Babies are natural protected against certain diseases as the antibodies from their mothers were passed to them through the placenta. They continue to receive antibodies through breast milk. However, the antibodies they produce are not enough to ward off many infections and illnesses.
In the first visit to your baby’s doctor, she/he will educate you about the vaccines your child would need. You may worry about the injection hurting your baby, but you must realise how important they are for the his/her health. Giving vaccines for different diseases confers what is called ‘acquired immunity’.
Below are the vaccinations that are recommended for your child.
BCG Vaccine – This vaccination is given as an intradermal injection soon after baby's birth. The immunization helps prevent tuberculosis (TB).
OPV Vaccine – OPV vaccine is given orally in several doses till the age of five to prevent the incidence of polio. Polio is a disease that affects the nerves causing muscle weakness and paralysis. In India, the vaccination is given free of cost to all children below five years of age under a Government programme.
DPT Vaccine – The intradermal injection helps prevent diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. Diphtheria is an infection which starts with a ‘sore throat’ but has life-threatening complications. Pertussis (whooping cough) affects the lungs in children and causes brain damage. Tetanus starts when a wound gets infected.
Measles Vaccine – The vaccine is given subcutaneously (just below the skin) after a baby completes nine months. Measles is a contagious viral infection that starts as cold/cough with rashes and later causes diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Hepatitis B Vaccine – Though it is not mandatory for children, it provides immunity against jaundice. Hepatitis is a viral infection that affects the liver and can lead to jaundice. It is given in a series of three shots, at different times.
Hib Vaccine – This vaccine makes a child immunity against meningitis, a disease in which a child’s brain and spinal cord gets infected. It is given in four doses to a child, first in the 2nd month and final during the 12th month.
Chickenpox Vaccine – This vaccine helps prevent chickenpox. It is given in two doses – first is when the child is between 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose is when the child is between 4 to 6 years old.
MMR Vaccine – It is a vaccination that protects children from measles, mumps and rubella.
Influenza (flu) Vaccine – Flu is one of the common diseases that affect the respiratory system. The vaccine should be administered before the flu season, in children between 6 months to 5 years of age.
Rotavirus Vaccine – This vaccination provides immunity against rotavirus infection, which can cause severe gastroenteritis and diarrhoea.
A common concern among parents is that their baby will have serious reactions to the vaccines because of which they would hesitate to get immunizations in the future. Vaccinations are unlikely to cause any serious illness, though there could be mild reactions such as soreness. Since the risks of vaccinations are too less as compared with the health risks associated with the diseases they prevent, you should consider it.
Read more articles on Newborn Care.