MEASLES, MUMPS & RUBELLA (MMR) VAC­CINE

Your Baby & Toddler - - THE DOSSIER -

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

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