When your baby was in the womb, you gave him natural immunity against disease. But now he’s in the big, wide world he’s more vulnerable to infections.
Immunising your baby or child is the safest and most effective way to protect him from serious diseases. It also helps prevent nasty illnesses spreading throughout the community.
Here is a table of all the immunisations your child will need and at what age he’ll need to have them.
||What does it protect against?
||Any Side Effects?
||How is it given?
|After birth in some areas
||Tuberculosis – often attacks the lungs but can spread through the body. Cases have been increasing in this country, so some areas vaccinate children at birth while your baby is in hospital. This only tends to be if your baby is more likely than the general population to come into contact with TB. If not, the vaccination is commonly administered at secondary school.
||The BCG vaccination can leave a sore, which sometimes takes months to heal and leaves a mark.
||Skin test then one injection if needed.
||DtaP / IPV / Hib & PCV
||Diptheria – This starts with a sore throat but can rapidly get worse, leading to severe breathing difficulties. It can also damage the heart and nervous system.
Tetanus – a bacteria from soil that gets into the body through cuts and causes muscle stiffness.
Pertussis – a severe whooping cough which can last for months and can cause breathing problems and even death.
Polio – is a virus that attacks the nervous system and can paralyse muscles permanently. If it attacks the muscles in the chest, or those that control swallowing, it can be fatal.
Hib – is a lethal bacterium, which causes meningitis and a dangerous form of throat swelling called epiglottitis, which affects young infants.
PCV – Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine is a new addition to the immunisation schedule from Sept 2006. Pneumococcal bacterium vaccine can cause pneumonia, septicaemia (blood poisoning) and meningitis, and is also one of the most common bacterial causes of ear infections.
|Within 12 to 24 hours of the vaccine being given your baby may be a little miserable and can develop:
- Raised temperature
- Some sickness and/or diarrhoea
- Swelling and redness at site of injection or a small lump which may last for a few weeks
- Rarely (in les sthan 1 in 1000 children) a day or two following the vaccination some babies may develop a high temperature. If your child does develop a temperature ask your doctor or nurse who may recommend a suitable paediatric medicine for them to take.
||DtaP / IPV / Hib & Men C
||Meningitis C – one of the serious causes of meningitis and serious blood infections in children. Although uncommon now, prior to the introduction of the vaccine it was the most common killer in the 1-5 age group.
||Some children may suffer from redness and swelling at the site of injection and a mild fever and headache.
||DtaP / IPV / Hib & PCV & Men C
||As above – repetition of the vaccines are necessary to build immunity.
||Hib / MenC
||This routine Hib booster has been added to the schedule to maintain protection throughout early childhood and prevent resurgence of the disease.
||MMR / PCV
||Measles – the virus is highly contagious and causes a high fever and rash. Around 60% of children who get measles are at risk of complications including chest infections, fits and debilitating brain damage. Measles is a serious disease that can kill.
||After the MMR a toddler may demonstrate mild symptoms that are characteristic of the disease they are protecting against.
- Ten days after the jab they may get a rash and a high temperature. If you are at all worried speak to a doctor or nurse who may recommend a paediatric medicine.
- After 3 weeks there may be some mild facial swelling as happens in mumps.
- The more serious side effects include fits, which affect 1 in 1000, meningitis which affects one in a million, and severe allergy which affects 1 in 100,000. Although these may seem frightening it is important to realise that this is still many times safer than the disease itself. No-one has died following vaccination whilst measles kills up to 1 in 8000 children.
What if my child develops a fever after vaccination?
When your child is immunised he’s injected with a tiny amount of the bacteria or virus that causes the disease. Even though this isn’t enough to give him the disease itself, the body can sometimes start battling the bugs. Which means your child’s temperature might go up.
To help with a fever, many doctors suggest Ibuprofen – the active ingredient in Nurofen for Children – because it can help reduce fever for up to 8 hours – longer than paracetamol. Here are some other things you can do to bring your child’s temperature down:
- Cool the room – open a window or turn on a fan;
- Check his temperature regularly to make sure he’s not getting too cold;
- Give infant ibuprofen suspension , like Nurofen for Children ;
- Offer drinks and food, even though you might be turned down;
- If you’re worried for any reason, please speak to your doctor.