Immunization during childhood is essential as it helps to establish a child's immunity before they are exposed to serious infections. Vaccines help in protecting the child against a particular disease by helping form antibodies against the infection. One of the ways parents ensure good health in their children is by following the immunization schedule. Some parents are hesitant towards vaccines due to multiple shots of vaccines or frequent visits to the pediatrician.
To ease their dilemma and improve vaccine compliance, combination vaccines have been developed which combine protection against multiple illnesses in a single shot. We shall learn more about combination vaccines further in this article from Dr. Deepa Mohan Sharma, Consultant - Pediatrician and Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Indiranagar, Bangalore.
What are Combination Vaccines?
Combination vaccines are those vaccines which combine multiple vaccines into a single shot. As per CDC combination vaccine may contain
- a) several serotypes or variants of the same bacteria/virus in a single vaccine or
- b) several antigens of different bacteria/ viruses, thus providing protection against multiple diseases.
A child who gets a combination vaccine will acquire immunity and be protected from infections in the same manner that a child who receives the shots separately would. In other words, instead of five distinct shots, your child may just have one or two shots at a doctor's appointment to protect him against 5 diseases. (Click here to know the most important vaccines for children in india)
Benefits of Combination Vaccines
As combination vaccinations allow for the administration of multiple vaccines in a single shot, you can acquire a lot of protection against serious diseases with only one shot. Because fewer doses are simpler and easier to administer, many children are more likely to adhere to the prescribed immunization schedule, allowing them to be protected from disease as soon as feasible. Another significant advantage for children is- fewer shots, fewer ouches, and less tears result from combining shots.
Fewer doctor visits mean less stress and expense for parents, as well as less time away from work or family activities.
Also Read: Why COVID Vaccine Is Given On Upper Arm
Some Common Combination Vaccines
The following are some examples of common childhood combination vaccinations –
- MMR vaccine which protects against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella.
- DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis) + Hep B (Hepatitis B) + IPV (Inactivated poliovirus): available as a 6 in 1 combination vaccine.
- DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis) + IPV (Inactivated poliovirus): available as 4 in 1 combination vaccine.
- DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis) + IPV (Inactivated poliovirus) + Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B): available as 5 in 1 combination vaccine.
Similar combination vaccines are available with whole cell Pertussis vaccines as well.
Are Combination Vaccines Safe?
Combination vaccines have been around for more than 50 years. However, earlier these combinations were simpler like protecting against 2-3 diseases. Now, we have vaccines which cover 5-6 diseases in a single shot. Before a combination vaccination is approved for use, it undergoes extensive testing to ensure that it is as effective and safe for use in children.
Side effects of Combination Vaccines
Combination vaccinations usually have little side effects. They're comparable to the ones that come with individual immunizations.
Common side effects of combination vaccines, like individual vaccines, are pain or swelling at the vaccine site. However, multiple pricks are prevented by combining vaccines and lesser pain and stress for the child.
Combination vaccines can provide protection against a greater number of diseases in a single shot and reduced vaccination visits. With growing developments in the field of medicine, an increased number of combination vaccines will be developed which will ensure protection of children with fewer shots.
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