For Kathy, the mother of a 4-month old, the prospect of returning to the pediatrician’s office for another series of vaccinations was daunting.
“I walked into the doctor’s office with my precious new baby asleep in her car seat. She cried when I unbundled her, and I cried with her when she got her first vaccination. I was totally unprepared. I had a lot of questions,” says Kathy.
As a mother and a pediatrician, Denise Bell, MD
, chief of pediatrics at Virtua Memorial, can relate to Kathy’s pre-visit stress, and is always happy to answer any mom’s questions.
Kathy: Is it excessive for my daughter to receive 10 vaccinations by the time she is 4 months old?
Dr. Bell: No. Although it may sound like a lot, this gives her the best protection possible from serious infections.
Kathy: Some of my friends think I’m crazy to have my daughter vaccinated because they think vaccinations cause autism.
Dr. Bell: Simply untrue. Vaccinations do not cause autism. The original 1998 study linking the MMR vaccine to autism by England’s Dr. Wakefield has been discredited and his research was fraudulent.
Kathy: After her last series of vaccinations, my baby ran a low grade fever and cried when I touched her leg where she had the inoculation. Is something wrong?
Dr. Bell: Not to worry. Low-grade fever, redness at the vaccination site, and increased fussiness, are common reactions that tend to last less than 48 hours. If the reactions persist, of course, contact your pediatrician.
Other vaccination tips from Dr. Bell:
- Even a baby can sense a parent's anxiety. Remain calm and talk to your child while you hold her during the vaccination.
- For young infants, offering a pacifier dipped in sugar water or breastfeeding while she is immunized has been shown to reduce pain.
- Do not give acetaminophen or other pain relievers to a child before her shots because it could decrease their effectiveness.
- Vaccines will keep her healthy for the rest of her life.