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Navigating Vaccination Schedules for Your Child: A Guide for Nigerian Parents

Are you a parent in Nigeria? Then you’re most likely familiar with the juggling act that raising a child entails. There’s homework, science/art projects, visiting days, parent-teacher conferences, and a host of other duties. With everything going on, keeping track of your child’s vaccination schedule can seem like an overwhelming task. But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a daunting experience. In this blog, we’re going to explore the subject of childhood vaccinations and provide you with a simple, straightforward guide.

Why Are Vaccinations Important?

Let’s start with the basics. Vaccinations, a concept pioneered by Edward Jenner in the late 18th century, are a critical part of public health. You’ve probably heard of vaccinations, but why exactly are they essential? Vaccinations, also known as immunizations, protect your children from dangerous diseases by building up their immune systems. They work by introducing a weakened or inactivated form of the disease into the body. This process trains the immune system to recognize and fight off these harmful pathogens.

With vaccines, we can prevent diseases that were once life-threatening, such as polio, measles, and whooping cough. Vaccination is a team effort; the more kids who get vaccinated, the better protected the entire community is. This phenomenon is called “herd immunity,” a term first used by veterinarian George Potter in 1917, and later adapted to human epidemiology by A. W. Hedrich in the 1930s. It’s especially important for protecting those who cannot receive vaccinations, like the immunocompromised or very young children.

The vaccination schedule for your child is not random. Each vaccine is scheduled at a specific age to provide your child with the best possible protection. Some vaccines are given in a series of doses over time to ensure long-lasting immunity. If vaccines are given too early, too late, or not at all, your child could be at risk of getting a disease.

For example, the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is typically given in two doses, first when your child is between 12 to 15 months old, and again between 4 and 6 years. Both doses are necessary for your child to be fully protected.

A black girl child receiving vaccination
Understanding the Vaccination Schedule

Understanding your child’s vaccination schedule may seem like trying to understand a foreign language just because there are numerous acronyms and scientific terminologies involved. However, with some patience, you’ll soon be navigating this terrain with ease. Every country has a recommended immunisation schedule provided by their health authorities. In Nigeria, the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) offers a clear and comprehensive vaccination schedule from birth up to adolescence.

While we can’t cover every single vaccine in this blog, here’s a quick glance at some of the vital ones:

  • BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, for Tuberculosis): Given at birth OPV
  • OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine): Given at birth, then at 6, 10, and 14 weeks
  • Penta (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hep B, Haemophilus influenzae type B): Given at 6, 10, and 14 weeks
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella): As mentioned earlier, two doses are needed, starting at 9 months.
  • Yellow Fever: First dose is typically given at 9 months.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a complete list, and schedules can vary depending on your child’s health and your location.

A drop of vaccine in a child's mouth
Get your child vaccinated
Understanding the Vaccination Schedule

It’s perfectly normal to have questions or concerns about your child’s vaccination schedule. As parents, we want to ensure we’re doing everything right for our little ones. That’s where specialists, known as paediatricians, come in. Paediatricians manage the health of your child, including physical, behaviour, and mental health issues. They’re also experts in childhood diseases and immunisations.

Just before we conclude…

The journey of parenthood is more of a marathon than a sprint. While managing your child’s vaccination schedule can seem like a daunting task, remember that it’s all part of the process, and you’re not alone.

Vaccinations are one of the most powerful tools we have to safeguard our children. They not only protect your child but also contribute to community health. Remember to consult a specialist if you have any questions or concerns.

Don’t wait! Download the My CloudClinic app today, and talk to a Paediatrician about your child’s immunisation needs. Let us join you in ensuring your child grows up healthy and well-protected.

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