Vaccinating your child – What you need to know?
Vaccinations play a key role in enabling our babies and children to grow strong and healthy. Child vaccination also helps us avoid a number of diseases in our adult life. In fact, some of these infections (ex: chicken pox) are far more severe if it occurs later on in life.
Routine childhood vaccinations are one of the most effective ways to cut down on the requirement of life-saving medical interventions. Unfortunately, not all children are vaccinated. While in some cases, it can be due to the unavailability of the required medical care; in others, vaccinations can be missed due to a lack of awareness.
List of essential child vaccination
Here is a list of essential vaccinations as defined as per the National Immunisation Schedule by the Government of India.
1. BCG Vaccine
BCG is the acronym for Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine. It is administered at birth and is used to protect them from tuberculous (TB). This vaccine is 70%-80% effective in preventing more severe types of TB such as Tuberculosis meningitis.
The vaccine contains weakened live bacteria that help stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies.
It is not given to individuals and babies who are immuno-compromised or have any other complications.
OPV or oral polio vaccine protects the baby from polio throughout his/her life. It is a mixture of attenuated poliovirus strains, which is capable of inciting an immune response from the body while not causing severe symptoms. The poliovirus strains used in OPV are carefully selected by their ability to mimic the immune response triggered by an infection of wild poliovirus.
OPV vaccine is given in spaced doses for the required efficacy. According to the National immunisation schedule, OPV vaccine is administered as:
- OPV(0) – At birth
- OPV(1) – 6 weeks old infant
- OPV(2) – 10 weeks old infant
- OPV(3) – 14 weeks old infant
- OPV Booster – 16-24 month old child
3. Hepatitis B Vaccine
Hepatitis B vaccine protects the body against hepatitis B, a viral infection that can cause acute or chronic liver problems. It is generally transmitted from mother to child during birth, but can also be transmitted by coming in contact with bodily fluids such as blood and sperm. This infection can be transmitted via sexual intercourse.
The vaccine offers an impressive 98%-100% protection against this infection.
Similar to OPV, this vaccine is also administered in spaced-out doses. The schedule is as follows:
- Hep B 1st dose – At birth (at the place of delivery)
- Hep B 2nd dose – 6 weeks after birth
- Hep B 3rd dose – 10 weeks after birth
- Hep B 4th dose – 14 weeks after birth
4. HiB vaccine
HiB vaccine provides protection from pneumonia, meningitis and other invasive diseases caused by the haemophilus influenza type b bacteria. It is generally transmitted through the respiratory tract.
Vaccines are considered to be the only way to curb the spread of this infection. HiB vaccines are safe and extremely effective when they are administered during infancy. This vaccine is given in spaced out doses. The defined schedule is as follows:
- HiB 1st dose – 6 weeks after birth
- HiB 2nd dose – 10 weeks after birth
- HiB 3rd dose – 14 weeks after birth
5. DPT vaccine
DPT vaccine offers protection against diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis) and tetanus. Vaccination is the single most effective way to reduce the number of fatalities associated with these infections.
DPT vaccine can be administered on its own or as combination shots with HepB and HiB vaccines. The recommended dosage schedule is:
- DPT 1st dose – 6 weeks after birth
- DPT 2nd dose – 10 weeks after birth
- DPT 3rd dose – 14 weeks after birth
- DPT booster shot – 16-24 months after birth
- DPT second booster shot – 5-6 years after birth
Inactivated polio vaccine or IPV is made from wild-type poliovirus strains of each serotype that has been inactivated with formalin. It is an injectable vaccine. It protects a person from polio.
IPV vaccine is administered on its own or combined with other vaccines. According to the national immunisation schedule defined by the Government of India, IPV vaccine is administered when the baby is 14 weeks old.
7. MMR1/MR/Measles vaccine
The MMR1 vaccine is a combined vaccine that offers effective protection against:
These are extremely contagious viral conditions that can be more severe in adults. So, safeguarding yourself during childhood itself is the best way to steer clear of these illnesses. The National Immunisation Schedule states that the MMR1 vaccine should be administered when the child is 9 months of age and when he/she is 16-24 months of age.
8. JE vaccine-1
This vaccination protects the individual from Japanese encephalitis. This is a relatively common infection in Asia. It causes inflammation in the brain which can prove to be fatal. This vaccine is administered to babies who are 9 months old with a second dose when they are 16-24 months old.
There are still many who are apprehensive about the effects of vaccines on children. In reality, not only do vaccines contain inactive and mainly harmless strains of the virus and bacteria, but these infections are usually significantly milder in childhood. So, getting immunised during childhood is the best way to be healthier as we grow older.
If you are concerned that you have missed any or some particular vaccines for your child, you can always get in touch with your paediatrician for booster shots to help your child catch up.
Watch Dr Shreya Dubey, paediatric and neonatology specialist at the CK Birla Hospital, explaining why administrating child vaccination on time is essential. She also speaks about what one can do to help their child catch up on any missed vaccinations.
Ques: Can I still get my child vaccinated during COVID-19?
Today, as we are struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, many parents consider pushing back their child vaccination for a safer time. This is not advised. Try not to delay your child vaccination as far as possible.
In fact, the truth is that no one knows when the pandemic will end. While ensuring protection against coronavirus is still an impossible task (without a vaccine), safeguarding your child against these specific diseases is still under your control. So, it is never a good idea to delay vaccinations.
Ques: Can you delay your child’s vaccination?
In certain unavoidable scenarios, you may end up skipping the ideal age of getting a specific vaccination. In such a case, if you have missed any vaccination, talk to your paediatrician for booster shots and other alternatives.
Ques: Can my child still get vaccinated if they are sick?
Children with mild illness may still be considered for vaccination. However, during the coronavirus pandemic, consult your doctors for steps to take in case your child is showing signs of fever, cough or runny nose.