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Child Immunization



Child immunization and benefits



If the child is properly immunized, many diseases can be prevented. Still most people are ignorant regarding this. And also many educated people do not know that there is immunization against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus. Immunization is an essential part of bringing up your baby. Therefore every effort should be made regarding this.

A newborn baby has some immunity against a few diseases which he acquires from the mother through the placenta. These diseases include measles, polio, diphtheria and smallpox. This immunity lasts for only 4 to 6 months. This is the fact that these diseases are uncommon under 6 months of age. But, there will not be any immunity against some other diseases like whooping cough, tetanus and tuberculosis. So we have to protect the baby against all these diseases as soon as possible.

There is some discomfort with immunization injections, even though vaccines are improving day by day. There may be a little fever and pain for a day or two afterwards, which varies with each immunization. All this is nothing compared to the seriousness of catching such diseases themselves.

This vaccine can be given between 3 and 6 months. This is used to fight against tuberculosis. The injection is given with a very small needle in the left shoulder region. The little pimple of the injection disappears in a day or two, and then nothing happens for 6 to 8 weeks, when the injection site swells up a little and starts discharging some watery material. This goes on for about 6 weeks, and eventually it heals, leaving a small scar. There is no fever or any discomfort during this period. A small swelling may appear in the armpit 6-8 weeks after a BCG injection, occasionally. Report this to your doctor immediately.

Cholera vaccine :
The effect of this vaccine lasts for only about 6 months, and so it should only be given if there is a danger of cholera. Routine immunization is not necessary.

Measles :
Yet, this is not available in India. If it does become available, it should be given between 9-12 months, or as soon as possible after that.

This is a combination of the measles, Rubella (German measles) and mumps vaccines, and is not yet available in India. Booster doses of several vaccines are necessary for continued protection .

Polio :
This can be given at the same time as DPT and this is administered by mouth. Three doses are necessary 4 to 6 weeks apart. When this vaccine is given, make sure that the baby does not have diarrhea, because this will not act in the presence of diarrhea. It used to be advised that the breast-feed should not be given an hour before and after the vaccine, but now it is believed that the breast feed does not interfere with polio vaccine, and so the baby can be breast-fed at any time.

Smallpox :
Now that the danger of smallpox no longer exists because of smallpox eradication for almost 5 years. The exact time of vaccination you should leave to your doctor.This is given with a special bifid needle (rotary or scratching with needle is not satisfactory) in any convenient place such as the upper arm or the outer part of the thigh. It should not be given on the forearm, because of the scarring which results.
After 2-3 days a little blister forms at the site of vaccination. This gradually enlarges and becomes the size of a 25-paise coin. Then, it turns to a dull white, with redness and some swelling around it. The baby usually has fever for 2-3 days at this stage, becomes peevish and has disturbed sleep. Then gradually, the area dries up and the scab falls off, leaving a neat scar.

Precautions :
There is no need to apply anything on the vaccination site. It should be kept clean and dry and not allowed to get wet during a bath. Be careful not to scratch it while dressing or undressing the baby. The household application of turmeric or sandalwood paste should not be used. It will heal up by itself and does not need any local dressing or application. Sometimes, however, the scab may be scratched off healing, then, takes longer and the scar is also bigger.

This is otherwise called as Triple antigen. DPT can fight against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. This may be given around 3 months of age. The injection is usually given on the outer surface of the thigh rather than in the buttock . The baby may have fever and pain for a day or two, which can be relieved with baby aspirin and some hot fomentation.
The second injection is given 4-6 weeks after the first and the third injection 4-6 weeks after the second. It is very important to follow the advice of your doctor. It may be convenient to give BCG, first dose of DPT and polio vaccine at 3 months and smallpox vaccination along with the second or third DPT and polio vaccine. It may also be given at 6-7 months, after 3. doses of DPT.

Typhoid vaccine :
This can be given between the third and fourth year. This is the time that you have become less rigid about the baby’s food, and you will give him outside food from time to time.

You must remember that ,
  • Baby should be well and gaining in weight when any immunization is given. Some babies get repeated colds.
  • The baby should be free of skin infection, particularly eczema, when smallpox vaccination is given.
  • All these vaccines have a limited period of potency and have to be stored under suitable refrigeration.
  • Polio vaccine is particularly sensitive and has to be refrigerated. Smallpox vaccine and BCG have to be used within 3 hours of reconstitution from a dry state to liquid one. Even though your centre or doctor will take care of these things, you too should know these important points.

    Immunization schedule :

    BCG 3 to 6 months
    Smallpox 3 to 6
    DPT 3rd, 4th, 5th months
    Polio 3rd, 4th, 5th months
    Measles 9 to 12 months
    Typhoid 3 to 4 years

    Booster injections :

    BCG 5 to 6 years
    DPT one-and-half years
    Polio one-and-half and 5 years
    Typhoid alternate year
    DT (Diphtheria and Tetanus toxoid) 5 years and 10 to 12 years

    If DT is not available, DPT can be given at 5 years and tetanus toxoid alone should be given between 10-12 years.

    Immunization of the Mother :

    A netwborn baby has no protection against tetanus, but if the mother has been Immunized, then he too gets protection through the placenta. There are many mothers who have not had tetanus immunization in their childhood, it is advisable for them to have 4 injections of tetanus toxoid at the sixth and eighth month of pregnancy.
    This ensures adequate protection for both mother and baby. If the mother has had tetanus toxoid earlier, then only one booster dose will be necessary. Danger of tetanus to the newborn baby exists only if the delivery is conducted under unhygienic conditions. However, it is due to the linen or the mattress getting infected with tetanus spores while being sunned or dried on the grass. So it is advisable to have a tetanus itnmunization.


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