All new parents have the new child health booklet, which includes detailed information on the National Vaccinations Program, and explains about the recommended timetable, and the diseases from which vaccines protect. Parents should be aware, that the National Committee on Vaccination, which includes special scientists on this issue in Greece, determines this programme, based on the latest international scientific data. They study the following:
– How significant and how severe are the diseases from which the specific vaccines protect
– At which age children are most likely to become affected easily and more severely by the specific disease
– How effective against the disease is the specific vaccine
– How safe it is, and if there are side effects to the specific vaccine
– How safe is its combination with other vaccines
Scientists evaluate all the data in order to conclude on the right sequence of vaccine administration. For example, the vaccine against meningococcal meningitis is recommended to begin from the age of two months, because the probability of a baby being affected by the specific disease is higher at an early stage, specifically at the age of 2-4 months. The vaccine against measles is administered at the age of 14 months, because until the end of the first year, the infant maintains relative immunity, due to the antibodies it has received from its mother.
Modification at will of the vaccination programme by paediatricians happens regularly, and is wrong. They frequently delay the first doses, they don’t combine vaccines, and they omit vaccines. We should be aware that doctors are obliged to act according to the requirements of evidence-based medicine, which, in this case, result from the National Committee on Vaccination. There is always an evidence-based reason why vaccines should be administered on time and in the specific sequence. It is recommended that parents inform themselves from their child’s health booklet, and from other available sources, on the timetable of vaccinations, and ask about them and check the information with their paediatrician.
Equally as important as the correct administration of vaccines to the child, is their correct recording in the child’s health booklet. Every time the child is vaccinated, the following should be recorded on the record of vaccinations page in the booklet:
· The commercial name of the vaccine
· The date of its administration
· The batch number of the vaccine
· The expiration date of the vaccine
· The point of the injection administration to the child
· The signature and the name of the doctor who administered the vaccine
Why is it important to record this information? Because the child has a right to a detailed record, to which someone can refer, if there is an immediate or delayed side effect that may be related to a vaccine. In addition, it is not rare that withdrawal or review of scientific data on specific vaccines and specific company batches is carried out, either in relation to their effectiveness, or in relation to their safety. For example, it may be discovered in the future, that a vaccine does not lead to adequate protection and antibody titer, resulting in the need for a booster dose. If we don’t know the data of the vaccine, we cannot determine the actions required for the specific child.
The detailed and written recording of treatment is a necessary practice for a modern doctor. Parents should check with their child’s doctor about the full recording of its vaccination information.
Stelios Papaventsis MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2010