The BEST thing you can do for your new baby isn’t to buy or invest in any of these things – it is to ensure they are protected from vaccine preventable diseases.
This means knowing what these diseases are and visiting your GP practice nurse ON TIME and consenting to having your baby / child immunised at 6 weeks of age, 12 weeks of age(3 months) and 5 months of age. Once your baby reaches 15 months of age – they need their 15 month immunisation, this is a very important immunisation as it is the 1st immunisation to protect them against measles, mumps and rubella ….At 4 years of age they need to have their 4 year immunisation to fully protect them and have them ready for school.
On time vaccination is the best way to protect babies and infants. The free vaccination programme in children starts at six weeks then followed at three months and then at five months of age. Babies will not be protected until they have received all three doses. If you are not sure if your child’s vaccinations are up to date and include the New Zealand immunisations– ask your doctor or practice nurse.
Older children and adults can be a source of infection too. Older children should have further vaccinations at age 11, and adults living with (or expecting) a new baby should also strongly consider getting the booster to protect the family against Pertussis (whooping cough). The vaccinations at age11 are free on the national immunisation schedule and are usually done at school.Adults will normally need to pay for their boosters.
To find out more about immunisations which are free you can see your GP, practice nurse or go on-line to www.arphs.govt.nz or http://www.immune.org.nz . Both these sites, and your practice Nurse can give you information and confidence to know about the diseases and the vaccines so you can make the decision to protect your precious baby, toddler or child.
What about the rest of the family?
New Zealand offers FREE flu vaccines to all adults over 65 years of age and to any adult or child with a chronic (long term) disease. These diseases include heart disease, respiratory disease that requires daily medication), Diabetes, Chronic renal / kidney disease and some other diseases your GP or practice nurse can discuss with you.
The government also offers free flu vaccines to all pregnant woman – so that she is not at risk of getting the Flu while she is pregnant – and to protect the baby in the first few weeks of life. These vaccines are only FREE until July 31st 2012
The New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule
The New Zealand National Immunisation Schedule is a series of immunisations (including boosters) given at specific times between the ages of six weeks and eleven years. To get the best possible protection, have the immunisations on time, every time.
The immunisation visit
Many children (and parents) find immunisation visits are an easy and relatively pain-free experience. For some children (and parents) however, needles can be scary, especially on the first visit. Here's some basic information to help you manage the visit as well as possible, and give you some tips on caring for your child before, during and after.
Children can easily tell when their parents are anxious and, as a parent, you need to be aware that your child will look to you for comfort and reassurance.
Before and during the immunisation
Try to remain calm and relaxed, even if your child becomes upset.
Bring along a stuffed toy or blanket for your child to hold during the immunisation, or use it to distract them.
Hold your child firmly during the procedure, talking calmly and gently stroking the child’s arm or back to reassure them.
After the immunisation
After being pricked by the needle your child may cry for a brief time, it’s their way of coping. Your job is to comfort, hold, and talk to them supportively.
Feeding your baby straight after their immunisation will help them settle.
You will need to remain in the clinic for 20 minutes after the immunisation. Use this time to help your child settle, this can help make the next visit easier.
Most children experience little or no ill effects after immunisations. Some of the minor effects reported are mild fever, tenderness or swelling and redness at the site of the injection. Here are some ways to make your baby or child more comfortable after their immunisation:
l Don’t rub the injection site
l Give your child lots of cuddles and lots of fluids
l If you are breastfeeding, give lots of feeds
l An ice pack wrapped well in a dry cloth or better still a cool cloth, can be held over the injection site if it is sore
l If your child gets hot, undressing them down to a single layer, for example a singlet and pants, can help
l Make sure the room is not too hot or too cold.
Medication for temperature or pain
If your child is unsettled, miserable because of a fever or seems to be in pain, you might consider giving them paracetamol or ibuprofen to make them feel more comfortable. You must follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. It is dangerous to give more than the recommended dose.
Giving babies and children paracetamol before and repeatedly after i mmu n i s a t ion just in case they feel unwell is NOT recommended and can interfere with the immune response.
Tips for older children
Older children can get bored easily waiting around, so take some favourite books or toys along. You can really help take the anxiety out of the visit by using distraction techniques such as talking to your child and getting them to play imaginary games while the immunisation is happening. Get them to blow out as though blowing bubbles; play a favourite word game or something you know they enjoy.
Acknowledgment for information Auckland Regional Public Health and Dr Nikki Turner.
Information supplied by Ranjna Patel- Practice Manager of East Tamaki Healthcare and Gillian Davies- Nurse Leader.