29 April 2021

Getting your baby's first vaccines: Mini Parenting Master Class

Getting your child's first vaccines can cause a lot of anxiety for many parents, but there are ways to make it less stressful for both you and your baby. We spoke to paediatric nurse and mother, Dr. Shannon MacDonald, on the importance of vaccines for children and to get answers to parents' most common questions., Transcript of 'Getting your baby's first vaccines: Mini Parenting Master Class' video, As a parent myself, I know that going to get your child vaccinated can cause a lot of anxiety. You don’t want to do anything to hurt your child and the idea of them getting a needle can cause a lot of concern for parents. So, it’s important to remember there’re lots of strategies you can use. My name is Shannon MacDonald and this is my Mini…, How can you help your baby relax during the vaccination process?, As a nurse I’ve seen many parents who are so anxious about the event themselves that there’s no way the child is ever going to be relaxed about it. So, just having the parent take some deep breaths and speak in a calm voice is the biggest part of the battle, really. The most important thing is for the parents themselves to be calm, because if the…, Why should parents feel confident about vaccinating their babies?, I understand that parents hear lots of scary things about vaccines. I know they see things on the internet, they hear scary stories from friends. I just want to reassure them that the evidence that we have overwhelmingly shows that vaccines are safe and effective, and they are by far the best way to protect children from disease. And so parents…, How do vaccines work?, What vaccines do is they prepare your immune system for when they face germs in the future. So, the idea is you give your body a really weakened form of the germ and your immune system builds a memory to that germ. By giving the child the vaccine and building their immune system then when they encounter that germ in the future, their body is all…, Why is it important for babies to get their vaccines early on?, It’s critical that children get vaccines really young, because that’s when they’re most vulnerable to the diseases. If you provide the vaccine early on, the child’s immune system is ready and then when they encounter those diseases, they’re able to fight. If the child is unprotected at an early age, they’re more likely to get the disease, but…, Are vaccines safe?, Vaccines that are introduced into our routine childhood immunization schedules have all been very rigorously tested and there are processes in place to monitor that safety after the vaccine is introduced to the population as well. The ingredients that go into making up a vaccine are all carefully tested to make sure that they’re safe for children…, What are the most common side effects that parents can expect?, The types of side effects that a child experiences from a vaccine are usually very minor, not enough to keep them home from school even. They’re things like a slight fever or redness or soreness around the injection site. And those are things that you can just manage at home. Those sorts of mild side effects resolve within 12 to 24 hours and they…, Why is it important to stick to the vaccine schedule?, It’s important to stick to the vaccine schedule because those schedules have been developed by scientists and experts who have looked at the best timing to receive a vaccine and what diseases a child is vulnerable to. In certain countries, for instance, some diseases are more common and so a child will receive those vaccines earlier in their life…
29 April 2021

