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IMMUNISATIONS

What does immunization mean?
What is the recommended childhood vaccination schedule?
What are the other vaccines available?
How are vaccines given?
What are their side effects?
What are their side effects?
Is it unsafe to immunize a child who has a mild illness?
Can a child be given more than one immunisation at a time?
 
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Written by :Dr Arvind Taneja
 
What does immunization mean?
What does immunization mean?The Greek word "immune" means "to be protected". Immunisation is of two types namely active and passive. When specific agents are introduced into the body so that it develops the needed protective response, it is called active immunization. In passive immunization, the protective agent itself is introduced into the body. Active immunisation provides long-term protection against diseases, while passive immunisation provides only short-term protection.

Infectious agents induce disease and the defence mechanisms of the body react with immunity, first to ensure that the disease is overcome and secondly to develop protection from the disease if the same infective agent is encountered again. A vaccine is composed of one or more inactivated parts of the infectious agent that induces a protective immune response without the risk of the disease itself.

To be successful in their protective role, vaccines should be given before the age when the infection itself is likely to occur. For example, in the case of tetanus, the disease cannot be prevented from occurring in the newborn baby. So the pregnant mother is immunized and the protective agents passively pass from the mother to the foetus, thereby protecting it.

The currently used childhood vaccines do not have any interference with one another, and can therefore be used simultaneously.

What is the recommended childhood vaccination schedule?
What is the recommended childhood vaccination schedule?

The Government of India adopted the Universal Immunisation Programme in 1985. This is given in the table below. This has been partly modified by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, the official body of paediatricians, who look after the health needs of children.

Vaccine

Govt. of India

IAP Schedule

BCG
(against tuberculosis)

Birth or 6 weeks

Birth – 2 weeks

OPV
(against Polio)

Birth 6,10,14 weeks, 15-18 months

Birth 6,10,14 weeks, 15-18 months, 5 years

HB
(against Hepatitis B)

-

Birth, 6 weeks, 6-9 months, 10 years

DPT
(against diphteria, whooping cough, tetanus

6,10,14 weeks, 15-18 months

6,10,14 weeks, 15-18 months, 5 years

Measles

9 months

9 months plus

MMR
(against measles,mumps,rubella or German measles

-

15-18 months

DT
(against diphtheria and tetanus)

5 years

-

TT
(against tetanus)

10 and 16 years

10-16 years


What are the other vaccines available?
What are the other vaccines available?

Vaccines are now available against many other diseases. They do not form part of the Universal Immunisation Programme. The doctor is the best person to advise whether these vaccinations need to be taken or not.


These optional vaccines are:

 

·  Typhoid

·  Haemophilus influenza B - HiB vaccine against bacterial meningitis

·  Chicken pox

·  Hepatitis A

·  Pneumococcus against pneumonia

·  Meningococcus against meningitis

How are vaccines given?
How are vaccines given?Vaccines may be given by mouth like polio and typhoid vaccines; by injection into the skin or muscles. The most commonly used site for injection is the outer aspect of the thighs. Injections into the buttocks or the arms should be avoided.
What are their side effects?
What are their side effects?Among the common adverse effects of various vaccines are:

  • Pain at the site of injection
  • Low grade fever
  • Mild rash
  • Painful swelling of the local lymph glands

    Besides these effects that may occur with several vaccines, there are some specific adverse effects of vaccines. Patients are advised to discuss these at length with their paediatrician before vaccination.
  • What are their side effects?
    What are their side effects?

    Among the common adverse effects of various vaccines are:

    ·  Pain at the site of injection

    ·  Low grade fever

    ·  Mild rash

    ·  Painful swelling of the local lymph glands

    Besides these effects that may occur with several vaccines, there are some specific adverse effects of vaccines. Patients are advised to discuss these at length with their paediatrician before vaccination.
    Is it unsafe to immunize a child who has a mild illness?
    Is it unsafe to immunize a child who has a mild illness?

    A child with a minor illness can safely be immunized. Minor illnesses include the following:

    ·  low-grade fever

    ·  ear infection

    ·  cough

    ·  runny nose

    ·  mild diarrhoea in an otherwise healthy child

    Children with other health problems may need to avoid certain vaccines or get them later than usual. For example, children with certain types of cancers or problems with their immune systems should not get live virus vaccines like the MMR, varicella (chicken pox), or oral polio vaccines. For children who have fits, the pertussis (whooping cough) part of the DPT vaccine may need to be delayed. The paediatrician should be consulted in case of doubt.

    Can a child be given more than one immunisation at a time?
    Can a child be given more than one immunisation at a time?

    Vaccines used for routine childhood immunisations can be safely given together. Side effects when multiple vaccines are given together are no greater than when each vaccine is given on separate occasions.

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