Immunization is your child’s first defense against deadly diseases. Right after your baby is born, she will already be given her first shots (with your consent) to get her started on a healthy life.
According to UNICEF, early protection via immunization is crucial. The recommendation is to fulfill the first two years’ schedule.
Immunization works before the disease strikes. The risk of missing out on immunization puts your child in the danger of contracting measles, whooping cough, and many other diseases that can kill.
In addition, while some children do survive these, they end up being weakened and having their growth compromised, even to the extent of suffering permanent disability.
Baby Immunization in the Philippines: Shots needed within the first year of age
From birth up to 4 weeks: Baby immunization in the Philippines
1. BCG (Bacille-Calmette-Guerin) vaccine
This vaccine offers partial protection against some forms of tuberculosis and leprosy. BCG is given at the earliest possible age after birth preferably within the first 2 months of life.
2. Hepatitis B vaccine
Generally, children who contract hepatitis B can develop serious liver problems, such as cancer when they’re older.
Monovalent HPV is administered intramuscularly, and the first dose is in the first 24 hours after birth. The second dose is in the 4th week after the first dose or 1 to 2 months after the first dose/injection.
While the third and last twelve are after 24 weeks postpartum or 6 months old. The vaccination schedule is different when the child is born preterm. Hepatitis B can damage the liver and can cause cancer in old age.
6, 10, and 14 weeks: Baby immunization in the Philippines
Baby Immunization in the Philippines. | Image from Shutterstock
1. DTP vaccine, also known as DTaP / DTwP (Diphtheria and Tetanus Toxoids and Acellular/Whole Cell Pertussis Vaccine)
This vaccine protects the infant from (1) diphtheria, an infection of the upper respiratory tract, which can lead to breathing difficulties and death; (2) tetanus, which causes rigid muscles and painful muscle spasms and can cause death; and (3) pertussis or whooping cough, which causes a cough that lasts 4 to 8 weeks and can be very dangerous in infants, causing pneumonia that leads to brain damage, seizures, and mental retardation.
2. Polio vaccine/ OPV/ IPV
Polio causes disability, usually characterized by a floppy limb or being unable to move.
The oral poliovirus vaccine or inactivated poliovirus vaccine is given when the child is 6 weeks old. According to the EPI, it is usually combined with DPT, HIB, Hep B vaccines, at the 6th, 10th, and 14th week. As long as there is an interval of 4 weeks every twelve.
To clarify, the booster dose is optional at the child’s 4th year of age and at least 6 months from the last dose. It provides protection against the polio disease that causes disability. But due to weakening of the bones and difficulty in walking or moving the leg.
3. Rotavirus vaccine
Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and severe diarrhea) among children worldwide, severe rotavirus diarrhea is especially risky for children below 2 years old.
It is given by drops in the baby’s mouth, against chronic diarrhea, it is starting to become prevalent in our country, and in countries or areas that do not have access to proper health care.
It is given in the 6th week after birth, and with an interval of 4 weeks after the previous dose. The last dose should be given no later than 32 weeks or 2 years and 8 months of age.
There are 2 types: the monovalent (RV1) given in a series of 2 doses, and pentavalent (RV5) which is resistant to more strains of rotavirus, in a series of 3 doses.
baby Immunization philippines
4. Haemophilus influenzae type B (HiB) meningitis vaccine
Hib meningitis is a preventable disease, but very deadly. Children who do survive it end up with deafness, seizures, or mental retardation.
** Your doctor may offer you a pentavalent vaccine (five vaccines in one). This combines diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, and HiB vaccines and is becoming more commonly available these days.
5. Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV) vaccine
Pneumococcal meningitis can develop long-term complications such as deafness or seizures and is potentially fatal.
PCV (Pneumococcal Vaccine) is given at 6 weeks of age, and its primary vaccination has 3 doses, with an interval of at least 4 weeks, and with a booster at 6 months after the third dose.
PCV is not recommended for health or disease-free children 5 years of age and older, Dr. Piedad explained.
6. Influenza (flu)
From 6 months of age, your baby needs a flu vaccine every year. Scientists predict the most prevalent strains every year and the annual shot protects at least three different flu virus strains.
