Sheena, a mum pharmacist explains about baby vaccinations and medication.
Vaccination time is one which causes stress and unease amongst parents and babies alike! As parents we want to do our best to alleviate our children’s discomfort or pain and often question what the best way to do this is. Giving medicines to babies prior to vaccination often comes up as a suggestion. I wanted to take the chance to explain when this is appropriate and when it is not.
Obviously, we all want to ease the pain of our little ones but over-medicating can be more harmful than the scratch of a vaccination needle. There are times when it’s a good idea – and times when cuddles will do just as much good! Hopefully I can explain the difference here!
- In the UK, like in Ireland, we vaccinate our babies against Men B. When this vaccine is given at 2 and 4 months of age your baby SHOULD be given paracetamol to prevent a high fever developing. The first dose (60mg = 2.5mls infant suspension) should be given at the time of vaccination and the second dose 4-6 hours after the first, and the final dose should be given 4-6 hours after the second. That is a total of three doses. The Men B vaccine is more likely that other vaccinations to cause a high fever and that is why this rule applies exclusively to it.
- Ibuprofen SHOULD NOT be given before vaccines as a preventative measure of fever.
- Men B is the only vaccine that has the requirement to treat with paracetamol in a preventative manner as described above – so medicine should not be given routinely at other vaccination appointments.
So, to sum it up, Paracetamol is recommended (please read the article about the safest way to administer medicine to babies) with the Men B vaccinations but other than that medicines should not be given to prevent fever or discomfort in babies prior to vaccination. The exception of this rule of course is if your baby does develop a fever over 39 degrees Celsius or is in pain or very irritable post vaccination. In this case either Paracetamol or Ibuprofen (please read the article about using Calpol and Nurofen together) can be used as per the product literature – always read the label to confirm the dose before giving medication as our babies grow up so quickly and dosage quantities vary with age and between products so a fresh eye on each administration can reduce errors and keep your baby safe and appropriately dosed.
Written by Sheena Mitchell, the Pharmacist