The immunisation programme in the UK commences with the first set of injections at 2 months, followed by further jabs at 3 and 4 months. As a parent you are sent a reminder when your baby is due to receive them.
In Qatar, the timings are slightly different and the initial round of jabs are spread out over a longer period, given at 2, 4 and 6 months. Due to the large volume of workers here from certain countries, the TB vaccination is also given to babies at birth. The other vaccinations are similar to those administered in the UK, with just a few variations. You are not sent any reminders when vaccinations are due, although do get given a leaflet which outlines all the necessary information you need. KEEP IT IN A SAFE PLACE!
So following the advice I had been given, I turned up at the Clinic when Ethan was 2 months old and took my ticket ready to see the Doctor - you do not need to make an advance appointment to see a general doctor here, but just turn up and wait your turn. This is great, especially as the waiting time is usually no more than 5-15 minutes (in my experience)!
I was soon called into the Doctors office and found that before any injections here they give the baby a thorough examination rather than just asking you if your baby is well - Ethan had his ears and throat checked, his temperature taken and the doctor also listened to his heart and checked his chest for signs of anything amiss. The opportunity was also taken to measure his length and head circumference and to weigh him. I did find it odd however that he was weighed fully clothed, especially as he hadn't had a nappy change for a while! And it was at this juncture that I learnt that UK pounds and ounzes are NOT the same as American ones - I was asked Ethan's birth weight but when the Doctor converted it into kgs he came up with a different weight to Ethan's UK records!
Once all the checks were complete the Doctor was happy to send us off with the nurse to another room for the injections to be administered. A friend had pre-warned me that the bedside manner when doing this task was not quite the same as back in the UK, where you sit cuddling your child on your lap, while their legs are injected. Here, you are asked to lie your baby down on the bed, they then call in another nurse for assistance and pretty much pin the child down to complete the task! I am not a parent who gets upset every time my child has to have injections but have to say I was quite shocked and vowed not to let them use the same approach the second time around! I wonder if they try to do it like that with the older babies and toddlers?
At 4 months, and 6 months, I returned to have all of Ethan's subsequent immunisations and we now have a nice long break before the next set are due at the time of his first birthday.
There do not seem to be any baby clinics here for getting your baby regularly weighed or any routine developmental checks for them (that I know of), so it is only through the visits I make to the Doctor that Ethan can be monitored. As a mum of four this does not concern me as I know what my baby should be doing and when and can quite easily weigh him on the scales at home, but it would be great if they could look to implementing a system similar to the UK. There we have drop in clinics for getting your baby weighed and having a chat with the Health Visitor about any concerns, and they deliver proper developmental checks at key times in the early years (although I have heard that not all places are offering these now).
Feel free to post comments about your personal experiences around the world. What would be the ideal balance of care?