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JANUARY 9, 2013



You need to protect your children from an early age Check if your child is on course with the Health Department vaccination schedule BY AMANDA DALE

When it comes to protecting your child from infection and disease, it pays to keep track of their jabs. Bermuda may be a first world country with a world-class health system, but that doesn’t mean we should become complacent. It’s easy to pick up infections when travelling overseas, while visitors to Bermuda can also bring in various viruses. It therefore makes sense to protect your child from an early age, gradually building up their immune system against infection. The Bermuda Government Department of Health recommends children are immunized against polio, diphtheria, accellular pertussis (whooping cough), haemophilus influenza (HiB), measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and hepatitis B. They should also be vaccinated against tetanus and pneumococcal (meningitis) infections, while an annual flu shot may also be recommended. Debora Oriol RN, community health nurse, said: “We recommend several different vaccines and have a schedule we follow.” Each vaccine is given as a course of booster shots, in order to build up a child’s immune system. “This aims to boost their immunity before they start school, so they are fully immunized by that time,” said Ms Oriol. Children have tetanus, diphtheria, accellular pertussis, haemophilus influenza and polio as a booster shot at age two, four and six months. Another booster shot is then given at 18 months. Then, at the age of five,

children receive another booster shot for diphtheria, polio, tetanus and accellular pertussis. As the tetanus shot is recommended every 10 years, schoolchildren also receive it at 15, in the form of a joint booster with diphtheria and accellular pertussis. The pneumococcal vaccine is administered at age two, four and six months, and once more at 18 months. A child should have their first hepatitis B shot at seven months, then at eight months and 12 months. They receive another hepatitis B shot at age 10. At age two, they should get the varicella shot against chickenpox. At 15 months a child should also receive the MMR vaccine, for measles, mumps and rubella. This is then repeated at age five and 10. Ms Oriol said: “We also encourage anyone in a high risk category, such as if you have asthma or diabetes, to get a flu shot each year. “Babies can have the flu shot after six months. We also recommend it for schoolchildren, as the winter season tends to get quite rough on school kids. “If someone gets sick we will encourage them to stay home until they are better, and to cover any coughing or sneezing, to wash their hands frequently and to use a hand sanitizer, to help reduce the spread of colds and flu. “Sometimes parents ask if it’s okay for babies to have all of these shots at once. I’m old enough to remember some children in my class in New York who had to wear braces on their legs because they were stricken with polio, so that’s something I don’t


OUCH! It is not pleasant but necessary to give our children the protection they need. want to see happen to any other child. “And just 50 years ago there were deaths from

measles. Here in Bermuda we have ‘herd immunization’, which is when a good percentage of the popula-

tion has been vaccinated against diseases, and so most children are protected, even if they haven’t had

the vaccine. “Because we have all of these vaccinations in Bermuda you don’t see these diseases cropping up.” Ms Oriol said it is not mandatory for parents to vaccinate their children against disease but it is recommended. “If parents don’t want their child to have a vaccine, due to religious or other reasons for example, the child may still be protected because most other children in Bermuda have had it. But we don’t encourage that stance. “We still get outbreaks of measles, whooping cough and chickenpox, so when the vaccine rates drop, this can happen. “By getting your child vaccinated you’re protecting yourself and protecting others. “Also, because Bermudians travel and we also have people visiting the island, these diseases are transferable. If people aren’t vaccinated against them, they are vulnerable. “Some parents might ask, ‘Can I wait until my child goes to school to catch up on the vaccines?’ But most of these diseases are dangerous, particularly to newborn babies born without their full immunization system. “It is best to protect your child.” She added: “They will also need to have all their vaccinations in place before they head to college, as many overseas colleges require a record of students’ immunizations, so it is best to keep them all up-to-date. “We also encourage boys and girls to get the HPV vaccine at age 11 or 12, See IMMUNIZATION, page 29


JANUARY 9, 2013





JANUARY 9, 2013


Eat well Bermuda by keeping within dietary guidelines MELLONIE FURBERT, RD Public Health Nutritionist

