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Immunisation advice

Why should I immunise my child?

The process of immunisation protects your child from some serious diseases that are in our community. By immunising against them, the likelihood of your child being affected by these diseases is dramatically reduced and, if as a community we are vigilant, we may be able to eradicate these serious diseases just as happened with small pox.

Is immunisation compulsory?

It is therefore strongly advised that your child be immunised to prevent them from catching some serious diseases that are still around and might even pass on to you.

Note: Parents are expected to ensure their children are immunised. A detailed record of immunisation may be requested when applying for school registration and social grants.

Where should I go for my child’s immunisation?

You can go to your local clinic, nearest state owned hospital where it will be given for free. You could also go to a private hospital or your medical practitioner where a minimal fee will be charged.

What are the steps to follow?

  • Visit your local clinic or medical practitioner.

  • Fill in a form/card upon arrival at the clinic if you are a first-time visitor. Previous visitors should bring along their cards.

  • Notify the nursing sister of your child’s age and the child’s history of immunisations.

  • The nursing sister will take your child’s weight, length and the head circumference to determine if your child is growing at the expected rate.

  • The child will be immunised according to their age.

  • You will be advised on how to handle the child’s reaction to the vaccine (they sometimes develop a fever from the vaccine and it is advisable to inform the nursing sister is your child is allergic to anything, e.g. eggs).

  • You will then be given the date for the next immunisation.

Should I keep a record of my child’s immunisation?

Yes, you should take your child’s personal health card given to you shortly after birth along when having your child immunised and have this filled in every time.

What if my child is sick when immunisation is due?

You should only delay immunisation if your child is very unwell, for example, has a fever of more than 38.5°C, diarrhoea, vomiting or severe Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. Ask your healthcare provider for advice.

I’ve missed the recommended time frame for immunisation, is it worth trying to catch up?

Yes, definitely. Although it is ideal to maintain the recommended time schedule, it is not essential. Talk to your healthcare provider to schedule a catch-up vaccine – ask about a combination vaccine that could limit the number of shots in one visit.

Why do I need to show my child’s immunisation record when I enrol them at childcare or nursery school?

This information is used in the event of an outbreak at the centre to identify those children that are at risk of contracting, or spreading, the disease. If your child has not been immunised, it is likely that they will be prevented from attending during the outbreak.

How can I make the experience less stressful?

Unfortunately immunising your child is a situation where you are being cruel to be kind and there would be few mothers who haven’t felt stressed or anxious about it. Try to put yourself at ease so that your child or baby doesn’t pick up on any negative vibes and be secure in the knowledge that it is only a momentary pain that they feel.

Here are a few tips:

  • Try to remember to take along their special toy, a treat, or a snack for straight after the injection to divert their attention.

  • You will need to firmly hold your child still during the injections. Consider taking your partner with you if you think it necessary.

  • Don’t plan to do much after the vaccinations. Go home and have a restful day.

  • If possible leave your other children with a friend so that you can focus on the child that is being immunised.

  • For older children play “Visiting the Doctor” and talk about how “the needle” will stop them from getting very sick later on.

  • If your child is highly anxious about needles, talk to your Doctor about using a local numbing agent prior to the visit.

Visit the Department of Health’s website for more information


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