Pediatrician and mother to three kids Dr. Ma. Delta Aguilar knows first-hand how it is to raise children amid a global health crisis. She even admits to being maselan, or careful when it comes to decisions regarding her family’s health.
As a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases, Dr. Aguilar emphasizes one important thing parents must do to protect their children while a virulent disease has yet to be contained – getting their kids vaccinated.
“I always make it a point to educate the parents about the importance of vaccinations,” says Dr. Aguilar. “I tell them that vaccines are vital to protect their children from severe illnesses, especially those vaccine-preventable diseases.”
Routine immunization for children starts at birth. Vaccines for tuberculosis and Hepatitis B are given at birth; followed by pentavalent vaccine, oral polio vaccine, PCV for pneumonia and meningitis, inactivated polio vaccine, and MMR vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella at prescribed schedules.
Despite being “the most effective life-saving public health intervention in history”, vaccine hesitancy is common. To address this hurdle, the pedia mom educates parents and advises them to help their children understand how vaccines work.
“My kids remain calm and at ease during their vaccinations because I took the time to explain to them what to expect and how this will keep them healthy and strong,” shares Dr. Aguilar, whose kids are ages 10, 12, and 15.
“I’m sure other parents will find a way to make their vaccination trip a pleasant experience,” she adds, as she cautions against associating needles or injection with punishment which may lead to childhood trauma and long-term fear and hesitancy.
“We should not mention, ‘o, ‘pag hindi ka mabait, dadalhin kita sa doctor para ma-injectionan ka!’” says Dr. Aguilar.
Equally important, according to the pediatrician, is keeping records of the child’s immunization history to avoid delays.
“As a pediatrician, I do not blame the mom for the delay, but I always tell them that we can catch up,” she says.
If local community restrictions have have caused parents to miss out on their child’s jab schedule, she advises parents to talk to their pediatrician about catching up and picking up from where they left off.
The Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines releases childhood immunization schedules every year based on updated literature review, experience, and premises current at the time of publication.
“I understand that there are a lot of restrictions during the pandemic, and moms have a lot of other things on their minds. So I encourage them to catch up and provide them a timeframe when they can get their child vaccinated.”
More information about the 2021 Childhood Immunization Schedule may be obtained from pediatricians or on the Facebook page of Call The Shots PH.
In keeping children physically and mentally active while at home, the pedia mom also has a few tips.
“I play board games with the kids, like Monopoly. And whoever loses will do 20 jumping jacks or run around the house a few times. I even bought badminton gear and a bicycle to get them to do some physical activities,” she shares.
Other pediatrician-approved ways to keep children healthy during quarantine include ensuring they eat a balanced diet, observing proper hygiene, scheduling a time for kids to connect with their relatives and friends (even virtually), and supporting their emotional and mental well-being through mindfulness activities.