Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Vaccines for Babies

Vaccines are a tough bag. Here's the CDC's chart of recommended immunizations for babies. But if you have an infant or toddler, I'm sure you've seen it once or twice ;-)

Well, unless if you're like us. We discussed vaccines with our pediatrician, and agreed to hold off on vaccines for MetaBaby. Not because we're cheap, irresponsible, or optimistic. In fact, it's the opposite. All of the vaccines that today's babies are expected to cope with are grueling. They're young, immature systems are put through the wringer enough without adding the unnecessary burden of so many shots. At least that was our thinking.

Because I nursed him exclusively from birth, he was protected by the immunizations I've been given over the years. That said, if I hadn't nursed him, we obviously would have given him shots from day 1. But we were comfortable in understanding the protective qualities of breast milk. We've also been very protective of his health, and have been observant of anything out of the ordinary. He's been fine. He got his first shot at the age of 12 months, and he's slowly been given more.

So he has relatively little experience with shots. And they haven't really bothered him. I sit him on my lap, distract him for the prick, and it's over before he knows anything happened. We leave the doctor's office all smiles. And although he has a bump on his upper thigh for a few days after, he's otherwise fine.

However, I know it's likely this reaction will change after a while. And perhaps because it's been a while since I've gotten vaccines, I didn't realize all of the potential pain associated with shots. I figured it was just fear of the sharp something heading towards tender skin.

Kathryn, over at Ryn Tales has two great tips on minimizing pain for vaccinations.

1) Apply ice to the area for 20-30 seconds prior to the shot. I've never heard of anyone doing it, nor have I thought of it myself. But reading this was a truly "duh" moment.

2) Much more complicated for my monosyllabic verbal abilities. Use the Ventrogluteal Site for Intramuscular Injections. For several reasons, the traditional buttock or upper-middle thigh area are not the best in terms of safety and/or pain management. However, despite the excellent description, I couldn't tell you exactly where it is, so here are a few photos to help put the pieces together.
"The ventrogluteal site is relatively free of major nerves and blood vessels, the muscle is large and well defined, and the landmarks are easy to locate. It is an excellent IM [intramuscular] injection site, even in infants. Simply place the palm of your hand over the greater trochanter (hip joint), index finger over the anterior superior iliac tubercle, and middle finger along the posterior iliac crest. Inject perpendicular into the center of the V formed by the separated fingers."
I know I'll be discussing this area for a shot the next time we go in. We'll see how it goes. But take a look at it for the yourself. If your little one seems to suffer with shots, why not do what you can to keep the pain to a minimum? A lollipop can only do so much, after all :-(