Poliomyelitis for child
Immunisation against polio is compulsory for children over three months, and for anyone who has been in contact with the disease. Immigrants under 40 are also required to have the vaccine.
The polio vaccine is given orally and if the child vomits within an hour of taking it you should let the clinic know so that they can repeat the dose. If you cannot get to the clinic the same day, make a note of it and tell them next time. The vaccine is very safe and an extra dose will do no harm.
Polio vaccine should not be given while the child is ill, especially if she has diarrhoea. Women should not have the polio vaccine during the first three months of pregnancy. Breast milk interferes with the antibody response, especially if the mother has had the vaccine within the last two years, so the baby should not have breast milk for at least two hours before and after she has been vaccinated. At least three doses of vaccine must be given at intervals of four to six weeks, and a booster dose should be given a year later or, if not given then, it should be given before school.
DPT – diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus vaccine. A single injection combining vaccine against all three diseases is usually given to children under two years. The vaccine is injected in three doses at six weekly intervals from the age of three months until six months. A fourth booster dose may be given at 18 months. Whooping cough vaccine can have side effects after the age of two so it is not given. But since the disease itself is extremely serious in young children it is vital that they have the injection according to the schedule from three months.
A booster dose of DT (diptheria and tetanus) vaccine only should be given before school and around the ages of 14 to 16. DPT vaccine should not be given if the child is ill or has a temperature or other signs of illness. In cases of allergy, previous poor reaction to vaccination or convulsions, you should consult your doctor before having the vaccination done. Some children are restless after their DPT injections and it is not unusual for a small lump to form at the site of the injection. It disappears eventually.
If your child has a slightly raised temperature, give her a dose of paracetamol or children’s aspirin, but if the child seems particularly ill, see your doctor soon.
Tetanus (lockjaw) is an extremely serious disease and half the people who get it and have not been immunised die. You can get lockjaw through a cut or a scratch so it is essential for everyone to keep up immunity by having a booster shot once every 10 years, and immediately after an injury if it is longer than one year after the last tetanus injection – either combined or alone. Tetanus injections can be given during pregnancy or at any other time.