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Q:  ” Hye Doctor, thank you for creating this kind of online services where parents can ask about children healthcare. Well Done! I would like to highlight several questions here:

I’m going to further my PhD at Scotland, UK this coming December ’13 for 3-4 years duration and will bring along my 2 boys; 2 years and 5 months. What are the compulsory vaccine that should be taken before leaving? I heard about the meningitis epidemic that is normally infected children in UK. What can u suggest about this Doctor? (Shafrina)

A:  Dear Shafrina,

The meningococcus is a germ (bacteria) that can cause meningitis and blood infection (septicaemia). It can also cause other infections – for example, pneumonia, eye infection (conjunctivitis) and inflammation of the heart (myocarditis). It most commonly causes infections in babies under the age of 1 year. It also can cause infections in those aged 2-5 years and those aged 15-19 years.

Some of these infections are very serious and can be fatal if not treated quickly. There are different groups (strains or types) of meningococcal bacteria

  • Groups B and C are the common strains in the UK. Most cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK are caused by group B. Most of the rest are caused by group C
  • meningococcal C vaccine(MenC vaccine) is part of the routine vaccinations schedule in the UK. Given to children in UK from 3 months of age.
  • Meningococcal polysaccharide ACWY vaccine. It covers protection against meningococcal group A,C,W135 and Y. You can ask your doctor if this vaccine is available and get your children vaccinated at least 2 weeks before travelling.

Most people have no side-effects. Sometimes a mild high temperature (fever) develops for a short time. Some babies cry more and become irritable for a short time after the injection. Occasionally they may be sick (vomit) or have diarrhoea. Slight swelling, pain and redness at the injection site may occur. Headache and muscle aches for a short time can occur in some older children. None of the above side-effects is serious, and they soon settle.

There are other germs that can cause meningitis. Mostly covered in our national vaccination schedule except for Pneumococcal vaccine

Another one is the Influenza vaccine. Recommended for all travellers during the flu season, between November-April in the UK. Protection mainly against Influenza viruses A and B. 2 doses 4 weeks apart if not previously vaccinated. It may cause soreness at injection site, low grade fever, muscle aches. Severe reactions are rare. Influenza vaccine should not be given to those allergic to eggs.

Q: Since I’m currently breastfeeding, should the mother take any vaccination as well to prevent from any disease? Really appreciate your response.Thanks. (Shafrina)

A: As a mother breastfeeding your child, you do not need any additional vaccines. Just make sure you are immunised against MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella), DT (Diptheria, Tetanus), these should have been given when you were younger. The additional one is Influenza vaccine since you will be travelling during the flu season in December.

( answered by Dr Soong Eileen, Paediatrician in Taman Desa Medical Centre)