World Immunization Week: 11 common questions about child vaccination

Getting your children vaccinated is important, and if you have any questions related to it we might have the answers. Here are most common FAQs about child vaccination.
Vaccination for children in monsoon
Your child should be vaccinated against monsoon diseases. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Abhishek Chopra Published: 29 Apr 2023, 15:00 pm IST
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Vaccinations are an essential tool that helps protect children against serious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses. Childhood vaccinations have been proven to be safe and effective, and they are a vital part of maintaining public health. Despite this, there are many misconceptions about vaccines that can lead parents to have questions and concerns.

Common vaccination question for children

Here are some of the most common questions that parents have about vaccination for children:

1. What are vaccines?

Vaccines are a type of medicine that helps the body fight off infectious diseases. They work by introducing a small amount of a weakened or dead virus or bacteria into the body, which triggers the immune system to produce antibodies to fight the disease. This means that if the person is exposed to the disease in the future, their body will already have the tools it needs to fight it off.

Also Read: New mums! Learn this list of vaccination by heart for your kid’s better health

vaccination for children
Role of vaccination for children. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock.

2. Why are vaccines important for children?

Vaccines are important for children because they help protect them from serious illnesses that can cause lasting damage or even death. Many of the diseases that vaccines protect against are highly contagious and can spread quickly, which can cause outbreaks and epidemics. Vaccines not only protect the individual who receives them, but they also protect the community by reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

3. What are the various vaccination schedules followed in our country ?

We have two vaccination schedules. One is the National Immunisation schedule in which vaccines which are decided by NITAG (National technical advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation) and is given to every child free of cost. Second one is recommended by Indian Academy of Paediatrics which includes additional vaccines which are needed and are available in country.

4. If parents miss one scheduled dose of vaccine, what should they do?

Always try to get the vaccines as per scheduled time as prescribed by your doctor. However, if you miss the date, you should get your child vaccinated as soon as possible. It is not necessary to restart the entire schedule again.

5. If a child has suffered from vaccine preventable disease, should vaccine still be given against that disease ?

Yes. Most vaccine preventable diseases do not confer long term immunity after an episode of full blown infection.

6. Why are children given multiple doses of similar vaccine?

Live vaccines in which weakened organism is injected produces a strong immune response with one dose but in few of these vaccines second dose is needed as many children may not take up the first dose (poor uptake). Killed vaccines mount immunity in phases and every subsequent dose provides more robust immune response compared to previous dose, hence multiple doses are required.

7. What are the side effects of vaccination?

All vaccines induce immunity by causing the receivers immune system to react to vaccine. Hence local reactions, fever and systemic symptoms can result after getting vaccinated. Serious side effects are rare, but they can occur. However, the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks of side effects.

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8. Do vaccines cause autism?

No, vaccines do not cause autism. This idea originated from a now-debunked study that was published in 1998. Since then, multiple studies have been conducted that have found no link between vaccines and autism. The CDC, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and many other reputable organisations have stated that there is no evidence to support a link between vaccines and autism.

complications of child vaccination
Know if getting your child vaccinated leads to autism or not. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

9. Can a sick child be vaccinated?

A sick child suffering from mild illness can safely be vaccinated. Symptoms of mild illness (like cough, cold, mild fever or mild diarrhoea) are not contraindications. However a child with high grade fever and severe diarrhoea should not be vaccinated during acute phase.

10. Can vaccines overload a child’s immune system?

No, vaccines do not overload a child’s immune system. The immune system is capable of responding to thousands of antigens at once. Vaccines contain a very small amount of antigens compared to what children are exposed to on a daily basis. In fact, a child is exposed to more antigens in one day of normal activity than they are from all the vaccines they receive in their first two years of life.

11. Why do some people choose not to vaccinate their children?

There are many reasons why some people choose not to vaccinate their children. These can include concerns about vaccine safety, religious or philosophical beliefs, or a lack of trust in the medical establishment. However, choosing not to vaccinate can have serious consequences, not only for the unvaccinated child but for the community as a whole. When fewer people are vaccinated, outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis (whooping cough) can occur, which can lead to serious illness and even death.

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About the Author

Dr Abhishek Chopra is a senior consultant – neonatologist and paediatrician at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals. He is passionate about neonatal care with special emphasis on provision of mothers own milk, focusing on non invasive ventilation and judicious use of antibiotics. He also has expertise in point of care ultrasonography. He is actively involved in teaching and research, with an interest in research methodology.
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