Immunization - The Childcare Pages...


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What is Immunization?

By guest writer Ranjana Hari of

Mother Bliss

(UK Specific Information)

Q: What is immunization?

A: immunization helps the body develop protection against a particular disease, so that if at a later stage your body comes in contact with that disease, it will be able to fight it off. You will need immunization for each disease that you want to develop protection against.

Q: Do I need to pay for my child's immunizations?

A: No. Like all other medications for children, childhood immunizations are free.

Q: How are immunizations given?

A: Apart from polio vaccine which is given orally, all immunizations are given through an injection in the upper arm, thigh or bottom.

Q: Will my child be immunized even if she's feeling unwell?

A: Your child will not be immunized if she is running temperature, has a cold or has had antibiotics in the week prior to when the immunization was due. In any case, your doctor or health visitor will ensure that all is well and whether your child can have the immunization or not.

Q: Are there any risks associated with immunization?

A: All vaccines are tested thoroughly before being introduced. If the vaccine is found to be unsafe, it is withdrawn immediately.

In some cases, a serious reaction to the pertussis vaccine may develop if the child has had convulsions or has a close relative suffering from epilepsy. You will need to discuss this with the doctor beforehand.

Q: How will my child feel after an immunization?

A: All children react differently to the vaccines. Some develop a slight temperature which can be brought down by giving paracetamol or other recommended drugs. Some children may become irritable as well. The injection site may look red and swollen.

All these are normal reactions and not to be too concerned about. However, if the temperature rises above 38 degrees C (100.4 degrees F), you must contact the doctor immediately.

Q: Why do I need to wash my hands after changing my baby's nappy after she's had the polio vaccine?

A: The polio vaccine is passed in the baby's stools for up to six weeks after the vaccination. If you come in contact with it and have not been immunized against it, you are at risk of catching the infection.

Q: Is it true that the oral polio vaccine has been recalled?

A: Only the oral polio vaccine manufactured by the company Medeva/Evans has been recalled as a precautionary measure. There is so small a risk to the population immunized with the vaccine manufactured by this company, that it cannot even be quantified. All other brands of oral polio vaccine continue to be used and are advised strongly by the Department of Health.

Q: Are immunizations required only if the infections are widely prevalent where the child is living?

A: This is not true because it is important to immunize your child even if the infection is not widely prevalent. The reason is that if fewer children are immunized, they will contact the infection and pass it on to others and hence a less commonly found infection may turn into an epidemic. Hence, the immunization program should be followed not only for your child's benefit but also for the benefit of the community.
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An Ed-U-Kate production. This page was produced 20th July 2001 and last edited 8 March 2002.
Key: immunisation., its characters, names & related indicia ©
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