To vaccinate your baby, or not


Maricelle Botha

If you are 30 years or older and recently had a baby you will probably know that kiddie vaccinations have come a long way since the years of the nurse coming to school giving you your shots. Today there is an array of vaccines needed to help secure your baby’s health. Vaccinating small babies helps provide them with protection when they need it. In South Africa, vaccines are available to prevent Pertussis (whooping cough), Tuberculosis, Poliomyelitis (polio), Diphtheria, Tetanus, Heamophilus influenza type b, Hepatitis A and B, Rubella (German measles), Varicella (chickenpox) and Influenza (flu).

According to head sister at Little Life baby clinic in Langehoven Park it is never too late to get vaccinated, even if the child is grown up already. She says that state hospitals will provide the basic vaccines up until the age of six years. At private clinics children are extendedly vaccinated up until 12 years old. She says there are parents that are conscientious objectors when it comes to vaccines, but that their clinic will always promote it because a baby’s immune system is seldom strong enough to handle the germs they come into contact with.

Vaccines ‘teach’ the immune system how to recognize and fight bacteria and viruses before any infection happens. By giving the body a small ‘sample’ of the germ, it can develop protection without actually getting the disease. A lot of parents worry about the side-effects their child might experience when getting vaccinated, but these are a small price to pay. The most typical side-effects include slight fever, drowsiness and soreness at the injection site. Although extremely rare, vaccines can cause more severe side-effects like very high fever. Parents are not compelled by law to vaccinate their children but the question remains: Are you prepared to take the chance of not doing?