It’s undeniably true that we as parents would do anything to keep our children safe.
When I found out I was pregnant with each of my kids, I was overcome with this need to protect them and keep them out of harm’s way, no matter the cost. It was uncontrollable and simply put, instinctual.
With that feeling came the need to know everything I could in order to fulfil it. I’d done all the research, I’d read the books, the articles and the studies. I’d asked questions – lots and lots of questions. I had made sure the knowledge and information I was arming myself with to protect my family came from reputable sources, with proof and facts to back it up.
For me, it started in my belly with prenatal care; vitamins, obstetric appointments, avoiding certain foods and drinks and being more cautious with the activities I chose to do. From there, it was planning the birth, getting ready for a newborn and then the whole new world of parenthood.
Let me tell you, when it comes to parenthood and mothering a newborn, it’s never the same. Each experience is different, and factors change. However, there are some things that don’t change – one of which is the need to vaccinate our children.
I soon learnt that for some this can be a touchy subject, surrounded by a lot of misinformation that can leave you overwhelmed, quite anxious and scared. But it shouldn't.
Now I like to think of myself as a bit of seasoned pro in this area. Having done it four times with four kids, I want to ease the burden and share with other parents what I have learnt.
My reasons for vaccinating my kids.
Backed with facts and put simply, so that we can all arm our families with the right information, to help protect not only our children but also others and our community from preventable diseases and illnesses.
With many outbreaks of whooping cough and measles in recent times across various locations in Australia, vaccinating is a no-brainer for me. I know that I could never live with myself if one of my children died or became seriously ill from a disease that I could have prevented.
It's been scientifically proven time and time again - immunisation save lives and strengthens your child’s immune system. Before vaccination campaigns began back in the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of children died each year in Australia from what are now preventable diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.
In Australia, more than 93 percent of five-year-olds are vaccinated. However, some areas have lower rates of immunisation, which puts everyone at risk. This is due to lack of community (herd) immunity - so, when the majority of a community’s population is up to date with their immunisations, it prevents these diseases from being passed person to person and it dies out. But when the majority is not, it can spread.
In order to maintain community immunity and prevent the spread of disease around 90 percent of the population must be immunised, but for some diseases this needs to be even higher, for example around 95 percent of the population must be immunised to prevent a measles outbreak.
It's absolutely vital to protect the small number of people in our communities that cannot protect themselves, because they are too young or too sick to be vaccinated.
So before you immunise...
Here are my tips and tricks for tackling immunisations, from my experiences with my kids:
- Arm yourself with the right information. You can find all the facts and info you need at immunisationfacts.gov.au. Write down any questions you may have and speak with your health care provider, to put your mind at ease.
- Stay on top of the immunisation schedule by knowing when your child is due to have them. You can find these online using your Medicare account through the MyGov website or app, phoning the Australian Immunisation Register enquiries line (1800 653 809), or in your child’s health care book provided at birth (ours are blue books in NSW). Once you have the dates, print them off and put them on the fridge, write them on your calendar or put a reminder in your phone and set an alarm. You can use smartphone apps to remind you when vaccines for your child are due. Reminder apps can be downloaded from the Google Play Store, iTunes App Store or Windows App Store. Missing or delaying vaccinations puts your child and others at risk, so make sure your child receives every vaccine on time for the best protection.
- It’s always hard seeing your child cry, so prepare yourself. Find comfort in the fact that they find comfort in you. For my kids, I found that breastfeeding my babies during the earlier immunisations prevented signs of discomfort. However, distracting them with cuddles, kisses, their favourite toy or a soother will do the trick too.
After you immunise...
And here's what they'll need after immunisations:
- Lots of love and snuggles are required post needles, for both mum/dad and bub. Don't worry about the cleaning, it can wait - cuddles can’t.
- When they get older and can understand, be honest with your child. Let them know what is happening and why. My eldest, then four, cried when I told her she was getting a needle. But straight after it was done, she said “Oh, that didn’t hurt” and has since pep-talked two others through the experience.
- Make sure you give praise where praise is due and reward their bravery. In our home it has been various things, from a post-immunisation ice cream to a post-immunisation play at the park.
- Take note to post care advice provided by your care professional and seek medical advice if needed.
Finally, remember to put your mind at ease knowing that all vaccines available in Australia have been thoroughly tested for safety and effectiveness, and are continually monitored and evaluated.
For more information on the benefits of childhood immunisations and how they save lives visit immunisationfacts.gov.au.
Connect with Stevie Niki at her MyTribeofSix Instagram.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner The Australian Government, Department of Health.
What's your experience been like with childhood vaccinations? Share your tips and stories with us below.
93% of Aussie kids are fully vaccinated, but it’s not high enough. As parents, we all need to do more to protect our kids - especially newborn babies - from serious disease. The Australian Government’s ‘Get the facts about immunisation’ campaign has been developed to give you the facts about immunisation so that you can make informed decisions in the best interests of your child and our community. Click here to get the facts about immunisation.