Your baby's mandatory immunisation
Do you know what immunisations are mandatory for your baby here in Singapore? Read this article to find out...
If you have a young infant, his or her paediatrician would have probably talked to you about immunisation and its importance.
Immunising children — especially against common childhood diseases like chickenpox, mumps or rubella — is recommended by almost all health professionals as a preventative measure against your child contracting these diseases and more.
In fact, professional health bodies and organisations such as the Health Promotion Board (HPB), Singapore and the World Health Organization (WHO) advocate childhood immunisations for a number of reasons.
The most important of these reasons are:
- Immunisation protects against serious diseases that can lead to lifelong complications and occasionally, can even be fatal.
- Immunization results in the protection of all children. If enough children are immunised against a particular disease, the risk of it spreading from person to person is very low and the disease may be eradicated altogether.
In Singapore, there are some immunisations which are mandatory for all children, while others are optional.
The vaccinations currently recommended to children in Singapore include:
- Hepatitis B
- Pertussis (DTP)
- Poliomyelitis (Oral Polio Vaccine)
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR).
Compulsory immunisations (except for Hepatitis B) are available for free at the local polyclinics.
Optional immunisations (Chickenpox, Influenza, Rotavirus, Hepatitis A, Meningococcal and Pneumococcal) are available at a fee with your doctor.
BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin)
Your baby will be administered an attenuated (weakened) version of the BCG virus at birth. This immunisation is to protect your baby against tuberculosis (TB).
TB was the commonest cause of death in Singapore in the first half of the twentieth century. However, the incidence of TB as well as the number of deaths has declined significantly in the last decade thanks to vaccination.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
Your baby will be administered 3 doses of the Hepatitis B vaccine. The 1st will be at birth, the 2nd dose at 1 month and the 3rd at 6 months.
Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus (DPT) Vaccine
Your baby will be administered 3 doses of the DPT vaccine, from months 3-5. This 3-in-1 baby immunisation is to protect your child against Diphtheria, Whooping cough and Tetanus.
- Diphtheria is a very serious disease that can make a person unable to breathe, cause paralysis, or even heart failure.
- Pertussis causes repeated spells of coughing that can make it difficult to eat, drink, or breathe.
- Tetanus, also called lockjaw, is caused by a bacterium that is common in the soil. When this germ gets into an open cut or wound, an unprotected person can contract tetanus, which creates serious muscle spasms that can be strong enough to snap the spine.
Poliomyelitis (Polio) Vaccine
Poliomyelitis is caused by the polio virus and primarily affects young children. The virus lives in the throat and intestinal tract and is spread through contact with the stools of an infected person.
When infected, children can become paralyzed. Due to the introduction of an immunisation programme, Singapore was declared polio-free in 2000.
However, polio is still present in some countries and therefore, the risk of contracting polio is still present today. The polio vaccine used in Singapore is a live vaccine administered in a syrup form.
The first 3 doses are given when your baby is 3, 4 and 5 months old. Additional boosters are administered at 18 months, 6 and 11 years.
After immunisation against poliomyelitis, your child should observe strict personal hygiene as the virus particles are passed out through the faeces for at least 6 weeks.
Make sure he washes his hands with soap and water after going to the toilet and before handling or eating food.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine (MMR)
These highly contagious diseases used to be very widespread before the introduction of the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine is administered when your baby is around 12 months old, with a booster at age 12.
If a household member is pregnant, your doctor will recommend holding off the baby immunisation so as to prevent the mother-to-be from being exposed to the live, though weakened, virus in the vaccine.
To find out more information about your baby's mandatory immunisation, speak to your child's paediatrician.
You could also have a look at the Singapore Health Promotion Board website.
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