Commonly Asked Questions
Can my child be immunised if he is sick?
A healthy baby builds better immunity in response to an immunisation. Baby may also get side-effects from the immunisation itself, which may be worse if he is already not feeling well. However, there are factors to consider. If a child is sick very often parents may end up delaying an immunisation again and again, which puts that child at risk of disease. It may also not be possible for parents to come back to the clinic on another day. Therefore mild illness is not considered a reason not to immunise. Definite contra-indications to immunisation would be a fever above 38,5 °C or a child that is moderately to severely ill.
Can my child be immunised while on medication?
You should tell your clinic sister if your child is on any medication or has had any medical conditions since your last visit. Generally very few medications will interfere with the immunisation, although there are some. Being on antibiotics is not considered to be a contraindication. Cortisone treatment is only a concern if a child has been on a high dose for longer than 3 weeks.
What are the side-effects of immunisation?
An immunisation leads to an immune response, which can give flu-like symptoms like a runny nose, coughing and a mild fever. Depending on the vaccine these can develop in the first 2-3 days, or up to 10 days after it was administered. Sometimes there may be swelling and pain locally at the injection site. Some vaccines have specific side-effects; the Rotavirus vaccine can cause loose, smelly stools, while the Measles and Chickenpox vaccines can cause skin rashes. The Pertussis vaccine can cause irritability and crying. If your child seems very sick, has a fever above 39,5°C, cries inconsolably for longer than 2 hours, or has any other symptoms that worry you, please contact the clinic or your doctor.
Can I use any products to prevent and treat side-effects?
You can use Viburcol suppositories (a natural product of Heel) to help prevent side-effects. Traumeel gel (also Heel) is the only topical ointment with evidence that shows that it is safe to apply to the injection site to treat pain and swelling. Please don’t use any other ointments as they may influence the absorption of the vaccine. If your baby has a fever above 38,5 °C or is really not feeling well you can give Paracetamol (Calpol, Panado or Empaped). Please don’t use this preventatively as it does interfere with the body’s process of building immunity to a disease after immunisation.
Is it a problem if I come earlier or later than the suggested date?
Most immunisations cannot be given earlier than the suggested ages on the immunisation card. This is especially important for the 6 week immunisation, where even one day too early is not allowed. After this there should also be a minimum amount of time between booster doses of the same vaccine. Giving vaccines later than suggested is less problematic, although obviously not recommended as it may expose the child to disease. If you missed any visits you can at any time contact the clinic for advice on how to best catch up.
Is there a difference between government and private vaccines?
There are only a few companies manufacturing vaccines. The government EPI (Explanded Programme of Immunisation) consists of the vaccines that the Department of Health (DOH) has identifeid as crucial and has chosen to sponsor. Our clinic receives stock of these from the DOH, so parents pay only for their clinic consultation and not for the vaccines itself. These are also the vaccines that schools require before admission. If you visit a clinic that does not receive DOH stock you would need to purchase these vaccines yourself. There are also a few extra vaccines on the market that are not on the government EPI for various reasons. These are optional and for the parents’ own cost.
Will my medical aid pay for immunisation?
Your medical aid may pay for your clinic consultation and any private vaccines, depending on the fund and the plan you are on. Our practice is able to claim directly on your behalf from most medical aids. Alternatively we can issue you with an invoice that you can submit for reimbursement.
Do I need a prescription for immunisation?
You do not need a script for the routine EPI vaccines. If you obtain the private vaccines directly from the practice you also don’t need a script. The only time when a prescription would be required is if you are on a medical aid from which we cannot claim directly and you wish to put through this claim at a pharmacy. They will give you vaccine. PLEASE BRING THE VACCINE DIRECTLY TO THE CLINIC ON ICE AND PREFERABLY IN A COOLER BOX. If the vaccine wasn’t kept at the right temperature it will not work and would need to be discarded.