WHAT MOMS WANT TO KNOW
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.
WITHIN THE FIRST 48 HOURS, THE BABY MAY BE A BIT GRUMPY OR DEVELOP A FEVER, WHICH IS VERY COMMON