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Immunisation in children
Immunisation is the process of building a child’s immunity to a certain disease. This is done by exposing the child (by injection or oral drops) to killed or weakened disease-causing microorganisms or to parts of it. This results in the stimulation of the immune system against the organism. If the child or adult is exposed to the disease after this, they will have an immune response to it. This helps prevent the disease, which could otherwise prove severe or fatal if acquired naturally.
So, why is immunisation important?
History reveals that diseases, for which vaccines are available today, have resulted in tremendous disasters to mankind. Vaccines have turned such deadly diseases to mere memories of the past. It took several years of hard work to create a vaccine and then, immunise large populations before smallpox could be eradicated in 1977. Immunisation is indispensable and it is evident from the COVID-19 pandemic.
When should my child be vaccinated?
Each vaccine has a definite time period — from birth until 18 years — during which it must be administered to ensure maximum efficacy. The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP) regularly looks at all the information of vaccines and puts forward recommendations. It has recommended the following schedule for all children. We at the Department of Paediatrics follow these standard recommendations.
What if my child’s scheduled vaccination has been skipped?
It is always recommended to vaccinate your child at the recommended age to avoid unexpected exposure to a disease that could otherwise be prevented. Some vaccines are not recommended after a certain age. However, for most vaccines, it is never too late to catch up on the missed vaccines.
What if my child is sick on the day of vaccination?
Minor illnesses should not be a reason to cancel or postpone a vaccination appointment. However, most often, paediatricians prefer to vaccinate a child when they are well. Always check with the doctor when in doubt.
Are there any contraindications to vaccines?
The biggest contraindication to a vaccine is an allergic reaction. However, this is extremely rare. Please inform the doctor if your child has any other allergies, including food allergies, or other medical condition, including immune disorders, or if the child is on any other medication. This may change the vaccines your child receives. For example, those with an egg allergy won’t be given a flu vaccine.
How are the vaccines given?
There are several routes through which vaccines can be administered. These are most commonly injections or oral drops. The method, site and dose for each vaccine is fixed and it determines the efficacy.
Can there be adverse events following vaccines?
Most vaccines are safe and effective. However, adverse events have been reported but reassuringly, they are only minor and can be managed at home. Local reactions include pain, redness, swelling and rashes. Systemic reactions include fever, syncope, fits and anaphylaxis. At MGM healthcare, we provide you with an emergency contact number in case of any concerns.
What are the consequences of failure to vaccinate?
When one child gets vaccinated, they can also protect the people around who might be too young or too sick to get vaccinated. This is called herd effect. So, even if a small section of people remains unimmunised, they are at risk of infection and thus, the entire community can get affected.
Why are booster doses required?
Immunity generated by some vaccines gradually diminishes over time and increases vulnerability to target infections. For such vaccines, booster doses are administered as it boosts immunity and enhances the protection level against specific vaccine-preventable disease.
Other concerns about vaccination
There are several myths about vaccination that stop people from utilising this cheap and effective tool to safeguard themselves from various deadly diseases. The association between autism and MMR vaccine, multiple sclerosis and Hepatitis B vaccine and so on have been disproved. There is no evidence to support the belief that vaccines cause sterility or that there is an increased incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus. Feel free to have a discussion with your paediatrician about vaccines and immunisation.
Mon , Dec 27
Immunisation in children
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