Diseases such as measles, mumps, whooping cough, rubella (German measles), diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and Haemophilus influenza type b (HiB) – a cause of meningitis – can be very serious and, in very young children, even fatal. Immunization offers long-lasting protection against these diseases. If you are concerned about the immunizations or are worried about allergic reactions, or if there is a family history of convulsions, don’t just decide not to have your child immunized, talk to your doctor.
The five-in-one vaccination, which immunizes against diphtheria, whooping cough (Pertussis – the medical name for whooping cough), tetanus, polio and Hib is usually given in one injection, at two months, three months, and four months of age. In addition, a new pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against pneumococcal infections has been introduced at two, four and 13 months. The men C vaccine that protects against meningitis C is given at three and four months, and then as a combined injection with HiB at 12 months. With all of these, it is important to complete the course to ensure maximum immunity. MMR immunizes against measles, mumps, and rubella and is given in one injection at 13 months.
Your newborn baby may also be offered immunization against tuberculosis (IB) with a BCG vaccine it you are in or from a high-risk area, or it you come from a family that has a history of TB.
Any side-effects from the five-in-one vaccine are usually mild. Your baby may become slightly feverish and appear unhappy for up to 24 hours after the injection. Very occasionally a convulsion occurs as a result of the fever, but this is over very quickly and has no lasting effect.
The MMR immunization has no immediate side-effects, although some children develop a mild fever and rash seven to 10 days after the injection, while others sometimes get a very mild form of mumps. It either of these reactions occur they are not infectious.
If your baby is feverish or acutely unwell, or has had a severe reaction to an earlier immunization, you should not have her immunized again without talking first to your doctor. Always tell the doctor who is doing the immunization if your baby is taking medication or it she has a severe allergic reaction to eggs. It the baby is vomiting or has diarrhoea it may be better to put off having the vaccination until she is better.
Many parents worry about the possibility of more serious effects from these vaccines, especially from the MMR and whooping cough vaccines.
The whooping cough part of the five-in-one vaccination is the one that has in the past been linked to brain damage, but research has shown that there is no link between this and the vaccine.
Parents may be concerned about the suggested link between the MMR vaccine and autism, or the vaccines possible link to the increase in Crohn’s disease, but recent research has shown that there is no evidence to support these fears.
Immunizations have developed over the years and many diseases th.it were formerly feared are no longer threats. This is the result of a sound immunization programme which has been applied to virtually all children.
Often parents are vague about the actual disease themselves, so it is worth familiarizing yourself with the conditions and their symptoms.
Diphtheria starts with a sore throat and then quickly develops into a serious illness which blocks the nose and throat, making it difficult and sometimes nearly impossible for a child to breathe. It can last for weeks and can often be fatal.
Tetanus is caused by germs from dirt or soil getting into an open wound or burn. It attacks the nervous system, causing painful muscle Spasms. Immunization has made it rare, but there is still a real chance of getting it and it can be fatal.
Bacterial meningitis develops rapidly and can cause serious illness within a few hours. If left untreated seizures can occur, followed by loss of consciousness leading to coma, and in some cases, it can be fatal. Even when children recover there is a risk of long-term problems such as deafness and epilepsy.
Pneumococcal infection can lead to meningitis, septicaemia (blood poisoning) and pneumonia if it enters the bloodstream it.
Polio attacks the nervous system and causes muscle paralysis. It it affects the breathing the sufferer will need help to breathe and could even die. Thankfully, polio is rare in most Western countries because of immunization, but there is still a risk of contact with the disease through foreign travel, which is why immunization is still important. Adults should check to see if they need a polio booster when they take their baby tor immunization.
Tuberculosis (TB) usually affects the Kings; symptoms include a cough, fever, or night sweats. Children are vulnerable and develop TB meningitis more often than adults.
Measles can be much more serious than people think because it is the disease most likely to cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). It begins like a bad cold with a fever and then a rash appears, which is often accompanied by a bad cough