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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vaccination Awareness

Last Saturday,  I attended a "PLAY" event organized by Mommy Mundo and sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline.  PLAY is an acronym for Protection, Love, and Activities for Young Kids.  This is a disease awareness campaign which was recently launched by Mommy Mundo, to promote its advocacy on vaccination as the best defense against diseases.   You can read more about that here.

one of the afternoon's activities
puzzle game
 The focus of the talk was the strep bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae) which commonly results in otitis media or middle ear infection but may also lead to pneumonia, sepsis or even meningitis.

 The speaker was. Dr. Carmina De Los Reyes, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases.  What I found really interesting about the talk was the incidence of pneumonia and how to prevent it. Did you know that 37 Filipino children (1-59 months old) die of pneumonia every day?  Meanwhile see the photo below on how pneumonia can be prevented:
Slide from Dr. Minette De Los Reyes' presentation
1st Year of Life LAY LECTURE-PLAY
It is quite ironic how most of children who die from pneumonia belong to the class who cannot afford the means to prevent it.  Although there are free vaccines in the barangay health center, the vaccine needed to prevent invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPD) is not included.  Vaccines are costly and the vaccine to prevent IPD ranges from 4,500 to 5,500 pesos - depending on the brand you choose.

Most of the Filipino moms vaccinate their children.  However, there are an increasing number of moms who choose NOT to vaccinate their children.  In this, I'm NOT out to convince you to vaccinate or not to vaccinate your child.  However, I do hope to challenge you to be informed as you make the decision whether or not to vaccinate your child.

Just as I was writing this post, it was very coincidental that vaccination was a topic being hotly discussed in one of the mom groups I belong to.  There were moms who followed the scheduled vaccinations, moms who chose to give majority but not all of the vaccines and moms who choose to give only 1 or 2 vaccines from the complete list.  What I admired most about the moms was that they did their own research.  Whether or not they chose to vaccinate, the moms were well-read, well researched and could explain their decisions.

In my case, I read the Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears.  If you look at our local vaccination schedule, you will see that vaccines are lumped and given to your baby every 2 months during the first year of life.  I chose the vaccines to give my children and spread them out so they did not have more than 1 vaccine per doctor's visit.

There are advantages and disadvantages on whether you vaccinate or not.  It is important that YOU know about them and make your decision based on which risk you would like to take.  I'd like to share some tips from Velvet, one of my non-vaccinating friends (who chose to give her kids only 2 vaccines).

  • Don't vaccinate for 3 weeks after your child recovers from cough, colds, fever, rashes or tamlay (start counting when your child gets well)
  • Don't mix vaccines and antibiotics - wait 2 weeks until after the last dose.
  • Breastfeed! Make sure baby is well-nourished and healthy on the day s/he will be vaccinated. 
  • Be watchful of after effects of vaccination.
  • Read, research, read, research!

A common refrain I hear from mothers is that they just don't have time to research.. But if you have time to read this blog post, then I am sure you CAN make time to research something this important to your child's health.  Filter the information.

If unsure about your research, ask your doctor.  A good doctor will not begrudge a mom answers but will in fact admire the mom for her initiative and interest in understanding what goes into her child's body. As my friend Jen says, if you can't sleep at night knowing that you didn't vaccinate your child, then vaccinate him/her -- and vice versa.

Do you vaccinate your child?

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