You may wish to download our Vaccination Schedule as a reminder and for your records. Muthaiga Pediatrics also would like all parents to be aware of several vaccine options for their children’s routine immunization.
BCG, OPV & Hepatitis B (Birth To 2 Months)
In Kenya and many developing countries, Bacille Camille Gurette (BCG) vaccination for tuberculosis, oral polio vaccine (OPV) and hepatitis B are routinely offered to newborn babies due to the high prevalence of these conditions. Here are some notes on the options for administering these vaccines:
Hepatitis B Vaccine
For families living in low-risk areas for hepatitis B (e.g., where the mother has a confirmed negative hepatitis B blood test in pregnancy or has been vaccinated for hepatitis B) the hepatitis B vaccine series may be started at 2 months of age instead of at birth.
Oral Polio Vaccine
For families living in low-risk areas for polio infection, and with minimal exposure to high-risk populations, the injectable polio vaccine may be given at 2 months of age instead of the oral polio vaccine at birth.
In view of the relatively low effectiveness of the BCG vaccine, some parents, especially those from the U.S.A. and Canada, may choose not to give their child the BCG vaccine at birth or at any time. If your family continues to live in a country at high risk for TB (such as Kenya), it is recommended that children get a TB skin test (Mantoux test) every two years.
Follow-Up Infant Vaccines (2, 3 & 4 Months)
At age 2 months, your child will begin a series of several vaccinations. To reduce the number of shots, your child’s doctor may suggest combination vaccines. Although catch-up vaccines are generally available, it’s important to follow the immunization schedule as closely as possible. The first dose of the rotavirus vaccine can’t be given before your child is 6 weeks old, for example, and the rotavirus vaccine series can’t be started after age of 12 weeks. Here are some options to be aware of:
Two brands of this vaccine are available in Kenya: Rotateq (made by Wyeth) is given at 2, 3 & 4 months, and Rotarix vaccine (from GlaxoSmithKline) is given at 2 & 3 months of age.
Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccine
This common childhood disease is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants and adults. Some cases of the illness can lead to severe skin infection, scars, pneumonia, brain damage (for example, stroke) or death. Chickenpox vaccine is given as 2 doses: 1 at 15 months and the second at 4 years and may be given at the same time as other vaccines. Having the chickenpox vaccine is much safer than getting the chickenpox disease.
Hepatitis A Vaccine
Vaccination for hepatitis A is highly recommended in Kenya. This infection is acquired via contaminated food and water or via contact with an infected person. Hepatitis A vaccine is given in 2 doses spaced at least 6 months apart.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine
This vaccine (Gardisil from Merck & Co) prevents HPV infection, the most common cause of cervical cancer in women, and is intended for girls 11 to 12 years of age. It’s given as a series of 3 injections over a 6-month period. The second dose is given 2 months after the first dose, followed 4 months later by a third dose. In boys, HPV may cause genital warts as well as some cancers (penile, anal, mouth and throat). The HPV vaccine is effective in preventing these complications from the HPV virus. All children who are 11 or 12 years old should get the 3-dose series of HPV vaccine. Teen boys and girls who did not get the vaccine when they were younger should get it now. Young women can get HPV vaccine through age 26, and young men can get vaccinated through age 21. Please see our HPV Fact Sheet for additional details.
Meningococcal Conjugate ACWY Vaccine (Menactra)
Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness affecting the brain and nervous system. Children, teens and young adults are especially vulnerable. Immunization against meningitis is recommended for anyone traveling to or living in a part of the world where meningococcal disease is common, such as East and West Africa. The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends use of this vaccine in individuals 9 months through 55 years of age. Our clinic’s meningococcal vaccine schedule is based on the patient’s age at first contact;
Under 2 years: 2 doses at 10 and 15 months, or at least 2 months apart.
Above 2 years: 1 dose only, no booster needed.