Must-have jabs that will protect your baby

Don’t wait ― safeguard your precious bundle from life-threatening diseases with the necessary jabs!

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Infectious disease alert! As of end July 2016, the number of tuberculosis cases had jumped by 76, bringing the total cases to date to 827. At this rate, overall TB infections in 2016 may surpass the 1,402 cases reported last year (2015), according to figures from the Ministry of Health’s Weekly Infectious Diseases Bulletin.

And while Singapore hasn’t seen recent cases of polio or diphtheria, these very infectious illnesses still occur in other countries. All it takes is a plane ride for these diseases to arrive in our community. Take, measles, for example. Measles is not very common here because babies are vaccinated against the disease, yet it’s still common in many parts of the world. Measles is easily brought into our country by unvaccinated travellers who get infected while abroad.

As babies are more vulnerable to severe complications ― even death ― from infectious diseases than older kids and adults, you’d want to protect bubba from contagious diseases that may threaten his life. In any case, most of the recommended vaccines come in a combination jab — MMR for measles, mumps and rubella and DTaP for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

“There is no scientific evidence to support the link between vaccines and autism. Parents should not be alarmed.”

And if you’ve come across articles claiming that there’s a link between immunisations and autism, so you have doubts about such jabs, rest easy, assures SmartParents expert, Dr Low Kah Tzay.

Says the paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric & Child Development Clinic, “There is no scientific evidence to support that [link]! Researchers working on the cause and treatment of autism have not found any link between vaccination and autism. Parents should not be alarmed.”

The National Childhood Immunisation Programme (NCIP) offers every Singaporean child fully-subsidised immunisations against 10 contagious — and life-threatening — diseases. So, make an appointment to get your child immunised to prevent him from catching these infections today! Incidentally, booster shots ― an additional dose of the vaccine to “boost” the immune system ― are given to the child when the “strength” from the first dose of the vaccination wears off.

1) Tuberculosis (TB)

WHAT This potentially fatal airborne disease — transmitted through tiny respiratory droplets from an infected person — can cause lung disorders. TB can also affect the brain, lymph nodes, kidneys, bones and joints! Teach your little one to always cover his mouth when he sneezes or coughs.
TYPE OF VACCINATION Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG).
WHEN TO GET At birth. If your child was not vaccinated at birth, visit a public hospital, instead of a polyclinic, to get him a BCG jab.

2) Diphtheria

WHAT Bacterial infection that affects the membranes of your nose and throat, causing breathing difficulties. In its advanced stages, it can even lead to heart damage! This jab is compulsory under the law.
TYPE OF VACCINATION DTaP and Tdap.
WHEN TO GET First dose at 3 months, second at 4 months and the third when baby is 5 months old. Booster shots at 18 months and when he’s Primary 5.

3) Pertussis (whooping cough)

WHAT Pertussis ― which is especially deadly for children under 1 ― can cause violent and uncontrollable coughing fits and affect the sufferer’s respiratory functions.
TYPE OF VACCINATION DTaP and Tdap.
WHEN TO GET First dose at 3 months, second at 4 months and the third when baby is 5 months old. Booster shots at 18 months and when he’s Primary 5.

4) Tetanus

WHAT This bacteria is found most commonly in soil, dust and faeces. Infection occurs when an open wound comes into contact with contaminated saliva, poop or dirt. Look out for symptoms like jaw cramps, headaches, painful muscle stiffness, jerking or seizures.
TYPE OF VACCINATION DTaP and Tdap.
WHEN TO GET First dose at 3 months, second at 4 months and the third when baby is 5 months old. Booster shots at 18 months and when he’s Primary 5.

Click to learn more about the other conditions the NCIP covers…

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5) Measles

WHAT A highly contagious viral disease that can cause rashes ― small irregular bright red spots on the inside of one’s cheeks ― fever and fits. It can lead to lung infections, deafness and even brain damage! This jab is compulsory under the law.
TYPE OF VACCINATION MMR.
WHEN TO GET First dose at 12 months, with the second at between 15 and 18 months.

6) Mumps

WHAT Symptoms include tender salivary glands, which might leave your little one with puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. Left untreated, it can lead to brain infection, deafness or sterility.
TYPE OF VACCINATION MMR.
WHEN TO GET First dose at 12 months, with the second at between 15 and 18 months.

7) Rubella

WHAT Symptoms of rubella include a low-grade fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes. Shortly after being infected, red rashes will pop up on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.
TYPE OF VACCINATION MMR.
WHEN TO GET First dose at 12 months, with the second at between 15 and 18 months.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause rashes ― small irregular bright red spots on the inside of one’s cheeks ― fever and fits.

