Post the Covid-19 pandemic, kids have returned to school. Masks and sanitisers have become as essential to carry as notebooks, pencil cases and art materials, to safeguard their health. But parents may have missed out on one important aspect that completes the circle of protection, which is routine and booster vaccination for kids. With the monsoon season, it becomes all the more imperative.
Monsoon brings a heightened risk of infectious diseases and illnesses. It has also been suspected that with schools resuming after an extended break, the pre-monsoon flu season could have a nasty impact. Moreover, toddlers and preschoolers (four to six years old) not only run the risk of getting an infection, but can also transmit it to others in the household, such as the elderly or those with comorbid conditions. But there is no need to stop kids from being their cheerful selves. Protect them with the safety shield of booster vaccines.
The pandemic has been an excellent example of the benefits of timely vaccination. Since children with their still-developing immune systems are more likely to fall sick, it becomes even more crucial to safeguard their health and vaccinate them at appropriate intervals. However, global vaccination rates for children during these two years have dropped with several children missing their routine immunization. In India too, there has been a big drop in the DTP [Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (whooping cough)] vaccination coverage (from 91 percent in 2019 to 85 percent in 2020).
Vaccines for kids save lives and help cut down illness and hospitalization risks. Hence, completing the recommended age-appropriate vaccination schedule for children is essential. According to the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, besides annual flu shots, preschoolers (four to six years old) should be given full-dose DTP along with polio booster vaccines to ensure sustained protection. If you have younger kids at home, make sure that you complete their recommended vaccination schedule.
Though the childhood vaccination schedule begins with a birth dose of OPV (oral polio vaccine), an IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) and DTP schedule at 6-10-14 weeks followed by a booster at 15-18 months, a pre-school booster (four to six years) is also a crucial requirement. This is because immunity against DTP can wane over time. When kids between four to six years of age are given full doses of DTP and polio as booster vaccines, the sustained immune response generated protects them from infectious disease(s) before they mingle in community settings, such as a school.
In addition to preventing the spread of infection to other school-going children, booster vaccines stop the infection from affecting their siblings, grandparents, and other vulnerable individuals. Parents now even have the option of protecting against all four diseases (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis and Polio) with a single shot via the 4-in-1 booster vaccine. This convenient 4-in-1 booster can protect while reducing the need for repeated doctor visits and multiple pricks, ensuring faster completion of the vaccination schedule.
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If you have missed staying up to date with your child’s vaccination during the last two years, reach out to a pediatrician at the earliest and opt for a combination vaccine to boost protection. Apart from immunizations, you should continue to instill the importance of following good hand hygiene and wearing masks to keep your child healthy and safe during the upcoming school year.