Don’t just fuss over your kiddo’s vaccinations, make sure your own jabs are up to date, too, for his sake!


Whooping cough infections have jumped ― in the past seven months alone, there were 47 cases, compared to 57 for the whole of last year. Incidentally, more than half the whooping cough sufferers in the last two years were infants under 6 months, according to a Channel NewsAsia report.
Urging parents to ensure their kids get the necessary immunisations, Dr Ong Kian Chung, a respiratory specialist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, notes, “It’s something responsible parents would want to do for the welfare of their children. Prevention is better than cure ― vaccinations can reduce your children’s risk of getting life-threatening conditions like pertussis, which is especially fatal for infants who are less than 1 year old.”
He also advises any adults who care for infants — including your helper ― to get a whooping cough jab, as the coverage of the vaccination wears off after about 10 years. This is why a booster shot is administered when junior is Primary 5, notes Dr Ong.

The risk of transmission is also much higher if your kid attends the same infantcare or childcare centre as an infected child. So, parents should never send their kids to day care if they are unwell.

Dr Ong explains that it is adults’ reduced immunity that is the main reason for the recent spike in whooping cough cases. Another reason may be the vaccine makers had to halve its strength after the 1970s as children could not tolerate its potency. Since the jab for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis comes in an all-in-one vaccine, he advises that parents with very young kids get immunised.
Dr Low Kah Tzay, a SmartParents expert and paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric & Child Development Clinic, notes that the risk of transmission is also much higher if your kid attends the same infantcare or childcare centre as an infected child. So, parents should never send their offspring to day care if they are unwell.
Otherwise, start by observing good hygiene practices like washing your hands or using a disposable tissue when you sneeze. And make a date to get vaccinated ― stat ― for the following conditions!

Pertusis (whooping cough)

Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease in which the sufferer has bouts of uncontrollable coughing, which makes breathing hard. The term “whooping” comes from the sounds the person makes when he tries to draw breath after a fit of coughing.


Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that affects the membranes of your nose and throat. If untreated, it can obstruct your airways, causing breathing difficulties. In its advanced stages, it can even lead to heart damage!


Tetanus is a bacterial disease lurking just about anywhere in your house but most commonly found in soil, dust and faeces. A person is infected when an open wound comes in contact with objects contaminated by tainted saliva, dirt or poop. Symptoms include jaw cramp, headaches, painful muscle stiffness, jerking or seizures.

Read on to learn what other jabs to get and the infections you might be putting junior at risk of contracting if you don’t (yikes!)…


Measles, Mumps and Rubella

Measles, the most contagious of these three viral diseases, can cause rashes ― small irregular bright red spots on the inside of one’s cheeks ― as well as fever and fits. It can lead to lung infections, deafness and even brain damage.

Mumps is an infection spread through infected saliva. The virus will leave one with tender salivary glands, giving rise to puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw. Left untreated, it can lead to a brain infection, deafness and even cause sterility.
The symptoms of Rubella — also known as German Measles — include a low-temperature fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes. Shortly after, mild rashes can be seen on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. Most children should recover quickly without serious health consequences.

Hepatitis B

This viral infection can cause liver scarring, cancer and even failure. Usually, such infections can resolve successfully in several months. However, there are also occasions when individuals can’t fight off the disease and eventually become carriers ― transmitting it to others even though they may not actively display any symptoms!

Getting immunised

Dr Low says that before getting the shots, you should notify your GP if you have medical conditions like asthma, chronic lung disease or kidney disease. Polyclinics under the National Healthcare Group, offer two types of all-in-one vaccinations:

* A regular 5-in-1 vaccination ― covering diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, inactivated polio vaccine and haemophilus influenza type B ― is free for Singaporeans. However, it costs $52.50 for permanent residents and $105 for non-residents ― you can use Medisave to pay for it.

* The 6-in-1 vaccination ― includes the Hepatitis B vaccine, in addition to the 5-in-1 ― costs $120 for everyone. You can also pay for this with Medisave.

* Optional jabs for HepA cost $66, while chickenpox costs $72 respectively for everyone.

Dr Ong Kian Chung is a respiratory specialist in Chestmed Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Dr Low Kah Tzay is a paediatrician at Anson International Paediatric & Child Development Clinic.

Photos: iStock

Jabs junior needs to have

“My baby’s infections left him fighting to breathe!”

Pregnancy cravings ― good or bad?