Why I vehemently recommend vaccinations that hurt less for babies

The thing about parenting is that no one tells you the details even though everyone knows them! You’re told about the gloriousness of motherhood, the wonder a little child can bring into your life, the magic of seeing it grow etc etc. But no one, not even your own mother tells you the details. Whether it is the sharp pain you feel when you can’t get your breastfeeding right in the first few days, or the complete puzzlement you feel when you look at your infant and don’t know what to do with it. Or the incredible despair you experience when your child is taking in for shots or to get her ear pierced.

Fresh out of a rough pregnancy, and some severe neonatal jaundice, I remember going back to the doctor when my baby was 6 weeks old to get the second dose of vaccinations. Specifically, the DPT vaccine, which protects children from diphtheria, tetanus and most importantly, pertussis. These are given at six, ten and 14 weeks. My son is now 15 years old and I still remember how painful it was for me to watch my child get his first shot. Or at least the shot that I remember clearly. I refused to go into the doctor’s cabin, because I couldn’t bear to see them prick my child’s skin. So I sent my husband in and told him to deal with it. My husband walked out soothing and holding a screaming mass of red-faced baby and we both had tears in our eyes. I am not sure who cried more, the baby or us.

The first time

We thought the worst of it was over but it had only begun. The doctor had told my husband about the side effects. But in his distress he had forgotten to, in turn, pass it on to me. So that night, while my child was refusing to latch on, I felt his temperature was rising. Sure enough, when I checked he had a fever. I woke my husband up in a panic and said that our child had a fever. My husband sat up at first, all tense, and then said that’s okay, that the doctor had said there would be some fever. He also said there would be some swelling and pain. I asked my husband to direct my hand to the place my child and received the shot. Sure enough, his poor little thigh was hard as rock, where he had got the shot. And to think we had to go back and repeat this two more times was unthinkable for me. But we did it and we got through it like all our parents before us. And I remember thinking then how tempted I was to not get my child vaccinated. But good sense prevailed and we got that done with.

Look ma, no pain!

Cut to seven years later when my second son was born. Easier pregnancy, easy baby and voila! Our pediatrician offered us a combination vaccine that protects from five illnesses, but more importantly one that was less painful. Because it came at a high cost, my husband and I were both skeptical wondering if this was the hospital pushing something expensive on us. So we asked the doctor what “less painful” meant. He, in his kind, patient way, explained to us that the only pain the child would feel was the prick of the needle and nothing more. I was still doubtful but decided to trust the doctor on it and go ahead with the vaccine that hurts less.

I remember crying for my older one and feeling miserable that this option was not available for him. The younger one had a very mild fever for about an hour but the rest of the time he was peaceful and happy. And this was the case for all three of his shots for DPT. The fact that I remember my first-born’s experience and pain vividly and not my second one’s is probably proof of the fact that the vaccines that are less painful are worth opting for, if you can afford it.

What are vaccines that are less painful?

Vaccines that combine come in either multiple or single vaccines where the side effects are drastically minimized. And no, they are not magical to cure or prevent all children’s illness, but they definitely reduce pain and the number of shots administered.