What you need to know about vaccines

Vaccines save 2 to 3 million lives each year. They are essential tools for protecting ourselves and our communities. However, getting a child's first vaccines can cause a lot of anxiety for parents. We’ve rounded up the most commonly asked questions about these medical marvels to get you and your family the information you need., What are vaccines?, Vaccines are products that are usually given in childhood to protect against serious, often deadly diseases. By stimulating your body’s natural defenses, they prepare your body to fight the disease faster and more effectively. >> What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines  , How do vaccines work?, Vaccines help your immune system fight infections more efficiently by sparking your immune response to specific diseases. Then, if the virus or bacteria ever invades your body in the future, your immune system will already know how to fight it.  , Are vaccines safe?, Vaccines are very safe. Your child is far more likely to be hurt by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine. All vaccines go through rigorous safety testing, including clinical trials, before they are approved for the public. Countries will only register and distribute vaccines that meet rigorous quality and safety standards.  , What are live vaccines?, Live vaccines contain a version of a living virus or bacteria that has been attenuated (weakened). They teach the immune system to fight viruses and bacteria but because they are weakened, they do not cause disease in people with healthy immune systems.  , Why are vaccines important?, Vaccines save lives – 2 to 3 million per year, in fact. Vaccines will help protect your child against diseases that can cause serious harm or death, especially in people with developing immune systems like infants. It’s important to vaccinate your child. If not, highly contagious diseases such as measles, diphtheria and polio, which were once…, Can my baby handle all of these vaccines?, Yes. Many parents worry that multiple vaccines will overload their child’s immune system. But children are exposed to hundreds of germs every day. In fact, a common cold or sore throat will put a greater burden on your child’s immune system than vaccines., But these diseases are not present in my community. Why do I still need to vaccinate my child?, Although the diseases may be eliminated in your country or region, our increasingly interconnected world means that these diseases could spread from areas where they are still present.  , What is herd immunity?, If enough people in your community are immunized against a certain disease, you can reach something called herd immunity. When this happens, diseases can’t spread easily from person to person because most people are immune. This provides a layer of protection against the disease even for those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants. Herd…, Can a vaccine cause my baby to get sick?, Vaccines are extremely safe and serious side effects are rare. Almost all sickness or discomfort after vaccination is minor and temporary, such as a soreness at the injection site or mild fever. These can often be controlled by taking over-the-counter pain medication as advised by a doctor, or applying a cold cloth to the injection site. If…, What diseases do vaccines prevent?, Vaccines protect your child against serious illnesses like polio, which can cause paralysis; measles, which can cause brain swelling and blindness; and tetanus, which can cause painful muscle contractions and difficulty eating and breathing, especially in newborns.  >> Read Vaccines and the diseases they prevent  , Can I delay the vaccine schedule?, One of the best ways you can protect your child is to follow the recommended vaccine schedule in your country. Any time you delay a vaccine, you’re increasing your child’s vulnerability to disease.  , Can I let my child get the chickenpox instead of getting the vaccine?, Although chickenpox is a mild disease that many parents will remember from childhood (the vaccine was introduced in 1995), some children will develop serious cases with complications that can be fatal or cause permanent disabilities. The vaccine eliminates the risk of complications from the disease, and prevents children from infecting their…, What is the recommended vaccine schedule?, Immunization schedules vary by country depending on which diseases are most prevalent. You can find an overview of the recommended vaccines and approximate dates from your local health centre, doctor or your government’s Ministry of Health.   >>  Learn more about vaccines
29 April 2021

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What parents should know

  The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has upended the lives of children and their families around the world. As COVID-19 has spread, so has misinformation – fueling discrimination and stigma. UNICEF is working with health experts to promote facts over fear, bringing trustworthy guidance and answering some of the questions families might…, What is COVID-19?, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – ‘CO’ stands for corona, ‘VI’ for virus, and ‘D’ for disease – is a disease caused by a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China.  , COVID-19  has been described as a pandemic  by the World Health Organization. What does that mean? , Characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic is not an indication that the virus has become deadlier. Rather, it’s an acknowledgement of the disease’s geographical spread., What are the symptoms?, Many COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the flu, the common cold and other conditions, so a test is required to confirm if someone has COVID-19. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus and can range from very mild to severe illness. Some people who have been infected don’t have any symptoms. The most common symptoms are…, How does the COVID-19 virus spread?, The virus is spread mainly when respiratory droplets from an infected person (generated through coughing, sneezing, talking, singing) get into the mouth, nose or eyes of people who are nearby. People may also become infected by touching their mouth, nose or eyes after touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. The COVID-19 virus may also…, Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?, Developing a safe and effective vaccine takes time, but thanks to the unprecedented investment in research and development and global cooperation, scientists have been able to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 in record time, while still maintaining robust, evidence-based and rigorous regulatory standards. >  Read : What you need to know about…, Will my child be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine? , Children’s immune systems are different from those of adults and can vary significantly depending on their age. Children were not included in the initial trials for COVID-19 vaccines, so more research is needed into whether the COVID-19 vaccine will also be safe for them. We’ll update the recommendations as more information becomes available, but…, I’ve heard there are variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. What does this mean?, It’s normal for viruses to mutate over time. Experts are constantly monitoring new variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to see if they spread more easily, cause more severe disease, or could have an impact on the effectiveness of vaccines. Some new strains of the virus appear to be more contagious, but the evidence so far does not…, Are any of these new COVID-19 variants more dangerous for children? , Experts from around the world are continuing to monitor these variants to better understand their impact, including on children. Some variants, such as the one that was first identified in the United Kingdom, appear to be more transmissible among people, including children. Research is ongoing to understand if and to what extent new variants may…, Will the COVID-19 vaccines work against the new variants?  , WHO says that the vaccines approved to date are expected to provide at least some protection against new variants.   Experts around the world are continuously studying how the new variants affect the behaviour of the virus, including any potential impact on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.  Should any of the vaccines be shown to be less…, I’ve been vaccinated, do I still need to get tested for COVID-19?, If you have been fully vaccinated but are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should contact your doctor about whether you should get tested.  , What is ‘Long COVID’? Can children be affected?  , Post COVID-19 condition, also sometimes referred to as ‘Long COVID,’ is a term used to describe symptoms persisting for weeks or months in some people after the initial recovery from COVID-19 infection.   More research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of COVID-19, but young adults and children without underlying chronic medical…, How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?, Here are some precautions you and your family can take to help avoid infection: Wash your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub (Read:  Everything you need to know about washing your hands to protect against COVID-19 ) Cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of used tissue…, Should I wear a medical mask?, The use of a medical mask is advised if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing) to protect others, or if you are caring for someone who may have COVID-19. If masks are worn, they must be used and disposed of properly to ensure their effectiveness and to avoid any increased risk of transmitting the virus. Disposable face masks can only…, Does COVID-19 affect children?, This is a new virus and we are still learning how it affects children or pregnant women. We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected and transmit the virus, although older people and/or those with pre-existing medical conditions seem more likely to develop serious illness. There are reports of a rare but serious multisystem…, What should I do if my child has symptoms of COVID-19?, Seek medical attention, but remember symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough or fever can be similar to those of the flu, or the common cold – which are a lot more frequent. Continue to follow good hand and respiratory hygiene practices like regular handwashing so that your child is protected against other viruses and bacteria causing diseases. As with…, What precautions should I take for my family if we travel?, Anyone planning a trip should always follow local and national guidance on whether it is advisable to travel. Those travelling should check the advisory for their destination for any restrictions on entry, quarantine requirements on entry, or other relevant travel advice. Follow the same personal protection measures during travel as you would at…, Can pregnant women pass coronavirus to unborn children? , At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine whether the virus is transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy, or the potential impact this may have on the baby. This is currently being investigated. Pregnant women should continue to follow appropriate precautions to protect themselves from exposure to the virus, and seek…, Is it safe for a mother to breastfeed if she is infected with coronavirus?, All mothers in affected and at-risk areas who have symptoms of fever, cough or difficulty breathing, should seek medical care early, and follow instructions from a health care provider.  Considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the insignificant role of breastmilk in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, the mother can continue…
29 April 2021