**Note that the pentavalent vaccine (DTP, HepB, HiB) is given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age.
1. MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) vaccine
This 3-in-one shot protects against the symptoms and complications of measles (can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, seizures (jerking and staring), brain damage, and death); mumps (can lead to deafness, meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord covering), painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, rare cases of sterility; and rubella or German Measles, which is more likely to cause severe problems when it infects a pregnant woman, causing miscarriage or birth defects.
MMR (Measles, mumps, rubella) is injected into a child aged 12 months or one year of age. In addition, it has 2 doses, and the second is given to children 4 to 6 years old.
It can be given before 4 years of age, as long as it’s 4 weeks apart after the last dose. It is given at 9 months of age but can be given at 6 months of age if there is an outbreak.
Measles can cause malnutrition, poor mental development, and deafness and blindness (hearing and visual impairments) and can be fatal if left untreated, so it is important to get the child vaccinated immediately. Vitamin A is also given to children to fight this disease.
In EPI, the 2nd dose of MMR is given by public schools to their students at the age of 13, added Dr. Piedad.
Baby Immunization in the Philippines. | Image from Shutterstock
2. Measles vaccine
This protects against the ill effects of the disease, including malnutrition, poor mental development, and hearing and visual problems. Measles can also be fatal.
1. Varicella vaccine
It protects the infant against chickenpox, a highly contagious disease that is very uncomfortable and sometimes serious. This is given at a minimum age of 12 months and 2 doses of varicella vaccine are recommended.
To clarify, the second dose is usually given at 4-6 years of age but may be given earlier at an interval of 3 months from the first dose.
2 Hepatitis A (HAV)
Not all countries require the Hep A vaccine, but in the Philippines where poor sanitation is commonly present, your child is better off protected. While most cases are mild, severe ones are life-threatening. Hep A virus can be transmitted through contaminated food or water.
Inactivated Hepatitis A Vaccine is given intramuscularly and administered at a minimum age of 12 months. Two doses of HAV are recommended with a minimum of 6 months interval between the first and second dose.
Meanwhile, the Live attenuated Hepatitis A Vaccine, which is given subcutaneously, is administered for babies with a minimum age of 18 months. This is given as a single dose.
Baby Immunization Schedule in the Philippines
There are 13 recommended vaccines in the updated childhood immunization schedule of Filipino children aged 0 to 18 years.
For the previous year, here is the Childhood Immunization Schedule 2021 presented by the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS), the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), and the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV).
Here you will find a visual summary guide for parents and doctors of vaccine recommendations for children in 2021.
Image from PidsPhil
The expanded program of immunization or EPI limits the immunization of children 0 to 18 years old, explained Dr. Piedad.
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Bakuna Real Talks
Before we go through the details of the vaccines that should be given to our little ones, let’s first find out how important the vaccine is.
In a live webinar conducted by theAsianparent Philippines entitled “Bakuna Real Talks”, led by Suzi Entrata-Abrera, with the current Executive Director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination Dr. Lulu Bravo, they answered one by one the important questions from our BakuNanay.
1. Is the Rotavirus vaccine still needed if the child is breastfeeding?
The answer is yes.
Often, children 1 year old and younger get rotavirus. “Pinaka dangerous ‘yan at marami ang namamatay sa rotavirus na pagtatae between 6 months to 11 months or 1 year.” Dr. Lulu mentioned.
Many parents think it is simply diarrhea and that babies are not taken to the hospital right away. “Dahil ang rotavirus ay nakakasira sa iyong nutrisyon, nakakasira sa iyong immune, ‘yong mga susunod na sakit mo ay nagiging severe.”
The rotavirus vaccine should only be given to infants when they are 6 weeks old.
According to Dr. Lulu, the disease of diarrhea should not be neglected because it only causes malnutrition and other chronic diseases later on.
2. Why not just let a natural defense against diseases develop and why do we need to be vaccinated?
Doc Lulu’s explanation is simple, “Ang pagbabakuna ay para iligtas ang buhay ng anak natin or mga mahal natin sa buhay.”
3. Can I just buy vaccines and inject them at home?
Many parents today fear coming out because of the threat of COVID-19. That is why some people think that the vaccine should be given at home. But is it really possible?
According to Dr. Lulu, “Hindi natin nire-recommend na mangyari ‘yan. Ang mga doctor ayaw nilang magbigay ng bakuna na hindi nila alam kung saan galing kasi baka fake.”
Vaccines like this are placed on the cold chain. That’s why it can’t just be given away or bought online to be taken anywhere.
4. Do we get free vaccines from barangay health centers?
Dr. Lulu answered, “We do have BCG at birth. Binibigay ‘yan at saka Hepatitis b. Tapos after 6 weeks, babalik ka sa health center para bigyan ka ng pentavalent 5-in-1.”
Six vaccines will be given immediately and repeated after four weeks until the 3rd dose. For the measles vaccine, it will be given when the baby is 9 months old.
Above all, vaccines are important for babies and children because it can protect them from serious diseases as they grow older.
“Vaccines also play a role in reducing the risk of infections that are not common but are associated with severe life-threatening conditions and/or disabilities. Before vaccines became widely available, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent.”
Expect mild side effects after the vaccine. You may experience fever, rashes, or swelling in the area where the baby was vaccinated. But this should not be a concern, it is normal and only part of the vaccination.
“Side effects can occur with any medicine, including vaccines. In most cases, vaccines cause only mild side effects, if any, such as fever, rash or soreness at the injection site.
Slight discomfort is normal and should not be a cause for alarm. Paracetamol may be given if your child develops fever while cold compress may be applied for the pain and swelling at the injection site.”
If you ever notice strange or severe side effects such as a rapid rise in fever or any sign of the baby’s allergic reaction, don’t hesitate to take him to the doctor right away.
Baby Immunization in the Philippines. | Image from Shutterstock
Can the baby’s vaccination be delayed?
theAsianparent Philippines conducted a live session on the proper health care of children during quarantine. It is directed by Doc Gellina Ram Suderio – Maala or better known as Doc Gel.
There are also many questions from moms about whether a baby’s or a child’s vaccine can be delayed.
According to Doc Gel, the advice of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines is ‘don’t delay a child’s vaccine. If there is a way it is better for the parents to follow the given schedule.
However, it is difficult for some of us to get out because of the pandemic we are experiencing, the question is how can your child get the vaccine in the midst of a pandemic?
Meanwhile, Doc Gel’s advice, talk to your pediatrician about what can be done with your child’s vaccine. If there is a way to meet and give the vaccine, it is possible. Most importantly, you can also ask your pedia if they have a clinic available to go to.
But on the other hand, a child’s vaccination can also be delayed due to catch-up immunization. This is based on a conversation you have with your healthcare provider or your pedia.
“Delaying the vaccine, pwede rin. Pwede tayong mag delay ng vaccine kasi mayroon tayong catch up immunization.
So that will be, kayo na ang mag-uusap ng health care provider niyo kung paano ‘yon gagawin. But the earliest na pwedeng ibigay after the quarantine.
The earliest na pwedeng ibigay ‘yong vaccine after the quarantine, kailangang ibigay kasi marami ang kailangang hahabulin.”
The only thing that cannot be included in catch-up immunization is the Rotavirus vaccine. This is the vaccine that can prevent diarrhea in babies. The maximum age to receive it is 32 weeks or 8 months old.
Another question before is, “Can the vaccine of a baby or a child be delayed since is we are now in ECQ?” Well, Doc Gel answers,
“As much as possible the recommendation is do not delay. But now in our condition, we have to weigh the benefits over risks.
So if it’s delayed, it’s ok to give the ECQ lift as soon as possible. If there is no means to see your healthcare provider. Rotavirus can only be given up to 8 mos.”
As much as possible do not delay the vaccinations of our babies. Of course, it is still too scary for us to go out because of COVID but there are health protocols we can follow whenever we can go outside.
Also, it is better that our babies have the vaccinations that they need to prevent them from having such diseases mentioned earlier.
Additional information from Matt Doctor