Immunisations are one of the success stories of modern medicine. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defences to help it safely develop immunity to disease. It is one of the best ways parents can help protect infants and children from potentially harmful diseases.
Although there may be minor differences in the recommended immunisation schedules among developed countries, all are designed to work best with the child’s immune system early in life when they are most vulnerable conferring protection before they are exposed.
Recommended Childhood Immunisations include:
Hepatitis B vaccine prevents this form of hepatitis and the severe liver damage that can occur later on in life.
Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP/Tdap) vaccine protects from Diphtheria (a serious infection of the throat that can block the airway), Tetanus (a nerve disease caused by bacteria that get into a wound), and Pertussis (Whooping cough, a dangerous disease especially for babies which sometimes can be fatal).
Haemophilus Influenzae type b (HIB) vaccine prevents several life-threatening diseases in young children such as meningitis, epiglottitis, pneumonia, and ear infections.
Pneumococcal (PCV) vaccine protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that cause pneumonia, meningitis, blood stream infections and ear infections.
Polio (IPV) vaccine protects children from this now rare but crippling disease.
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine protects from a wide range of serious illnesses including pneumonia, seizures, deafness, meningitis, and birth defects. Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and in recent years, there has been a rise in the number of measles cases. Because outbreaks do occur and our families do travel internationally, it is especially important for children to be immunized against this. There is no scientific basis for any link between MMR and autism.
Rotavirus (RV) vaccine prevents the most common cause of infection in the intestines sometimes causing severe diarrhoea and dehydration. Recommended for young infants.
BCG vaccine against tuberculosis is recommended for all babies born in Singapore. Parents are advice to discuss the indication for BCG for their individual child if they are planning to reside in Asia for prolong period of time.
Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine protects against potential serious complications such as pneumonia, brain disease, and even death. Two doses of this vaccine is 98% effective in preventing chickenpox, so if your child gets chickenpox, it is a milder form reducing the chance of missed work and school, medical costs, and getting shingles later in life.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents cervical cancer and genital warts. Recommended for both girls and boys age 11 or 12 years old.
Influenza vaccine is recommended for all healthy children age 6 months to 18 years. Those less than 2 years old are at greater risk of getting severely ill. Caregivers of young children should also get the influenza vaccine each year.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccine protects from illnesses due to contaminated food or water. Recommended for children both living and traveling in Asia.
Meningococcal vaccine Meningococcal disease is rare and not prevalent in Singapore. Meningitis C vaccine is recommended for young infants and children who travel regularly to the Northern Hemisphere, especially over the autumn/winter seasons. In the US, MCV4 is routinely recommended for all 11-12 years old, teens starting high school or young adults before they move into the dormitory.
Vaccines have been shown to be effective and safe. Ensuring that our children are current with their immunisation is one of the best ways of protecting them from serious infections and fostering good health.
By Dr Judy Schmidt
MD (Houston), Board Cert (Paediatrics, USA)