My toddler is a pretty lucky kid, although, I’m sure if she could say, she would absolutely disagree with me. You see, her mum (me) loves nothing more than to annoy the family doctor with health questions, namely about vaccinations.
It started when I was pregnant and had my first visit to the doctor to tell her what the pee stick said. Of the million and one things my doctor got me to do, the first was to get a flu vaccine. To protect myself against the flu (it can be dangerous to get the flu while pregnant) and also to give my little bub some protection against the flu for their first six months of life.
While I always thought that vaccinations technically started after bub was born, I quickly found out that they get one at minus 12 weeks old (or at the start of the third trimester). States and territories across Australia have been funding the Whooping Cough vaccine for pregnant women for a while now, to transfer the antibodies to the bub to protect them from the virus (which can be fatal for newborns) for the first 6 weeks of their life.
Then the list of vaccines start… if you are like me, these are the thoughts you’re having.
It’s long. It’s confusing.
Particularly when you are having broken sleep and all the hormones and stressing about every little thing you are doing (because damn it, you want to be the best mum).
Thankfully, there are apps which make your phone ding to know when to make an appointment with your doctor for the next round of vaccines for your baby.
Thankfully, babies don’t have the build-up of anxiety about getting an injection like little children do. Thankfully, you can blame the hormones for crying more than your baby when they get the injection.
At the end, you pat yourself on the back. You are super mum who is on top of all the vaccinations your kid needs to be protected or better equipped to handle these nasty germs. That’s when you find yourself drinking a cup of lukewarm tea watching the news and you hear about a toddler, who has tragically contracted meningococcal disease and is fighting for their life.
Here’s the kicker, that child is just like yours, fully immunised.
Now, we know that getting a vaccine doesn’t create an impregnable shield against that disease, more that it protects them and if they do happen to get it, their immune system has a better chance of fighting that disease.
Just like half of parents surveyed in a recent Meningococcal Awareness survey, you and I didn’t realise that the immunisation schedule doesn’t necessarily cover all strains of the meningococcal disease. Routine childhood vaccinations protect against one of several types of meningococcal disease.
There are vaccines available that aren’t on the funded immunisation list which can help to protect your child from some of the other strains of meningococcal (you do have to fork out your own cash, which is what I chose to do).
Vaccines are only one option though. Knowing the symptoms of meningococcal disease and acting super-fast when you see them is just as important.
Some of the symptoms are a high fever, severe headache, nausea and vomiting or a reddish or purple skin rash. It’s always good to ask your doctor lots of questions so you feel confident with the information you have (it’s hard enough spelling the disease much less knowing what to look out for and when to act).
There are also vaccines for when you travel, depending on where you are planning on holidaying – just make sure to tell your doctor with plenty of notice.
The most important thing is to discuss vaccines and any health concerns you have with your doctor – don’t just assume that the free vaccines are it.
What has your experience been with childhood vaccinations? Share with us below.
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner GSK.
Parents, make sure to ask your GP about Meningococcal disease, and what vaccines your child can get to protect them.
For further information, visit Know Meningococcal.
This content has been in collaboration with Mamamia and GlaxoSmithKline, however all opinions are our own and we do not work with or endorse anything we do not fully support or believe in.
*CDC VPD manual Chapter 8: Meningococcal disease. www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.pdf
Whilst rare, meningococcal disease can progress rapidly - resulting in death within 24 hours or serious long-term disabilities, including brain damage, deafness and limb loss*. Infants, young children and adolescents are most at risk. That’s why GSK has partnered with Mamamia to increase knowledge and understanding, and to help prevent the spread and impact of this devastating disease.