Children and vaccinations

May 5, 2009 3:25:15 PM PDT
There is new information on why many kids aren't up to date on their vaccinations, plus tips on making them less painful for the little ones. It's hard to watch the surprise on an unsuspecting 2-year-old's face when he or she feels the sting of the first vaccine. But there's a little trick parents should know about that can reduce the pain. They should also be aware of the importance of scheduling vaccinations that can save their children's lives.

Two-month-old Joel Delacruz is getting his first set of shots, and the staff at Columbia Medical Center knows to give the basic tetanus, whooping cough and diphtheria first and the one to prevent pneumonia last. The pneumonia shot stings more than the other shot.

A study on just more than 100 babies came to the same conclusion. They've been doing it that way at Columbia for a while already.

"We like to give the shots that are least painful first, and we save the worst for last," Dr. Connie Kostacos said.

Besides asking for the pneumonia shot last, new parents can help their babies in other ways.

"It's important to not be nervous before," Dr. Mary McCord said. "Because a child picks up on nervousness, but also be ready to comfort them afterward."

And make sure you schedule the shots on time. A study done at Columbia found that as many as 20 percent of kids are not up on their vaccinations.

There are a number of explanations. Teicha Villegas, 23, often brings in her younger brother, Manuel. She's happy with the care, but says it takes a long time to get an appointment.

In a busy practice, it's hard to get an appointment for a vaccine, especially if a patient cancels the first time, or misses an appointment.

"It's important for parents to make it clear to the staff when scheduling an appointment that they missed an appointment," Dr. McCord said. "And they feel that their child's immunizations may be delayed if they don't get a timely appointment."

Some vaccines have a very short window during which parents can get their kids vaccinated. For example, the rotavirus vaccine, to prevent severe diarrhea, can only be given between six weeks and 14 weeks of age, not at 15 weeks. So it's very important that parents keep their appointments and that doctors do all they can to make openings to vaccinate the kids.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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