8) Poliomyelitis

WHAT It may begin with a mild fever, but the infection could lead to deformed arms and legs, and even cause permanent paralysis! As there is no cure, it is critical that parents immunise their children ― kids under 5 years are most at risk ― to protect them.
TYPE OF VACCINATION IPV; Oral polio only for last booster.
WHEN TO GET First dose of IPV at 3 months, second at for 4 months, third at 5 months. First booster at 18 months, then oral polio vaccine when junior’s aged 10 or 11.

9) Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) disease

WHAT Hib disease, if left untreated, can cause pneumonia or swelling of the respiratory airways especially around the throat, which hinders breathing.
TYPE OF VACCINATION Hib.
WHEN TO GET Optional. First dose at 3 months, second at 4 months and third dose at 5 months. One booster shot at 18 months.

10) Hepatitis B

WHAT This viral infection can lead to scarring of the liver, failure and even cancer. Usually, such infections can be resolved in several months. However, some individuals can’t fight off the disease and eventually become carriers, even though they may not display any active symptoms.
TYPE OF VACCINATION HepB.
WHEN TO GET First dose at birth, second at 1 month, the third at 5 to 6 months old.

Optional Jabs

Besides the important jabs that will protect your baby from the 10 listed infections, doctors also recommended that babies be given the following optional immunisations:

Pneumococcal infection

WHAT Pneumococcus, a common life-threatening strain of pneumonia, may cause ear and sinus infections and even meningitis. Children below 2 years are at higher risk of being infected.
TYPE OF VACCINATION Pneumococcal conjugate (Pneumococcal 13-valent vaccine).
WHEN TO GET First dose at 3 months, second at 5 months, with the first booster shot at 12 months.

Chickenpox

WHAT The sufferer will experience a fever, headache and sore throat, followed by a red, itchy rash appearing on the chest, back or face, which will spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. It will be more severe if your baby has an existing skin condition like eczema or a weak immune system.
TYPE OF VACCINATION Varicella vaccination.
WHEN TO GET Any time after birth.

Hepatitis A

WHAT A liver infection that results when a person accidentally consumes food containing waste from contaminated food or water sources.
TYPE OF VACCINATION HepA.
WHEN TO GET Any time after birth.

Influenza

WHAT The influenza virus affects the respiratory system, causing mild to severe illness that can sometimes lead to death. As the virus thrives in cooler temperatures, infections in Singapore tend to spike during the year-end period. If you routinely send your baby to a care centre, you should give him a flu vaccination as soon as he is 6 months old.
TYPE OF VACCINATION Flu vaccination.
WHEN TO GET After 6 months, especially if your child attends a care centre.

Keep clicking to find out where to get these shots…

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Where to get immunised?

Unsure about your child’s immunisation status? Check with the National Immunisation Register (NIR). If your child has received any immunisations overseas, be sure to notify the NIR.

Get an appointment with your child’s healthcare professional or head to the neighbourhood polyclinic near your place. Polyclinics, under the National Healthcare Group, offer two types of 1-shot vaccinations:

•The regular 5-in-1 vaccination ― for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, inactivated polio vaccine and haemophilus influenza type B ― is free for Singaporeans, costs $52.50 for permanent residents and $105 for non-residents. Can be paid with Medisave.

•The 6-in-1 vaccinations – Besides the five above-mentioned illnesses, this jab includes the Hepatitis B vaccine. Costing $120 for everyone, you can use your Medisave for this.

•Other optional jabs and prices (which apply to everyone) ― HepA costs $66, chickenpox is $72, an influenza jab costs $25, while the Pneumococcal 13-valent vaccine costs $150.

The School Health Service will administer booster shots when your child reaches the appropriate age.

“Remember to notify the National Immunisation Register if your tot has received immunisations overseas!”

Easy dose it…

The experts offer tips, so that your doctor’s visit is as painless — and cause as few tears — as possible:

Even the most experienced of mothers will be unnerved to see her baby wailing while he’s getting a jab. However, Dr Low points out, “The pain of the needle lasts for only a short while and the child usually calms down relatively quickly if her parent reassures her.” He adds that bringing along your little one’s favourite toy can help in distracting the child.

If bubba is under 2 years, try hugging him snugly even as you reassure him with comforting words, suggests Dr Ivan Ong, general practitioner at Hill Spring Medical. Kids older than age 2 won’t need immunisations until they reach Primary 5 where vaccinations — or booster shots — will be given in school. By this time, peer pressure should help them get past their phobia of needles, he notes.

Dr Low Kah Tzay is a paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric & Child Development Clinic and Dr Ivan Ong is a general practitioner at Hill Spring Medical.

Photos: iStock

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