Get the facts about vaccines

All Woman

ALL children under age seven must be adequately immunised before entry into school. Below is some information from the Ministry of Health on two of the vaccines given.


Polio is the common name for the disease poliomyelitis, also called infantile paralysis. It is very dangerous and spreads easily from one person to another through contact with secretions or discharge such as stool/faeces, droplets from the nose or mouth, or the infected person if he/she coughs or sneezes. There is no cure for polio.

Anyone who contracts polio can be crippled for life. Immunisation is the only way to prevent this disease.

The vaccines that are used to protect children against this disease are:

1. Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV injection) and

2. Oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV oral drops).

Together, IPV and OPV given in sequence will offer the best protection against polio as the world prepares for eradication of the disease. A few persons may not be able to receive oral drops, and will be given IPV only.

When is the vaccine given?

Every child needs five doses of the polio vaccine before he/she is seven years old.

First dose — six weeks old

Second dose — three months

Third dose — six months old

Fourth dose — 18 months old

Fifth dose — four to six years.


With this vaccine, you prevent five diseases with one injection — diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), haemophilus influenzae type B, tetanus (lock jaw) and hepatitis B.


Diphtheria is caused by a germ that enters the throat. It develops and causes sore throat, fever and chills which can lead to difficulty breathing, paralysis, heart failure and even death. The germ is passed on to others as the person coughs or sneezes.

Pertussis (whooping cough)

Pertussis is caused by a germ that spreads through coughing and sneezing. It infects the mouth, throat and nose and causes violent spells of coughing with a “whoop” at the end. The child has difficulty breathing, eating and drinking and serious problems of the lungs (pneumonia) as well as fits (seizures) can occur and lead to death.

Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)

Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is a serious disease caused by a germ that lives in the mouth and throat. It spreads through coughing and sneezing and affects the lungs and brain, which can end in death. Some children who do not seem ill can pass the germ on to others.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is caused by a germ that infects the liver. It can spread through the blood of an infected mother to her baby, other blood to blood contact, and sexual intercourse. Many children may not show the usual signs of jaundice, loss of appetite or feeling tired, although their liver is affected.

Tetanus (lock jaw)

Tetanus germs are usually found in the soil, dust and manure. The germs enter the body through a cut or break in the skin, no matter how small. It causes painful stiffening of the muscles and locking of the jaw that makes it difficult to open the mouth and swallow.

When is the vaccine given?

Every child must get three doses of the pentavalent vaccine for full protection.,

First dose — six weeks old

Second dose — three months

Third dose — six months.


•If children have pain at the injection site, or have a fever, these symptoms usually go away in a few days. Paracetamol can be given to ease the discomfort.

•If you move house, take your child to the nearest health centre with their child health and development passport to continue vaccination.




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