Oh, baby! The importance of vaccinations


Oh, baby! The importance of vaccinations

Health Luna enjoys some time in her exersaucer.

Much like building strength and motor skills, vaccines are an important part of a child's early years.

The team at Tidelands Health Women’s Center helps families navigate pregnancy and childbirth every day. Now, one of the practice’s physicians – Dr. Monica Selander – has invited us to be part of the journey as she and her husband, Tidelands Health orthopedic surgeon Dr. Earl Han, welcome a second child to their family. Follow us on Facebook, check out our Twitter feed and stop back here often to get the latest updates.

Like any parent, Dr. Monica Selander loves experiencing her baby Luna’s firsts. The infant’s first smile and her first laugh are things Dr. Selander will always keep close to her heart.
But not all firsts are quite so heartwarming.
Taking baby Luna to the doctor’s office for the first time for vaccinations wasn’t something Dr. Selander was especially excited about. Luna  was born in late June to Dr. Selander and her husband, Tidelands Health orthopedic surgeon Dr. Earl Han.
“It can be hard as a parent,” says Dr. Selander. “Children don’t like it. They cry, and you just can’t make an infant understand why it’s necessary.”
But Dr. Selander knows the brief sting of an injection is worth keeping her children safe from dangerous diseases such as measles, whooping cough, polio and chicken pox.
So when it was time for Luna to get her first round of vaccines, Dr. Selander didn’t hesitate.
“As a parent, I look at the big picture and think about what’s best for my child. It’s always hard to have your kids get stuck with needles, but in less two minutes, it’ll be over,” says Dr. Selander, an OB-GYN with Tidelands Health Women’s Center. “They won’t remember it, especially since kids get most of their vaccinations when they’re very young.”

Luna is still perfecting her smile for the camera.

Luna is still perfecting her smile for the camera.

And while Luna just recently got her first round of childhood vaccinations, Dr. Selander is no stranger to comforting a child who’s getting shots.
Older daughter Nora is 2, so she’s had several rounds of vaccinations. Even though Nora knows what’s coming when her mom tells her it’s time to go to the doctor for shots, Dr. Selander says the promise of a treat or a trip to the park on the way home usually helps smooth things over and makes the visit go as well as can be expected.
Even so, Nora was not happy at the thought of her baby sister having to get shots at their recent appointment.
“She cried when it was time for Luna to get shots. Nora is already very protective of her sister and doesn’t want her to be hurt,” Dr. Selander says.

Luna and her big sister, Nora, 2, are developing a strong bond.

Vaccines train the body’s immune system to recognize and combat viruses or bacteria such as those that cause flu, measles or whooping cough. To achieve this, killed or weakened forms of the virus or bacteria are introduced into the body via a vaccination. The body’s immune system develops antibodies to fight off the illness if exposed to it again in the future.
“As a physician and parent, I believe strongly in the importance of vaccines,” Dr. Selander says. “Research has repeatedly demonstrated the tremendous benefits of vaccines, which save thousands of lives every year.”

Start early

Childhood vaccinations typically start at birth, says Dr. Lucretia Carter, a pediatrician with Tidelands Health Pediatrics in Myrtle Beach. Most children are vaccinated within 24 hours after delivery for hepatitis B, which requires two follow-up doses over the next 18 months.
From there, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a series of vaccinations following a schedule that continues into a child’s teenage years.

Drs. Selander and Han took the entire family out to the ‘In the Pink’ Breast Cancer Awareness Walk on Oct. 5.

Drs. Selander and Han took the entire family to the "In the Pink" Breast Cancer Awareness Walk on Oct. 5.

Even then, the recommended vaccinations don’t end. With few exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should get an annual flu vaccine throughout their lives.
It’s natural for children to be skittish about getting a vaccine or going to the doctor’s office, Dr. Carter says.
“Sometimes, bringing a favorite toy or game to the office can help,” Dr. Carter says. “And once kids get a bit older, it’s important to explain the benefits of the vaccine so children understand why it’s necessary.”

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