Routine vaccinations during COVID-19: What parents need to know

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has brought with it fear and uncertainty. Many parents are asking about when there will be a COVID-19 vaccine and what to do about routine childhood vaccinations during the pandemic. We're here to provide answers to your most common questions.  , When will the vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) be available?, Developing a safe and effective vaccine takes time, but thanks to the unprecedented investment in research and development and global cooperation, scientists have been able to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 in record time, while still maintaining robust, evidence-based and rigorous regulatory standards. On 31 December 2020, WHO listed the…, Should my child still get routine vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic?, While COVID-19 is disrupting our daily lives, the short answer is yes, do try to get your child vaccinated where services are available. It is important that children and babies keep their vaccinations up to date because they protect them from serious diseases. It means that when your children can return to interacting with other children, they’ll…, What do you think we can learn from this outbreak? What can it teach us about other diseases and the decision to vaccinate?, This outbreak reminds us of how valuable vaccines are. It shows us that when there is a vaccine available for a disease, we should keep our children and ourselves up to date with that vaccination.  Without the protection of vaccines, diseases can spread quickly and with terrible consequences. For example, measles and other diseases remain a…, How do vaccines work?, Vaccines help train our immune system to fight infections by introducing an inactivated form of a germ (bacteria or virus) into the body. Since it is inactivated, it cannot make us sick. However, it triggers our body’s immune system to produce defences called antibodies. Then, if you ever catch the germ, your body’s immune system will already know…, Where can I find the latest guidance on vaccinations?, Contact your health care provider, consult your local and national health authority websites and follow guidance provided by  WHO  and  UNICEF .  , How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19?, Some of the precautions you and your family can take to help avoid infection include: Washing your hands frequently using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. If you sneeze or cough, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or a tissue. Dispose of used tissue immediately. Avoid…, I have a newborn to 1-year-old. How can I protect my baby from COVID-19?, In addition to all of the advice already given to parents about hand washing, physical distancing and maintaining hygiene practices, they should take extra care to protect infants from infection. Breastfeed your baby if possible. There is currently no proven research that breastmilk can transmit the virus, but you should take the usual hygiene and…, What should I do if my child is showing symptoms of COVID-19? Is it safe to take her to the doctor?, If your child has a sore throat, a cough or a fever, call your doctor or health service for advice before bringing them in. They may have a special arrangement at the clinic to minimise spread of infection to others. If your child has more serious symptoms, like shortness of breath or seems unusually sick, call the emergency number or take them to…, Should I get my child tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?, You don’t need to have your child tested if he or she is healthy and not showing any symptoms (such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing). Do also make sure to take all key steps to protect your family against COVID-19. >>  Learn more about v accines This article was originally published on 23 April 2020. It was last updated on 14 January…
29 April 2021

