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Ouch! Baby's First Shots

By Michelle Higgins

Now that your bundle of joy has arrived, it is your responsibility to keep her safe and healthy.

Immunizations/vaccinations protect your baby from serious and some life-threatening illnesses. They boost your baby's immunity and help her make antibodies to combat infections.

Some vaccination myths busted

If all the children in his school are immunized, my child cannot get sick.

The chances of acquiring an infection are reduced if everyone else is immunized. But imagine what would happen if everyone had the same bright idea! Protect your child with a shot and help prevent the spread of disease as well.

Vaccines often cause the diseases they are supposed to prevent!

Vaccines are prepared using killed or weakened germs to prepare your child respond to the 'real' ones. Vaccine-induced disease is extremely rare.

My baby need not be vaccinated against the diseases, which are uncommon in my geographical region.

Germs know no geographical boundaries. They can spread via travel and immigration. If your child is not protected against a particular disease, he can acquire it if exposed to the germs.

Too many shots will overburden my baby's immune system.

A normal baby's immune system is equipped to handle vaccines as well as the natural microbes she is exposed to everyday.

ABC of baby's first shots

The DTaP vaccine defends your child against three diseases: Diphtheria, an infection that blocks the airways and can affect the heart and nerves, Tetanus or 'lock-jaw' and Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

Three common infections Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German Measles) are taken care of by the MMR vaccine.

Hib vaccine prevents meningitis, a serious infection of the membranes covering the brain caused by a bug called Haemophilus influenzae (Type b).

PCV vaccine protects your child from pneumonia, meningitis and other serious infections that can be caused by another germ Pneumococcus.

You need to vaccinate your child against Hepatitis B (Hep B vaccine), a viral infection that can cause chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Polio, an infection with serious complications like paralysis can be averted by the IPV vaccine or Oral polio drops.

Your child might also be given the varicella vaccine for chickenpox and annual flu shots to thwart influenza.

Confirm the immunization schedule with your doctor, since it may vary in different countries. Maintain an immunization card for your baby to know which shot is due, when. Marking those important dates on your calendar ensures you don't forget them.

You will also need this record when you enroll your child in a baby-care center or school.

What about immunization side effects?

Most babies will only have minor immunization side effects like fever, soreness at the injection site or mild rash. An ice pack applied to the site will reduce the swelling. You doctor might prescribe acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and pain.

Serious allergic reactions are very rare and occur within minutes to hours of the shot. Call your doctor immediately if you observe any difficulty in breathing, wheezing, fainting, weakness, hives or excessive crying.

Vaccinations may be an unpleasant experience for your baby (more so for you), but a few tears now will go a long way in keeping her healthy all her life.

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