While we’re told to stay home during this pandemic, what about babies and children who are due for their vaccinations? Should parents still bring them to clinics? We speak to Dr Alison Joanne Lee of SBCC Baby & Child Clinic (a member of Healthway Medical Group) to find out more.
Q: Should you still get your children vaccinated during this pandemic?
AJL: Yes, children should definitely get their routine vaccinations done in order to prevent an outbreak of other infectious diseases such as whooping cough and measles, which remain a constant risk regardless of whether there is Covid-19 or not.
It can take about 4 to 6 weeks to attain peak immunity after vaccination, so even during this period of social isolation, routine childhood immunisations should not be delayed.
Q: What are the vaccinations that parents should prioritise during this period?
AJL: Children in Singapore are encouraged to get vaccinated based on the immunisation schedule set by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the type of vaccinations vary according to age.
Thus, parents should prioritise their child’s vaccinations accordingly. In Singapore, the important vaccines to get are:
|From 0-6 months||Hepatitis B
The combined ‘5-in-1’ or ‘6-in-1’ vaccines which protect against whooping cough (pertussis), polio, tetanus, diptheria and haemophilus influenza B
|From 12-18 months||MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps and Rubella)
Chickenpox vaccine can be optionally given as a combined vaccine with MMR
The influenza vaccine is important for children with chronic diseases such as asthma and neurological conditions such as cereal palsy. For this, please seek your physician’s advice.
Other optional, but recommended, vaccines include Hepatitis A, Chickenpox, Influenza for those without chronic conditions, and meningococcal vaccines. However, these should be deferred until after the circuit breaker and the situation has improved.
Q: Could you share more about the follow-up care for your children after they get vaccinated? (E.g. What should you do if they develop fever after, or have mild reactions from the vaccine)
AJL: Fever, fussiness and mild pain over the injection site are the most common side effects after immunisations. These symptoms do not last more than 24-28 hours. Should your child get a fever more than 37.8°C, you can give paracetamol. For children aged above 1 year with fever above 38.5°C, you can consider giving ibuprofen as well.
Be sure to follow the dosing prescribed by the doctor. If you do not have fever medicines at home, you can do tepid sponging. A trial of paracetamol can also be given if your child is fussy or the injection site is painful.
It is always recommended that you consult a medical professional if your child is unwell and you are unsure of what to do.
Q: How to help your child overcome the fear of getting vaccinated?
AJL: It is very natural for infants and toddlers to be fearful of injections. It can be a harrowing experience for your child, as they are faced with an unfamiliar environment. For young infants, we always ask mothers to talk to their babies during the vaccination or we distract the older infants with toys.
For toddlers, you can buy them a toy doctor’s set and allow the child to ‘inject’ you with the plastic syringe and vice versa! There are many books such as “Doctor Maisy” which help young children understand what to expect.
Sometimes, no matter what you do, a child will still be fretful about vaccinations. You can provide positive encouragement by telling them they are strong and brave. Oftentimes, saying nothing, remaining calm and providing your child with comfort after the vaccination is the best thing you can do for your child.
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