Back to school season means pouring over a seemingly endless list of school supplies and making sure backpacks and lunchboxes are properly packed, but it also means it’s time to make sure your child’s vaccines are up to date !
Before January 1st, 2018, only 3 pediatric vaccines were mandatory: diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Since then, 8 additional vaccines have been added to the list: whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, HIB or Haemophilus influenza b (responsible for meningitis), Pneumococcus and Meningococcus C.
All children born as of January 1st, 2018, must receive these 11 vaccines. Here is a little reminder of the compulsory vaccinations by age which we have adapted to the context of Gabon:
The immunization schedule as of January 1st, 2018
At 1 month
•1 single dose injection (recommended): BCG vaccine is for children exposed to a high risk of tuberculosis as is the case in Gabon. When giving birth in Gabon, the vaccine must be done prior to release from the maternity ward. When arriving in Gabon with an infant or small child it is a good idea to have them vaccinated for TB.
At 2 months
•1st compulsory injection: diphtheria-tetanus-polio (DTP), whooping cough, HIB (haemophilusinfluenzae b), hepatitis B, pneumococcus.
At 4 months
•2nd compulsory injection: diphtheria-tetanus-polio (DTP), whooping cough, HIB (haemophilusinfluenzae b), hepatitis B, pneumococcus.
At 5 months
•1st compulsory injection: meningococcal C
At 11 months
•3rd compulsory injection: diphtheria-tetanus-polio (DTP), whooping cough, HIB (haemophilusinfluenzae b), hepatitis B, pneumococcus.
At 12 months
•1st compulsory injection: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR).
•2nd compulsory injection: meningococcal C
Between 16 and 18 months
•2nd compulsory injection: measles-mumps – rubella (MMR).
At 6 years old
•Booster vaccination required: diphtheria-tetanus, polio, whooping cough.
Between 11 and 13 years old
•Booster vaccination required: diphtheria-tetanus-polio, whooping cough.
•Recommended Injection: HPV (vaccination against Human Papillomavirus infections)
Who decides on the vaccination schedule?
Every year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) releases a vaccination program for each region of the world, based on the diseases common to that area. Then at the local level, each country adapts the program according to their specific needs.
In Gabon, fluctuations in the availability of different vaccines have required pediatricians to temporarily modify the vaccination schedule and vaccination strategies. Therefore, do not be surprised if your pediatrician strays a bit from the calendar provided above.
It should also be noted that from one year to the next, the vaccination schedule may change (deletion of booster shots, addition of vaccines, etc.) depending on recent data, research and the health situation in a country. Staying regularly informed is important.
The subject of vaccination is currently very controversial and its detractors are numerous (keep an eye out for our follow up MAM Gabon article on vaccine controversy). But whether you are for or against or somewhere in between, you need to know that the Ministry of Education abides by the mandatory vaccine list provided by the WHO and that these vaccines will be required for the admission of your children to daycare and school.
Feel free to consult our directory section for a list of pediatricians with whom you can vaccinate your children and obtain all the information you need on this subject.