When you have a young baby there will be lots of things you’ll need to do eg. feeds, nappy changes, making sure they’re getting enough sleep, keeping them comfortable and happy. In addition to all of this you will also need to take them to routine medical appointments.
Usually by the time a child is two years old they will have had approximately 10 routine appointments with a nurse or doctor and that’s if they don’t pick up any illnesses along the way!
At some of these appointments, your baby will be given injections. In the past, there used to be a huge number of injections to go through, but thanks to the 6-in-1 vaccine, the number of individual injections has gone down significantly.
After their immunisations, your child may have some side effects. These are usually very mild, and go away after a few days, but it can be a worry. It is however perfectly normal and we’re going to go through what immunisations your child will get, and how to care for them during the after effects.
Why Immunise Your Child?
The goal of immunisations is to stop children (and adults) from catching preventable diseases. They work by provoking our immune systems into creating the antibodies needed to fight the disease, without actually getting the disease first. This is especially important in children, whose immune systems are still developing and have much lower antibody levels than adults. It means your child won’t catch some of the most serious, sometimes life-threatening diseases out there. Immunisations are not mandatory, but they are highly recommended and now over 90% of parents in the UK have their children immunised.
The immunisations run in courses, and your baby will need to have the same immunisation injections at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks and 12 months to ensure they are fully effective and healthy.
During the first 12 months of their life, your child will be immunised against:
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Polio, Hib And Hepatitis B (using the 6-in-1 vaccine)
- Meningitis B
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
All of these are injections, except for the rotavirus, which is a liquid that’s swallowed instead.
After the first 12 months, your child will need far fewer immunisations as their immune system develops naturally. But there are a few to bear in mind:
- Flu – given every year
- At 3-4 years, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis + Polio booster, and the MMR
- At 12-13, girls should have the HPV vaccine to reduce the risk of cervical cancer
- At 14, the Meningitis and Diphtheria, Tetanus + Polio booster
Why Do Children Get Ill After Immunisations?
Immunisations are never a pleasant experience and can be difficult for parents to watch, but it is recommended and the pain of the injection is so fleeting that they won’t even remember it. The thing that can also be difficult to deal with is the reactions afterwards. Like most medicines, the immunisation injections can cause some side effects and sometimes your child might feel a little under the weather after their immunisations. In 99% of cases these are mild side effects, and will go away on their own. But there are some things you can do to keep your baby comfortable until they do.
Common Immunisation Side Effects (And How to Treat Them)
In most cases, the side effects of immunisations are pretty mild. They include:
- Mild tenderness at the injection site
- Redness or swelling at the injection site
- Loss of appetite
And in the case of the rotavirus immunisation:
- Skin inflammation
With the rotavirus injections, it’s not just baby you need to be looking out for. Babies who have had this immunisation are known to excrete the virus in their stool after the vaccination for at least 14 days as the body creates antibodies. So during this period, you need to make sure you wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you’ve changed your baby’s nappy.
The Meningitis immunisation is more likely to cause a fever when it’s given with the other routine baby injections at the two and four month mark. Your nurse may recommend that you give your baby paracetamol after their two and four month injections to prevent this.
Most of these side effects are harmless and will go away on their own within 3-7 days, but they can make for a grumpy baby! If your baby has a fever after an injection, try to keep them cool and hydrated, and if necessary you can give them infant paracetamol at regular intervals. Otherwise, try to encourage them to eat and drink as normal, allow them to sleep if they need it and treat any dry skin or inflammation with over the counter creams.
It can be difficult to keep track of when you last gave medicine or which one you have given, especially when you’re distracted and worried about your baby feeling unwell. That’s where the Medi-Redi timer can help. This handy storage timer gives you a safe place to store medicines that you can take with you on the go. So even if life continues as normal, you know your baby is getting the right medicines at the right time. No more skipped doses, or double doses, just peace of mind. There’s even an alarm for the next dose and a green indicator light to tell you when it’s safe to administer.
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