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Every parent wants their child to be healthy, and immunization or vaccination plays a huge role in accomplishing this goal. Vaccinations are the most effective means of eradicating preventable infectious diseases once and for all, which is why governments, doctors, and institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that the process should be started right after babies are born so that they can build immunity against diseases like hepatitis, chickenpox, polio, etc.

Vaccines boost the body's immune system by creating resistance towards infectious diseases. Vaccines contain disease microbes or viruses which are weak or dead. After their introduction, the body’s immune system is artificially activated into building an adaptive immunity towards the particular disease. 

When a large part of the population builds an immunity against a particular disease, herd immunity kicks in and it can lead to the total elimination of the disease in that population. This type of widespread immunity through vaccination is the reason why smallpox was successfully eradicated from the entire world. Tetanus and polio have also been eliminated from most parts of the world thanks to mass vaccinations.

To make sure that your baby is protected from these and other preventable diseases, you should follow the recommendations of the government and doctors and get your children vaccinated accordingly.

  1. The importance of vaccination
  2. Vaccinations your child needs
  3. Vaccinations for high-risk clinical conditions
  4. Post-vaccination care
  5. Doctors for Vaccines For Newborns, Infants and Children
  6. Painless vaccines

Although vaccinations have made a dramatic decline in diseases like polio and tetanus possible, there are many parents who are reluctant to allow their children to be vaccinated. This reluctance can be due to the assumption that vaccines can harm the child instead of protecting them. This fear, while natural in new parents, is baseless. Your child may have a reaction to certain vaccines, but that’s a natural process and does not diminish the long-term value of vaccination. The following are some reasons why vaccinations are vital and the safest choice for your child:

  • Vaccination is the safest and most effective way of making sure that your child is protected from preventable diseases and their long-term side effects. Some of these effects can lead to amputation of limbs, paralysis, hearing loss, seizures, brain damage and even death.
  • All vaccines go through a long and thorough process of review by scientists, doctors and federal governments. This process ensures that they are safe for mass use.
  • Many preventable diseases, like measles, mumps, whooping cough and hepatitis still pose a threat. Vaccination is the surest way to eliminate them.
  • With global travel becoming more accessible, the chances of preventable disease outbreaks are huge. Vaccinating your child might just protect your family from such an outbreak.
  • Vaccination doesn’t just protect your child, but also eliminates the chances of outbreak of a preventable disease in your family, child’s school and community. Getting your child vaccinated is therefore your duty and a public health commitment that can save millions of lives.

The process of immunization through vaccination starts soon after birth and has to be followed throughout childhood. There are usually gaps between one set of vaccinations and another, so that the child’s body can gradually build an immunity in the interim period. In the case of diseases like rabies and encephalitis, this duration between doses is shorter.

Hospitals usually provide vaccination booklets with all the information you will need, as well as a calendar for most vaccinations. You should always keep this booklet handy, and make sure you don’t miss any vaccinations recommended for your child. According to the Indian National Immunization Schedule and the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, the following vaccination schedule should be followed for all children.

  1. Vaccinations at birth
  2. Vaccinations at 6 weeks
  3. Vaccinations at 4 months
  4. Vaccinations at 6 months
  5. Vaccinations at 12 months
  6. Vaccinations at 14-15 months
  7. Vaccinations at 16-24 months
  8. Vaccinations at 2 years
  9. Vaccinations at 5 years
  10. Vaccinations at 10 years

Vaccinations at birth

The hepatitis B vaccine is usually given within 24 hours of birth. Newborn babies with a low birth weight usually get this vaccine a little late, but it’s usually administered within the first month. However, children who missed this vaccine at birth can also get it at any age.

Vaccinations at 6 weeks

Newborn babies get the first doses of the diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, oral polio virus (OPV) vaccine, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and Rotavirus vaccine during the second month of their life. If the hepatitis B vaccine wasn’t administered at birth, it can be done now.

Vaccinations at 4 months

During the fourth month of their development, infants are given the second dose of the diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, oral polio virus (OPV) vaccine, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and Rotavirus vaccine.

Vaccinations at 6 months

At the sixth month of their development, babies are administered the third dose of the diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, polio virus vaccine (injected), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine, Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), and Rotavirus vaccine. Immunization for these diseases is complete after this round of vaccines. Many parents also choose to give their baby the first vaccine for influenza in case of an anticipated risk.

