Immunisation is one of the most important medical interventions that your newborn baby can benefit from. Soon after a child’s birth, your doctor will give you an immunisation schedule which you will need to follow religiously. But even though vaccinations are a key part of newborn and child health regimes, parents may not know just how crucial a role they play.
There are also many anti-vaccination campaigners perpetuating baseless myths and unscientific claims on the apparent “dangers of vaccines”. This scaremongering may cause people to question the safety of immunisation. And though immunisation is completely safe and necessary for the well-being of children and adults, it is always good to be informed about the medical choices you are making. This is why we are answering the most common questions about immunisation and why it is so important to individual and community health.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines work by making your immune system create antibodies to fight against certain diseases. Usually, you will only make these antibodies after contracting and suffering through an illness. However, with a vaccine, you are injected with an inactive form of the disease, leading your body to produce antibodies for it and therefore be prepared if it is ever attacked by an active version of that virus or bacteria, protecting you from getting ill.
Can My Baby Get The Disease From The Vaccine?
As vaccines are composed of inactive (dead) bacteria or viruses, and sometimes just a part of the germ, it is not possible for those who get immunised to get an illness from the contents of the vaccine. Some vaccines contain a weakened form of the virus, in which case a child can develop mild symptoms of the disease - which is much preferred to a full-blown attack. However, if a child has a weakened immune system due to an illness such as cancer, precautions need to be taken.
How Can I Be Sure That A Vaccine Is Safe?
Vaccines need to be tested before being approved by the government so you can rest assured that the vaccines your child is getting has been through multiple trials and tests for safety.
Are There Side-Effects To Vaccines?
There can be minor side-effects to vaccines, such as soreness around the area of the shot or low fever. However, these symptoms are temporary and fade within hours to days.
How Serious Are These Diseases? Won’t Getting The Diseases Build My Child’s Immunity Anyway?
Although you may not think it, diseases such as measles, mumps and influenza can have serious complications and expecting a child to build immunity against it from contracting the disease is counterintuitive and dangerous. For example, children under five affected by measles are at risk for ear infections, diarrhoea and pneumonia. In rare cases, measles can lead to an inflammation of the brain known as encephalitis that can cause deafness or developmental disability. Mumps can result in meningitis, encephalitis and permanent deafness. Complications from some vaccine-preventable diseases could even be fatal.
If Most People Are Immunised, Isn’t It Unlikely My Child Will Get Sick? Is There Any Real Need To Immunise My Child?
Though the chances of your child getting ill from vaccine-preventable may be low in some parts of the world, you can never be 100% sure that there is no risk that someone will be carrying these contagious diseases. Getting immunised is not just a personal responsibility but a social one as well.
My Baby Needs So Many Vaccines. Is It Taxing On Their Little Bodies?
Babies can handle a fair amount of germs and, compared to everyday life, the amount in a vaccine is hardly much for their immune systems to cope with. Don’t worry about the number of vaccines your child has to endure as long as you follow a schedule from a doctor. It is all medically tested so that they don’t have more than their bodies can handle.
Can Vaccines Cause Autism?
The claims of a link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism were spread by a study in 1998, which was later revealed to be severely flawed and inaccurate. It was even be retracted by the journal that it was published in. This study was the reason for a decline in vaccination rates and even caused the cases of many vaccine-preventable diseases to rise in numbers. Not immunising your child puts them at great risk of contracting dangerous diseases and spreading these diseases to others.
Does Immunity From Vaccines Last A Lifetime?
While some vaccines give you lifetime immunity, such as the measles and hepatitis B doses, others do require booster shots at regular intervals, such as tetanus. The influenza vaccine needs to be taken every year as the viruses constantly mutate to different strains and these are included in the shot each year.
To know more about the Swasth Immunised India campaign, click here.