Immunisation has saved hundreds of thousands of children from death and handicap. Since the introduction of routine childhood immunization, many diseases including poliomyelitis, tetanus and diphtheria have been virtually eliminated.
What Is Immunization?
What Immunization Should My Child Be Given?
Immunization begins when your child is two months old (see panel at the bottom of this article). The first vaccines given are triple antigen (to protect against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus), Hib vaccine (to protect against meningitis) and poliomyelitis vaccine. At the age of one year, another vaccine called MMR is given to protect against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). It is important that children receive all the doses shown in the box overleaf.
Where Can You Go?
Most children are given immunizations by their GP or by nurses at a health authority immunization clinic. Computerised registers are kept in most areas.
Keeping Track Of Your Child's Immunizations
This is best done in the child's personal health record book which is provided by the Department of Health. Otherwise, ask your GP about it. You will need to have this record when your child starts pre-school or school.
When Is My Child's Immunization Due?
If your child is being immunized by a GP, ask that GP when the next immunization is due. Every time your child receives an immunisation, a record is kept on the register. An optional recall reminder system can inform you when your child's next immunization is due. Information on the register is confidential.
Are there any side-effects?
Minor side-effects such as redness or soreness at the site of the injection are common. These may last a day or two. Fever sometimes occurs and may be relieved by giving your child an appropriate dose of paracetamol mixture for his/her age. Serious side-effects are exceedingly rare and are most unlikely to cause any permanent harm to your child. However, contact your doctor immediately if your child:
|•||Has a high fever (38 degrees or more)|
|•||Is very irritable or sleepy|
|•||Has any other unexplained problems.|
How Long Do Vaccines Take To Work?
Most vaccines take some weeks to work and your child will only be fully protected after completing the full course for each vaccine.
The protective effect from vaccines is not lifelong. Some vaccines like tetanus last for only 10 years; after that a booster injection needs to be given. If you want more information, ask your GP.
Even when all doses of vaccine have been given, not everyone is fully protected after completing the course for each vaccination. Whooping cough vaccine fully protects 80-90 per cent of children who have been immunized. Measles and rubella vaccines protect more than 95 per cent of children.
Should Immunisation Be Postponed If My Child Has An Infection Or Allergy?
Babies can be immunized safely if they have minor coughs or colds without a fever, or if they are taking antibiotics but are well. Children with asthma, eczema, hay fever and allergies may be safely immunized but remember to tell your GP. If your child has had a severe allergic reaction to egg, talk to your GP again before the measles vaccine is given at the age of one year.
Homoeopathic 'immunization' offers no protection against infectious diseases.
|Some Soothing Tips
|Standard Childhood Immunization Schedule|
By Dr Peter Stott.