Eating the right foods will provide the energy required in caring for young children. If breastfeeding, eating the right foods will replenish your body while you are passing on important nutrients that your baby needs to grow up strong and healthy. A healthy diet makes it easier for you to recover from childbirth and helps in managing emotions. Eating three meals a day may help to prevent blood sugar fluctuations which cause fatigue. Never skip breakfast. Eating a variety of foods helps to boost your vitamin and mineral levels. The new Bermuda Dietary Guidelines provide information on the different types and proportions of food required to have a healthy and well-balanced diet. Check food labels to make healthier options. Use the Food Label Guide leaflet available in the Food Section of the website. Choose foods more often that fall into the “green or go” category for total fat, saturated fat, sodium and sugar and limit foods that fall into the “yellow or sometimes” category and rarely use the foods that

Calcium rich alternatives or low fat dairy choices

For more healthy eating information on a budget, please visit the www. websiteand

Choose low fat dairy or calcium rich alternatives

Starch/Grains Choose whole grains with each meal

Meat/Meat Alternatives Choose lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dried beans, nuts and seeds

Fat, Sugar & Salt Limit foods with added fat, sugar and salt. When using fats choose liquid oils from vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Fruits and Vegetables Eat a variety of five or more every day.


fall into the “red or not too often” category. If you want a nutrient dense diet without watching calories, follow the proportions and advice on the EatWell Bermuda Plate. Choosing the 5-inch plate is a cinch in supporting weight loss and making

half the plate non-starchy vegetables ensures a high vitamin levels of A, C, E, B6 and zinc, following with a quarter of the plate whole grain starches that are high in fibre, keeps you regular (good for getting that tummy back in shape), and a quarter of the plate with

lean meat, beans or nuts supplies protein helpful in repairing, building and maintaining body tissues. Round out the meal with a calcium rich choice and a small fruit serving help supple pro-biotics for good digestion and are beneficial for satisfaction and provid-

ing balance to the meal. The 8-inch plate with the same proportions of foods is good for weight maintenance and the 10-inch plate may be helpful in gaining weight if necessary. Choose healthy snacks one to two times per day if necessary. Make snacks

count like choosing vegetables or whole grain crackers with hummus, fruits and nuts. Cutting back on sugar and refined products may cause fatigue, blood sugar spikes and may be helpful in decreasing fat storage and reduce risks of inflammatory diseases. Breastfeeding does require the drinking plenty of fluids to keep hydrated, prevent constipation, fatigue and painful cracked nipples. Do not wait until you are thirsty — a sign of dehydration; keep a water bottle nearby. Exercise is good in helping to restore muscle strength and tone and boost your metabolism which ultimately helps in weight loss. Exercise also is helpful in reducing the risk of post-partum depression. Start slowly and gradually build up your endurance and strength. It is best to start with walking 10-15 minutes a day. Lastly, rest is important. Sleep deprivation causes the body to release cortisol, stress and hunger hormones that are associated with weight gain. So, try to rest when the baby rests. ■

MELLONIE FURBERT, RD is a public health nutritionist at the Department of Health.


JANUARY 9, 2013





JANUARY 9, 2013



Cultivate 10 daily habits to make you a better father BY PETE SAUNDERS

Many of us start each new year vowing to be and do better than the year before. We plan to finally complete that book we have been dreaming about for years. Some of us will claim 2013 as the year we complete the Bermuda Day Half Marathon in less than 90 minutes (one of my goals). Others will take steps to become more healthy, happy, and holy. Setting these goals does not mean we are not proud of our past accomplishments, but that we are interested in continuous personal growth. While you contemplate and set your personal goals, I encourage you to consider setting goals related to the various roles you play in life, particularly your role as a father. As Mark Wahlberg declared, “This is my most important role. If I fail at this, I fail at everything”. With that in mind, here are 10 changes to your daily routine that will increase your level of happiness and success, as father.

1. Start each day together ■ ISTOCK PHOTO

TIME WITH DAD: Ten changes to your daily routine will improve your success as a father.

You may decide to worship or have breakfast together. Rest assured that the way you start out each

day sets the tone for the rest of the day, for you and your child. This may mean starting your day a little earlier. The sacrifice will be worth it.

2. Set at least one major task for the day for each family member This activity helps each family member, especially the younger ones, develops goal setting skills. Completing a task, or a goal, also provides great motivation to tackle other goals.

3. Use positive communication Our words have the power to do much harm to others, including our children. Focusing on the positive aspects of our message will do more good than bad.