What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccines save millions of lives each year. The development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step forward in our global effort to end the pandemic and to get back to doing more of the things we enjoy with the people we love. We’ve gathered the latest expert information to answer some of the most common questions about COVID-19…, How do COVID-19 vaccines work?, Vaccines work by mimicking an infectious agent – viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms that can cause a disease. This ‘teaches’ our immune system to rapidly and effectively respond against it.  Traditionally, vaccines have done this by introducing a weakened form of an infectious agent that allows our immune system to build a memory of it.…, Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?, Yes, even though COVID-19 vaccines are being developed as rapidly as possible, they must go through rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and effectiveness. Only if they meet these standards can a vaccine receive validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies. UNICEF will…, How were COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly?, Thanks to the unprecedented investment in research and development and global cooperation, scientists were able to develop safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 in record time. All the standard safety procedures and rigorous regulatory standards were maintained. In addition to the COVID-19 vaccines currently in use in many countries around…, Which COVID-19 vaccine is best for me?, All WHO-approved vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at protecting you against severe illness from COVID-19. The best vaccine to get is the one most readily available to you!, Will the COVID-19 vaccines work against the new variants?, WHO says that the vaccines approved to date are expected to provide at least some protection against new variants. Experts around the world are continuously studying how the new variants affect the behaviour of the virus, including any potential impact on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Should any of the vaccines be shown to be less…, Who should be vaccinated first?, As there is not enough manufacturing capacity in 2021 to meet all global needs, not everyone will be able to get the vaccine at the same time. Countries must identify priority populations, which WHO recommends are frontline health workers (to protect health systems) and those at highest risk of death due to COVID-19, such as older adults and…, When shouldn’t you get a COVID-19 vaccine?, If you have any questions about whether you should receive a COVID-19 vaccine, speak to your doctor. At present, people with the following health conditions should not receive a COVID-19 vaccine to avoid any possible adverse effects: If you have a history of severe allergic reactions to any ingredients of a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are currently…, Should I get a vaccine if I’ve already had COVID-19?, Yes, you should get vaccinated even if you’ve previously had COVID-19. While people who recover from COVID-19 may develop some natural immunity to the virus, we do not yet know how long it lasts or how well you are protected. Vaccines offer more reliable protection., Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m breastfeeding?, Researchers are currently studying COVID-19 vaccination in breastfeeding women, but there is still limited information at this time. WHO advises that vaccinations are offered if a lactating woman is part of a priority group for vaccinations, for example if you are a health worker. Breastfeeding can continue after vaccination and remains one of the…, Can COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?, No, you may have seen false claims on social media, but there is no evidence that any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can affect fertility in women or men. If you are currently trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Should my child get a COVID-19 vaccine? Children’s immune systems…, When will a COVID-19 vaccine be available in my country?, The distribution of vaccines is underway globally and the vaccine availability varies by country. We recommend checking with your health ministry to get the latest information for your country. On behalf of the COVAX Facility, UNICEF is procuring COVID-19 vaccines and delivering them around the world to make sure no country is left behind. Our…, What is COVAX?, COVAX is part of a global effort aimed at accelerating the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access around the world. No country will be safe from COVID-19 until all countries are protected. There are 190 countries and territories engaged in the COVAX Facility, which account for over 90 per cent…, Can COVID-19 vaccines affect your DNA?, No, none of the COVID-19 vaccines affect or interact with your DNA in any way. Messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines teach the cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside the body. This response produces antibodies which keep you protected against the virus. mRNA is different from DNA and only stays inside the cell for about 72…, Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain any animal products in them?, No, none of the WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines contain animal products., How can I protect my family until we all receive a COVID-19 vaccine?, Safe and effective vaccines are a gamechanger, but it is still not clear the degree to which they can protect us against infection and transmission. For the time being, even once vaccinated we need to continue taking precautions to protect ourselves and others. This includes wearing masks, physical distancing and regular handwashing. This article…