7 Important Facts About Vaccination
- Vaccination is absolutely safe for your baby.
- Vaccination not only prevents fatal diseases but also stops spreading of diseases.
- Most of the vaccines are 90-99% effective.
- Although some of the vaccines may have mild side effects, they can not cause any severe illness.
- Your baby can tolerate more vaccines than the recommended number.
- The effects of some diseases are highest in childhood. Hence, you need to vaccinate your baby at a very early stage.
- There is a Delayed Immunisation schedule in case you miss a vaccine. But vaccinating your baby on time is highly recommended.
How does vaccination work?
Vaccination or immunization is the process of introducing a weaker strain of a particular virus or bacteria in your baby’s body to trigger her immune system to produce antibodies against that particular pathogen. Once these antibodies are formed, they do not let that virus affect the baby for a long duration of time, sometimes a complete lifetime. These antibodies stay on guard and in future, if she ever gets exposed to the actual disease-causing antigen, these antibodies recognise it and fight against it. This causes minimal or no impact of that organism on the baby’s body.
Why is it important to vaccinate my baby?
Vaccination has been successful in preventing several life-threatening diseases. Various fatal diseases that have caused epidemics and deaths in the past, have now been completely eliminated by years of continuous vaccination process. A case in point is the polio and smallpox vaccines. In some cases where the child cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons (for example a child who is on cancer medication and taking immune suppressant drugs), the only way to safeguard them from these life-threatening diseases is if the people around them have been vaccinated in the past and themselves are immune to those diseases. So vaccination not only prevents diseases, but stops spreading of fatal diseases to others as well. This makes vaccination a very important part of medical healthcare procedures starting from birth. To support it, WHO (World Health Organization) recommends a complete immunization schedule.
Is vaccination safe?
Many parents worry how safe immunization process is, as a pathogen is injected to develop immunity against that disease-causing organism. But the whole process of vaccination is safe for your baby. Only a killed or a weakened version of the pathogen is injected that cannot cause illness. Although there is low possibility of your baby suffering from side effects, such as fever, cold, rashes or pain, after being vaccinated, there really is no chance of severe disease.
Side effects of some of the vaccines
- IPV, PCV, HiB can cause mild fever, vomiting, soreness around the injection area, or even diarrhoea.
- MMR vaccine may trigger a low fever, rashes, food aversions 6 to 10 days after vaccination.
- Almost all vaccines can possibly cause fever to the baby
These side effects usually disappear within a few days. In some sporadic cases, a child may get high fever but as a practice, most doctors prescribe a fever or pain medication as an SOS remedy.
Sometimes, a child may develop allergic reactions right after vaccination but it is extremely rare. However, if you notice swollen lips or face, breathing issues or rashes in your baby, right after vaccination, consult your medical practitioner without delay.
How effective are these vaccines?
Vaccines are designed to maximise your child’s immune system so that it can protect her from fatal diseases. Although this is the most advanced way of preventing a virus, it may not work, in absolute terms, all the time. The immunity response of the human body varies from person to person. Sometimes, a vaccine may not produce an adequate immune response in your baby. Thus she will not be fully immunised against that disease.
Still, the effectiveness of immunization is high enough. For example, two doses of MMR vaccines make the vaccinated baby 99.7% immune to measles, and three doses of IPV ensures 99% immunity.
It is important to understand that, even if your baby doesn’t become 100% resistant to the disease, its impact, if she gets aggrieved by the same virus, will surely be less if she is vaccinated.
Vaccination is safe enough as only a killed or weakened pathogen is used as a vaccine and cannot cause an illness. Although your baby might suffer some side effects that usually disappear within a few days.
Why do some vaccines need booster doses and others don’t?
It is still not clear why one vaccine requires just one dose to create lifelong immunity while others need booster doses. But recent research suggests that the pace at which a disease spreads in our body may determine the stability of the immunity against that disease. That means, if an infection develops quickly, our immune system may not respond to it as fast. Here comes the role of a booster dose: it reminds the immune system to generate antibodies quickly enough to defend our body against that disease.
Why do I need to vaccinate our baby so early?
The immunization schedule has been developed considering a number of diseases that can occur at a very early age and the effects of which are highest during that stage of life. Therefore vaccinating your child at the right age is essential.
Is my child strong enough for so many vaccines?
The vaccination schedule has been prepared by WHO after thorough research, large data sampling over multiple years and evaluating children’s ability of immune responses and risks of illness. Your little one is stronger than you imagine. She is capable of tolerating more than one shot at a time. Most vaccines are meant to fight off multiple diseases through one shot itself. The benefits of combined vaccines are:
- Reduces the risk of getting infected in the early months
- Multiple vaccinations mean fewer visits to the doctor and often less painful experience.
Vaccination schedule for 0-12 months olds:
- BCG: Bacille Calmette-Guerin vaccination is meant for the prevention of Tuberculosis and TB Meningitis. It is important to note that this vaccine does not prevent natural tuberculosis infection of the lungs, but it reduces the haematogenous (blood-related) complications of the infection. It contains cultured, weakened live bacterium that causes TB in humans. Only one dose is given at birth through injection.
- HepB 1: hepatitis B vaccination prevents liver diseases like liver cancer and Cirrhosis that are caused by the Hepatitis B virus.
- OPV 0: Oral polio virus Vaccine is the mixture of live, weakened polio virus strains of all the three micro-organisms. OPV creates antibodies in the blood against these three types of extremely infectious polio virus and protects the body from polio paralysis. Both oral and injectable versions of the vaccine is available.
