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As a parent, you always try to keep your children safe and wish to give them the best, whether it maybe a baby diaper or your car seats or the other ways of keeping your child safe. But are you aware that one of the best ways to keep your child safe is by following their vaccination schedule correctly and making sure they have all the required vaccines?

Vaccination keeps your child healthy and protects from preventable diseases. It saves your child from serious illnesses and complications of vaccine-preventable diseases. For more than 50 years, these immunizations have protected billions and billions of lives and prevented the outbreak of illnesses. Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine is one of such vaccines which cannot be skipped.

What is a pneumococcal disease?

Pneumococcal infection/disease is caused by bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. It leads to pneumonia, infections in lungs, blood (septicaemia - a kind of blood poisoning), spinal cord and brain (meningitis). In worst cases, it could lead to permanent brain damage or even kill.

What is PCV?

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV or PCV13) is a pneumococcal vaccine and conjugate vaccine that protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria and protects from pneumococcal disease. PCV also helps in avoiding the spread of disease from one person to the other. PCV can be given to children and adults.

Why PCV?

PCV gives protection from the pneumococcal disease for at least 3 years. Some strains of the bacteria have evolved to be resistant to penicillin and other drugs. This is the reason to consider PCV as an important vaccine for children and adults.

Who should get vaccinated?

Anyone can get vaccinated against the pneumococcal disease but there are four groups of people who are advised to get vaccinated:

· Babies: Given at 2, 4, and 12 to 15 months of age.

· Adults aged 65 years and above

· Anyone from the ages of 2 to 65 years with a long-term illness

· People who could be exposed to occupational risks, such as welders

Side-effects of PCV:

The reactions of PCV are usually mild, but there is a possibility of serious reactions as well. The most common reactions in children after vaccination are:

· Redness or tenderness where the shot was given

· Swelling at the injection site.

· Drowsiness

· Temporary loss of appetite

· Fussiness

· Vomiting

· Mild fever

Reactions in adults are as follows:

· Pain, redness and swelling where the shot was given

· Mild fever

· Fatigue

· Headache

· Chills or muscle pain

What if there is a serious reaction?

The serious reaction could be because of severe allergic reactions. Severe allergic reactions could be accompanied by very high fever or unusual behaviour, rashes or pimples, swelling of face and throat, difficulty breathing, increased heartbeat rate, dizziness and weakness. It could happen anytime, within a few minutes to a few hours, after vaccination. In case the severe reactions are surfacing, consult your physician as soon as possible.

What to do if you miss a dose of pneumococcal vaccine?

If the child below one year of age has missed a dose of the PCV, they can be vaccinated with the remaining doses with two months gap between each dose. If the child is above the age of one year but under the age of two has missed a dose of the PCV, they will be given a single dose of the PCV vaccine. If the child is above the age of two years and below the age of five year has missed a dose of PCV, they may need a single dose of the PCV vaccine. However, this may only be suggested if the child is at high risk of pneumococcal infection. If any adult or children have missed his/her routine pneumococcal conjugate vaccine dose, it is always better to consult your physician about when to complete the vaccine course.

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