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Dr Anne Goh is the Vice President of the Singapore Paediatric Association, and a Senior Consultant of Respiratory Medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. We asked her about irregular vaccination schedules, such as when they might occur and what to do about them.

LW: Under what circumstances might a parent miss an important vaccination for his baby?

Dr Goh: Parents usually miss vaccinations when the child becomes unwell for a period of time. This tends to disrupt the vaccination schedule and parents may then forget to continue with vaccinations when the child recovers.

Under very rare circumstances, some children may not be able to complete the full vaccination schedule for medical reasons.

LW: What should a parent do if he missed a vaccine? How long is the safe period for administering the vaccines in MOH’s schedule? (margin of error, general cut off ages for the vaccines?)

Dr Goh: Parents should consult the doctor whether the vaccination can continue according to schedule or whether they require to restart the schedule. In general, most vaccinations are administered early in life to protect the child as early as possible from the infections that the vaccines are protecting against.

The dosing regimes suggested by MOH are usually the earliest ages that the vaccines can be administered to the child. Some vaccines are not given to older children and adults because they mount a more severe reaction compared to young children. This can vary with different vaccines and it is best to consult the doctor.

LW: Catchup vaccinations are available for certain vaccines, such as Pneumococcal Disease. When is it best to give the PD catchup vaccine, especially if the child missed the first 2 shots?

Dr Goh: The PD catchup vaccines can be given at any time if the child has missed the primary dosing which is given before 6 months of age. The number of catchup doses required depends on the child’s age but it should be administered as early as possible to better protect the child from pneumococcal disease.

LW: The PD catchup vaccine can be given to a child up to 5 years old. Can a parent afford to wait till the age of 5 or should he administer the catchup shot ASAP?

Dr Goh: Parents should not wait till 5 years of age as the majority of cases with severe pneumococcal disease seen in children in Singapore is before the age of 5 years. LWB

TIPS TO HELP EASE YOUR CHILD THROUGH VACCINATION

Stay calm
Because children may be able to sense when you are upset or nervous, try to stay relaxed and calm while you’re in the doctor’s office. If you feel a little nervous, remember to take a few deep breaths.

Entertain your child
It’s a good idea to bring a storybook with you to the doctor’s office. As the doctor or nurse gives your child a vaccine, read to your child in a soft, soothing voice. If you don’t have a book, tell your child a story, make funny faces, or do something else that will keep your child smiling!

Stay close to your child
Ask the doctor or nurse if you can hold your child or stroke his or her back during the vaccination. The gentle touch of a loved one may help to keep your child from getting upset.

Take your time
If your child is upset after getting vaccinated, let your child calm down for a few minutes before leaving the office. That way, he or she won’t be afraid to come see the doctor again.

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