Pre-School Pains

Is it just my children who seem to grow into giants over the month of August?  

Whether it’s the glorious summer weather or the fact that they can just run around and enjoy bags of freedom to loosen their limbs into a growth spurt, most children appear to have visibly grown by the time they are ready to go back to school.

This is what makes the last week of the school summer holidays a bit of a trial in our house.  All through our children’s school lives we have never seemed to be able to get our timing right so a few days before the end of the holidays you will find me trawling through shops and the internet looking for essential school uniform.

I like to think it’s because, as parents, we want to make the most of the school holidays and are too busy to think about boring mundane chores like shopping, but in reality it’s probably just because we aren’t terribly organised.

At least I can say that my children have always been up to date with their childhood immunisations, but alas I can take no super Mummy brownie points for this.  Thank heavens the NHS is on top of things as the Dept. of Child Health have dutifully sent me lovely letters reminding me when vaccinations are due during various stages of my children’s lives.

The National immunisation schedule is re-issued periodically and has had a few small changes since my children were toddlers.  For example children aged two, three and four years old on the 1st September 2014 will now be vaccinated against Flu via a nasal spray.  A copy of the complete up to date immunisation schedule for children and adults is available on the NHS Choices website and you can even print out an immunisation wall chart to keep organised if you wish.

At two, three and four months old children are frequent visitors to their GP Surgery, having three visits to se the nurse to be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), polio and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b).  This is a five in one vaccination which is given with a pneumococcal (month two and four) or meningitis vaccination (at three months) and the rotavirus vaccination.  Rotavirus is given by mouth in the form of Rotarix and the others are delivered by two injections at each visit.  After their first birthday they are invited back again to receive another vaccination against Hib, MenC and pneumococcal disease which is a four in one vaccination and also the MMR for measles, mumps and rubella.  The flu vaccination is now given at two, three and four months old.

At around four months after their third birthdays children are vaccinated with a second dose of MMR and a pre-school booster for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio as a single four in one injection.  This vaccination gets your child and their immune system ready for school and the interaction and exposure they will have with lots more children than they have been used to as toddlers.

Apart from the flu vaccination at four years old, the rest of your child’s routine immunisation schedule should then be delivered at school by the school nurse.  These tend to start at the age of twelve when girls are given their first dose of the HPV vaccination to help protect them against cervical cancer.  At around fourteen years old the school will ensure your child is given a booster injection with a three in one tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccine.  They will also be injected with a meningitis C vaccination.  This helps to build our teenagers immune systems ready for college or university and the next stage in their lives.  If for any reason it is not possible to have any of these immunisations carried out by the school, they can be carried out by a Practice Nurse at your Drs Surgery.

As parents we don’t generally like seeing our babies being given injections, I admit that I cried when both my children were vaccinated and recall that on one occasion the nurse gave me a sticker that said I had been brave – it helped more than I can put into words.  Despite the tears, these vaccinations are crucial to ensuring that our children are protected from a range of serious and potentially fatal diseases through every stage in their precious lives.

The vaccination schedule picks up again at age 65 when we call patients back in to clinic for pneumococcal and flu injections and for your 70th birthday you get a shingles vaccination!

Now haven’t our children got a lot to look forward to?!

by Emmy Butcher

Practice Manager, Beversbrook Medical Centre. [email protected]