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Baby's vaccinations. Is a booster due?

Baby's vaccinations. Is a booster due?


My baby is due for their first vaccination, and I must admit I'm not really sure about it all. Which ones are compulsory? Which ones aren't? I'm afraid it will hurt my baby. Are there solutions for relieving the pain?

From two months, your little one will need to receive their first routine vaccination. Then follow a series of routine or recommended vaccinations. This may seem to be a bit much but the immunisation schedule has been designed according to a baby's ability to produce antibodies. Vaccination is important for your baby's current and future health. It also helps reduce the frequency of diseases such as tetanus, measles and poliomyelitis, etc.

BCG, Td-Polio, MMR…: how to decipher the codes

Vaccines are dead or inactivated organisms and are not pathogenic (they do not cause disease) but they stimulate the body's resistance to disease. For some vaccines only one injection is needed whereas others may require one or several booster jabs. The earlier they are done, the more effective they are.

In the UK, vaccination is not compulsory against diphteria, tetanus and poliomyelitis (Td-Polio) for example, but strongly recommended to protect children against such diseases and diseases like measles (MMR jab). Here is a short reminder of the immunisation schedule.

•    Before 1 month: the BCG, against tuberculosis, is not compulsory but remains recommended in certain cases: parent(s) coming from a country in which the disease is widespread, precarious living conditions, etc.
•    From 2 months: Td-Polio (against diphtheria, tetanus and poliomyelitis). Three injections at a one-month interval are necessary, as is a booster jab at three years, and then once again between 13 and 18 years. At two months your baby may also receive an injection against pneumococal infection (against meningitis and pneumonia): two injections at two months' interval with a booster at around 13 months.
•    From 12 months : the MMR vaccine (against measles, mumps and rubella) is recommended, with a booster at around the age of 3.

Other vaccines are also recommended: hepatitis B, whooping cough etc. Some do not require a booster as they are sometimes combined with others. This is the case of the pentavalent vaccine which contains Td-Polio, whooping cough and Haemophilus influenzae b against certain types of otitis and meningitis); or of the hexavalent vaccine (six in one) containing the pentavalent vaccine and hepatitis B. Ask your doctor for advice.

Practical tips for a trouble-free vaccination

Having your baby vaccinated, especially for the first time, is not always easy. Bad memories, fear that it will hurt your baby are legitimate but your anxiety may spread to your baby. So try to stay calm, stay zen to prevent your child from sensing your anxiety.

For a trouble-free vaccination it is important that you and your baby… are well-prepared. It is preferable to make an appointment in the morning rather than in the evening after a stressful day. Ensure that your baby is not sick on the day of the appointment and that they do not have a temperature or a cold. Explain using plain language that they will be having an injection but that it will be over very quickly.

There are also ways of reducing the pain. You can give your child a sweet drink just before the injection. A Canadian study* showed that this was highly efficient. Other solutions include homeopathic medicine administered the eveing before or an anaesthetic patch placed two hours before the injection (ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice). A big reassuring hug and your child's favourite toy to cuddle are also highly recommended!

* Source: Efficacy of sweet solutions for analgesia in infants between 1 and 12 months of age: a systematic review, Denise Harrison & coll., Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2010.

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