MEASLES, MUMPS & RUBELLA (MMR) VACCINE
Given from 15 months. Approximate cost R200. At a state clinic your baby will be given the measles vaccine. In private clinics it is combined with two other vaccines: rubella (German measles) and mumps.
Rubella is usually a mild infection in childhood, but if a woman is infected for the first time during pregnancy it can have devastating effects on her unborn baby, resulting in miscarriage or severe birth defects. “Vaccinating your child against rubella will protect her future pregnancies and will protect pregnant women who may be exposed to your child,” says Dr Glass, adding that there has been an increase in rubella cases in South Africa over the past three years. Again, herd immunity is key in preventing infections from spreading.
Mumps is a viral infection that leads to painful swelling of the salivary glands. Complications of this infection can include meningitis and deafness, among others.
The measles vaccine is given at six months and again within one year at a state clinic. But in a private clinic, the shot given after measles is the MMR. So if one just attends a state clinic you won’t have the MMR. However, the single measles vaccine is being phased out
MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE VACCINE
Given from nine months. Approximate cost R430. Prevenar and Synflorix are vaccines offered by the state for free to prevent bacterial pneumococcal disease (which, among other things, causes meningitis). But there is also another strain of bacterial meningitis called meningococcal disease that causes a very aggressive form of meningitis that is often deadly before it has been even been diagnosed.
FACING YOUR FEARS
It’s only natural that as a parent you want to know what possible side effects your baby could suffer from vaccinations, but all the experts consulted in this piece agree that vaccines are rigorously tested and safe to use. Dr Suchard says the mild side effects that can occur include fever, redness, some swelling at the vaccine site and a bit of tenderness. “These are all signs that there has been an immune response and the vaccine is working,” she says.
Thanks to improvements that are regularly made to vaccines, Sr Ingrid has noticed babies in her clinic have suffered fewer side effects in the past two years. “It’s very unlikely now that your baby will be unhappy or a bit feverish after a vaccine, where in the past it was common,” she says. YB