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Does my child need these vaccines?

Q: Which one of the vaccines - pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and rotavirus vaccine, is advisable to be administered to babies? I have a five-month-old baby. Please advise.

A:Pneumococccal vaccine will prevent pneumococcal infection, a bacterial infection that can cause pneumonia and meningitis (brain fever). However, the protective benefit of the vaccine declines considerably after 2 years as the children tend to get exposed to this infection naturally, which can boost up their immunity without causing disease. The vaccine is very expensive, about Rs. 4000/- per dose. At six weeks age you need four shots but around 5 months three shots will suffice. There are no adverse effects; the vaccine is safe. If you can easily afford the vaccine then it may be better to give it; if not, do not lose sleep over it. Rotavirus vaccine, newly introduced vaccine, protects from developing rotavirus (a type of virus) diarrhoea, which sometimes can lead to dehydration and occurs mostly in winters. However, diarrhoea in our country can be caused by several bacteria and also some other viruses. Thus this vaccine will not prevent all diarrhoeas but only from a particular type of diarrhea (caused by rotavirus). This vaccine is reported to be safe, the earlier rotavirus vaccine had to be withdrawn because of some serious side effects. The vaccine is currently quite expensive. If you can easily afford the vaccine then you may give it; if not, do not lose sleep over it but take hygienic precautions to prevent diarrhoea.

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