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By Planning Family

Understanding Immunization

Vaccines that have been developed so far are against infections that are serious and contagious; the more children are vaccinated the better protected our population becomes. On the same token each time your child receives a shot, it is no walk in the park for him/her.

What the vaccine does..

A vaccine stimulates the immune system into producing antibodies, which are proteins required to combat infection. It is a virus or bacterium derived from the disease, altered so that it can't cause illness but instead trigger these proteins into action to protect your child upon contact with the disease. The immune system is therefore primed into recognizing the disease and then gears up to offer protection. In other words, exposure to the weakened germs from the vaccine will prepare your child's system when confronted by the real thing.

What follows a jab..

• There will be a transient pain caused by the needle so your child will cry for a short while; with some pacifying this crying should cease.

• Soreness or slight redness is common at the injection site.

• A small lump may form but this is painless and harmless and usually goes away on its own.

• Your child may develop low grade fever, be irritable for a few hours.

• It is advisable to give a small dose of paracetamol for pain or fever; check with your doctor on dosing instruction.

Can they be given together?

Combination vaccines prove to be confusing for some parents; they fear that vaccines when combined are not as safe or effective as a single vaccine. Much research was done to ensure that the combined vaccines are just as reliable before being introduced. In fact the main advantage is that your baby receives only one shot instead of a few in one sitting. Example is the five-in-1 which include (diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and haemophilus influenza type B). Meanwhile research continues to develop more combo vaccines that will be introduced once approved.

Why you should be vaccinating your child..

• With the advent of vaccines, certain diseases have been successfully eradicated namely smallpox.

• Vaccines slow down or stop the outbreak of diseases

• Although vaccines are not 100% effective, they do offer a very high rate of protection; there is a lower chance of being infected with that disease once the child is vaccinated

• Immunity levels of 90 to 95% is provided through a good vaccination

• For some diseases, booster shots are required to top up the immunity to the disease while for others like Hep B and MMR, the immunity is lifelong.

• If a large enough segment of the population is immunized against a disease either through vaccination or being naturally immune, the disease will be blocked from reaching those who are susceptible

Routine immunizations

There are effective vaccines for the following infections for your baby:

Polio: A virus that damages the nervous system and can result in permanent paralysis and death

Diphtheria: A bacterial disease that starts as a throat infection and gradually spreads to the heart and the nervous system

Tetanus: A potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause the muscles to paralyze badly

Whooping cough or pertussis: Again caused by bacteria, mild fever with violent coughing spasms that can cause the child to vomit, have fits and lung damage

Hib: A bacterial infection causing a range of illness that include meningitis and pneumonia

Measles: A viral that can cause chest infections, fits, meningitis and permanent brain damage

Mumps: A viral that causes painful swelling of the salivary glands. Also known to cause meningitis and deafness

Rubella: A viral that can cause serious birth defects in unborn babies

Tuberculosis or TB: Caused be bacteria, the infection mainly affects the lungs

For all other vaccines, it is best to get your doctor's advice. Some shots are necessary in certain parts of the world such influenza vaccination is necessary when you are traveling to colder climates like USA.

When it is a good idea to delay immunization..

• If you are unsure about the vaccine, voice your concerns with your pediatrician to gain better understanding and advice

• If your child is unwell with temperature above 38.5C - vaccination itself will cause low grade fever so it is important to postpone the shot. A child with a runny nose or mild cold can go ahead.

• If your child has a serious reaction to a previous shot, has an allergy to eggs then you should check on the influenza vaccine as it contains traces of egg protein; if your child is allergic to yeast found in breads and cakes then Hep B vaccine becomes a question mark since it is yeast-based. It is important to discuss allergies or reactions to injections to your doctor before a shot is administered.

Helping to ease the pain..

• For an older child, explain that the vaccination is to help keep the nasty germs away

• Praise your child after the shot so he feels more confident about the next one

• Comfort your crying baby with hugs and assurances; offer baby the bottle. Suckling will provide comfort

• Bring along some treats such as chocolates or candies

• Consider combination vaccines to reduce the agony of many sittings

• Show your child that you are confident about the procedure

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Disclaimer: Information contained on this Web site is intended solely to make available general summarized information to the public. It should not be substituted for medical advice. It is your responsibility to consult with your pediatrician and/or health care provider before acting on any advice on this web site. While OEM endeavors to provide up-to-date and accurate information, it is not liable for any advice whatsoever rendered nor is it liable for the completeness or timeliness of any information on this site.
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