Vaccinations are a definite way to protect babies and small children from many deadly diseases which their immune systems are not primed to fight against. Injecting specific antibodies in the form of vaccines helps build the immune systems and fight those diseases.
However, getting small children and babies vaccinated in the form of injections is not easy. We suggest certain steps you can take to make vaccination easier for your child and yourself. Take a look at this list of things to know before vaccinating your child.
There is a reason why certain vaccinations are recommended at a certain age. The schedule is set in a certain way to help build your baby’s immunity at an early age and there is no need to worry about your young child getting too many vaccines. Your baby’s immune system is ready to receive the vaccines which only work to in turn strengthen the immune system. Therefore, it is important to know your child’s vaccination schedule and to stay on top of it.
A history of auto-immune disorders, seizures or adverse vaccine reactions is possible in every family. It’s important to understand your own and your partner’s family history. Vaccine manufacturers recommend that those with prolonged seizures, progressive neurological disorders, or those who are allergic to any of the vaccine ingredients not receive certain vaccinations. Before your child receives the vaccines, an understanding of what has happened to family members in the past could guide about any potential issues or reactions that could happen with your little one.
Pain-free vaccines do not mean zero pain, it means reduced pain for which you might still need to take pain-relieving measures for your child. Numbing medication can be applied before the shot in consultation with your doctor.
For babies, you can follow the 5 S’s to ease their pain. The “5 S’s” – swaddling (tightly wrapping a baby in a blanket almost like a burrito), side/stomach position, shushing sounds, swinging and sucking help comfort a distressed child. For the mothers who are breastfeeding, it works as a great way to help reduce pain and calm a child because it gives the infant comforting skin-to-skin contact and distracts the child. Also, mother’s milk contains sugar which is known to have pain-relieving effects.
For older children, try a cold compress (a few pieces of ice wrapped in a clean cloth) at the site of the vaccine to numb the pain.
Like with any other medication, vaccines carry a minor chance of reactions or side effects. Usually, they are very mild – redness, tenderness or mild swelling at the spot of vaccination and go away on their own. Some children may develop a fever post vaccination. Ask your doctor beforehand the steps you should take to bring down the child’s fever and be prepared for it.
Serious reactions are also possible but rare. Check with your doctor beforehand if the vaccine is associated with any serious reaction and be prepared accordingly. In case your child develops any severe allergic reaction, take him to the nearest medical centre immediately.
Children older than 2 years of age are quite aware of what is going on and should be informed and prepared for the upcoming vaccination. Explain the necessity of vaccines to them (try “builds the army of good soldiers in your body to fight the bad ones, diseases”). Don’t offer false reassurances and say it won’t hurt. When explaining the process of getting a shot, choose your words wisely – say pressure, or poking instead of pain or needle.
Cuddle small babies and seat them firmly in your lap. Being close to you comforts the baby and you can also hold his arms and legs still for the shot. Hold your older child’s hand and distract him by bringing along light and sound toys, books, music players or showing them videos to take their attention away from the vaccine.
Avoid dressing your small children in tight-fitting clothes with many layers, buttons or straps. Most of the vaccinations are given on the upper thigh, so choose shorts or loose pants.
Older children get vaccinations on the upper arm so avoid full-sleeved shirts and dress them in loose short-sleeved shirts for the appointment. Loose clothes with also ensure they are easy to change from without irritating the site of vaccination.
Your child being upset or in pain due to vaccination is no reason to skip the vaccine shot. Simply focus on making him comfortable at the appointment and easing any pain afterwards. A timely vaccine during childhood goes a long way in ensuring a healthy life.
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