Immunisation for child

Immunisation for child

Immunisation is a way of providing protection against disease. A small amount of vaccine (a preparation made from the germs that cause the particular disease) is given to the child, either by injection or by mouth or through a scratch in the skin, and prompts the child’s body to make antibodies. These antibodies (cells that fight the disease) are then ready to offer resistance if the child comes in contact with the disease. Booster shots, or extra doses of vaccine, are needed to produce and maintain a sufficiently high level of antibodies in certain diseases.

Babies are born with some immunity against the diseases their mothers have had or have been vaccinated against, because the mother’s antibodies pass through the placenta. But this ‹“passive’ immunity starts to wear off after a few months and the child becomes susceptible to certain diseases. This is why immunisation is started at three months, except for the BCG vaccine against tuberculosis which is given as soon afterbirth as possible because the child does not have immunity to them from the mother.

A timetable for vaccination shots has been worked out to provide the maximum protection with as few visits as possible. If, for any reason, a child has missed a visit or has not had the shots at all, she should still have them done as soon as possible. Some parents are against having their children immunised

because they have heard stories of serious side effects. Although there are cases where a child has had problems, the incidence of side effects from vaccinations compared with the effects of the various diseases themselves is very low indeed; so it is in the interests of all children that parents ensure that they are vaccinated. This applies to all children from rich or poor homes. Divorce, moving from one area to another and the general bustle of life today can result in children being missed out or records lost. Even if parents are not sure which vaccinations their children have had, they should take them to the clinic so that they can be advised.

BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin) vaccination against tuberculosis. This vaccination is compulsory by law for all children under six months and should be done as soon after birth as possible. Sometimes it is done in the nursing home and this will be shown on the card you are given when you leave. If not, have it done before six months. For maximum protection children should have a repeat of the vaccination on entering and leaving school. If your child has had an attack of measles you should wait two months before taking her for her BCG vaccination. Children with eczema and open sores should not be vaccinated.

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