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If Your Baby Is Not Old Enough to Get Vaccinated Against Measles, Here's What You Can DoAccording to the childhood immunization schedule, measles vaccines are to be given when babies are at least 9 months old. But how do you protect them before then?by Kate Borbon .
Not all children are unvaccinated by choice; sometimes, it might be because they are experiencing certain conditions that make them unable to get vaccinated, while in some instances, they might simply be too young to get the vaccine. In this situation, parents might be concerned about how to protect their children from diseases that are potentially deadly. So, what can parents do to make sure their kids are protected?
Why babies less than a year old are not given the measles vaccine
According to the childhood immunization schedule for 2019 prepared by the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) in cooperation with the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV), the measles vaccine is recommended to be given to children at age 9 months.
On the other hand, the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which may be given as a substitute for the measles vaccine if the latter is not available, is recommended to be given to children in two doses, with the first given when the child is 12 months old and the second when the child is between 16 months and six years old.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
You may ask why babies less than a year old are not recommended to get vaccinated against measles. After all, babies are very vulnerable to contracting this possibly life-threatening disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the reason why babies less than 6 months old are not recommended to be given the MMR vaccine is because “antibodies transferred from the mother to the baby can provide some protection from disease and make the MMR vaccine less effective until about 1 year of age.”
How to protect infants from measles
When it comes to children who are not yet old enough to get the recommended vaccinations, the precautionary measures taken by parents, caregivers, and relatives are crucial. These include being vaccinated themselves, reducing the child’s exposure to potentially contaminated areas, and practicing good hygiene. Finally, when the time comes, giving the child the number of vaccinations he needs will help keep him safe and healthy.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Make sure you and other relatives are vaccinated
Since your child is not yet old enough to receive his first dose of the measles vaccine, it is important that everyone around him — specifically you and your partner or the other relatives who spend the most time around your child — are appropriately immunized. While this will not guarantee that your child is actually protected, it will help lessen the possibility of him contracting the disease from someone who is in his immediate surroundings. Similarly, the disease might not spread as quickly if everyone is vaccinated.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the MMR vaccine is not recommended to be given to pregnant women, since it is a vaccine that contains live, weakened forms of their viruses. Giving this to a pregnant woman can harm both the mother and her growing baby. However, it is safe for a mom to receive the MMR vaccine right after she gives birth, even if she is planning to breastfeed her baby.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Nevertheless, women who are planning to conceive in the future are suggested to get the MMR vaccine. This way, when she gets pregnant, she will be able to pass on protective antibodies to her unborn baby via the placenta. What happens therefore is that the baby becomes protected against measles for at least a month, or even longer, if the mom has had measles before.
Meanwhile, there are several vaccines that all pregnant women are recommended to receive, specifically the flu vaccine (which can be given during any trimester) and the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine (which is suggested to be given between 27 to 36 weeks gestation).
Getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy is highly important, because pregnant moms who get infected with the flu “are at greater risk of maternal morbidity and mortality,” says the ACOG. Similarly, the possibility of birth defects, miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birth weight are also increased.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
On the other hand, getting the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy will help reduce the risk of the mom being infected with maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT), which is fatal to foetuses and newborns, as well as diphtheria and pertussis, which can also be extremely dangerous for very young children.
To learn more about the different vaccines pregnant women and women planning to get pregnant are recommended to get, click here.
In general, other adults around the child, including relatives and caregivers, are also recommended to be immunized from measles, if they haven’t already received the suggested number of doses. According to the CDC, adults need to get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine.
Don’t bring him to crowded or risky areas
Given that measles is a highly contagious disease, taking your child to public spaces where they may be different kinds of potentially harmful bacteria or viruses in the air can increase his risk of infection. After all, crowded places can also be frequented by unvaccinated individuals, or even those who might have just travelled to places or countries where lots of measles cases take place.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
“Any place where large numbers of people congregate and there are a number of international visitors, like airports, shopping malls, and tourist attractions, you may be more likely to find measles, which should be considered if you are not vaccinated,” Gil Chavez, M.D., State Epidemiologist and Deputy Director at the Center for Infectious Diseases at California Department of Public Health, told Parents.
Take necessary precautions before traveling
If you are planning on travelling internationally with your child, don’t forget to take the precautions needed. According to KidsHealth, “Different countries have different health risks and may require specific vaccines,” so your child (and you) might have to get additional vaccinations if you are going abroad. Experts recommend reaching out to your pediatrician to figure out what you need to do to provide your child the protection he needs, especially if he is too young to be vaccinated.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
Practice good hygiene
While it is not a foolproof way to stop the spread of contagious vaccine-preventable diseases, good hygienic practices can still help reduce your child’s and your family’s risk of infection. For instance, don’t forget to wash your hands often, such as when you return home, after using the restroom, after changing your child’s diaper, and before eating or preparing food.
Don’t forget to disinfect surfaces in your home such as door knobs and faucet handles, and to update your hand towels regularly. When you sneeze or cough, remember to cover your mouth and nose, then wash your hands afterwards. Another practice you can do is not to share your food or drink with others.
Be aware of the recommended vaccination schedule
When your child is old enough to get vaccinated against measles, it is important to make sure he does receive the doses he needs. Experts reiterate why this is important.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
“Vaccinating our children is one of the most basic medical interventions to ensure that our children develop as healthy adults,” said Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim, president of PIDSP, during a press conference at the organization’s 26th annual convention.
“Some fears and myths persist that vaccines could harm infants, but decades of studies have shown that vaccines prevent unnecessary child deaths instead of causing them.”
While, for some children, the immunization schedule prepared by PPS, PIDSP, and PFV may not be ideal, specifically for those suffering from allergies and health conditions such as heart and lung disease, talking to your child’s doctor regarding which vaccines your child can get is very important.
During the press conference, PPS president Dr. Salvacion Gatchalian said, “We acknowledge that some patients will require schedules that are different from our recommendations. That is why it is important for parents to consult their pediatricians so they can make the best possible decisions for the health and well-being of their children.”ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
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