Needles: What to Expect of Vaccinations in Australia

Let’s talk about needles.

And no, I don’t mean the kind of talk that starts heated discussion. I’m not here to tell you what you can and can’t do with your children. I vaccinate mine, end of.

What I want to talk about is what to expect, at least from my experiences with the girls, when you go to get your baby vaccinated from a parents perspective. Because although it’s something that happens to almost every child, there are very few posts out there about what the process is like. Which means it can be a pretty daunting experience, especially for new parents.

Babies in Australia are most often (unless parents state otherwise) put on to a vaccination schedule from birth. The schedule is different for babies of Aboriginal/South Sea Islander decent, however for the rest it is generally the same. Because my girls are not of Aboriginal/South Sea Islander decent, I’ll be speaking of my experiences with their vaccinations, and this may differ to your own children if they are.

The schedule is exactly that- a schedule. Based on your babies age, it determines what vaccinations are given at certain times. Generally speaking over 4 years your child will receive about 13 needles, and at least two oral vaccinations. The first one is given just after birth, followed by two at six weeks, two at four months, two at six months, three at 12 months, two at 18 months and a final two at four years old.

Vaccinations are usually initially discussed with your midwife, from any time beyond 32 weeks. They’ll tell you about the vaccinations given at birth and ask you whether or not you’d like for your child to have them, and from there you sign a form declaring you’re aware of the vaccination and whether or not you’d like your child to receive it. From my experiences, midwives have never been pushy over this decision, I have always been told that it is my choice and that they would leave it up to me, which I frankly am quite grateful for. There would be nothing worse than feeling like you’re being forced into it.

After your baby arrives, unless other complications arise, they generally allow at least an hour of skin to skin and the first feed (if you choose to breastfeed) before taking your baby for measurements. It’s after the measurements where they will give the first vaccine, usually into their upper thigh. This vaccine is specifically for Hepatitis B. The reason this is administered at birth is because it protects your baby from Hep B if you happen to be a carrier. “The hepatitis b vaccine is not a live vaccine and provides protection without causing disease. It is produced in yeast cells and is free of animal or human blood products. There is no mercury in the vaccine. It does not interfere with breastfeeding.” – Source

Of my own observations, the first vaccine didn’t seem to bother either of the girls at all. They didn’t get any localised swelling, and neither of them cried for very long after the actual shot. I think newborns are just so fresh they hardly even realise what is going on, let alone are bothered by the temporary pain of a needle.

The six week needles Matilda actually received today. These ones are tough, well for me mentally I think they are. You’ve spent an entire six weeks comforting, feeding and loving on your little person, so naturally to watch them be jabbed with a needle is quite daunting. Six week needles are generally done through your GP, but I think you’re also able to book through your child health nurse as well. Usually you’ll be seen by your GP first, where they’ll give Bub a once over to make sure everything is in the right place physically and that their reactions are on par with that of a 6 week old. The Dr will then either give the vaccines himself/herself or you’ll be seen by a nurse who will administer them.

Both girls were quite sleepy afterward, of course they both cried initially, but calmed very quickly once they were latched onto the breast and stayed quite calm throughout the afternoon. I did notice their temperatures rose a little, but not nearly enough to be feverish. I gave them both a little bit of Panadol as the evening approached, just to help with any soreness they may be experiencing. Matilda has been quite unsettled, though I honestly don’t remember if Violet was. It’s normal and to be expected. If you can think of yourself for instance after you receive a vaccine you’re generally a little bit tired and sore afterward.

From six weeks onward, you can really expect the same experience at each of your babies vaccine appointments. The reactions of your child may vary, some babies can be very upset, others not so much, and the physical reactions like swelling, temperatures and such will also vary. Violet never had anything other than a slightly higher temperature once after hers. Though this is different for every baby.

If you’d like to know exactly what they receive at each vaccination throughout their schedule visit this website . You can guarantee there is a reason for each one. And if you’re worried at all about any of them I would recommend booking in with your GP to talk about it. They will be the most reliable source of information, and if they don’t have all the details they will be able to provide you with peer reviewed information to help you make an informed decision.

I think it’s worth noting that almost every parent gets quite nervous at the thought of vaccines and what they entail. You’re not silly for questioning them and wanting to know more. Do your research, but do make sure that the research you do is up to date and based on factual evidence.

Again, I’m not going to tell anyone what to do with their children. Though I do vaccinate, and I believe there is good reason to. Take this information as you will, and keep in mind that as of January 2019 the information in this article is up to date, however this may change.

This is a very touchy subject, so I’ll leave it at that. But I do hope that this provides some insight for parents to be about what to expect when you take your children to be vaccinated here in Australia.

Xo Emily @ Loving Little One

(Image not owned by me, found at this URL)

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