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About vaccines


Vaccine details

Vaccines are live or killed organisms given at predetermined intervals for protection of the child from various deadly diseases by producing natural immunity. Although the schedule has been broadly given by the World Health Organization it can vary slightly
from doctor to doctor.

BCG or Bacille Calmette Guerin is the vaccine given for protection against tuberculosis. It can be given right at birth but definitely within the first three months of age. It is given on the left shoulder into the layers of the skin. When given, it forms a small swelling which disappears in 10-15 minutes. It re-appears as a small boil after 4-6 weeks exuding 1-2 drops of pus and then healing gradually leaving a small scar by 3 months.

DPT or triple antigen as it is protects against three diseases namely Diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough) and Tetanus. It has three primary doses given 4-6 week apart in the first year and two boosters given at 1 and 5 years of age. It commonly causes fever along with a lump and swelling at the site of injection. Paracetamol drops and some sedative can be given. Rarely it may cause very high fever, convulsions and shock. DTaP is an alternative choice where the side effects are much less but the vaccine is expensive.

Oral polio drops are given at birth and then five doses of 2 drops each in the first year. Two boosters are given along with DPT at 1 to 5 years of age. It may cause a very transient diarrhea in some children. Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) is now available in India which is in injectable form and is more effective.

Measles vaccine is given as a single dose at 9 months of age. It does not cause any reaction immediately; however, in some children it may cause fever and rashes after 5-10 days of the injection.

MMR is again a combination of three vaccines against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German measles). It is given between 15 and 18 months of age. This may also lead to fever, mild rash and rarely jaw swelling after 5-10 days of injection.

Typhoid vaccine can be of three types. The older vaccine was given every year and caused fever along with a lump and swelling at the site of injection. The new Vi antigen  vaccine, though costlier, is given once every three years and has minimal side effects. Oral capsules are also available for children above six years of age.

Meningitis vaccine is to protect against one particular type out of the many causative organisms of meningitis (infection of the coverings of the brain). It is given once every 3 years and does not cause fever or local reactions.

Hepatitis means jaundice and can be of types A to E are water and food-borne and types B, C and D occur by injections, needle pricks, blood transfusions etc. Vaccines are available only for prevention against A and B. Hepatitis A vaccine is given after one year of age in two does six months apart. Hepatitis B is given in 3 doses-at birth, 1 and 6 months of age. A combination vaccine is now available also given in three doses. Usually there are no side-effects except for minor fever or local reaction in an occasional

Hib vaccine is to protect the child against bacteria called Haemophilus influenza type b which is the common cause of meningitis, sore throat pneumonia and ear infection in children below 6 years of age. The number of doses varies from 4 to depending on the
Age of starting the vaccine.

Tetanus toxoid vaccine is not required in children as they are already covered in their DPT doses. From 10 years of age onwards, ideally all children should be given a dose of Tdap every 10 years. It has Tetanus and small dose of Diphtheria and Pertussis antigen

Rabies vaccine is not routinely given but can be considered if the child is in close contact with animals. Usually it is given after an episode of dog bite in five doses given at 0, 3,7,14, and 30 days.

Chicken Pox vaccine is given after one year of age and second dose at five years. After the 13 th birthday the two doses are given 4-6 weeks apart. There may be a slight fever and/or rash after 10-15 days of the injection.

Pneumococcal vaccine protects against invasive pneumococcal diseases like pneumonia, ear infections, bacteremia and meningitis. It should be given if one can afford it.

Rotavirus vaccine is an oral vaccine to protect against Rotavirus diarrhea. It is the commonest cause of viral diarrhea in children less than five years of age. The vaccine is given in two / three doses (depending on brand), 4-6 weeks apart.

HPV vaccine is the first vaccine which protects against cancer. Human Papiloma virus is the causative agent for cancer of the cervix (part of uterus) and genital warts. It is given in three doses to girls and women from 10 to 45 years of age.

It is advisable to be in regular contact with your pediatrician and ask about the latest status of these vaccines and inquires about newer ones. It is worth the cost and mild side-effects if any of the diseases can be prevented.


Vaccines are usually safe. The advantages far outweigh any risks associated                          with immunization.

Although properly given, vaccines may not give absolute protection from the disease.

Mild cough, running nose and fever are not indications for delaying the due dose.

Delay in one dose by a couple of weeks does not mean that the schedule has to be repeated from the beginning.

An injection on time saves nine.

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