Vaccinating kids: How important is it?
Find out exactly why childhood vaccinations are important.
As parents, we are often faced with tough choices, especially when it comes to our kids and their health and well-being. To vaccinate our kids or not is one such choice.
Perhaps you might be currently facing this common dilemma, especially if you have a young baby who's due for various vaccinations.
With this in mind, we bring you information regarding why it's important to have your child — whether he's a baby or older — vaccinated.
It's no secret that health professionals and international organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) place such a strong emphasis on vaccinating kids and babies.
Have you ever wondered why?
It's pretty simple: Vaccinating kids prevents diseases — many of them potentially serious or even fatal.
Vaccinating kids and babies is quick, safe and effective, and has dramatically improved the quality of life of millions of people around the world.
Here are some facts about vaccines adapted from the WHO:
- Better hygiene and sanitation alone will not make diseases disappear, although they will help curb the spread of the disease. If people are not vaccinated, uncommon diseases such as polio and measles will quickly reappear.
- Vaccines are very safe and most reactions — such as fever or soreness around the injection site — are temporary. You or you child are far more likely to be seriously affected by a vaccine-preventable disease than an actual vaccine.
- Vaccines do not cause autism. The 1998 study which raised concerns about the possible link between autism and the MMR vaccination has been found to be seriously flawed, and the journal that published the paper has retracted it.
- The combined vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) and the vaccine against poliomyelitis do not cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, these vaccines are given at a time when babies are most susceptible to SIDS.
Vaccine-preventable diseases need not be a 'fact of life'
You may have heard from some that vaccine-preventable diseases such as rubella or mumps are just an unfortunate fact of life.
In fact, some may even say that getting such illnesses as a child makes the immune system stronger and more resilient to other diseases.
However, the truth is that illnesses such as measles, mumps and rubella are very serious, and can lead to severe complications in both children and adults.
These complications may include pneumonia, encephalitis, blindness, diarrhea, ear infections and even death.
All these diseases and suffering can be prevented with vaccines, and the failure to vaccinate against these diseases leaves children unnecessarily vulnerable.
More about vaccinating kids on the next page...
Can a child's immune system be 'overloaded'?
When a child is young, the vaccinations she receives are seemingly endless, especially in her first few years. Many parents might wonder if their baby's system can handle all these vaccinations; whether her immune system might be 'overloaded.'
Well, studies have shown that this is not the case.
From the moment a baby is born, she comes into contact with a large number of bacteria and viruses, and continues to be exposed to them throughout her childhood years and beyond.
The bacteria and viruses used in vaccines are weakened or killed. In fact, a child is exposed to far more antigens from a common cold or sore throat than they are from vaccines.
In short, if a child was given 11 vaccines all at the same time, it would only use a thousandth of their immune system!
Vaccinating kids in Singapore
The Health Promotion Board of Singapore (HPB) strongly encourages vaccinating kids and babies against vaccine-preventable diseases.
According to the HPB:
"By immunising your child against diseases, you are giving the best protection for your child. Vaccine-preventable diseases involve heavy financial burden from treatment of long term complications, hospitalisations to frequent doctor visits. Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases and save lives."
In Singapore, the National Immunisation Registry (NIR) monitors and makes sure each child gets her vaccinations on time, and maintains vaccination records for all children from birth to 18 years of age.
If you choose to immunise your child at a polyclinic, details of vaccinations will be automatically updated into the NIR's registry. For immunisations given at family or pediatric clinics, the doctor will keep NIR updated as and when an immunisation is completed.
More on vaccinating kids, including what your child's vaccination schedule looks like, on page 3...
Why is childhood vaccination important?
According to the HPB, childhood immunisation provides:
- Protection against serious diseases, which can lead to lifelong complications — and sometimes even be fatal.
- 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.
Your child's vaccination schedule
When your child is born, one of the first things your healthcare providers will do is talk to you about her vaccinations. Soon after birth, she will receive the BCG vaccine for tuberculosis and the first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine.
The following chart gives you an understanding of what the rest of your child's vaccination schedule looks like. Do keep in mind that these are compulsory vaccinations.
Your child's healthcare provider will also talk to you about optional vaccines that will provide your child protection against childhood diseases such as chickenpox, rotavirus and hepatitis A.
If you are considering giving your child these optional vaccinations and have any questions or clarifications about them, do discuss your concerns with your child's healthcare provider.
Now, we'd like to know — what are your thoughts on vaccinating kids? Do share them with us by leaving a comment below!