According to the WHO (World Health Organization), close to 3 million deaths are averted every year by vaccination. It is vital for babies to get vaccinated as they lack a well-developed immune system and face a high risk of getting infected by harmful microbes. So to help you out with the vaccination, here is a brief profile of various vaccines and information about when they should be given
A single dose of the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine protects against tuberculosis. In India, this vaccine is given to babies just after birth. Sometimes, a small red lump may develop in a few days at the injection site but this clears up on its own, leaving a small scar.
Oral Polio Vaccine
The oral polio vaccine is useful to protect children against Polio or poliomyelitis – an infectious viral disease that attacks the nervous system. In some cases, this infection can cause paralysis of the legs and this condition is an irreversible one. In India, polio vaccination is mandatory for every child up to the age of 5 years. Five doses are given during the first year and booster doses are administered during the second and fifth year following childbirth.
During the first year of a child’s life, three doses of the DPT (diphtheria, pertussis or whooping cough and tetanus) vaccine should be given. This has to be followed by a booster dose that is given during the second and fifth years. As the tetanus bacterium is commonly found in dust, mud, and soil, it is recommended to get your child vaccinated to prevent infections due to injury. In some cases, fever, slight swelling, pain and redness at the site of injection may develop a few hours following vaccination. Doctors recommend administration of paracetamol to overcome these effects, but if they persist even after a day or two, it is best to visit a doctor immediately.
Measles is one of the most infectious diseases that can affect children and in some case may lead to death because there is no cure for this disease. Therefore, the only option to protect your child from measles is to get vaccinated at the age of nine months. This vaccine is believed to provide life-long immunity against these three diseases when given as two doses – the first one around 12 to 15 months of age and the second one when the child is around 4 to 6 years of age.
While the vaccines mentioned above are a must, there are few additional vaccines for diseases that cause discomfort but are not life-threatening. Also, the fact that they are very costly may be responsible for fewer people using them. These include –
Hepatitis B vaccine: It
is one such vaccine that was optional but with this condition being responsible for close to 80 percent of liver cancers, the Indian health ministry has decided to make it a part of the National Immunisation Programme. The first shot has to be given at birth and subsequent doses when the infant is 6, 10 and 14 weeks old.
Varicella or chickenpox vaccine:
Many people prefer not to give this vaccine because it is not a life-threatening disease. Also, the fact that once infected, the body develops a natural, life-long immunity against it. However, if a woman has not got chickenpox during her childhood, some doctors may recommend having the shot to prevent the chance of catching it during pregnancy.
This vaccine is given to prevent infections caused by Haemophilus influenza type B that can result in childhood diseases such as pneumonia, bacterial meningitis, and septicemia. In some states of India, Hib vaccine is available in combination with DPT and hepatitis B, which is known as the pentavalent vaccine (a single vaccine offering protection against 5 illnesses). This vaccine is given to infants at age of 6, 10 and 14 weeks respectively.