What are the primary vaccines recommended for babies in India?
Birth of a child is an unparalleled moment of joy for couples around the world. However it is undeniable that a baby comes with loads of added responsibilities. From the very minute of a baby’s birth, parents become accountable for its overall health and well-being. Just like an expectant mother took utmost care not to miss any medical appointments, followed medical advice strictly for any prescribed medications and so on, similarly care should be taken not to miss any scheduled vaccines for the baby.
What exactly is vaccination? Why should it be administered?
Humans have natural immunity to combat diseases. The body is capable of releasing phagocytes and enzymes which have the ability to fight against harmful pathogens. However this attribute varies depending on various factors like age, fitness, nutrition, social and economic conditions etc. Hence even though it is passed on from parents to offsprings, it does vary because of these factors which play a significant role in developing it.
Vaccination in simple terms is “acquired immunity” and is a mandatory requirement for babies. There are millions of disease-causing bacteria and viruses in the atmosphere. Over the years, science has made immense effort in identifying and isolating many of these and in turn helped in successfully weakening the grip of several dreadful diseases. Vaccination is a process of injecting in, small amounts of the weakened strains of these very bacteria into the human body so that it will be in a position to identify these bacteria and be prepared in case of an active invasion in the future. Also, if required a booster dose of a vaccine (upon medical advice) is given to provide better strength to fight an infection.
Following vaccination schedule:
Countries the world over follow vaccination schedules in conjunction with advice and guidance given by World Health Organisation (WHO). Every hospital is required to provide the parents of the new-born with a file or card to keep a tab on vaccinations to be given to the baby. Parents keep an eye on the schedule without fail. It is a welcome step that all these mandatory vaccines are available at low cost so that everyone gets benefitted. Further talk and understand with your medical practitioner about each and every vaccine and increase your awareness. It is good to be involved at every step than blindly following something with a herd mentality.
Few important vaccines to be given:
Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV):
To be given to all kids upto 5 years of age. This helps in keeping at bay, poliomyelitis or paralysis. It is available free of cost.
Bacillus Calmette Guerin Vaccine (BCG):
This vaccine provides immunity against Tuberculosis. This can be given only until 5 years and is effective in providing immunity until 15 years of age.
Measles Mumps Rubella Vaccine (MMR):
Provides relief from three dreadful diseases and is first given when baby is 9 months old and the second dose is given when it is between 1-1.3 years old.
Diphtheria Tetanus Pertussis Vaccine (DPT):
One another multi-purpose vaccine which can be given anytime starting from 1.5 months of age. This is a multi-dose vaccine and cycle goes on until the child is 10 years old.
This is given to babies less than six months old and is also a multi-dose vaccine. Helps in preventing diarrheal disease.
Hepatitis B Vaccine:
Given to newborns to provide immunity against disease affecting liver. It is given in multi-doses if mother is a carrier of the disease.
It is a long drawn debate between pro-vaccine groups and the ones against vaccination, about the administering of vaccines. Medical science believes that it is important to create a “herd immunity” among the masses so that the larger population has the ability to combat many of these diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. In tropical, disease prone countries like ours, it is of the up-most importance that every child is immunized.
As parents it is our responsibility to protect our children and make sure that they are strong and healthy under all circumstances. It is beneficial to follow medical advice and adhere to the prescribed compulsory vaccination schedule with diligence. Remember parents, Vaccination is the Way!