My son turned one this month, and we decided to celebrate his birthday in a unique way. So, instead of throwing a birthday party that he would barely enjoy, we went on a road trip. And, in addition to getting him a beach ball for his birthday, we did something to ensure a bright future for him: we took him to the doctor and got him his vaccines!
The vaccination day
My wife and I were a bit tensed. He was supposed to get 4 jabs: one on each limb. And that was scary even for us as doctors. We were just happy that he did not know what was going to happen to him in the next few hours.
We reached the clinic. He was busy exploring it, playing with his toy. He waved at the nurse, oblivious to the fact that the same person was going to inject him 4 times! I held him. He sensed something and tensed in my arms. We started with his left thigh, working anti-clockwise. The first jab was a shock, the second one really got a loud wail from him. My wife was weeping silently, and I was trying to gulp down a sob. After the third injection, I just asked the nurse to pause and took a small stroll. He was crying inconsolably. And who wouldn't? But the worst thing was the way he looked at me, as though he was accusing me of being an accomplice in the whole dolorous process he was going through.
After the vaccine
The nurse gave the fourth vaccine and we thanked her and left. The brave kiddo looked out of the window and was distracted instantly. We reached home. The next 24 hours were going to be difficult. The reason - he had received his first MMR shot. MMR is known to cause fever, and we were prepared.
Everything was well for the next two hours. He went down for a nap, and as he woke up, he was burning. We checked the temperature, and it was almost 38.5 C. This warranted some Paracetamol. The next six hours, we could feel his exhaustion. He barely ate and latched on to my wife every two hours.
He slept fitfully at night, wanting to be hugged. And so, my wife and I took turns rocking him in our arms as he slept. Thankfully, he woke up fresh in the morning. The temperature was almost back to normal, and he was back to his impish self!
Why vaccines may seem terrible
As doctors, we understand why vaccines are so important. They not only protect the child from an illness, they also provide herd immunity to the community. This is important as there are a few children who cannot be vaccinated due to a lack of immunity of their own.
We also understood that had they not been compulsory, not many parents would have subjected their children to this pain. That said, I cannot stress how important vaccines are for your child. So, don't just vaccinate your child because it is compulsory for his school admission. Do that because some day, he is going to come in contact with a pathogen and his body is going to be ready to combat them.
What to expect after a vaccination
Different vaccines have different effects on the body. So, you can expect a range of symptoms, fever being the most common. The other common symptoms are rashes, pain at the site of the injection and a feeling of general malaise. Most of these will get better on their own. If there is redness and swelling at the site of the injection, contact your nurse. On the other hand, managing fever is important as there are many things that may go wrong here.
PCV, DTaP, MMR, and Meningitis B vaccines may cause a fever within 24 hours. Meningitis B, an optional vaccine is known to cause fever, so you might have to give a dose of Paracetamol even before the fever is noticed. Don't forget to ask the right dose of Paracetamol to your nurse. Be careful not to exceed the maximum dose in a 24 hours interval.
MMR is going to cause symptoms at different intervals after the vaccination. It is a vaccine against Mumps, Measles and Rubella. The first to elicit a reaction is the Measles component. After 6 to 10 days, your child may experience Measles-like symptoms with fever and rash. In about 2 to 3 weeks, some children suffer from mumps-like symptoms of fever and swollen glands.
Around 12-14 days, some children develop a rash and slight fever mimicking symptoms of Rubella. In about 2 to 3 weeks, some children suffer from mumps-like symptoms of fever and swollen glands. Ask your nurse about the correct dosage of Paracetamol for your child.
Under no circumstance should you give Aspirin to a child. It may cause Reye's syndrome, a rare disorder that can cause liver and brain damage to the child.
If the fever is more than 39 C, or if your instincts feel like it, just go and see a doctor. Don't try to manage the fever by giving a bath or using cold compresses as a traditional remedy. It may cause a rapid decrease in the temperature and the child might just become unresponsive.
Back to the story
We are waiting for the adverse effects of MMR vaccine to show. However, we hope that the symptoms are not that severe! We are just happy that we exist in an age where we are not helpless against these invisible pathogens, and our kid is relatively safer in the world on his own.
Mums and dads, do let me know if you want to know more about any aspect of vaccination in the comments below.