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Immunisations: Should You Get Your Baby Vaccinated?

As a parent, you are the decision maker as to whether or not you should get your baby vaccinated. We share our view, plus explain why we so strongly believe in our opinion. Well worth a read. 

We’re not going to beat around the bush here: yes, your child needs all their recommended immunisations. Why? Because they prevent death, sickness and unnecessary suffering. 

We could have chosen to approach this differently. We could have said that it’s up to the parents to make the decision (which it is). Or that some people think that immunisations are harmful, so it’s okay not to vaccinate (which we don’t agree with). We could have even said, hey, let’s have a debate together to help you decide which side of the fence you’ll sit on – which we won’t.

Our view at Sleepytot NZ is that yes, we believe your baby needs to receive all of the immunisations recommended by theNew Zealand Immunisation Schedule.

Controversial or not, PC or not, we’re sticking with our opinion, and we’re prepared to explain why.

What Are Immunisations? (h2) - Ministry of Health & Health Promotion Agency Video

We like the way this video from the Ministry of Health explains why immunisations are important. We suggest you spend five minutes watching it. In summary, it contains:

  • Explanation of our immune system
  • How the immune system reacts to germs
  • How an immunisation helps the body protect against getting sick
  • The importance immunisations have in helping the community stay healthy

Immunisations are given to help protect your child against one or more infectious diseases. It comes either in a vaccine which is injected into their leg or arm muscle, or as drops of liquid via the mouth. A vaccine contains a weakened or killed microorganism. When inside your child’s body, your child’s immune system will begin to create antibodies so that if exposed to the same disease in the future, will be able to fight it off and not get sick. For most people, the immunisation provides complete protection against the one or more diseases, but not always. If that happens, their body still works to fight it off, resulting in less severe symptoms.

What is NZ’s Immunisation Schedule for Children Under 4 Years? (h2)

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has created an immunisation schedule for children. It is based upon research and data from around the world and put into place to ensure your child receives the right vaccine at the best age.

  • 6 weeks 
  • 3 months
    • Rotovirus
    • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis/Polio/Hepatitis B/Haemophilus influenzae type b
    • Pneumococcal
  • 5 months
    • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis/Polio/Hepatitis B/Haemophilus influenzae type b
    • Pneumococcal
  • 15 months
    • Haemophilus influenzae type b
    • Measles/Mumps/Rubella
    • Pneumococcal
    • Varicella (Chicken pox)
  • 4 months
    • Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis/Polio
    • Measles/Mumps/Rubella

Here are details of the diseases the vaccines provide immunisation against:

  • Rotovirus – a highly contagious gut infection causing vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, dehydration and shock.
  • Diphtheria – a greyish membrane forms in the throat, leading to difficulty swallowing and breathing. 5-10% of people who have diphtheria will die.
  • Whooping cough/pertussis – causes a horrid cough, unable to breath or feed, complications such as brain damage and pneumonia.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) – a life threatening bacterial infection leading to meningitis and epiglottitis of which can be fatal.
  • Hepatitis B – a blood borne virus which can lead to liver damage and liver cancer.
  • Polio – can cause paralysis and meningitis.
  • Pneumococcal disease – can cause meningitis, infections of joints, bones and heart.
  • Measles – can be life threatening and cause multiple infections and death.
  • Mumps – swelling in glands around the face, can cause meningitis.
  • Rubella – a mild viral illness but can cause birth defects in an unborn child if a pregnant woman catches it.
  • Chicken pox – skin blisters but can lead to pneumonia and issues with kidneys and heart.

Is it worth the risk not having your child vaccinated? We think no, it’s not.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Child Immunised? (h2)

As a parent, you have the right to make an informed choice when it comes to immunisation. This means it is up to you to research information about the:

  • Risks and side effects of the vaccines
  • Failure rates and alternatives
  • Treatment success if they get the disease
  • Benefits for and against 
  • Vaccine safety and effectiveness

Here are four important reasons why childhood vaccinations are important:

  1. Lifesaving – it’s a fact that many of the diseases we immunise against killed children in the past. With medical advancement now able to be used to protect kids from even catching these diseases, why risk it? 
  2. Safe and effective – vaccines are only ever given the green light to go ahead after careful reviews by medical researchers. Usually a redness at the injection site is the only side effect. Serious side effects are rare.
  3. Community protection – the measles outbreak is a good example. Had more people been immunised, those affected would be much lower and the disease would have not spread as far. When a child is immunised, they can’t pass on the disease to others.
  4. Time and money – when your child is ill, you need to stay at home to care for them. That’s time off work for you. You’re also needing to purchase medicine to reduce the side effects of diseases, as well as taking your child to the doctor. Hospital admission is also a possibility.

If you’re wondering how you will cope seeing your child vaccinated, don’t be. It hurts only a tiny bit and is soon forgotten. We’ll share some tips on the immunisation visit next.

Coping with an Immunisation Visit (h2)

For a baby’s first immunisations, it’s the parents that are stressed, not the baby! Yes, having an injection can hurt a bit. Yes, looking at the needle can freak some people out. What you need to remember, is that it only does so for a short while. You could be walking outside and stand on a stick and have even more pain, for example.

It’s all about mindset and here are some tips to help:

  • Keep calm on the outside, even if you can’t be inside
  • You can breastfeed before, during and after 
  • An anaesthetic cream can be applied if necessary
  • Try distraction activities such as bubbles, a cuddly toy or talking
  • Give lots of cuddles – they’re great for both of you!

The nurse will give you information on what you can expect afterwards and what you can do about it. They’ll also sign the Well Child book to show the immunisation has occurred.

We do hope that you will seriously consider having your child fully immunised. If you have any questions, your midwife, Plunket nurse or GP should be your first port of call.

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