A couple of weeks ago, my cousin's 6 months old daughter was hospitalized for diarrhea caused by rotavirus. She was hospitalized for about a week. It was heart breaking to see the drip bandaged to her hand. Last week, a friend to my friend lost her 15 months baby due to diarrhea and rotavirus, again, was the culprit. I was told the virus has creeped into her central nervous system and infected her brain. The baby had diarrhea so the parents brought her to a clinic and was given some medicine. After 2 days her condition did not improve so they brought her to a private hospital and were told the baby was already dehydrated. After 5 days on life support system, she left to heaven.
Both babies did not take extra immunisation apart from those made compulsory by the government. And both could actually be prevented if they have taken the rotavirus vaccine. The first mother was not even aware of the existance of rotavirus vaccine while the second mother thought it was too expensive. It costs about RM600 to RM750 for 3 shots. But the cost for not taking it? More than RM2k for the first case and the life of the baby for the second case.
When Adam was younger, I took the initiative to ask Adam's paed and the doctor in our local clinic for advise on whether we should take the additional vaccines. My favourite book on childcare, "What to Expect" series also listed the vaccines that are made compulsory in developed countries. That was how I learned about the importance of vaccination.
At first it was hard to convince my husband as it costs alot of money, and I had just had a caesarian which costs us alot more money. After I made my case, he finally agreed to it. My mom was not too happy at first as she said I gave Adam too many shots so to her it was like so many chemical going into that little boy's body. So I explained to her what vaccination is all about and now she is the one who encouraged other new parents to give the additional vaccines for their baby.
During vaccination (most but not all), the doctor will insert a weak or dead disease germ into our body. That is how our body will develop its own defence system (antibodies) to protect ourselves against the germs. So, the next time a real strong germ attack, our body can already recognize it and do what needs to be done to shoo them away. Some of these antibodies could remember the germs for the rest of our life. But some, needs a periodical reminder that is why sometimes we have to take the booster shot.
So, what additional vaccines can you get for your child(ren)? I am not qualified to recommend them to you but these are the additional vaccines we took for our little Adam:
1) Rotarix (Rotavirus vaccine) - at 2, 4, 6 months. It helps to fight Rotavirus, the main cause for severe diarrhea in babies.
2) Prevenar (Pneumococcal vaccine) - at 7, 8, 10 months. If your child is above 1 year, only 2 shots are needed. It helps to fight among others, pneumonia and meningitis. I took this vaccine because each time Adam had flu and cough, he will also gets ear infection apart from the high fever. Upon consulting with our local doctor, she advised us to take the vaccine as Pneumococcus is one of the common bacteria that causes ear infection in young children. So we took the chance hoping to kill 2 birds in one stone. Alhamdulillah, after taking the vaccine, Adam did not have ear infection anymore. So we did kill 2 birds in one stone :)
3) Flu Shot (Influenza Vaccine) - to be taken once a year. My colleague told me that she sent her kids for flu shot every year. At that point of time I was not aware of its effectiveness.We took this shot because Adam was about to go back to my parents' place and my brother was a doctor in the H1N1 ward at that time. So, as a precaution we took the shot. Prior to that, Adam had flu that leads to cough and fever almost every other month. After the shot, he had flu only twice. The first one affected the whole family so it might not be the common seasonal flu and the second time, the colour of the mucus was clear and it went away after 2 days without affecting Adam much. I will definitely continue to get him the annual flu shot.
Hope my experience could help you in making the decision whether or not to spend the extra money on vaccination. But of course, consult your doctor first :)