At 6 Weeks:
- DTP1 : This vaccine creates immunity against diseases like Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (commonly known as Whooping Cough) and is a mandatory vaccine. It creates antibodies to battle against these diseases by inserting a combination of three inactivated antigens named Diphtheria Toxoid, Tetanus toxoid, and Pertussis. The first dose is given at 6 weeks, 2nd at 10 weeks and the third should be given at 14 weeks. This should be followed by three booster doses one at 15-18 months, second at 5 years, and 3rd one at 10 years.
- HepB 2: The second dose is given at 6 week.
- RV 1: This vaccine prevents the body from Rotavirus infection, which can cause severe diarrhoea in children. This oral vaccine contains 5 inactivated rotavirus strains. First dose is administered at 6 weeks, 2nd at 10 weeks, and the third at 14 weeks.
- IPV 1: Inactivated Polio Vaccine is injected to prevent Polio that can cause permanent paralysis. It is made from the wild-type polio virus strain that has been inactivated by formalin. The first dose is given 6 weeks, 2nd at 10 weeks, 3rd at 14 weeks, and a booster is administered at 15-18 months. This vaccine is usually given with the DTP vaccine.
- OPV 1
- HiB1: This is a vaccine meant to prevent a bacteria named Haemophilus Influenza Type B that causes diseases like Meningitis, Pneumonia, Epiglottitis. Inactivated bacteria components are introduced in the body during this vaccination. The first dose is given at 6 weeks, 2nd at 10 weeks, and the third at 14 weeks, followed by a booster administered at 15-18 months.
- PCV1: Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine protects the body against Pneumococcal Bacteria that cause pneumonia, blood infections, ear infections and brain meningitis. The first dose is given at 6 weeks, 2nd at 10 weeks, and the third at 14 weeks, followed by a booster given at 15-18 months.
At 10 Weeks:
The second dose of the following vaccines are given at 10 weeks
- IPV 2
- OPV 2
AT 14 Weeks:
A third dose of the below-mentioned vaccines are administered at 14 weeks.
At 9 Months :
MMR: The MMR is a mandatory vaccine to prevent Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR). The vaccine contains live and weakened virus to make the baby’s body immune to these viruses. The first dose should be given at 9 months and followed by a booster at 15 months.
At 12 months:
- Typhoid: The Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TCV) protects against typhoid virus. The first dose should be given at 1 year age followed by a booster given at two years. Re-vaccination should be done every 3 years.
- HepA1: Hepatitis A vaccination is mandatory to prevent chronic liver infections, protection from Hepatitis A Virus. It is a severe contagious liver disease. The vaccine contains inactivated virus. The first dose should be given at 1 year and a second dose should be given after 6 months of the first dose.
Approximate costs of the vaccines
Vaccines Price BCG - Rs. 10-25 HepB - Rs. 175 OPV - Rs. 230 DTP+HiB - Rs. 600 PCV - Rs. 3800 RV - Rs. 900-1000 MMR - Rs. 500 Typhoid - Rs. 300 HepA - Rs. 1400
The above-mentioned prices are the standard rates for vaccines but can vary depending on your location and brand.
Mandatory and optional vaccines for 0-12 months olds
Below are the vaccines that the Govt. of India has declared as compulsory because they help you baby become immune from life-threatening diseases:
Vaccines that are optional but highly recommended are
- HiB – recommended as it can damage brain and spine
- Rotavirus – Because it is extremely infectious
- Typhoid – As it causes severe illness
- PCV – The high levels of air pollution have increased the risk of contacting contagious disease like pneumonia. Hence PCV is highly recommended as it prevents the transmission of pneumonia.
- IPV – Is an optional vaccine, though, for better immune response, a combination of IPV and OPV is recommended.
What are the risks of missing a vaccine?
The aim of preparing the immunization schedule is to optimise your child’s immunity as soon as her body is able to do so. Hence, vaccinating you baby on time ensures that she is no longer at risk of catching diseases that the vaccine could have prevented.
Missing a vaccine makes your child vulnerable to that disease. Therefore it is advised that if a vaccine has been missed, consult your paediatrician on how to proceed. In most cases, you can continue the schedule from where it was interrupted.
But your child may not be protected entirely from certain diseases if you delay vaccination. Your doctor may prescribe a blood test 2 months after the vaccination to check if your baby’s immune system has adequately responded against certain vaccines. Hence following the schedule is always better.
Points to remember
- Keep this vaccination chart handy. Download the National Immunisation Schedule and mark the dates in your calendar as reminders to avoid missing a vaccine. You can simply get reminders by entering your baby’s dob in our website as well. We will send you reminders through email as the due date approaches.
- The vaccination schedule and prices mentioned here are for reference purpose only. Confirm the actual schedule and price list with your medical practitioner.
- It is ok to vaccinate your little one even if she is a little unwell, based on advice from the medical practitioner.
- Convey these to your child’s doctor ( the Paediatrician ) before vaccination if she is unwell, had a severe reaction to any previous vaccine, is a premature baby, or has any disease that can reduce immunity.
- Your child may experience discomfort after vaccination. Try to distract her with a toy, interact with her or comfort her by nursing.
- Most of the vaccines now have come up with a painless version. You can check with your doctor on that. Long-term effects of these painless vaccinations are still under observation, but the comfort they give is substantial.
Treat the entire concept of vaccination seriously, to ensure a healthy and hearty life for your baby.