Most immunisations have to be given more than once to prepare your child’s immunity. For example, three doses of DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine are needed to provide protection in babies. Booster doses are then given later in life to provide a longer-term protection.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines contain a small part of the bacterium or virus that causes a disease or tiny amounts of the chemicals that the bacterium produces. Vaccines work by causing the body’s immune system to make antibodies (substances that fight off infection and disease). If your child comes into contact with the infection, the antibodies will recognize it and be ready to protect him or her. Vaccines build a Suraksha-Kawachh or a shield from which infections can bounce. In many cases, they can be life-saving.
Are some brands of vaccines better than others?
- You may hear your paediatrician asking, ‘Would you like to opt for a painless vaccine?’ Let’s learn what this means.
- The first thing to note is that whenever we are talking about painful and painless vaccination, we are mentioning DTwP and DTaP. This DTwP or DTaP is a combination vaccine that protects against Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis, also known as whooping cough.
- The denotation ‘a’ stands for acellular vaccine and ‘w’ stands for the whole-cell vaccine. This is applicable for pertussis vaccines only.
- Amongst all the recommended vaccines, DTwP is considered the most painful as it results in severe pain, fever, vomiting, swelling or redness, or inflammation at the site of injection. The reason it is so painful is that the vaccine contains a whole cell of pertussis bacteria which is highly immunogenic.
- Unlike DTwP, DTaP consists of the acellular part which is less immunogenic and hence the side effects are very mild.
- But remember painless does not mean that the child is not going to have any pain during the shot or injection. It is just that post effects are milder in painless as compared to painful. Hence, technically painless can also be termed less painful.
- The recommended schedule for DTP vaccines is 3 doses with its first dose in the 6th week, followed by the 10th and 14th week. Booster doses of the same are scheduled at 1.5 years and 5 years of age.
Are painless vaccines safe and effective?
- Studies have proved that both painless and painful vaccines, both are equally effective. However, one should always keep note that no vaccine is 100% effective.
- Painless vaccines are safe too and result in very mild side effects as compared to a painful one.
- Painless vaccines are a little expensive as compared to painful ones but bring a lot of convenience and ease to the baby as well as parents.
What if I missed the appointment?
If you missed the appointment or delayed the immunisation, make a new appointment. You can pick up the immunisation schedule where it stopped without having to start again. Rotavirus vaccine can be given at three and four months or two and four months, if necessary.
Will my baby have any side effects from the injection?
Some babies will have side effects. They may have redness, swelling, or tenderness where they had the injection (this will slowly disappear on its own), be a bit irritable and feel unwell, or have a temperature (fever).Babies having the rotavirus vaccine may get mild diarrhea. The mother should frequently feed the baby to avoid dehydration and energy drain in babies due to diarrhea.
How to treat fever after vaccination?
Keep your child cool by making sure they don’t have too many layers of clothes or blankets on and feed them frequently. A dose of infant paracetamol or ibuprofen liquid may help reduce your child’s fever. Read the instructions on the bottle very carefully. You may need to give a second dose eight hours later. It is not recommended that these medicines are given before or after vaccination in anticipation of a fever.
Are some babies allergic to vaccines?
Very rarely, children can have an allergic reaction soon after immunisation. This reaction may be a rash or itching affecting part or all of the body. The doctor or nurse giving the vaccine will know how to treat this. It does not mean that your child should stop having immunisations. Even more rarely, children can have a severe reaction, within a few minutes of the immunisation, which causes breathing difficulties and can cause the child to collapse. This is called an anaphylactic reaction. A recent study has shown that there is only one anaphylactic reaction in about a million immunisations. The people who give immunisations are trained to deal with anaphylactic reactions and children recover completely with treatment. An anaphylactic reaction is a severe and immediate allergic reaction that needs urgent medical attention.
What if my baby is ill on the day of the appointment?
If your baby has a minor illness without a fever, such as a cold, they should have their immunisations as normal. If your baby is ill with a fever, put off the immunisation until they have recovered. This is to avoid the fever being associated with the vaccine, or the vaccine increasing the fever your child already has. If your baby: has a bleeding disorder (for example haemophilia, in which the patient’s blood does not clot properly), or has had a fit not associated with fever, speak to your doctor, before your child has any immunisation.