SHOULD YOUR KID SKIP A VAC­CINE SHOT?

Vac­ci­na­tions are a rite of pas­sage for every Sin­ga­porean child, but what if your kid is sick be­fore an ap­point­ment, or misses a booster dose? Find out the an­swers to these and other press­ing ques­tions.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

What to do if your kid is sick be­fore an ap­point­ment, or misses a booster dose.

Are vac­cines safe? Why did my child de­velop a fever af­ter a shot?

Vac­cines work by stim­u­lat­ing a child’s im­mu­nity to pro­duce an­ti­bod­ies against cer­tain in­fec­tious dis­eases, so she can fight them if she comes into con­tact with them, ex­plains Dr Flordeliza Yong, deputy direc­tor of School Health Ser­vice at the Health Pro­mo­tion Board.

In Sin­ga­pore, vac­cines are as­sessed to be safe for use by the Health Sciences Au­thor­ity.

Mi­nor side ef­fects, such as a low-grade fever and sore­ness at the in­jec­tion site, are pos­si­ble re­ac­tions to some shots. But se­ri­ous al­ler­gic re­ac­tions, such breath­ing dif­fi­culty, wheez­ing, hives, a fast heart­beat or dizzi­ness, are “ex­tremely rare”, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO).

In fact, your child is more likely to be se­ri­ously in­jured by a vac­cine-pre­ventable dis­ease such as po­lio, which can cause paral­y­sis, than by a vac­cine, the WHO says.

Af­ter your child’s in­jec­tion, re­main in the clinic’s wait­ing area for 15 min­utes so that she can be ob­served for any ab­nor­mal post-vac­ci­na­tion re­ac­tions, says Dr Pre­deebha Kan­nan, deputy direc­tor of Pri­mary Care Academy at Na­tional Health­care Group Poly­clin­ics.

Most clin­ics pro­vide fever med­i­ca­tion – to be used when nec­es­sary – and post-vac­cine ad­vice to par­ents. See a doc­tor im­me­di­ately if your child’s fever per­sists af­ter 24 hours or if she ex­pe­ri­ences con­tin­u­ous cry­ing, fits or other se­ri­ous re­ac­tions.

I’ve made an ap­point­ment for my baby’s vac­ci­na­tions, but he’s run­ning a fever and has a runny nose. Should I still go ahead?

If your child is sick with a fever, then de­lay the im­mu­ni­sa­tion. But go ahead if he has a sim­ple cold or other mi­nor ill­ness, says Dr Ratna Srid­jaja, pae­di­a­tri­cian at SBCC Baby & Child Clinic at Gle­nea­gles.

An­other in­stance where he should avoid go­ing is when he has had a pre­vi­ous al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to that par­tic­u­lar im­mu­ni­sa­tion. For in­stance, kids who are se­verely al­ler­gic to eggs should skip the flu vac­cine be­cause the in­gre­di­ents are grown in­side eggs.

If your child’s im­mune sys­tem is sup­pressed due to rea­sons such as can­cer treat­ment, avoid live vac­cines like po­lio and MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella),

Dr Ratna adds.

What hap­pens if he misses a vac­ci­na­tion shot or booster jab?

It is rec­om­mended to stick closely to the Na­tional Child­hood Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Sched­ule (visit www.tinyurl. com/Vac­cineSG for de­tails). Every month that your lit­tle one goes with­out her sched­uled im­mu­ni­sa­tion puts her at risk of vac­cine-pre­ventable dis­eases, Dr Yong says.

But if you’ve missed cer­tain doses, you will get a re­minder let­ter from the Na­tional Im­mu­ni­sa­tion Reg­istry. It main­tains the im­mu­ni­sa­tion records for all Sin­ga­pore res­i­dents aged 18 years and be­low. Take your child to the clinic for ad­vice on how to get up-to-date on those shots so she con­tin­ues to be pro­tected, the ex­perts say.

“Chil­dren who miss their first doses at three months of age can start later. Those who have got­ten some of their doses and fallen be­hind sched­ule can catch up with­out hav­ing to start over,”

Dr Yong says.

If your child is un­well, her shots may be given at a later date as im­mu­ni­sa­tion is only given when she is found to be fit, says Dr Pre­deebha.

I’m con­cerned about the MMR jab, which has been linked to autism. Should I de­lay this un­til she is older?

There is no ev­i­dence to sup­port the link be­tween the measles­mumps-rubella (MMR) vac­cine and autism, Dr Pre­deebha says.

The ini­tial 1998 study by Dr An­drew Wakefield raised con­cerns about the pos­si­ble link and set off wide­spread panic among par­ents, but was later found to be se­ri­ously flawed.

An in­ves­ti­ga­tion pub­lished by Bri­tish med­i­cal jour­nal BMJ con­cluded that the study’s au­thor mis­rep­re­sented or al­tered the med­i­cal his­to­ries of all 12 of the pa­tients stud­ied.

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