​Singapore is free from vaccine-preventable diseases like poliomyelitis, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) because of the our successful immunisation programme.

Immunisation (or vaccination) is the use of vaccines to protect children against certain infectious diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. The vaccines are given to children when they are young because these diseases can strike at an early age.

Some vaccines give rise to lifelong immunity upon completion of the full course (e.g. the Hepatitis B vaccine). Other vaccines have to be given again later in life to maintain your child's immunity to the disease (e.g. diphtheria and tetanus). This top-up dose is called a booster.

Childhood immunisations are very important

If your child is not vaccinated against the diseases, he may not have immunity and the following can happen:

Your child can contract the vaccine-preventable diseases easily from another person.

As a result, he/she may fall seriously ill, develop serious long-term complications or even die.

If your child is infected, he/she may then spread the diseases to others (children and adults) who are not immune. This may result in an epidemic if too many people are infected.

National Childhood Immunisation Programme

The National Childhood Immunisation Programme (NICIS) in Singapore is based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee on Immunisation (ECI) which comprises senior officials from the Ministry of Health, consultant paediatricians and experts in communicable disease control. The Committee monitors and reviews the Childhood Immunisation Programme in Singapore. Consultations are made with the World Health Organization and other international bodies when necessary.

The School Health Service (SHS) provides immunisation to school children, according to the National Childhood Immunisation Programme. Please refer to the immunisation schedule.

Vaccines are safe

Although vaccines are made from the same infective agents (or parts of them) that cause the disease, they will not make the person sick from the disease. This is because the germs are either killed or weakened. Each new vaccine is tested thoroughly before it is licensed and it is monitored closely for side-effects.

The benefits of immunisation are much greater than the small risk of side-effects. If any at all, the side-effects are usually mild.

Side effects

The possible side-effects are:
  • ​Pain, redness or swelling at the site of the vaccination.
  • Slight fever, tiredness or poor appetite.
  • A mild rash (that lasts for two days) may occur 5 to 12 days after the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccination.
If your child experiences side-effects,
  • Medicines like paracetamol (e.g. Panadol) may be given for fever and pain.
  • Give him plenty of clear fluids such as water for the next few days.
  • Take him to the doctor if high fever persists even after taking the medicine.
After immunisation against poliomyelitis, your child should observe strict personal hygiene as the virus particles are passed out through the faeces for at least 6 weeks. Make sure he washes his hands with soap and water after going to the toilet and before handling or eating food.

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