Scott Cohen (Pediatrician, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) gives expert video advice on: What should I do to comfort my baby during his vaccination?; What are the vaccines that my baby should receive? and more...
Why do babies need so many vaccines?
Well, the reason why we give vaccines to babies for the first time around six to eight weeks of age is because we know that their bodies will respond appropriately to the vaccines at that time. Up until that point they're carrying some of their mum's immunity. Now, we just said that a vaccine is a foreign substance; a foreign substance that we put in the body so that your body has a reaction and can defend itself against that substance later on. In the early 1900s we had one vaccine, and that was smallpox. The number of foreign substances in that vaccine, which are called antigens, are about two hundred. In the sixties we had five vaccines, and the amount of foreign substances in those vaccines was over three thousand. Now today, we have over ten vaccines, and if you added up all the vaccines, the amount of antigens or foreign substances we're actually putting in the body, is about a hundred. That's a thirty-fold difference. So we're actually doing a much better job because we purify vaccines better, we have better studies of vaccines of not overloading the system than we do before. So, these are good reasons why we really shouldn't be worried about vaccines. The other side of it is that these vaccines are preventing infections that kids commonly died of, that kids are still dying of, and once you see that being an advocate for a child, you would want nothing less than to protect them from these infections.
What should I do to comfort my baby during his vaccination?
During the vaccines you know you can hold your child to comfort them. It is very common that your child will cry with the vaccinations, because a shot hurts. Afterwards, you can either breast or bottle feed the child, hold them and get them dressed. The majority of infants leave here absolutely happy after the vaccinations. The moms and dads may still be crying a little bit, but, in general, by the time they get home they're absolutely fine. The other thing you can do for your child is to offer them a little Tylenol if they are fussy or feel warm at all for two or three days after the vaccine, because it is possible that the vaccine causes those side effects.
When should my baby receive his vaccines?
The Academy of Pediatrics has come out with recommendations for when vaccines are given to children. The first set of vaccines is usually given at two months, then four and six months. At the two, four, and six-month visits you actually get the exact same vaccines in the exact same dosages. This may vary from pediatrician to pediatrician, but in general you're covering your child for the same infections. These are the most common causes of bacterial infections in this age group - things that cause pneumonia, meningitis, serious blood infections and lung infections. Then we have shots at a year, at 15 months, and then yearly after; and most of these shots are boosters of other shots that were given.