Importance of vaccines for children

The use of vaccines for children to protect them

Importance of vaccines for children

Childhood immunization is the use of vaccines for children to protect them against infectious diseases.

Importance Of Vaccines In Children

Babies are born with some immunity against infectious diseases like measles. This ‘passive immunity is passed from mother to baby, but only lasts a few months.

Your child will need to make his or her own antibodies (proteins made by the immune system) to fight viruses and bacteria.

Vaccines stimulate the immune system in the same way as an infection, but without developing the disease. Vaccines are a safe way to ensure that your child makes his or her own antibodies to a specific infection. It’s made with:

  • Dead viruses or bacteria
  • Inactivated toxins from a virus or bacteria
  • A weakened form of a live virus or bacteria (called a live vaccine)
  • Fractions of a virus or bacteria, but not the whole organism (called a split vaccine)

Why Immunize Minors?

Necessity of vaccines for children

All infections that are on the immunization schedule can develop into serious illnesses and have the potential to cause disability or death. Vaccinating your child means that he or she will be protected against these serious diseases and their potentially devastating effects.

For example, if nine out of 10 children are vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR vaccine or tripe viral), these diseases can be eliminated from the community.

Some people argue that there is no longer a need to immunize children. However, these diseases have not yet disappeared and if your child is in contact with someone with the disease then it is likely that they will contract the disease. For example, paralysis from polio still occurs in all parts of the world.

If more people choose not to immunize their children, then the number of children at risk for a disease will increase and there will be outbreaks of the disease.

Types Of Vaccines For Children

Childhood vaccination may differ by country. In several countries, children are routinely vaccinated to protect against:

  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • pertussis ( whooping cough )
  • polio
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
  • meningitis C
  • pneumococcal infection (for example, pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis)
  • measles
  • mumps
  • rubella (German measles)
  • human papilloma virus (HPV)

The following vaccines are given selectively:

  • Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) – protects against tuberculosis (TB)
  • hepatitis B

In some immunizations, your baby will need a course of shots to develop his defenses. Booster shots are needed to achieve peak immunity in preschool-age children and adolescents.

Vaccines Explained

Pentavalent vaccine (DtaP/IPV/Hib)

The DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine is a combination treatment against the following five diseases in a single vaccine (5 in 1), which is why it is also known as a pentavalent vaccine.

  • D – diphtheria – split vaccine
  • T – tetanus
  • aP – Pertussis (whooping cough) – acellular vaccine
  • IPV – polio
  • Hib – Haemophilus influenzae type B

Pneumococcal Vaccine (PCV)

The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, or PCV, protects against some strains of pneumococcal infection, which can cause illnesses such as pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis.

Vaccine Against Meningococcus Type C (Men C)

The Men C vaccine protects against the bacteria that cause a serious form of blood poisoning (sepsis) and/or meningitis. Your child can get this vaccine at the same time as the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine. It is given as a separate injection.

Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) Vaccine

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, which is why it is also called the triple viral vaccine.

Bacillus Calmette-Guerín (BCG) vaccine

The BCG vaccine protects against tuberculosis (TB). The BCG vaccine, in general, is given to those children with a higher probability of contracting the disease, such as:

  • children living in areas with a high rate of TB
  • children whose parents or grandparents were born in countries with a high rate of TB

Your child will have a skin test before the injection and then, if needed, will have the injection in the upper arm.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

The hepatitis B vaccine is usually for those children who are most likely to get the disease. Such as those whose father or mother has hepatitis B.

Vaccine Against The Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Girls between the ages of 12 and 13 are now routinely HPV vaccinated. This protects them against the two main types of viruses that cause cervical cancer.

How Are Vaccines Given?

Vaccines are given by injection, usually into the muscle of the upper arm or thigh.

When To Delay Immunization

If your child is healthy and due for a vaccination, you should not delay vaccination.

The vaccine could increase the fever, and also the illness present in your child could make it difficult to identify any side effects of the vaccine.

Your GP or nurse will usually examine your child and reschedule if your child is too upset to give the injection.

If you have any concerns about a specific vaccine, or if your child has an allergy to eggs, please speak to your GP, GP, or paramedic.

Your child will not be given live vaccines, such as the MMR and BCG vaccines, if:

  • have a weak immune system
  • you are taking medicines to suppress your immune system
  • have undergone a bone marrow transplant in the last six months
  • are receiving steroid treatment, for example for asthma

Talk to your GP if your child has any illness that affects their immune system.

Wrong Reasons For Delaying Immunization

Do not delay your child’s vaccination if:

  • you have a minor illness, such as a cold or a bad cough
  • has already had a disease similar to one covered by the combination vaccine (for example, even if your child has had mumps, he or she should receive the MMR vaccine)
  • are receiving treatment with antibiotics, topical steroids, or replacement corticosteroids
  • was a premature or very small baby, or had jaundice at birth
  • is breastfed or if the mother is pregnant
  • have a stable neurological condition, such as cerebral palsy
  • have asthma, hay fever, or eczema
  • have a scheduled surgery or have recently had surgery
  • has exceeded the recommended age in the schedule for vaccination
  • have a family history of side effects from a vaccine, inflammatory bowel disease, or autism
  • have a food allergy, inflammatory bowel disease, or autism

Side Effects Of Vaccines In Children

Side effects are unwanted, though mostly temporary and mild, effects of successful immunization.

Effects of a vaccine can include:

  • redness and swelling at the injection site
  • increased temperature (more than 37.5°C but less than 39°C)
  • nausea and/or diarrhea
  • swollen glands
  • a small lump at the injection site that may take a few weeks to go away
  • irritability

To help lower your child’s temperature and ease any discomfort you can:

  • give your child liquid paracetamol, such as Calpol: always read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine, and if you have any questions, ask the pharmacist
  • remove some clothing and blankets
  • sponge with warm water and let the skin air dry

serious reactions

A serious reaction to a vaccine is very rare. You should seek urgent medical attention if your child has any of the following symptoms:

  • Very high temperature (over 39°C)
  • Febrile seizure (fit): convulsions induced by fever
  • Acne
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Flaccidity or lethargy
  • Inconsolable crying that may be high-pitched and unusual

Are Vaccines Safe?

Yes. Health professionals recognize that routine immunization is the best defense against potentially dangerous diseases and is a sure way to ensure protection. There has been some controversy and speculation about certain vaccines in recent years.

The use of thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound, as a preservative in the manufacture of vaccines.

None of the routine childhood vaccines contain thimerosal. The MMR vaccine and autism. Research studies show that there is no relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism. In 2010, the media reported on a possible link between the HPV vaccine and the death of a school-age girl. Further investigations showed that there was no link and that the death was due to an unrelated illness.