Water or food-borne infections are preventable to some extent. This is not true for some airborne infections. Risk of complications of disease is higher in infants and younger children and in undernourished population. Immunization during the first few years of life is essential to protect baby from life-threatening infections.
Vaccine is an agent which when given orally or by injection gives protection to the baby by forming anti-bodies. This usually takes 4-6weeks to form and give protection i.e. there is no immediate protection.These anti-bodies will help in preventing disease if and when the baby is exposed to that specific bacteria or virus, e.g. Rota virus vaccine gives protection against the Rotavirus diarrhea which has high mortality, but it does not protect baby from diarrhea due to other viruses or bacteria.
No vaccine provides 100% protection, though most of the vaccines do give high degree of protection. Vaccines significantly decrease chance of disease and even partial protection is useful to prevent complications. Vaccines not stored properly or given during an illness are common causes of vaccine failure. Occasional failure of vaccine protection is no reason to consider against its use.
Vaccines are very safe and serious adverse reactions are extremely rare. Media outbursts of fatal reactions to vaccines are mostly due to human error of administration and not due to vaccine itself. Thus benefits of vaccines outweigh the risk of side effects caused by vaccines.
It is important to know that all vaccines are equally efficacious even though they may differ in their cost. Similarly, vaccines from different manufacturers are equally effective and indigenously manufactured vaccines are usually as good as imported ones.
Important Information about Vaccination, a parent should know:
- Vaccination at birth means as early as possible within 24 to 72 hours after birth as and not later than 7days of age.
- Whenever multiple vaccinations are to be given simultaneously, they should be given on the same day. If two or more injectible vaccines are not given on the same day, they should be given at least 28 days (4 weeks) apart. This rule does not apply to live oral vaccines. The recommended age in weeks/months/years means that baby must have completed in age the weeks/months/years. Any dose not administered at the recommended age should be administered at a subsequent visit, when indicated and feasible after consulting pediatrician. The use of a combination vaccine generally is preferred over separate injections of its equivalent component vaccines.
- Any number of antigens can be given on the same day. If multiple vaccines are to be given in a single visit, then each injection is to be given at a different site. For babies and younger children, the thigh is the preferred site because of the greater muscle mass; the injections should be sufficiently separated (i.e., 1 inch or more if possible) so that any local reactions can be differentiated. For older children and adults, the deltoid muscle in the arm can be used. The distance between the 2 injections should be at least 1 inch so that local reactions don’t overlap.
- Side effects are usually mild, in form of local pain and fever which usually subside in 48hrs. These can be relieved by applying ice over the site and giving oral syrup paracetamol. If they persist beyond 48hrs, parents should immediately consult a pediatrician. Severe side effects need to be known. Allergic /anaphylaxis reaction are rare but can occur. Please wait for 20-30minutes after immunization to observe for this and preferably meet the doctor or sister before leaving the clinic. Please inform about any previous allergies to the doctor. Danger sign should be known and baby taken to hospital immediately if even one of them occur after taking a vaccine. These are fever beyond 40.5C, persistent, inconsolable crying beyond 3hours, any fits or altered consciousness, or baby becoming limp and cold.