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.
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.