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Despite the fact that vaccines manage to avoid between two and three million deaths per year (according to data from the World Health Organization), there is still ignorance and fear on the part of the population when it comes to administering them to premature babies, which unfortunately, it translates into a greater severity when it comes to acquiring infections in this type of children who have arrived in this world before their time.
The duration of pregnancy is 40 weeks, and the gestation is considered to be at term between weeks 38 and 42; instead it is established that a child is premature when it is born before the 37th week of gestation.
The fundamental problem in premature infants is that they defend themselves worse (they are more vulnerable) against infections, as their immune system is even more immature, as well as their skin-mucosa barrier. To avoid future complications, it is necessary to comply with the vaccination schedule in force in your place of birth at the time of reaching the world.
But even so, there are still delays in the immunization schedule in the first six months of life due, in most cases, to some disease that temporarily contraindicates vaccination, and / or fear or ignorance on the part of the patients. mothers on the safety and reactogenicity (adverse effects) of vaccines in these children.
Generally, mothers of premature children have doubts not only with care or feeding, but also with respect to compliance with the administration of vaccines: at what age should the vaccines be met, what adverse reactions the little one may have ... Therefore we are going to check some specific points that could help you:
1. At what age must the vaccination schedule be met? Is this the same as a full-term child?
Premature infants should receive their vaccination schedule according to chronological (postnatal) age, regardless of their birth weight or gestational age, that is, just like full-term newborns. The only exceptions are the Hepatitis B vaccine and the BCG vaccine, in which the newborn must reach 2kg (4Lb) and 2,500kg respectively, to be applied.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all newborns receive the Hepatitis B vaccine within the first 24 hours after birth; In the case of the newborn who did not receive the vaccine because of the weight less than 2kg (named above), he should receive the vaccine as soon as possible, as soon as he reaches the suggested weight, except in the case that the mother during pregnancy had had a positive result for Hepatitis B test, in which case it should be done regardless of birth weight, preferably within the first hours of life.
2. In the event that you are hospitalized, when should they be met?
If he is hospitalized, it must be fulfilled when he is 2 months old, as long as he is clinically stable, that is, he is not under mechanical ventilation, nor with a serious infection that puts his life at risk, that he is not under treatment with steroids (since it alters the immune response of the vaccine), and that it is stable at the metabolic, cardiac, respiratory level; It should be noted at this point that apneas are frequent in the premature newborn and, therefore, it should be taken into consideration that in order to be vaccinated, they must not have had an episode of apnea in the 7 days prior to compliance with the vaccine.
3. Is the place of administration of the vaccine and the dose different in preterm infants?
The vaccines will be carried out in the first 6 months of life, intramuscularly at the level of the middle third of the face and anterolateral external thigh, since that is where there is more muscle mass. Regarding the dose, it is the same used in term newborns, and of course, combined vaccines will always be preferred to avoid multiple punctures.
4. Are vaccines safe in premature babies?
Yes, all vaccines available to date are effective and safe and should be applied even more in them, due to the incomplete development of their immune system and due to the conditions of prematurity.
5. Are post-vaccination reactions stronger in premature infants?
No, the side effects associated with any vaccine is the same for premature infants as for full-term infants, there is no evidence that the frequency of adverse reactions is higher in premature infants than in term infants.
6. Do people who live with the premature baby have any special consideration?
Yes, people who live with a premature baby must comply with the influenza vaccine and apply it annually, as well as keep the vaccination schedule up to date.
Above all, prevention is the best weapon against any disease, therefore, hand washing is essential to avoid contagion, in addition, feeding as much as possible with breastfeeding is essential, since it confers extremely important protection to the child and largely determines your defenses. And, as we have explained throughout this post, don't forget about vaccines.
You can read more articles similar to The 6 most frequent questions about vaccines in premature babies, in the Premature category on site.