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Newborns are born with protection against certain diseases, as their mothers pass antibodies to them before birth. Breastfed babies can also get more antibodies in breast milk but in both cases, the protection is limited and temporary. Immunizing/ vaccinating your child is a way to create immunity towards some deadly diseases. Germs can be viruses like measles or even bacteria like pneumococcus. Vaccines accelerate the immune system to react as if there is real infection. It resists the “infection” and remembers the germ. Then, it fights the germ when it enters the body later.
We have seen many diseases like measles, chickenpox or tuberculosis being reduced to a large extent because of the widespread use of vaccines in children. Therefore, we do not hear about a measles outbreak or a chickenpox outbreak anymore. And that is purely because most of the kids are being vaccinated for these common diseases, thereby increasing the herd immunity.
Importance of vaccination
Vaccines are given to all children to help protect their developing immune systems from a variety of diseases that could cause serious complications and hospital admissions. In the first few months of life, infants have inherited an innate immunity from their mothers. Vaccines are provided to take over when this starts to wane to help prevent babies from becoming sick.
They help to protect children from diseases spread by their peers, playmates, classmates, and family members. There are vaccines that need to be given only once; others require updates or “boosters” to maintain effective immunization and constant protection against diseases. It is essential to keep children up to date on their vaccines, according to the national immunisation schedule to protect them from serious health problems. Some of these vaccines may provide protection against a single virus or a bacterium and others may be combined vaccines, which cover more than one bacterium or viruses.
Even during the pandemic, just going to the hospital for vaccination is an important healthcare activity. There should not be any change in immunization schedule due to covid-19 and kids should follow the same standard vaccination schedule. But due to the pandemic, we are seeing a lot of missed vaccinations and the paediatricians need to have a separate kind of catch-up vaccination schedule for them. Now, we must be certain that infection control guidelines are being followed by the clinic or hospitals, where they are providing kids vaccines. These healthcare facilities need to have a separate area for vaccination and check up for unwell kids. In the clinics and healthcare settings standard covid-19 prevention measures like hand washing, masking and social distancing measures must be strictly followed.
The healthcare system in our country has reached a dilapidated state due to covid-19 pandemic. While we are already in the second phase and suspecting the third wave, we are not willing to take the risk of re-emergence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Parents are really scared to step out and get their children vaccinated. With the data available across the world, we have found that there was a drastic decline in the number of children getting vaccinated, as per the schedule. This is not a good sign, as this may result in resurfacing of vaccine preventable diseases. This thought has led us to bring in vaccination to your doorstep for children below 5 years of age.
The following table lists the common vaccines, disease prevented by the vaccine and the usual symptoms of the disease which are prevented by vaccination:
|BCG||Tuberculosis||Cough for more than 2 weeks, fever|
|Hepatitis B virus||Hepatitis B – liver disease||Fever, jaundice, vomiting|
|Diphtheria||Diphtheria||Fever, sore throat, breathing difficulty|
|Tetanus||Tetanus||Muscle pain and spasms|
|Pertussis||Whooping cough||Cough, cold , fever|
|Haemophilus influenzae||Pneumonia, bone/joint infections, meningitis||Fever, cough, breathing difficulty, bone pains or swelling of joints|
|Rotavirus||Rotavirus Diarrhoea||Loose stools, fever, vomiting|
|Poliovirus||Poliomyelitis||Weakness or paralysis of muscles|
|Pneumococcal||Pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis||Fever, cough, breathing difficulty, vomiting|
|Measles virus||Pneumonia, encephalitis||Fever, rash, breathing difficulty, fits|
|Mumps virus||Mumps||Fever, swelling in front and below the ear|
|Rubella virus||Rubella||Fever, cold, headache, cough|
|Varicella||Chicken pox||Fever with rash|
|Typhoid||Typhoid fever||High grade fever, headache|
|Hepatitis A virus||Hepatitis A infection||Vomiting, jaundice|
|Influenza||Seasonal flu||Fever, cold, breathing difficulty|
Certain vaccines may be optional and hence, given under special circumstances or given regions where the disease is more prevalent. These vaccines are not included in the standard vaccination schedules. Most hospitals provide a schedule for vaccination for the child soon after birth. Most hospitals send reminders of vaccine schedules and there are certain vaccine-alert apps also available, which enables parents to schedule an appointment with the paediatrician and act as a reminder.
Paediatricians throughout the world are worried that there could be an outbreak of any of these vaccine-preventable illnesses. Hence, it is advised to get the kids to follow their regular immunisation schedule. We all can help young children remain healthy by emphasising caretakers on the importance of healthy habits and vaccination.