Immunisation is essential for the health of your child
Any soldier will tell you that, in order to ensure that your squad is prepared for battle, you gather intelligence through reconnaissance missions before going into battle.
This is exactly how immunisation works. Immunisation is the reconnaissance mission that helps protect your body if it is ever faced with the enemy i.e. childhood illnesses such as tuberculosis, meningitis or hepatitis B to name a few. Immunising your child ensures that his/her immune system is strong enough to cope when it encounters childhood diseases.
“The vaccine is in fact a tiny sample of the germs or bacteria that cause these infections, but it is so small that it in fact helps develop immunity,” explains Peter Jordan, Principal Officer of Fedhealth.
Essentially, it helps the body to become a better soldier, which is why keeping up to date with your child’s immunisations is not only one of the best things you can do for your child, but it is also essential to the health of your community as it takes only one soldier to weaken a squad.
“If a member of the community develops one of these infections, the rest of the community is at risk too,” says Jordan. “In addition to helping your child avoid high risk diseases, immunisation also prevents an outbreak of those diseases.”
While having your child vaccinated is not law, many schools request that your child’s vaccine schedule and immunisation records are up to date before admitting your child. “The vaccine schedule ensures your child is immunised as soon as the child’s body is able to develop the expected resistance to the illness,” he says. “If vaccines are missed or late, some can be caught up within the recommended time intervals while others cannot because the child is no longer at risk or the vaccine is not safe for older children.” The immunisation schedule spans 12 years, and Jordan says that with up to 15 immunisations due in the first year of life, it’s easy for busy parents to lose track.
“We have a solution that will help parents stay on top of the schedule: The Tum2Mom Immunisation Email Reminder Service (IERS). Tum2Mom (www.tum2mom.co.za) is an informative and entertaining website for new parents, and Fedhealth members receive a voucher code allowing free access to the IERS as part of the Fedhealth Baby welcome pack. Members use the code when registering for the IERS service on the Tum2Mom site.”
Here is a schedule of immunisations as per the Expanded Programme on Immunisation in South Africa (EPI-SA):
- Birth: OPV 0 (Oral Polio Vaccine) and BCG (tuberculosis vaccine)
- 6 weeks: OPV 1 (Oral Polio Vaccine) and DTP 1 (vaccine against diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus) and HepB 1 (hepatitis vaccine) and Hib 1 (diphtheria and tetanus vaccine)
- 10 weeks: OPV 2 (Oral Polio Vaccine) and DPT 2 (vaccine against diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus) ) and HepB 2 (hepatitis vaccine) and Hib 2 (diphtheria and tetanus vaccine)
- 14 weeks: OPV 3 (Oral Polio Vaccine) and DPT 3 (vaccine against diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus) and HepB 3 (hepatitis vaccine) and Hib 3 (diphtheria and tetanus vaccine)
- 9 months: Measles 1
- 18 months: OPV 4 (Oral Polio Vaccine) and DPT 4 (vaccine against diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus) and Measles 2
- 6 years: OPV 5 (Oral Polio Vaccine) and DPT 5 (vaccine against diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus)
- 12 years: OPV 5 (Oral Polio Vaccine) and DPT 5 (vaccine against diptheria, whooping cough and tetanus)
The vaccines are provided free of charge at public clinics, Private clinics generally charge a consultation fee. With each immunisation, your healthcare profession will discuss the side effects, however slight fevers, drowsiness and pain at the site of the injection are common.
“Immunisation is an important part of disease prevention and it’s a powerful way to protect your child’s health,” says Jordan. “It empowers parents to protect their children from an enemy they can’t see.”