Child's Health
Vaccination

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Immunization (Vaccines)

Immunization:

Immunization is the cornerstone of public health. It is a way to protect people from infectious diseases.

 

Vaccines:

A vaccine contains dead or weakened bacteria or viruses (they are not capable of causing a disease) that are administered to individuals to encourage the immune system to recognize them and to consequently produce antibodies that can identify the germ early on. This allows the individual to fight the germ if it encounters it again, therefore preventing disease.

Vaccines are an easy and safe way to protect everyone since they are subject to safety tests before they are approved and their outcomes are continuously monitored.

 

Target segments:

  • Infants
  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • The elderly
  • People with weakened immune systems due to cancer treatments
  • People with chronic illnesses
  • Pilgrims 
  • Travelers heading to infected areas

Other names:

Shots

 

Types of vaccines:

There are several types of vaccines and each type helps the immune system fight a certain type of germs and the diseases they cause. They include:

  • Live-attenuated vaccines:

They use an attenuated (or weakened) form of the germ that causes a disease. These vaccines are very similar to the natural infection and therefore help protect against the infection by creating a strong and long-lasting immune response. Just 1 or 2 doses (of most live vaccines) can provide a lifetime of protection against a germ and the disease it causes.

E.g.: MMR combined vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella), Rotavirus, Smallpox, Chickenpox, Yellow fever, Shingles, oral polio

  • Inactivated vaccines

They use the dead version of the germ that causes a disease. The immunity (protection) they provide is usually not as strong as that provided by live vaccines. Therefore, several doses may be needed over time to gain ongoing immunity against diseases.

E.g.: Hepatitis A, Influenza, Polio, Rabies

  • Subunit/conjugate vaccines:

They use specific parts of the germ (e.g. protein, sugar, or the casing around the germ). Since these vaccines use only specific parts of the germ, they provide a very strong immune response that targets key parts of the germ. This type of vaccine can be used on almost everyone who needs it, including people with weakened immune systems and chronic health problems. 

However, one of their disadvantages is that booster shots may be necessary to get ongoing protection against diseases. 

E.g.: Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) disease, Hepatitis B, HPV (Human papillomavirus), Whooping cough, Pneumococcal disease, Meningococcal disease

  • Toxoid vaccines:

They use the harmful product (toxin) made by the germ that causes a disease so that the immune system can fight this toxin rather than the germ. Like other vaccines, booster shots may be necessary to get ongoing protection against diseases. 

E.g.: Diphtheria, Tetanus

 

Why are vaccines important?

  • They give newborns a chance to grow healthily and to have a better life.
  • They eliminate infectious diseases that were once widespread or that can cause severe complications or death.
  • Vaccines not only protect the vaccinated individuals but entire communities as well.
  • They help reduce mortality rates.
  • They help prevent infectious diseases.
  • They stop the development of antibiotic resistance by reducing the use of antibiotics. 
  • They help you travel safely and comfortably.
  • They provide economic benefit by saving on the costs of treating diseases.

 

What to expect when giving a child his/her first vaccine?

You can help the child by making the vaccination experience more positive and explaining to the child what is about to happen.

 

Before vaccination:

Remember to take the child's  immunization record card when visiting the doctor or the public health office. If your child doesn't have a record, make sure to enquire about it at your healthcare provider.

 

During vaccination:

The doctor or nurse may ask you some questions about the child's health such as if he/she suffers from allergies or health problems. Here are some tips to help the child during vaccination:

  • Relax:  Children interact to their parents' emotions and will be happier and more positive when the parents are relaxed.
  • Affection:  It is advised to hold the child and speak to him/her during the administration of the vaccine. Studies have found that children who are hugged and held scream less during an injection.
  • Breastfeeding:  Breastfeeding a child before, during or after vaccination helps him/her stay comfortable.
  • Distraction:  A sweet voice or a calming touch can help calm a child. You can also hand the child his/her favorite toy or read him/her a story.

 

After vaccination:

  • Before you go home, remember to schedule the next appointment.
  • The first dose of immunization may be administered at birth with another dose given after two months. The child's immunization record (vaccination card) should be received at the first appointment.
  • Remind the healthcare provider if they forget to hand you the record.
  • Record the date of the next appointment in your mobile phone or calendar as soon as possible before you forget it.
  • Keep the child's immunization record in a safe place to find it when necessary. 
  • Bring the immunization record with you to every appointment to update it every time the child receives a vaccine.

Vaccines are a routine part of childcare. Their dates should be respected to protect your child's health.

 

Side effects after vaccination:

Most children feel fine after vaccination and may not exhibit any reaction at all. Some may exhibit some side effects based on the type of vaccine. However, the benefits of vaccines far outweigh these mild and temporary side effects that often don't require treatment. Side effects include: 

  • High temperature
  • Pain, redness or swelling around the injection area
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Itchiness around the injection area
  • Mild rash
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • In rare cases, a severe allergic reaction may occur within a few minutes after vaccination.

All of these reactions are considered normal and usually last 12 to 24 hours.

Consequences of delayed vaccination:

Any delay in vaccination may put the child at risk of developing the targeted diseases. The effect of a vaccine is optimal when it is taken on time and the timely administration of vaccines is one of the parents' key responsibilities. Vaccines provide children with lifelong protection from dangerous diseases.

 

Postponing vaccination:

Vaccination can be postponed in the following cases:

    • High temperature
    • Severe illness
    • For children receiving immunosuppressive drugs or treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy) 

However, a child can be vaccinated if he/she is suffering from a mild illness, has a mild fever, or is taking antibiotics. It is advised to speak to the child's doctor if you have any questions.

 

If vaccination is forgotten:

Sometimes, you may forget to schedule a vaccination appointment. It is essential to check the immunization record and schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider as soon as possible. The healthcare provider will help you know which vaccines the child has had and which he/she still needs.

For further information:

 

Last Update : 11 February 2020 05:22 PM
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