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#NewbornCare: Vaccination Specialist Dr Hifive Explains The Importance Of Vaccinating Newborns

Amid growing misconceptions around vaccination, vaccine hesitancy has increased. Dr Hifive helps bust these myths.

Tenzin Chodon
Written by: Tenzin ChodonUpdated at: May 04, 2023 08:30 IST
#NewbornCare: Vaccination Specialist Dr Hifive Explains The Importance Of Vaccinating Newborns

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Vaccination is an integral step in preventing illnesses and reducing the risk of severe infections, particularly at a younger age. It is one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind and has significantly lowered disease and death rates worldwide. Reportedly, 40 lakh deaths around the world are prevented by childhood vaccination every year. Over 5 crore deaths can be prevented through immunisation between 2021 and 2030, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, as convincing as the available data may be, vaccine hesitancy is still prevalent and became more widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But what when it comes to your newborns? Should you avoid getting them vaccinated just because you think it’s all a hoax? What is the relevance of vaccination and immunisation programmes? Speaking with the OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Bengaluru-based paediatrician and vaccination specialist Dr Sayed Mujahid Husain (Dr Hifive for Instagrammers), explains the importance of vaccination. 

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Why Is It Important To Vaccinate Newborns?

A baby's immune system is not mature enough to handle foreign pathogens like viruses. This puts them at a greater risk of infections.  

Dr Husain says, “Vaccinations in newborns, for example BCG vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine, oral polio vaccine and rotavirus vaccine, are basically given to protect against infections. This is essential to reduce risks from preventable diseases.”

“Ever since the advent of vaccines, there has been a significant decline in both mortality and morbidity of infections in newborns,” he adds. 

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A post shared by DrSayed Mujahid Husain (@dr_hifive)

How Vaccines Help Strengthen Your Baby’s Immune System?

Newborn babies are exposed to a pool of viruses and bacteria. They're surrounded by germs that travel into their bodies through the food they eat, the air they breathe, and everything that they put into their mouths. There are certain diseases that cannot be prevented with their natural defences. That is when vaccination comes into play. 

The CDC says, "Vaccines use very small amounts of antigens to help your child’s immune system recognise and learn to fight serious diseases. Antigens are parts of germs that cause the body’s immune system to go to work." Antigens are small molecules or foreign particulate matter that triggers an immune response in the body. This helps produce antibodies that in turn detect and destroy harmful substances. 

“Vaccines Cannot Provide 100% Protection But Can Still Help Reduce Risk Of Severe Illnesses”

According to Dr Husain, vaccinations offer immunity against a particular disease against which the vaccine has been administered. Some people believe that vaccines harm children's immune system rather than letting it acquire immunity naturally. Contrary to certain beliefs and claims, Dr Husain says that vaccines do not harm children in any manner.

In an Instagram video, the doctor says, "It’s an established fact that vaccinations have always been protecting children from life-threatening infections. For example, smallpox has been eradicated and polio is on the verge of disappearing!"

However, the vaccination specialist says that no vaccine can provide 100% protection. It can reduce certain risks and lower severity but cannot guarantee complete protection, he stresses. 

Irrespective, the doctor urges people to get children vaccinated as it provides an efficient level of protection against deadly diseases. 

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A post shared by DrSayed Mujahid Husain (@dr_hifive)

A study in the journal HHS Author Manuscripts found that one dose of HBV vaccine in healthy infants provides 30-50% protection, whereas two doses provides 50-75% protection. Three doses of the vaccine provide 90% protection against HBV infection, says the study.  

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Vaccination is extremely important in newborns. Research suggests more than 20 lakh newborns and infants under the age of 6 months die each year worldwide from infection. Vaccines are the second most cost-effective measure to reduce infant morbidity and mortality, next to clean drinking water. WHO guidelines urge parents to get their children vaccinated against Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG), diphtheria, tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP), along with administering oral or inactivated Polio vaccine (OPV or IPV, respectively), Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV), measles, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine.