Vaccination is the best way to get immunized to many infectious diseases. Immunization is also cost-effective when compared to the treatment for a disease. Many life-threatening infectious diseases with no cure, such as polio and rabies, are prevented by vaccines (1).
Vaccines contain antigens or part of an antigen that causes the disease. The antigens in the vaccine do not cause the disease since they are weakened or killed in the laboratories. However, they are strong enough to cause the immune system to produce antibodies against the specific antigen. It means your child develops immunity without having to become sick (2).
Read this post to learn about the immunization schedule in India, the reasons for vaccination, the consequences of not vaccinating your baby, and the essential points to remember during your baby’s vaccination.
Vaccination Schedule For Babies and Children In India
Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Immunization Practices (ACVIP) of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) is responsible for reviews and updates on the immunization schedule for babies and children (0-18 years) in India. All the licensed vaccines are included in the vaccination schedule based on clinical evidence and government policies of the National Immunization Schedule.
Complete or full immunization” coverage is defined as a child that has received one dose of BCG, three doses of pentavalent, pneumococcal conjugate (PCV), oral polio vaccines (OPV); two doses of Rota virus and one dose of measles vaccine.
The vaccines at each age may include the following(3).
# These vaccines are given for babies and children with a high risk of developing the disease or those who live in endemic areas. The time frame may vary for these, depending on other factors. You may seek advice from the pediatrician for individualized recommendations.
These can be given as single vaccines and as combination vaccines. Pediatricians may also recommend painless vaccines. For instance, a pediatrician may recommend acellular pertussis vaccines that may have less pain and injection site reactions than whole-cell pertussis vaccines.
The annual influenza vaccine, which is given annually, can protect your child from the flu and its complications. Children who receive yearly flu shots may have fewer complications of flu even if they get the flu.
In case you miss a scheduled vaccine, contact your pediatrician to know the catch-up period and vaccinate within this time frame.
The rabies vaccine is not an intended part of the vaccination schedule. It is given after animal bites or scratches, referred to as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Both domestic and wild animal bites should be addressed with proper wound care and rabies vaccination.
Currently, the World Health Organization suggests preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for high-risk children, including children who have domestic pets and those who are vulnerable to animal bites.
Four doses of rabies vaccine are recommended, and rabies monoclonal antibody is recommended instead of rabies immunoglobulin in children who have category III animal bite (4). Single or multiple skin wounds and scratches, contamination with saliva by animal licking wounds and mucous membranes, or severe exposure, like direct contact with bats, have been included in category III bites.
Why Do Babies Need Vaccination?
Immunization protects your baby from many severe diseases. When you choose to vaccinate your baby, you are also protecting the health of the family and communities. Complete immunization is encouraged everywhere globally, as it is the best way to protect your baby from vaccine-preventable diseases.
The top reasons for immunization can be (5):
- Immunization can save lives: The availability of safe and effective vaccines has helped humankind conquer several deadly diseases, such as polio, smallpox, etc. Polio was one of the most-feared diseases since it led to paralysis and even death. Vaccination is the only way to prevent polio since there is no cure (6). Thanks to the vaccination, countless children have been saved, and the disease is now only found in a few countries in the world.
Vaccines are safe and effective: Vaccines are made available after years of clinical studies on safety and effectiveness. Although vaccines may cause side effects such as pain, redness, and swelling at injection sites, their benefits are more significant than their adverse effects. Currently, painless vaccines are also available for some diseases.
- Vaccination protects family and communities: When you vaccinate your baby, you are also reducing the risk of the disease among those who cannot receive the vaccination. Pregnant women, people with vaccine allergies, and people with cancer, like leukemia, may not be able to receive a vaccination. But they have less risk of vaccine-preventable infection when other healthy people in the family are fully vaccinated.
- Saves your time and money: Vaccination for a disease may take less time and money than hospitalization and treatment for the disease. Many countries have federally funded vaccination programs for children from low-income families (7). You may ask your pediatrician about free vaccination for children (VFC) in your country.
- Protect future generations: Vaccination has helped eliminate many diseases worldwide, such as smallpox. Effective immunization can help eradicate diseases, thus protecting future generations.
Although medical treatments are available for some vaccine-preventable diseases, you may consider vaccinating your baby to avoid morbidities and mortality. Prevention is always better than cure.
Apprehension Of Using Vaccines
Although vaccines are the best way to prevent diseases, some people choose not to vaccinate their children due to certain misbeliefs. The anti-vax movement has led to confusion and hesitance among parents to immunize their babies. Such movements, which often spread through social media, have led to the outbreak of certain diseases, such as diphtheria, measles, etc., in some countries in recent years, indicating the potential harm caused by an anti-vaccine stance.
Injection vaccines may cause mild side effects and pain. However, these reasons do not outweigh the benefits of vaccination, and often the disease may have fatal outcomes (8). According to the CDC, the mild side effects of vaccines go away in a few days without any intervention (9). Vaccination is thus a better choice than contracting the disease.
General Contraindication and Precaution for all Vaccines
Vaccine should not be given in the following circumstances
- Anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine or a vaccine constituent contraindicates further dose of that vaccine or vaccines containing that substance.
- Moderate to severe illnesses with or without fever.
- Anaphylactic latex allergy.
Points To Remember During Vaccination
It is important to vaccinate your child baby as per schedule. You can set vaccination reminders to prevent missing of any vaccines. It is helpful if you pay attention to the below-listed points during your kid’s vaccination.
- Consider asking your child’s doctor regarding the benefits and side effects of the vaccine. Clear all your doubts before vaccination.
- Inform your doctor if your baby has a fever, cold, previous allergic reactions, seizures, and egg allergy.
- You may share your child’s medical history and discuss it with the doctor if any conditions are concerning.
- You may take the favorite toy for babies; this may help them calm down after vaccination.
- Explain the use of vaccines to older children and tell them all children get the shot.
- It is preferable to stay in a doctor’s office for 10 to 15 minutes after vaccination since they can immediately act on any acute post-vaccination reactions.
- Babies may need a little rest after vaccination, thus plan accordingly.
- You may follow the healthcare provider’s advice to manage post-vaccination pain and other symptoms.
- Do not apply topical creams and ointments on the injection site unless prescribed.
- Mild fever in the post-vaccination period can be normal. However, high fever or convulsions require immediate medical care. Severe and long-lasting side effects of vaccines are extremely rare.
Check your babies vaccination records to find out the next vaccination date. Always take the vaccination card along while visiting the doctor and ensure that the vaccination details are enrolled correctly in the immunization record for future reference. Your child’s pediatrician may also assess the health and development of your baby during vaccination visits.
It is important to use approved vaccines and administer immunizations from licensed professionals. Using unapproved vaccines from illegal sources may pose a risk of adverse reactions and are often associated with fatalities. Appropriate immunization during childhood can provide long-term benefits to the child and also help communities at large.
2. Why Are Childhood Vaccines So Important?; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
3. S Balasubramanian, et al.; Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Immunization Practices (ACVIP) Recommended Immunization Schedule (2018-19) and Update on Immunization for Children Aged 0 Through 18 Years; Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP)
4. Rabies; The World Health Organization
5. Five Important Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child; The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
6. Does polio still exist? Is it curable?; The World Health Organization
7. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
8. Olivia Benecke and Sarah Elizabeth DeYoung; Anti-Vaccine Decision-Making and Measles Resurgence in the United States; Global Pediatric Health
9. Making the Vaccine Decision; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention