Health and safety

Immunisation – protecting your child

Immunisations protect us from serious diseases and also prevent the spread of those diseases to others. This is why it is important to keep your child up to date on vaccines.

There is no doubt about it – vaccinations can save your child’s life.

Over the years, immunisations have prevented numerous cases of disease and saved millions of lives. However, recent times have seen an anti-vaccination movement across some parts of the world. Unfortunately, some parents are refusing to vaccinate their children or even putting it off. Misinformation and pseudoscience is largely to blame for this movement.

Recently, more than 100 people across America became ill with measles – the outbreak was thought to have been linked to a possible exposure in Disneyland in California last December. The sometimes deadly viral disease can spread swiftly among unvaccinated children.

The bottom line is this – delaying or opting out of childhood vaccines is risky behaviour.

How do vaccines work?

When your child is given a vaccine, their body responds by making antibodies, the same as if they had caught the disease but without getting sick. Their body then produces antibodies to destroy the vaccine and these stay in your child’s body and protect them against the actual disease.

According to the HSE, it usually takes a few weeks for vaccines to work, so your child will not be protected immediately. Also, most vaccines need to be given several times to build up long-lasting protection. For example, a child who gets only one or two doses of the whooping cough vaccine is only partly protected against that disease and may still catch whooping cough.

More than one dose of the same vaccine is given in the first few years of a child’s life. The extra doses improve the antibody response and give better long-term protection.

Booster doses of some vaccines are also given to school-children to give better long term protection.

Where can I get a copy of my child’s vaccination records?

The primary childhood immunisation programme is carried out in GP (family doctor) practices. The practice should have a copy of your child’s vaccination records for the vaccinations they have carried out.

The records may also be available from your local health office.
In most areas, the school-immunisation programme is carried out by the HSE school immunisation teams and the vaccination record will be held in your local health office. In a small number of areas the school vaccinations are carried out in GP practices and records should be available through your GP or local health office.

The National Immunisation Office produces vaccination passports that you or the vaccinator can fill in so you can keep all vaccination records together.

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Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….



Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.