Your Baby & Toddler - - THE DOSSIER -

Sr Irma Boshoff, a mid­wife and the co­or­di­na­tor of Stork’s Nest at Net­care Clin­ton Hos­pi­tal, an­swers your ev­ery­day ques­tions on vac­ci­na­tions

I’ve lost my Road to Health Card. How can I get a new one, and will the sis­ter fill in the pre­vi­ous vac­ci­na­tions for me?

t Net­care, the Road to Health Card can only be done at the hos­pi­tal where the baby was born. But, if you were deal­ing with one clinic and one sis­ter who has the file and his­tory of that baby at her clinic, then she can fill in the info of those vac­cines she has on the sys­tem. You are re­quired to fill in an af­fi­davit stat­ing that you have lost your card.

Can I give my baby some­thing for pain be­fore I take him for the vac­ci­na­tion?

No. Giv­ing your baby pain medication in ad­vance is an an­cient prac­tice and is no longer done as it might in­ter­fere with the ab­sorp­tion of the vac­cine. Rather, wait un­til after, and give meds only if the baby is dis­play­ing signs of dis­com­fort. Most of the time ba­bies are fine after vac­ci­na­tion.

We are going away, and there­fore my baby’s next vac­ci­na­tion will have to hap­pen a month later than the date given by the clinic. Is this a big is­sue?

No, it’s not. Life hap­pens, and at Net­care we know that. With vac­cines there is al­ways a catch-up. But we en­cour­age that our clients best keep to the sched­ule.

There is a big pim­ple where my baby got her TB shot. Can I pop it and put some an­tibi­otic cream on?

Not at all. It is nor­mal for a pim­ple to de­velop, and it can look like a boil some­times. Moth­ers tend to panic and go see a lo­cal doc­tor, but that is not nec­es­sary. As the boil ripens or de­vel­ops, it will burst by it­self. Un­der no cir­cum­stances should it be squeezed. No oint­ments, plas­ters, or sur­gi­cal spir­its must be ap­plied. Bath the baby as usual and pay no spe­cial at­ten­tion to the pim­ple. It will dry up on its own, and there is usu­ally a scab that will fall off on its own. This can some­times take months and at times will even leave a tiny scar on the arm.

I’m so scared of side ef­fects. What do I need to watch out for?

There re­ally aren’t any side ef­fects. But what can hap­pen, within the first 48 hours, is that the baby may be a bit grumpy or de­velop a fever, which is very com­mon. But, that’s about it.

A fever is only when the tem­per­a­ture is 38.5 de­grees or higher. If that hap­pens, you can give the baby Panado; oth­er­wise just con­tinue with your usual rou­tine and don’t elim­i­nate any­thing.

My baby is al­ler­gic to egg. Are there some vac­ci­na­tions we should avoid?

Al­lergy to eggs is not a con­traindi­ca­tion to any vac­cine. Years back, it was the measles in­fec­tions at six months. But no baby is eat­ing eggs at six months.

From when can my baby get the flu vac­ci­na­tion?

Flu vac­cines start from as early as six months. It is rec­om­mended for prems and ba­bies who are al­ready at­tend­ing day­care.

I’ve started off on the pri­vate sched­ule, but now there is a great gov­ern­ment clinic nearby. Can I swop from pri­vate to gov­ern­ment?

Yes. In most in­stances the vac­cines are the same, but gov­ern­ment of­fers only the com­pul­sory ones and not the op­tional ones like chicken pox and menin­gi­tis. For in­stance, hep­ati­tis A is com­pul­sory, and in the gov­ern­ment sec­tor, they of­fer one, at six months, that only cov­ers measles whereas the pri­vate sec­tor has a three-in-one com­bi­na­tion that gives you not only measles but mumps and Ger­man measles (rubella) as well.

What is the main dif­fer­ence be­tween the gov­ern­ment sched­ule and the pri­vate one? How do I de­cide which route to fol­low?

The dif­fer­ence is that the pri­vate sec­tor gives you ad­di­tional vac­cines that are op­tional and are for non-lifethreat­en­ing dis­eases. So, if you can af­ford to do them, it’s ad­vis­able to do so.

Ap­par­ently some vac­ci­na­tions are of­ten out of stock. Should I try to buy them in ad­vance or order them my­self, or will they ex­pire?

It is not ad­vis­able for you to buy the vac­cines, as they have to be stored at the cor­rect tem­per­a­ture. Vac­cines don’t gen­er­ally have a short shelf life.

If you go to your lo­cal clinic and find that they are out of stock of the vac­cine you need, they will order it for you, and you’ll be no­ti­fied once it is avail­able.

In most cases, when a vac­cine is not avail­able, that tends to be a na­tional and not just a lo­cal prob­lem.

Are there any tips for mak­ing the vac­ci­na­tion ex­pe­ri­ence less stress­ful for me and my baby?

Most of­ten the par­ents stress more than the baby. But, after the vac­ci­na­tion, it is nice for the baby to have a milk feed. This is not be­cause they are stress­ing but just be­cause breast­feed­ing set­tles them.

Can my baby still have her vac­cine even though I’ve for­got­ten her card at home?

The gen­eral rule is no. But, if you have a his­tory with the clinic and your chil­dren have been going there for a while and the clinic has your child’s his­tory, the call can be made by the sis­ter as­sist­ing you.


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