WHO’s vaccinations?

Just before we left Manila Eilidh had her 4-month-vaccinations.  Our pediatrician noted that Eilidh’s next round of vaccinations was due at the end of July, when she would be 6 months old.  At that point we would be in Spain.  Just.

So one of the first things I needed to do, when we arrived in Malága, was to find a pediatrician.  Admittedly I had been a bit lax on the research front before we arrived in Malága; I had wanted to enjoy our time in the Philippines as much as possible without thinking too much about the next move.  This meant that I had NO idea about how the vaccination schedule in Spain worked, nor indeed how the medical system worked.

In the Philippines, at one of the last check-ups before your baby is born, you are asked by your obstetrician to choose a pediatrician to be there at the baby’s birth.  This was not something I had thought about.  I had just assumed that all the right people would be at our baby’s birth, not that we would have to choose one.  But anyway, I asked around for some recommendations and chose one.  Our pediatrician then came to visit us every day in hospital, and she was the one we saw for Eilidh’s check-ups and vaccinations.  So we were sorted.

How did it work in Spain?

I contacted a mutual friend, who had had her second baby here in Spain.  She told me that for some of the vaccinations you have to go to a chemist, buy the vaccination and then take it to your pediatrician to administer.  Unfortunately she didn’t live in Malága itself, so couldn’t recommend a specific pediatrician in the city.

I did a bit of Googling and found a pediatrician.  I phoned up, with my first question ‘¿Habla inglés por favor?’.  The secretary did, albeit broken.  I went ahead and made an appointment.

When I arrived at the appointment, the pediatrician did not speak English.  And I could not speak Spanish.  We tried to communicate, with Eilidh’s list of vaccinations in front of us, in broken English and Spanish.  The Pediatrician was sweating from the strain, wiping his brow as he studied the vaccinations.  It didn’t leave me with a good feeling.  He called in the secretary, who explained the same thing I had heard from my friend: you have to go out and buy some vaccinations.  She also said that some are free at your local health centre (Centro de Salud).

My mind was reeling.

I had a small window of opportunity to get Eilidh’s vaccinations, and I was fast slipping out of it.  I didn’t feel comfortable with the pediatrician I’d seen – his bedside manner with Eilidh wasn’t good, and our communication difficulties were just too great.  I needed to find someone else.

At this point, I decided (sheepishly) to ask one of my Spanish friends to help me.  She was a godsend.  She found out about our local Centro de Salud, came with me to register Eilidh there, made an appointment with another pediatrician, came with me to that appointment, helped me buy the vaccinations and came back again for Eilidh’s second vaccination appointment at the Centro de Salud.

It was made clear, at this second vaccination appointment, that we had not followed the Spanish schedule for vaccinations (obviously, as we had not been in Spain).  What baffled me was that the vaccination schedules around the world are so different.  When we had been in the Philippines our pediatrician told us that we were following the WHO recommended vaccination schedule.  I assumed (I’m learning slowly not to assume anything) that this would be the same around the world.  But it isn’t.  I’ve spoken to friends in the UK and a friend from Holland and it seems that all 4 countries (Philippines, Spain, UK & Holland) all have slightly different schedules.

So I’m still undecided about the vaccinations that I haven’t given Eilidh, we have moved again (out of Malága), which leaves us in the position of finding a new Centro de Salud, new pediatrician and figuring out whether to give her this ‘missing’ vaccination or not.

Let’s not move again any time soon.

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