Newborn blood spot screening test
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Dr Anna Maw
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Consultant pediatrician at Cambridge University NHS Trust in the UK. A child doctor specializing in brain development and neurology. She has three children.
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Baby health

Vaccinations and immunisations

It’s very difficult when you first take your baby along for immunisations and no parent really likes doing that, but it’s important to remember it’s the best thing you can do for your baby to help protect them against a wide range of potentially dangerous infectious diseases. If you are breastfeeding you can offer your baby a feed straight after their immunisations to comfort her and reduce her pain.
In Short

This article will help to explain how immunisations work.

Immunisations work by introducing a small dose of the disease to your baby.

From then on your baby's immune system will be ready to fight that disease.

A low-grade fever (up to about 38 degrees) is common following a vaccine.

Paracetamol can help. Don't exceed stated dose.

7-10 days after a vaccine, babies and children may go off their food temporarily, and/or develop a mild rash.

The concerns surrounding the MMR vaccine were unfounded in science.

Why should I immunise my baby?

It’s very difficult when you first take your baby along for immunisations and I don’t think any parent really likes doing that, but it’s important to remember it’s the best thing you can do for your baby to help protect them against a wide range of potentially dangerous infectious diseases.

How do immunisations work?

Immunisations work by introducing a small dose of the disease to your baby. That allows your baby’s immune system to get ready and recognise that disease so that if it ever meets the infection later in life it’s ready to fight against the disease and protect your baby.

Is it normal for babies to get a fever after an immunisation or vaccination?

It’s quite common for your baby to have a low-grade fever, up to about 38 degrees, in the period following their immunisations.

What should I do if my baby gets a fever after an immunisation or vaccination?

Doctors often recommend that babies can have a small dose of paracetamol following their immunisations in order to keep their temperature down and help the baby feel comfortable.

Be aware that 7-10 days following their injections, babies and little children may develop a low-level rash and sometimes go a bit off their food.

This is normal, but if it’s more than mild or non-blanching, or you are worried, go and see your GP.

(Our lessons show what a non-blanching rash looks like on a real child, which can be fatal and require emergency medical attention.) The footage was kindly provided by the Meningitis Research Foundation.

What’s the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine? Why do people worry about it?

There’s been a lot of concern over the last few years particularly around the MMR vaccination and that has led to fewer people taking their children along to have them immunised. The research that initially caused the concern has been discredited.

Unfortunately, in the last decade, there has been an increase in the numbers of children suffering from measles. Our on-screen consultant paediatrician, Dr. Anna Maw, has sadly had to treat a child hospitalised with measles who was actually very sick indeed. Measles is potentially quite serious and can have long-term complications for a baby’s health.

For more information about the MMR immunisation, please look at our lesson from the toddler stage that goes into the evidence for the safety of the MMR vaccine in a number of big studies (including studies looking particularly at ‘high risk’ children e.g., the siblings of children with a diagnosis of ASD or autism spectrum disorders). The article also covers some of the problems with the unethical and flawed researched initially published by Andrew Wakefield who lost his medical licence over the problems with the research.

For a timeline of your baby, toddler, child, teenage immunisations, click here.

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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.