Vaccinations at 12 months

Once infants are a year old, they are ready to be given a new set of vaccines. The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccines, the typhoid conjugate vaccine and chickenpox (varicella) vaccine should be given at this age. If your doctor recommends it, these vaccines can be given at nine months or 15 months, depending on your infant’s development.

Vaccinations at 14-15 months

The second round of polio virus vaccine (injected) is administered to the baby now. The second rounds of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and chickenpox (varicella) vaccine are given at the age of 15 months.

Vaccinations at 16-24 months

The oral polio virus (OPV) vaccine booster is given to the infant in two doses, once at 16 months and another at 24 months. Some infants who have vitamin A deficiency (which can lead to nutritional blindness and even death) are now given a vitamin A vaccine at this stage, as per the recommendation of WHO. Vaccination for Japanese encephalitis is also given at this stage if the child is deemed to be at risk.

Vaccinations at 2 years

The typhoid conjugate vaccine booster dose is given at this age. If parents opt for it, or if previously not given, the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is also administered at this age.

Vaccinations at 5 years

Booster doses of the diphtheria, tetanus toxoid and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine is given at this age, along with chickenpox (varicella) and typhoid conjugate vaccines - if not previously administered.

Vaccinations at 10 years

The tetanus toxoid (TT) is repeated at this age to avoid the risk of getting the disease from minor bruises and scratches which parents may not notice. According to the Indian Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations in 2014, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine should be administered at this age. The HPV vaccine is supposed to be administered before sexual activity begins, and anybody between the ages of nine and 26 years can take it. However, if you introduce this vaccine during the child's prepubescent or pubescent years, it will ensure that his or her body is already equipped with the immunity to deal with HPV.

Apart from the vaccines which all children should receive, the types, doses and frequency can differ if an infant is deemed to be at risk of certain diseases. The call regarding vaccinations in these cases are taken by pediatricians and specialists after a proper diagnosis of the child’s condition is complete.

The Indian Academy of Pediatrics lists the following high-risk clinical conditions that definitely will need additional vaccinations and care:

Apart from these, there are a few situations when new vaccines or booster doses of vaccines might be needed. The following are these conditions as noted by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics:

  • During a disease outbreak
  • If the parents are laboratory or healthcare workers
  • During travel to new countries which might have a greater occurrence of a disease
  • If there are pets at home

Vaccinations, especially for newborn babies and infants, can be an upsetting experience. There can also be mild reactions to vaccinations, but this usually differs from one baby to the other. To make the process easier, parents are usually recommended to hold the baby right when the vaccine is administered. A secure but comfortable grip in a parent’s arms can minimise pain and injuries for the baby. 

Mild reactions like fever, rashes and swelling at the injection site are normal, and usually go away without any intervention required. Applying an ice pack on the injection site can help manage the pain better. Breastfeeding and swaddling the baby can be soothing, and you should try these if your baby is too upset. Babies usually eat less after a vaccination is administered, but in case this persists you should contact your doctor.

Dr. Rajesh Gangrade

Dr. Rajesh Gangrade

Pediatrics
20 Years of Experience

Dr. Yeeshu Singh Sudan

Dr. Yeeshu Singh Sudan

Pediatrics
14 Years of Experience

Dr. Veena Raghunathan

Dr. Veena Raghunathan

Pediatrics
16 Years of Experience

Dr. Sunit Chandra Singhi

Dr. Sunit Chandra Singhi

Pediatrics
49 Years of Experience

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References

  1. Indian J Nephrol. 2016 Apr; 26(Suppl 1): S5–S6. PMCID: PMC4928529
  2. Indian Academy of Pediatrics [Internet]. Mumbai, India; Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children Aged 0 through 18 years – India, 2014 and Updates on Immunization
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Vaccines at 1 to 2 Months
  4. Nemours Children’s Health System [Internet]. Jacksonville (FL): The Nemours Foundation; c2017. Immunization Schedule
  5. HealthyChildren.org [internet] American Academy of Pediatrics. Illinois, United States; Your Child's First Vaccines: What You Need to Know (VIS).
  6. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; WHO recommendations for routine immunization - summary tables
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Common Vaccine Safety Questions and Concerns
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