Vaccinations 101: All you need to know about Vaccines for Babies & Kids

Importance and Role of Vaccinations

Children are highly susceptible to catching infections and diseases, especially in their early years. This is because their immune system (to help fight against infections) is not fully developed yet.

The role of the immune system is to protect the body by battling against infective agents. However, some of these agents can overwhelm the immune system, and when this happens, the child falls sick. It is usually the infective agents that cannot be recognized by the body that lead to problems.

When children get their vaccine shots, it helps the immune system to recognize which of these infective agents/organisms is harmful and how to eliminate it. This way the body is prepared to fight the infective agents when they attack and your child is immunized (protected) from illnesses.

Advantages of Vaccinations

Vaccinations protect children from serious illnesses and complications; seizures, brain damage, paralysis of limbs may result as a consequence of contracting one of the infections that we vaccinate against.

All vaccines undergo a detailed and long review looking at their safety profile ensuring that the vaccines are not only safe but effective too. These reviews are undertaken by scientists and doctors and the monitoring process and reporting process should any unexpected side effect occur is ongoing.

Infections such as whooping cough, polio, measles and mumps are preventable with vaccinations but are still a threat globally; many children get these infections every year and either die as a result or are left with severe complications and impairments.

Vaccination has undoubtedly led to a sharp decline in the incidence of many of these infectious diseases but as they still occur in other countries, these infections can be brought to your own country by international travel. Children may get these infections whilst traveling themselves or from travelers who carry these infections.

With vaccinations, you will get protection from the disease as opposed to being ill and sick when you get the disease/infection.

 

Paediatric organizations such as the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly support protecting children with the recommended vaccinations.

Outbreaks of preventable diseases occur when many parents decide not to vaccinate their children. These outbreaks/epidemics can be disastrous.

Children who aren’t vaccinated can spread their infections to babies who are too small to be vaccinated, to other young children or to people who have weak immunity.

The best way to guarantee healthy children is by vaccinating against these preventable diseases.

Most parents will choose to vaccinate their children. However some will have questions and with so much information being available, some of it incorrect information, it is important to address these questions and reassure parents that the vaccines are safe.

Vaccine Ingredients

All ingredients of vaccines play necessary roles either in making the vaccine, triggering the body to develop immunity, or in ensuring that the final product is safe and effective. Some of these include:

  • Adjuvants help boost the body’s response to vaccines.
  • Stabilisers help keep vaccine effective after manufactured
  • Formaldehyde is used to prevent contamination by bacteria during the vaccine manufacturing process.
  • Thimerosal is also used during the manufacturing process but is no longer an ingredient in any vaccine except multi-dose vials of the flu vaccine. Single-dose vials of the flu vaccine are available as an alternative. No reputable scientific studies have found an association between thimerosal in vaccines and autism.

Mild side effects are expected after the vaccinations such as a low grade fever, redness at the site of infection and pain. These side effects will resolve and paracetamol can be administered to help with these side effects.

Giving combination and multiple vaccines at the same time is safe and will offer protection against multiple diseases at the same time. This also entails giving fewer shots making it less traumatic for the child.

Vaccination Chart

 

Age Vaccines Number of Doses
Birth BCG(1/1) 1
Hepatitis B(HBV)(1/4) 1
2 Months IPV (1/1) 1
Dtap(1/4) 1
Haemophilus influenzae type B-Hib(1/4)  1
PCV(1/4) 1
Hepatitis B (HBV)(2/4) 1
4 Months OPV (2/4) Dtap(2/4) 1
Haemophilus influenzae type B-Hib (2/4) 1
PCV(2/4) 1
Hepatitis B(HBV) (3/4) 1
6 Months OPV (3/4) 1
Dtap(3/4) 1
Haemophilus influenzae type B-Hib (3/4) 1
PCV (3/4) 1
Hepatitis B(HBV)(4/4) 1
12 Months MMR(1/2) 1
Varicella(1/2) 1
18 Months Dtap (4/4) 1
Haemophilus influenzae type B-Hib( 4/4) 1
OPV(3/4) 1
PCV(4/4) 1
5-6 Years DPT 1
OPV(4/4) 1
MMR(2/2) 1
Varicella(2/2) 1

Dr Kethar Saravanan, CCST, FRCPCH

Consultant Paediatrician & Head of Department, 
Mediclinic City Hospital