5 ways for a father to support child immunization
Father's engagement in immunization will boost the family's confidence to fulfill a child’s right to be healthy and protect your community from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Do you know that in some societies, mothers are often seen as a key figure in assuring children’s health and nutrition?
In some places, one of the causes of low vaccination uptake is due to fathers refusing to vaccinate their children for various reasons. A study showed 50% of respondents make the decision to vaccinate their children after consulting with their spouses, and only 27% decide themselves. Being a good father, what role can you play to ensure timely vaccination for your child?
Your engagement in immunization will boost the family's confidence to fulfill a child’s right to be healthy and protect your community from vaccine-preventable diseases. If you are a father, here are 5 ways for you to support child immunization:
1. Stay informed
It is never too late to contact your health workers and talk to them to get reliable information on your child immunization. You can read up-to-date material from the Ministry of Health’s, WHO’s and UNICEF’s websites.
Note that your baby will need to receive the Hepatitis B vaccine first as early as the first 24 hours after birth to provide optimal protection. This means the conversation on child’s immunization could start from pregnancy or even before planning to have a baby.
2. Know the schedule
Children’s immunization calendar is available here and can also be easily accessed in the MCH book (buku KIA). Use a reminder system that works for you and your spouse to ensure your child gets timely vaccinated. In case you realize that you are behind schedule, do not panic, you can contact the nearest Puskesmas or Posyandu or clinic and plan the catch-up vaccination for your child.
3. Be confident, take the lead and communicate your support
Your spouse and family need your support and positive guidance on childhood vaccination. Sometimes it could be stressful and indecisive. So, please reassure your support in different ways in these critical moments. A study showed that a word of encouragement could clear up doubt that your spouse might have in their mind. Being a responsible father, you can play a crucial role in assuring your child vaccination status.
4. Attend the vaccination session
A vaccination session might be a stressful experience for your child and spouse, your presence could ease to provide assurance and support much needed. While having both parents attending immunization session might not always feasible, try to do it as much as possible. This will provide an opportunity for both parents to have a chance in getting first-hand information and addressed the concerns. You can also learn what to expect in the coming months and provide back-up to each other to ensure your child’s vaccination is completed timely.
Here is another encouraging story from Kupang. He was East Nusa Tenggara’s first COVID-19 patient. Now he is a champion for immunization.
After testing positive for COVID-19, a father in Kupang found his spirit and became determined to ensure his children stayed healthy.
5. Be a champion in your community through peer to peer discussion
Spread the right information on immunization to your peers and help more families receive optimal protection from immunization. Together, let's ensure your family and community is free from vaccine-preventable diseases.
UNICEF acknowledges Yusneri, SKM, MM from Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia for the valuable contributions to this article