Jabs for babies
Swallow your fears and find out more about vaccines.
(Getty Images)
Hang on. You want to stick that needle into the pristine, soft, exquisite skin of my newborn? Jabs are no-one’s favourite parenting moment. But think carefully before deciding not to give your children the recommended vaccinations, and get the facts straight.

Vaccines are one of the most important strategies available to help prevent infectious diseases. In the past, before vaccines, many children died or had severe complications following infections such as measles and polio.

  • Vaccines contain proteins from the viruses or bacteria that cause the diseases they are aimed at preventing.
  • Some vaccines contain whole micro-organisms which are killed or are altered so as not to cause disease.
  • These then stimulate the body into producing antibodies and special white cells that will fight the infection if it appears in the future.

Live attenuated vaccines
Used for: measles, mumps, rubella, polio.

These are solutions of the micro-organisms which have been altered in such a way as to render them incapable of producing the original disease, but capable of stimulating an immune response. They are the most successful types of vaccines, generally providing life-long protection.

Killed vaccines
Used for: hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza.

These are solutions of dead micro-organisms which can still produce an immune response. They require a primary course of immunisation, usually two to three injections spaced at intervals. Often a booster immunisation is needed approximately every five years to stay immune.

  • These vaccines have been grouped together so that they can be conveniently received at regular intervals.
  • The different vaccines do not interfere with one another and there is no increased risk of serious side-effects when they are given at the same time.

Remember your “Road to Health” chart
  • When you take your baby to the clinic or pediatrician for vaccinations make sure you have your Road to Health chart with you.
  • This is from the Department of Health and will be given to you in the maternity ward.
  • All the baby’s health details are recorded here, and the vaccination information also needs to be filled in.
  • Keep it in a safe place as you will need it your little baby goes to “big” school.

Side effects
  • Side-effects are usually mild. If you are concerned when your baby is showing severe signs and symptoms of fever, convulsions or allergic reaction you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Some babies are not affected at all.
  • Don’t take a sick baby for vaccines, first let the symptoms clear.
  • Your baby will probably be upset afterwards, so be prepared to give her a feed at the clinic immediately afterwards. It may not be a full feed but it will comfort her.
  • The area of the injection may also bleed slightly, just dab on petroleum jelly to stop the blood and it will also soothe the area. You can repeat this for a day or two if it looks a little red.
Have you vaccinated your children? What are the pros and cons as you see them?

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