Although your baby's pediatrician guides you on the necessary vaccines to get and when your baby needs it (find your baby's immunization schedule here), vaccination can be one of the trickier aspects of new parenting. So it was nice surprise to catch this episode of the Department of Health’s The Doctor is In TV program where guests were invited to discuss childhood immunization. They answered a few of Pinoy parents’ common questions about childhood vaccination.
1. “Vaccines don’t give 100% protection. Is this true?” According to Dr. Rodaliza Gumboc, a pediatrician at the National Children's Hospital, vaccines give complete protection. However, there are times when your child can still get the disease even if he is immunized. In this case, even if he still gets infected, the severe symptoms and manifestations of the disease will be significantly lessened. For example, “Imbis na tatagal siya [infection] ng isang linggo o dalawang linggo, pwedeng ilang araw lang at napaka-benign lang,” said Dr. Gumboc.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the U.S. (CDC) points out: “It is impossible to predict who will get serious infections that may lead to hospitalization.” Getting vaccinated greatly lessens that chance.
2. “What are the vaccines I can get for free at health centers?” According to Dr. Gumboc, these are the vaccines you can get at health centers. Make sure you keep track of your child’s immunization schedule:
BCG vaccine - given at birth, this vaccine provides protection from types of tuberculosis found outside the lungs
Monovalent Hepatitis B vaccine - given at birth, this vaccine protects against Hepatitis B, a serious and long-term disease in kids. Some hospitals do not discharge infants who have not been given this vaccine.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) - gives protection from pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. It can be given not just to kids, but also individuals whose immune systems are weak or compromised.
DPT-Hib-Hep B vaccine - given at 6 weeks old, it protects against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus
Rotavirus vaccine - given at 6 weeks old, this vaccine provides protection from bacteria that are the common cause of diarrhea in children below 5 years old
Oral Polio vaccine - given at 6 weeks old
Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine (MMR) - administered when the child is 9 months old
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3. “What happens if my child misses a vaccination dose?” Vaccines for different diseases are given during different ages. Some are given immediately after birth, but others need the baby to be at least 6 weeks old. Some vaccines also need more than one shot and come in a series of two or three doses. These doses also come with a recommended waiting time in between (a month apart, for example).
So, why does your doctor strongly recommend that you bring your child back on his scheduled vaccination date? “Base sa mga pag-aaral, 'pag binigay siya sa mga edad beyond the recommendation hindi na siya ganoon ka-effective,” said Dr. Gumboc.
However, if you do miss the mark by a few weeks or even months, don’t worry. Here’s what you should do…
4. “What should I do now that my child has missed a dose in a series? Does he have to start over?” Don’t fret too much. Your child does not have to start over, said Dr. Gumboc. Even if the second dose was scheduled a month apart from the first and it’s been three months since, your child can still catch up. Just make sure to bring your child back for his dose as soon as possible.
Afterward, your child may be advised by his doctor to take a blood exam to assess the body’s response to the vaccine, which is usually done at least two months after the last dose. If you want to avoid a blood extraction for your child, don’t miss his scheduled date.
Always complete the required number of doses. Don’t stop mid-series. An incomplete vaccination does not give optimal protection, said Dr. Cerelyn E. Dacula, a pediatrician and vaccinology expert. “Dapat kung magpapabakuna, kukumpletuhin yung doses at the right schedule.”
5. “I’m worried my child will get a fever after his vaccination shot. Is there a way around this?” There are instances when a parent deliberately avoids getting a child vaccinated simply to avoid a fever, said Dr. Gumboc. Parents should know, however, that fevers and soreness at vaccination spot are all normal in a child who has just been given a vaccine. It's his body's expected reaction to foreign bodies, explained Dr. Gumboc. “It’s a normal process. It’s normal na maglalagnat yung bata.”
You can expect the fever to arrive within 24 hours after the shot, Dr. Carmina Arriola-Delos Reyes, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, told SmartParenting.com.ph. However, if the fever is persistent, have your child evaluated by his doctor, she added.
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Speaking of immunization, we can't end this story without showing you DOH's music video to encourage Pinoy parents to have their babies vaccinated. It pretty much covers what you need to know about the importance of vaccination...in a catchy tune. Hey, anything for our kid's health, right?