We as parents, grandparents and childminders can become sources of infection to babies. Therefore, vaccinate and protect yourself in order to protect your children, grandchildren and babies under your care.
IF YOU LOVE YOUR CHILD, VACCINATE!
As a parent or a childminder, you can protect your child from dangerous diseases by getting the appropriate vaccinations for yourself.
After a long day at work, you just can’t wait to get home to kiss and cuddle your child. But wait just a second! Did you know that you may have unwittingly exposed your beloved child to germs you brought home?
As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children safe and healthy. But have we vaccinated ourselves against common infectious diseases, so that we don’t pass them on to our children?
We are potentially exposed to many vaccine-preventable diseases through our work, travel, lifestyle choices and activities, and even what we eat and drink. As a result, we become sources of infections, including influenza, diphtheria, whooping cough, chicken pox, shingles, measles, Hepatitis A and B, and pneumococcal disease.
We risk infecting our own children with these diseases. Even without leaving the safety of the house, they could become severely ill.
Vaccination in the family begins with you, whether you are a parent or a childminder. As a parent, you also need to make sure that the grandparents, helpers and carers in your family get these important jabs. Childminders have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of the children they are caring for. Don’t forget that your helper or maid also needs to have adult vaccination too.
Jabs aren’t just for kids
Babies and children aren’t the only ones who need vaccinations. Adults who missed their childhood vaccinations or booster shots can still suffer and spread certain “childhood diseases”, like diphtheria, whooping cough, chickenpox and rubella.
To protect children, four groups of people are particularly important: parents-to-be, parents, grandparents and childminders.
For women planning to start a family
Mothers-to-be can get certain vaccinations in advance even before they conceive. Firstly, there is the MMR combination vaccine, which helps protect against measles, mumps and rubella. Women can get this vaccine at least one month before becoming pregnant.
Babies exposed to measles could develop pneumonia or brain damage, while mumps could lead to deafness, sterility or meningitis. Rubella during pregnancy could cause birth defects or even miscarriages.
The other vaccine is the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, which can also be given one month before becoming pregnant. If chickenpox is passed on to a newborn baby, it could cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), pneumonia or haemorrhagic complications.
For pregnant women
The Tdap combination vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), can be given to pregnant women.
Tetanus in babies (neonatal tetanus) can cause severe muscular spasms, while diphtheria leads to breathing problems and heart failure. The tetanus toxoid vaccine is given during pregnancy. Pertussis or whooping cough can cause pneumonia, seizures or brain damage.
Pregnant mothers should also be vaccinated against influenza. The flu is different from the common cold and is especially dangerous for children below five years. The flu can cause serious complications like pneumonia, as well as heart or brain damage.
Researchers have found that flu shots given to mothers during pregnancy can protect their newborns against the flu for about eight weeks after birth. This is important because current flu vaccines cannot be given to babies below six months.
For parents and childminders
Mummy, daddy and family members who care for children need to know that babies below 6 months old are prone to getting infections because of their immature immune system.
Apart from mothers, other family members who come into contact with babies and young children should also get certain vaccinations.
Fathers, grandparents and everyone else who care for the baby should also be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (using the Tdap combo vaccine) and influenza. In the case of influenza, family members should get vaccinated every year because the flu virus is constantly mutating.
Adults who missed the polio vaccine as a child should get themselves vaccinated, as many countries around the world are still experiencing polio outbreaks.
Vaccination is love
We want to shelter our children from all the dangers that lie beyond the home. Let’s not forget that we need to protect ourselves first, so that we can give them a safe and healthy environment to grow up in.
Get your jabs today and ensure that these potentially deadly diseases never reach your children.
An article courtesy of ‘Vaxin Check For Adults’ programme by Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases & Chemotherapy, in association with Immunise4Life.