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Childhood Check-ups and Immunisations


Your Child's Immunisations

All children need immunisations (vaccinations) to protect against diseases. And often more than one immunisation is needed for each type of disease.  The following information describes each immunisation and gives a schedule based on the American Academy of Paediatrics.  Your own child's schedule may differ somewhat based on your own doctor's recommendations.

For most children immunisation poses little risk. However, if you have any concerns, be sure to discuss them with the doctor. Always keep a current record of your child's immunisations. That way, if your child has missed any, you can let the doctor know, so your child can "catch up."

Immunisation Schedule

Vaccine:  Hepatitis (HB)
Disease prevented:  Hepatitis B, a disease that causes swelling of the liver.
Vaccination schedule:  1st: Birth - 2 months.  2nd: 1-2 months after the 1st.  3rd: 6-12 months after the 1st.

Vaccine:  Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP)
Diseases prevented:  Diphtheria, an infection that causes fever, weakness and difficult breathing.  Tetanus ("lockjaw"), a fatal disease associated with dirty wounds that causes muscles of the neck and jaw to go into spasm.  Pertussis ("whooping cough"), a highly contagious childhood disease that causes loud coughing and gasping.
Vaccination schedule:  1st: 2 months.  2nd: 4 months.  3rd: 6 months.  4th: 12-18 months.  5th: 4-6 years.  6th: 11-16 years.

Vaccine:  Haemophilus influenza Type B (HIB)
Disease prevented:  A type of "flu" that can be dangerous to young children.
Vaccination schedule:  1st: 2 months.  2nd: 4 months.  3rd: 6 months.  4th: 12-15 months.

Vaccine:  Polio (OPV)
Disease prevented:  An infection that can paralyse the muscles.
Vaccination schedule:  1st: 2 months.  2nd: 4 months.  3rd: 6-18 months. 4th: 4-6 years.

Vaccine:  Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
Diseases prevented:  Measles, a disease marked by red spots, fever and coughing.  Mumps, a disease that causes swelling and discomfort in the salivary glands and sometimes affects the ovaries and testes.  Rubella ("German measles"), a milder form of measles which is highly contagious and can cause birth defects if a pregnant woman catches the disease.
Vaccination schedule:  1st: 12-15 months.  2nd: 4-12 years.  Some schools require a vaccination at 12 years.

Vaccine:  Varicella
Disease prevented:  Chicken pox, a contagious childhood disease that causes itchy raised bumps on the skin, along with fever and fatigue.
Vaccination schedule:  12-18 months (often given with the MMR vaccine) or any time from 18 months to 12 years if not given earlier and no history of chicken pox.

Regular Well Child Check-Ups

How often should your child see the doctor? Not just when he or she is sick! The doctor will set up a regular check up schedule that include a physical examination and an assessment of your child's social, psychological and nutritional development.

Talking with Your Child and the Doctor

Part of getting the best health care is communicating effectively with both your child and the doctor. This helps everyone understand what's happening and can reduce needless worry. Try the following:

When talking to your child:
Explain what to expect in the waiting and examination rooms
Let your child know its okay to be scared, nervous or anxious. Explain that the doctor is there to help.
Encourage your child to ask questions: Why do I hurt? What can I do to get better?

When talking to the doctor:
Write down your questions or concerns ahead of time, including questions about your child's growth and development.
Make a list of your child's symptoms. Include how long the symptoms have lasted,  anything you've done to relieve the symptoms, and what you think may have caused them.
Always ask the doctor: What is causing the problem? Are tests needed? What's the usual treatment? What can I expect to happen next?

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