The life-saving value of childhood vaccinations

Medihelp

2021-04-21

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Welcoming a baby into the world is one of life’s greatest joys, and giving your baby a healthy start in life should be your top priority.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to make sure your baby receives all the standard immunisations as recommended by the Department of Health.

How does immunisation work?

When your body comes into contact with unknown cells, it activates its immune system to produce antibodies to fight off the “intruder” cells. A vaccine contains weakened or inactive parts of a particular organism (pathogen) that triggers the body to produce an immune response (antigens) against the particular pathogen. The vaccine cannot cause the disease but it does stimulate the desired immune response.

Why should my child receive vaccinations?

Some diseases, like polio, are devastating and can leave a child with severe and permanent health damage. These diseases are preventable with simple immunisation. Some vaccines are taken orally and some are injected.

The standard child immunisation schedule

At birth:

BCG vaccine for TB – an oral polio vaccine

6 weeks:

  • Oral polio vaccine
  • Rotavirus vaccine
  • Pneumococcal conjugated vaccine
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, inactivated polio vaccine and haemophilus influenza type B and hepatitis B vaccine combined (1)

10 weeks:

Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, inactivated polio vaccine and haemophilus influenza type B and hepatitis B vaccine (2)

14 weeks:

  • Rotavirus vaccine
  • Pneumococcal conjugated vaccine
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, inactivated polio vaccine and haemophilus influenza type B and hepatitis B vaccine (3)

6 months:

Measles vaccine (1)

9 months:

  • Pneumococcal conjugated vaccine
  • Chickenpox vaccine

12 months:

Measles vaccine (2)

18 months:

Diphtheria, tetanus, inactivated polio vaccine and haemophilus influenza type B and hepatitis B vaccine combined (4)

6 years:

Tetanus and diphtheria vaccine

What happens if my baby misses an immunisation?

It’s never too late to catch up. Simply tell your doctor or clinic sister about the missed immunisation and they will arrange for your baby to receive it.

Will my medical aid pay for immunisation?

All Medihelp members have benefits for the full range of childhood vaccinations for children up to seven years.

Some useful immunisation tips

  • It is essential to keep a record of your baby’s immunisation history, as all pre-schools, schools, clubs and sports facilities for children require proof of their immunisations. When your baby receives the first vaccine at birth, most hospitals will provide you with a card that you can use for all subsequent immunisations.
  • Always bring the immunisation record along when you take your baby for immunisation. This gives the doctor or sister who vaccinates the baby a clear overview of your baby’s vaccination history and enables them to record the vaccine that they are administering.
  • Never have your baby vaccinated when he/she has a fever.
  • If your baby had a serious reaction to a previous vaccination, discuss this with your doctor or clinic sister before the next vaccination.
  • Consult with your doctor or clinic sister if you have questions or concerns before having your baby vaccinated.

Sources:

www.medihelp.co.za

www.cdc.gov

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