Playtimes April 2014 - page 81

strains of meningococcal meningitis,
which caused a recent outbreak in US
universities, is also likely to become more
available over the next couple of years.
If your child has not had
chickenpox or a chickenpox vaccine by
the age of ten, this vaccine is strongly
recommended. While chickenpox
is most often a mild disease in early
childhood, it can be severe for
teenagers and adults. Two doses, at
least four weeks apart, are required.
You may also wish to talk to your
doctor about recently introduced
vaccines, which your child may have
missed out on when they were younger,
such as the pneumococcal vaccine to
protect against bacteria that can cause
pneumonia and meningitis.
Don’t forget additional travel
vaccinations if your child is going away
on a school trip. These may include
rabies and Japanese encephalitis
vaccines, which are essential for travel
to much of Asia, and yellow fever
vaccine for Africa and South America.
Hepatitis A (if your child hasn’t
already been vaccinated) and typhoid
vaccines are again necessary for travel
to most parts of Asia and for many
other parts of the world. Requirements
vary significantly, so remember to visit
your paediatrician or family doctor for
advice on vaccinations, anti-malarials
and other preventative measures such
as mosquito nets and first aid kits. If
your child has any problems when
they return, make your doctor aware
of their recent travel as well as the
symptoms they’re experiencing.
As your child grows older, they
will become more independent in
managing their own health problems.
They may already carry their own
asthma inhaler or epi-pen for allergies.
Regular visits to the doctor will
allow the parent, child and doctor to
discuss any concerns or issues that
may become increasingly important
in adolescence. It might be helpful
for your child to have some time to
speak to the doctor in private, allowing
them to build a relationship that will
help them deal with sensitive issues in
future years. If they have been seeing
a paediatrician, you might also wish
to discuss the best time to make the
transition to a family doctor. It is also
important to know, though sometimes
difficult for parents to accept, that as
a child matures through adolescence,
they are entitled to a growing amount
of confidentiality in their relationship
with their doctor.
There are many helpful books
and websites that address parents’
concerns and answer questions that
pre-teens might have. Again, your
doctor will be happy to point you in
the right direction. Finally, don’t forget
to enjoy sharing the new experiences
that are around the corner as your
child grows into a healthy and mature
young adult!
Dr Sarah Borwein practices at Central
Health Medical Practice.
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