. How do I know which ones he should get?
-- Graham

A: To protect them from a number of potentially serious diseases, kids should receive all the vaccinations recommended for them by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other immunization authorities.

Some parents choose not to vaccinate or only partially vaccinate their children -- sometimes for safety concerns and other times for financial reasons. But new vaccines are licensed and recommended only after being thoroughly studied. And safety monitoring continues even after a vaccine has been approved.

If cost is an issue, kids can receive inexpensive or free vaccines through local public health clinics or community health centers. Prior to the start of school, state regulations differ regarding which vaccines are required and some allow exemptions from the requirements.