7 things you should know about vaccines for babies

December 13, 2019
  • First things first: Vaccines are safe.
    1 / 7 First things first: Vaccines are safe.

    Vaccines work by stimulating a child’s immunity to produce antibodies against certain infectious diseases, so she can fight them if she comes into contact with them, explains Dr Flordeliza Yong, deputy director of School Health Service at Health Promotion Board.

    In Singapore, vaccines are assessed to be safe for use by the Health Sciences Authority.

    Minor side effects, such as a low-grade fever and soreness at the injection site, are possible reactions to some shots. But serious allergic reactions, such breathing difficulty, wheezing, hives, a fast heartbeat or dizziness, are “extremely rare”, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    In fact, your child is more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease such as polio, which can cause paralysis, than by a vaccine, the WHO says.

    After your child’s injection, remain in the clinic’s waiting area for 15 minutes so that she can be observed for any abnormal post-vaccination reactions, says Dr Predeebha Kannan, deputy director of Primary Care Academy at National Healthcare Group Polyclinics.

    Most clinics provide fever medication – to be used when necessary – and post-vaccine advice to parents. See a doctor immediately if your child’s fever persists after 24 hours or if she experiences continuous crying, fits or other serious reactions mentioned above.

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  • That vaccine-autism study – it’s a hoax.
    2 / 7 That vaccine-autism study – it’s a hoax.
    There is no evidence to support the link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, Dr Predeebha says.

    The initial 1998 study by Dr Andrew Wakefield raised concerns about the possible link and set off widespread panic among parents, but was later found to be seriously flawed.

    An investigation published by British medical journal BMJ concluded that the study’s author misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients studied.

    (Also read: Fever after vaccination: Should you prevent it?)

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  • Skip or space out certain shots? Don’t risk it.
    3 / 7 Skip or space out certain shots? Don’t risk it.

    Although vaccine-preventable diseases, such as polio and measles, a re now very uncommon in many countries, they continue to circulate in some parts of the world and may reappear quickly when vaccination stops, according to the WHO.

    A case in point: During the first 20 weeks of 2016, the number of measles cases in Singapore nearly tripled compared to the same period the previous year, prompting the Health Ministry to urge parents to get their children vaccinated against the infectious disease if they hadn’t already. Measles can cause serious complications, including brain infection and blindness.

    In fact, diphtheria and measles vaccinations are compulsory by law in Singapore.

    (Also read: Truth or myth? Vaccines at polyclinic are free and fresher)

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  • Multiple shots in a day won’t overload Baby’s immune system.
    4 / 7 Multiple shots in a day won’t overload Baby’s immune system.

    Rest assured, studies have found that it is safe to give your baby multiple shots in a day. Some vaccines are combined into single shots so your child gets fewer injections per visit, Dr Predeebha says.

    Each day, your little one is already exposed to many foreign substances that stimulate her immune system (known as antigens). According to the WHO, kids are exposed to far more antigens from a common cold or sore throat, than they are from vaccines.

    Studies from the University of Louisville, Kentucky, in the US also found that babies who get multiple vaccines in their first year of life are no more likely than those who had fewer shots to have developmental problems.

    In fact, children who were fully vaccinated performed better in some are as of brain development than the group who delayed immunisations.

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  • It’s never too late to catch up on missed doses.
    5 / 7 It’s never too late to catch up on missed doses.

    It is recommended to stick closely to the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS). See www.tinyurl.com/VaccineSG for details. Each month your little one goes without her scheduled immunisation puts her at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases, Dr Yong says.

    But if you’ve missed certain doses, you will get a reminder letter from the National Immunisation Registry. It maintains the immunisation records for all Singapore residents aged 18 years and below. Take your child to the clinic for advice on how to get up-to-date on those shots so she continues to be protected, the experts say.

    “Children who miss their first doses at three months of age can start later. Those who have gotten some of their doses and fallen behind schedule can catch up without having to start over, ” Dr Yong says.

    If your child is unwell, her shots may be given at a later date as immunisation is only given when she is found to be fit, says Dr Predeebha. You should also inform the doctor if your little one has allergies (for instance, children with an egg allergy may have to skip the flu vaccine), has had seizures or doesn’t seem to be developing normally, or has a weakened immune system due to reasons like cancer.

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  • Rethink that chicken pox party.
    6 / 7 Rethink that chicken pox party.

    Building your child’s immunity naturally – by letting her go through an infection – seems like a no-brainer. But there may be a price to pay, doctors say. For example, a natural chicken pox infection could lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia, brain damage or even death.

    Vaccines interact with the immune system to produce an immune response similar to that produced by the natural infection. They work in 85 to 99 per cent of cases, and greatly reduce your child’s risk of serious illness and the risk of a disease outbreak, Dr Yong says.

    “Vaccination is the best and safest way for children to develop immunity to protect them against diseases like chicken pox and its complications,” she adds.

    (Also read: Chicken pox vaccine: What you should know)

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  • Tap into your Medisave, Baby Bonus, or your kid’s CDA to pay for childhood vaccinations.
    7 / 7 Tap into your Medisave, Baby Bonus, or your kid’s CDA to pay for childhood vaccinations.

    You may use your Medisave to cover all vaccinations recommended in the NCIS, up to $500 per account per year, at Medisave-accredited health-care institutions, including private clinics.

    According to the Health Ministry, you may also use the Baby Bonus cash gift and/or savings in the Child Development Account (CDA) to pay for all vaccinations, including against pneumococcal disease, at Baby Bonus-approved medical institutions. These can be used to offset the bills for your other kids’ shots, as well.

    If your child is a Singapore citizen, these vaccines are free at the polyclinics:
    – BCG (tuberculosis)
    – MMR
    – Hib and IPV in the form of a 5-in-1 combination vaccine (together with vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough)
    – Hepatitis B.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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