The ABCs of vaccinations

This first appeared on The Standard on 26 February 2017

You have most likely heard that vaccines contain a weakened antigen causing the disease you are protecting yourself from. But do you know how they work? Let me save you the trouble – when your child gets vaccinated, the body interprets the vaccine to be the disease and the immune system is stimulated to create antibodies to fight it. Here are more interesting facts about vaccination for your child.

Do you know that the common Kenyan practice of giving painkillers to the baby before vaccination is not recommended? Research suggests that it could interfere with the immune response to the vaccine. It is recommended to give the painkiller after the jab to deal with the side effects of vaccines such as fever.

Hold your baby while they are administering the shots – Instead of putting the baby down, it is better to hold them to help minimize the pain. Breastfeeding afterwards or offering a sweet pacifier are proven ways of easing the sting.

Swelling and oozing pus on the vaccination area – This is common for BCG vaccination – against tuberculosis which is given before the baby leaves the hospital after birth. It is perfectly normal and you should not rub the swelling as it will heal on its own after leaving a scar.

Baby friendly vaccinations – these are basically the same as the government  offered types but with fewer side effects. They are available at private health institutions. If you have a medical insurance cover, find out if they cover them as they are a bit pricey.



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