Child immunisations – they’re still important!

As caregivers, parents and guardians we are always on the go, always rushing from one thing to another, that so often other things fall through the cracks, happens to me all the time! One of these things is child immunisation. It’s happened to me so often, after the first few months of your child’s life, the appointments get more and more spaced out and so it’s easy to forget to make your next appointment. A few times my midwife has had to send me a message to remind me to make an appointment for one of my girls! Throw the pandemic into the mix where so many were nervous to go out into public, let alone healthcare spaces, and many children’s immunizations fell by the wayside1.

Child immunisations are so incredibly important to keep our children safe against potentially deadly diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, hepatitis and measles2. The first of these are given at birth and thereafter you can take your child to a private midwife (at a private practice ,or pharmacy or baby wellness clinics) where you will be charged a fee, or one of the public clinics where there is no charge for immunisations2.

Like me, I’m sure so many of you also have questions about what to do now? Do you skip those immunisations, do you cram them in all together? What are the immunisations actually for?

A few weeks ago I sat down with Dr Lethabo Machaba, a renowned pediatrician who has years of experience under her belt, to chat about childhood immunisations and their importance as well as some of the common concerns she hears from parents in her practice and in the Neonatal/Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

It was such a wonderful interview (that you can watch here), Dr Lethabo answered all of my questions with both empathy and factual knowledge about child immunisations and their importance.

One of the questions that I think many parents wonder is why we give our babies their immunisations before their immune systems are fully developed, surely it should be the other way around? I really loved the way Dr Lethabo explained it; she said that while the child’s immune system is developing, we want to train it to fight harmful diseases like pneumococcal meningitis and so we give them their immunisations which imitate the disease in the body. This causes their immune system to recognize it and develop antigens to fight it. As the child’s immune system develops so do the antigens which help to prevent future infection. After Dr Lethabo explained it like that, it made so much more sense to me!

As a parent, I know how overwhelming all of these decisions are, especially with all of the information out there, and so I hope that this blog post as well as the interview with Dr Lethabo helps put your mind at ease and gives the answers to some questions you may have.

If you have any additional questions, please reach out to your healthcare provider who will be able to guide you.

*This blog post and accompanying interviews have been sponsored by Pfizer

References:

  1. WHO and UNICEF warn of a decline in vaccinations during COVID-19
  2. Child immunisation | South African Government (www.gov.za)

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