Immunisation for babies: When is a good time to do it?

By on November 27, 2017

Newborn babies should be seen by a doctor within forty-eight hours of delivery, at six weeks, and again at seven or eight months.  Another examination is carried out at eighteen months.  In practice we also see children at two, three, and four months and at one year old when they come for routine immunisations, at which time we check babies’ height, weight, and head circumference and deal with any concerns parents may have. 

In the Japanese system, babies are seen at four weeks after birth and then every two months until they are a year old.  Important things to check include:  is the baby alert and lively, moving all four limbs, and can he/she see and hear?  Mothers’ observations on these matters are likely to be right and need to be heeded by doctors!    

It is important that immunisations are given in the first year of life against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP), and polio.  In many countries immunisations are also given to prevent  meningitis – haemophilus influenza type b (HIB) and meningococcal C – and pneumonia (pneumococcal immunisation).  In Japan, in addition to BCG (against tuberculosis) only DTP and polio are routinely given in the first year, with the recent addition of HIB, though the latter seems to be in short supply.  Imported vaccines, such as the five-in-one (DTP with polio and HIB, and combined measles, mumps, and rubella) are available at foreign clinics.  This is convenient as the number of visits and needle pricks for the child can be minimised.  

Parents sometimes are concerned that a small baby’s immune system may be overloaded or stressed by receiving so many vaccines.  In my view, there is no need to be worried as there is no evidence that this does any harm. 

While no vaccine is completely safe, the advantages of immunisation are overwhelmingly in favour.  I would be much more worried about a baby or small child who is not protected against polio, tetanus, and other serious diseases, than possible rare side effects of immunisations.


About Dr. Gabriel Symonds

Dr. Gabriel Symonds was the director of the Tokyo British Clinic. The clinic closed down in May 2014 after serving the expatriate community for 20+ years. Dr. Symonds has retired and the Tokyo British Clinic is now closed.
Dr Symonds will continue to live in Tokyo and may be contacted by e-mail over any questions concerning medical records or related matters:
He will be available from another address for:
smoking cessation
circumcision information Tel: (03) 5458-6099

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