i​mmunisation, vaccination

Immunisations for your baby

Immunisations are very important. They protect your baby against infections that can lead to disability or even death.

Some vaccines give rise to lifelong immunity upon completion of the full course. Other vaccines have to be given again later in life to maintain your child’s immunity to the disease. This top-up dose is called a booster.

Most babies are fit for immunisations. However, should your baby have high fever or a previous serious reaction to immunisations, he may not be suitable for them. If your baby’s immune system is weak due to illness or medical treatment, live vaccines like MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and oral polio must be avoided.

Consult your doctor if you have any concerns or doubts.

Some babies may suffer from minor side effects after immunisation. These include fever and soreness or swelling at the site of the injection.

Some parents are concerned about the link between the MMR vaccine and autism, but there is no evidence to support this.

Singapore has a National Childhood and Adolescent Immunisation Programme to give your child the best possible protection from serious infections. It is important that you ensure your child is immunised according to the recommended schedule.

Note:

In Singapore, immunisation for Diphtheria and Measles are compulsory by law.

Medisave and Baby Bonus

Medisave can be used to pay for all the vaccinations under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS). Patients and their immediate family members can use up to $400 per year, per Medisave Account to pay for the approved vaccinations.

For more information, please visit the Baby Bonus website.


National Childhood and Adolescent Immunisation Programme

The National Childhood and Adolescent Immunisation Programme protects against 12 diseases. They are:

1. Tuberculosis (TB)

TB usually attacks the lungs, but it can also infect any other part of the body. If it is not properly treated, it can be fatal. TB spreads through the air.

2. Hepatitis B

This is a serious viral liver infection that spreads by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of a carrier. Your baby’s fi rst dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine will be given soon after birth. In all, there are three doses to take.

3. Diphtheria

This is a bacterial infection that affects the throat mainly. In more serious cases, it can affect the heart and nerves and block the breathing passage. Diphtheria is very contagious and is potentially life threatening.

4. Tetanus

Also known as lockjaw, this affects the body’s muscles and nerves. Without treatment, tetanus can be fatal.

5. Pertussis (Whooping cough)

This is very contagious and can cause serious illness in infants and children. It can lead to pneumonia (lung infection) and brain damage.

6. Poliomyelitis (Polio)

Often called Polio, this can lead to paralysed and deformed arms or legs.

7. Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib)

Hib is a bacterium that causes meningitis and acute respiratory infections, mainly in infants and children under five years of age. It is frequently associated with severe complications of the brain and spinal cord. It is also a major cause of pneumonia in children. The bacterium is spread from person to person by respiratory droplets during coughing or sneezing.

8. Measles

A highly contagious viral infection that affects the body’s breathing system. It usually starts with high fever and causes a rash. Lung infection, deafness and brain damage can occur. It is spread through coughing and sneezing and through touching contaminated surfaces. Most people recover completely but some people can get very ill especially if complications arise.

9. Mumps

A common childhood viral infection that causes the glands that produce saliva (on both sides of the jaw) to swell. It is contagious 1- 2 days before symptoms appear until 1 -2 days after they disappear. A serious case of mumps can lead to brain infection, deafness and sterility.

10. Rubella

Also known as German measles, this is usually mild when it affects children. A rash may appear. Your child should stay at home while sick or up to a week after the rash disappears. Expectant women if affected during early pregnancy may give birth to deaf, blind or mentally retarded babies.

11. Pneumococcal infection

This disease is common in children under 2 years and the elderly. It can lead to chest, ear and brain infections (which can be potentially fatal).

12. Human Papillomavirus

The major cause of cervical cancer is a virus called the human papillomavirus. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can infect the cervix, causing the cells to change. In most of the infection cases, the virus clears by itself and the cells return to normal. However, in some cases, the infection can persist and cause the cells to grow in an abnormal way, developing into cervical cancer.

Combination vaccines*

These newer childhood vaccine formulations combine vaccines against four, five or six diseases into a single injection. These combination vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective. With the introduction of these vaccines, your child can be protected without the anxiety of multiple injections.

The cost of the ‘5-in-1’ are subsidised by the government. The ‘6-in-1’ and MMRV vaccines however, are not subsidised. Most of the vaccines in the National Childhood and Adolescent Immunisation Schedule are provided free of charge in the polyclinics except for the Pneumococcal and Human Papillomavirus vaccine. For more information, speak to your doctor.

* The ‘5-in-1’ injection combines vaccines against Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus (DPT), Polio and Haemophilus Influenza type B (Hib). The ‘6-in-1’ injection combines vaccines against Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus (DPT), Polio, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenza type B (Hib). The MMRV vaccine combines vaccines against four common childhood diseases, Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella (also known as chickenpox).

Optional vaccines

There are also optional vaccines for your baby. Some of the common optional vaccines that you may want to consider giving to your baby are: Chickenpox, Rotavirus, Hepatitis A and Meningococcal. It is best that you discuss the need for these vaccines with your doctor and make a decision on whether it would benefit your baby. Bring along your baby’s Health Booklet during the clinic visit to record the immunisation given.

For more information regarding immunisations, visit the National Immunisation Registry website.