By having your child vaccinated, you are providing him with the best possible protection against a number of serious diseases.
Photo: Jean-Marc Hébert
When a person gets sick from a germ, their body reacts by naturally producing antibodies to get rid of the germ. It is the immune system. It fights against the thousands of germs present on objects and in food, water, and air.
Vaccines stimulate the immune system. They help your child make his own antibodies against certain diseases without catching the disease himself.
Vaccination is one of the most effective ways of protecting your children’s health. It prevents a number of serious illnesses.
All children should receive the recommended vaccines, even healthy children with a good diet. Breastfed children also need to be vaccinated, even though breast milk protects them against some infections.
Vaccines are not only effective, they are very safe. If you have any questions about vaccination, feel free to talk to a health professional or visit the following website: www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/vaccination/.
Where and when should you get your child vaccinated?
You can get your child vaccinated for free at any CLSC. Some doctor’s offices also offer vaccinations.
It is recommended that your child get his first vaccinations at the age of 2 months, in order to follow the regular schedule. Premature babies should also receive their first vaccine 2 months after birth.
Since it’s important to follow the vaccination schedule, it is advised to make an appointment as early as possible to avoid delays.
The chart on the next page shows the regular vaccination schedule for children up to two years of age. For more information, visit the “Recommended immunization schedule” section of the following website: www.quebec.ca/en/health/advice-and-prevention/vaccination/quebec-immunisation-program.
You can also consult the “Reducing the Pain and Anxiety of Vaccination in Children” page in the “Preparing children for vaccination” section of the previous website, for some tips and tricks.
Regular vaccination schedule for children 2 and under
* It may be recommended for some children to receive additional doses of vaccine at 6 months of age.
** It is recommended that your child receive these three vaccines on his first birthday or as soon as possible after this day.
Protection offered by vaccines
Meningococcal C vaccine
It is recommended that all children, including premature babies, start being vaccinated at the age of 2 months. This ensures them the best protection when they need it most and prevents them from falling behind in their vaccination schedule.
Your child may be given several vaccines for different diseases during the same visit. Administering multiple vaccines in a single visit is recommended because it will protect your child more quickly against infections. This method will not increase the frequency or severity of undesirable side effects to vaccines. It will also reduce the number of visits you need to make to the clinic or CLSC.
Your child will require several doses of certain vaccines in order to produce enough antibodies to fight the disease.
By having your child vaccinated at the recommended age in the vaccination schedule, you are providing him with the best possible protection.
Possible reactions to vaccines
Vaccines are very safe. Most of the time they cause no undesirable reactions. Sometimes they can cause short-lived reactions that are not serious, such as a mild fever, redness, or discomfort at the site of the injection.
To reduce redness and discomfort, apply a cold water compress. A small bump may appear, but it’s not dangerous and will disappear within a few weeks.
Today’s vaccines are very well tolerated. It is not suggested that the child be given acetaminophen or ibuprofen before the injection.
If your child seems to feel unwell or has a fever after receiving a vaccine, acetaminophen may make him feel better. Ibuprofen can also be used if he is over 6 months (see Fever medication). In the case of the MMR-Var vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox), children can come down with a fever 5 to 12 days after the vaccination
If your child cries abnormally or if you’re worried about him, follow the advice you were given at the time of vaccination. If necessary, talk to a health professional or call Info-Santé (8-1-1).
Serious allergic reactions to vaccines are very rare. If such a reaction occurs, it will start within minutes after the vaccination. That’s why you are advised to stay at the vaccination clinic for at least 15 minutes after your child has received the vaccine. If there’s a reaction, the health professional who vaccinates him will be able to treat it immediately.
There are few cases in which a child cannot be vaccinated. A cold, an ear infection, a runny nose, or the fact that he’s taking antibiotics are not reasons to put off a vaccination.
If your child is ill to the point of being feverish or irritable or crying abnormally, call the vaccination site and discuss the situation with the health professional.
Bring the vaccination record to each checkup, whether it’s for a vaccination or not. Some parents like to always keep it handy—in the diaper bag, for example.
This important document is a record of your child’s vaccinations. You must bring it with you to the vaccination appointment. The health professional who vaccinates him will record the dose and date in it.
It’s also worth bringing it along to your child’s medical checkups. It may be used to record the child’s growth (weight and height), as well as other information related to vaccination and your child’s health.
Keep it safe, because it will be useful to your child all his life.
Antibodies: Substances made by the body to fight off disease. Also called immunoglobulins.
Immune system: Organs and mechanisms that allow the body to fight against infections.