As this is Immunisation Awareness Week I thought I would write a quick blog around this.
As an ex health visitor, midwife and family nurse I am very aware of the enormous decision facing new parents around if they should immunise their precious baby. Having nurtured and protected their baby for 9 months parents often feel cautious about the prospects of immunisations. With so much information available, it can be difficult to know what and who to believe and what to do for the best. As new parents of a baby only 8 weeks old they have to make this enormous decision. I too struggled making these decisions with my own children but eventually decided to immunise them, but I have friends who chose the other option and had good reason for their choices. In this blog, we will explore some of the factors that new mothers should consider when deciding whether or not to immunise their child.
Firstly, it is important to understand not immunising your child can carry potential risks. Vaccines help protect children from serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. By not immunising your child, you may be putting them at risk of catching these diseases, which can have serious consequences. For example we hear scary stories about measles causing brain damage and deafness and whooping cough causing pneumonia and even death. However herd immunity, where large portions of the community are immunised helps to protect those who are not immunised. This is particularly important for children who are too young to be immunised or who cannot receive certain vaccines due to medical reasons.
It is also important to consider the safety of vaccines, most of us felt a bit shaky about the speed at which the COVID vaccine arrived, however these vaccines have been around for many years and are tried and tested. While vaccines can cause side effects, such as fever and soreness at the injection site, serious side effects are rare. The vast majority of children who receive vaccines will not experience any serious side effects other than a restless night.
Some people claim that vaccines can cause serious side effects, including neurological damage and autoimmune disorders. However, scientific research has consistently shown that vaccines are safe and do not cause these serious side effects. This is where parents need to do their own research to satisfy themselves. Others argue that vaccines are not necessary because many of the diseases they protect against are not as deadly as they once were, thanks to improved sanitation, nutrition, and medical care. However, these diseases can still have serious consequences for young children, and outbreaks can occur when vaccination rates fall below a certain threshold and we lose herd immunity.
Ultimately, the decision to immunise a baby should be based on accurate information and a desire to protect their health and well-being which all parents have at their heart. Parents should have discussions with their healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of vaccination, and ask any questions they need to. Being a parents is not easy and making decisions around our babies and children's health can be a challenge.
I will share some links below for sites that may be helpful
Deborah Jakobsen - Founder and Director of Roo & Little Boo
A guide to immunisation for babies up to 13 months of age - from February 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
NHS vaccinations and when to have them - NHS (www.nhs.uk)