4. Establish and communicate clear expectations Let your kids know your expectations of them, before they mess up. This practice should minimize the need for disciplining.

5. Give your kids a gift This should not always be a tangible gift. Make sure to give them your time, love, smile, gentle touch, words of encouragement,and so on, every day.

6. Keep the TV off Watching TV is almost always a guaranteed waste of time. It is a time stealer. So, turn it off as often, and for as long, as possible.

7. Humour them and yourself. One of the surest ways to be happy is to make others happy. Practice this with your kids. Have fun with them. Invent some ‘Knock, Knock’ jokes if you have to.

8. Eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep You have to be around to be dad. It’s as simple as that. Take care of yourself.

9. Read some good material The news doesn’t count. A good fiction or nonfiction book each month is good. Better yet, start a book club with your family. Even the youngest child should participate. It’s never too early to develop good habits.

10. End each day with gratitude Before you turn off the lights, share something you’re thankful for. There is always something. Give your kids the opportunity to share as well. Help them develop an attitude of gratitude. ■

IMMUNIZATION: Important to get up-to-date information Continued from page 25 either the GARDASIL or Severix vaccine.” These vaccines help to protect children against various strains of the Human Papillomavirus, which can cause cervical, penile and anal cancer, and genital warts. If any parent has any concerns or questions about any of the recommended vaccinations, Ms Oriol advises them to seek out a medical practitioner. “We would encourage you to talk to your paediatrician, healthcare provider or GP if you have any reservations, in order to get the up-to-date correct information.” The Department of Health community health nurses administer up to 40 per cent of immunizations on the island, with the rest carried out by GPs and paediatricians. All the vaccines are free,

with the exception of the HPV vaccines. The Department of Health runs several Child Health Clinics across the island. They are situated at: Hamilton Health Centre, Victoria Street, Hamilton (Mondays and Fridays, 2-4pm); the St George’s Health Centre, Old Military Road, St George’s (Fridays, 2-4pm); the Warwick Health Centre, Middle Road, Warwick (Mondays, 2-4pm), and the Somerset Health Centre, Mangrove Bay Road, Somerset (Fridays, 2-4pm). Schoolchildren can also attend the Hamilton Health Centre clinic, Mondays to Fridays, 8:3011:30am. Ms Oriol said: “We review each child’s immunization record for each school we’re assigned to as a nurse, and if there’s any outstanding vaccinations we will send a note home to the parents to ask them to come to a centre, their GP or paediatrician, in

order to get updated. At the age of 15 we also go into the schools to do a health assessment, to see how the child is doing generally. This includes a review of their immunizations and we do the tetanus booster at that time. “The community health nurses also offer flu shots to staff at public and private schools.” After a child is born, a Department of Health visitor will give the parents a health record book, in which they can write down all the child’s immunizations and medical history. This provides a record of immunization shots once they are of college age. She said: “We can’t force parents to do the vaccinations but we try to encourage people to do the proper thing, because this is in your child’s best interests. “If you don’t want your child to be vaccinated there is a form you can sign at the Department of Health, which lets staff know

The Travel Clinic can be found at the Department of Health on Victoria Street, Hamilton, on Thursdays, 2-4pm. Contact 2786460.

that you have not consented as a parent for your child to receive any shots. “But most people do get the vaccinations. “After a child has a shot, any side effects are very rare. The child may be fretful or they have a mild fever. “We don’t recommend giving them a Tylenol straight away, only if the child is really uncomfortable. “The best thing to do is to comfort them. Normally these vaccines are very safe.” Adults should have a tetanus and diphtheria shot every 10 years. The Bermuda Govern-

ment recommends the Tdap shot, which includes a whooping cough component. Keep track of you and your child’s immunizations on your International Vaccination Certificate for Travel and your Child’s Health Passport. The Department of Health has a Travel Clinic where families can receive travel vaccinations, for example for typhoid, hepatitis A or yellow fever. “There is no cost for the consultations but there is a cost for the vaccines,” said Ms Oriol. ■

FOR MORE information on children’s vaccinations see the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc. gov or the American Academy of Pediatrics at For the Department of Health’s Child Health Services, call 278-6460 / 278-6461 or e-mail childhealth@ Website

Parents' Notes  

Immunizations, eating well and 10 daily habits to make you a better father feature in January's edition of Parents' Notes.

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