As parents we all try our best to keep our babies and kids away from anything that could cause them harm, from using car safety seats and child-proofing our homes. But from a health perspective, do you know how vaccinations help protect babies and children in Singapore? Ensuring that your kids are up to date with all their vaccinations is arguably one of the most important ways to protect your kids against serious and potentially fatal illnesses. If you’re been wondering how vaccinations work, need to get to know the immunisation guidelines for infants and children in Singapore, and whether your insurance covers vaccination costs, global insurance advisor Pacific Prime Singapore sheds some light…
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines help to greatly reduce the risks of infection by safely working with the body to develop immunity against dangerous diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough), tuberculosis, hepatitis B, polio, rubella and measles. By injecting the body with an imitation infection, your body’s cells learn how to recognise and then fight the disease.
What is ‘herd immmunity’?
‘When a large proportion of the population is protected from a disease after vaccination, you achieve ‘Herd immunity’ or ‘community immunity’. It relies on the cooperation of individuals to protect themselves and others around them: this this way even those who can’t be vaccinated, including premature babies and infants who are still too young, can be protected.
The important thing to note is that vaccines have proven effective in preventing a whole host of once-deadly diseases. The World Health Organisation (WHO) asserts that vaccinations are necessary and safe, and states: “It is far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine.” For infants too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough, for example, the disease can be deadly. Despite much evidence supporting the crucial role vaccines have played in preventing infectious diseases, people still remain skeptical. Some concerns include:
- Combined vaccinations overload the immune system
Some parents believe that infant immune systems can’t handle so many vaccines, and fear that their child will become “overloaded” when receiving multiple vaccinations (such as MMR) at once. However, researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have proven that “Young infants have an enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines, as well as to the many other challenges present in the environment.”
- Vaccines cause autism
This concern began in 1998 when a study published by Andrew Wakefield in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, linked the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine to an increased incidence of autism. The article was later found to contain procedural errors and ethical violations, and was retracted by the journal. A number of major studies were later conducted, and concluded that there is no link between vaccines and the likelihood of developing autism.
- Vaccination ingredients are harmful
Many anti-vaccine websites simply publish lists of ‘scary’ chemicals present in vaccines. For example, a lot of people are concerned about thimerosal, the anti-fungal agent present in vaccines, because it contains mercury (ethyl mercury). However, the WHO asserts that there is no evidence that thimerosal is unsafe; it is also not to be confused with the harmful kind of mercury (methyl mercury) commonly found in tuna and swordfish.
Singapore’s national childhood immunisation schedule
Did you know that by law, every child in Singapore must be vaccinated against diphtheria and measles? And when they register for primary school, they will need to be inoculated against BCG, pertussis, tetanus, polio, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis B. Expat parents are advised to consult a doctor about making a balanced decision based on Singapore’s vaccination schedule and the schedule suggested by their home country, as immunisation guidelines vary.
The national childhood immunisation schedule for children in Singapore is as follows:
Vaccines and health insurance
At present, every baby born to Singaporean parents is given $4,000 by the government in their Medisave accounts, which can be used for medical expenses as well as vaccinations under the national childhood immunisation schedule. However, most expats are not eligible for Medisave subsidies, and without adequate insurance they may end up paying hundreds of dollars just for a single vaccination.
The best way to address these costs is by making sure that your family health insurance plan includes vaccination coverage, which is typically supplied under the outpatient benefit. One thing to look out for is that many insurers will cap the coverage amount on the vaccination benefit, and some insurers may also impose a waiting period on it. Some plans are also more flexible than others, and may allow you to customise your plan so that it provides vaccination coverage for your children, rather than for the adults in your family.
To find out if your plan covers immunisation costs, or to find the right plan for your family’s healthcare needs, talk to an experienced broker such as Pacific Prime Singapore. With years of experience providing family insurance solutions to expats, its helpful advisors are more than happy to offer impartial advice for your needs, as well as a free quote and plan comparison.
This post is sponsored by Pacific Prime.