What Every Parent Needs To Know
All parents want to keep their children safe and healthy. Vaccination or Immunization is the best way to do that. Vaccines protect infants and children from many dangerous diseases. Vaccinations are given early in life to protect children before they are exposed to these diseases. Getting your child vaccinated on time will help protect him/her against 15 vaccine-preventable diseases.
Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases
Vaccination can protect your child from the following 7 vaccine-preventable diseases:
- Diphtheria: Signs and symptoms of diphtheria include a thick coating in the back of the throat that can make it hard to breathe. Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, paralysis and heart failure.
- Tetanus: Signs and symptoms of tetanus include painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. Tetanus can lead to stiffness of the jaw that can make it difficult to open the mouth or swallow. Tetanus kills about 1 person out of every 10 who get it.
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough: Signs and symptoms of pertussis include violent coughing spells that can make it hard for a baby to eat, drink, or breathe. These spells can last for several weeks. Pertussis can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. Pertussis can be very dangerous in infants. Most pertussis deaths occur in babies younger than 3 months of age.
- Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib): Signs and symptoms of Haemophilus influenza type b can include fever, headache, stiff neck, cough, and shortness of breath. There might not be any signs or symptoms in mild cases. Hib can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); pneumonia; infections of the ears, sinuses, blood, joints, bones, and covering of the heart; brain damage; severe swelling of the throat, making it hard to breathe; and deafness. Children younger than 5 years of age are at greatest risk for Hib disease.
- Hepatitis B: Signs and symptoms of hepatitis B include tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), and pain in muscles, joints and stomach. But usually there are no signs or symptoms at all. Hepatitis B can lead to liver damage, and liver cancer. Some people develop chronic (long term) hepatitis B infection. These people might not look or feel sick, but they can infect others. Hepatitis B can cause liver damage and cancer in 1 child out of 4 who are chronically infected.
- Polio: Signs and symptoms of polio can include flu-like illness, or there may be no signs or symptoms at all. Polio can lead to permanent paralysis (cannot move an arm or leg, or sometimes cannot breathe) and death.
- Pneumococcal Disease: Signs and symptoms of pneumococcal disease include fever, chills, cough, and chest pain. In infants, symptoms can also include meningitis, seizures, and sometimes rash. Pneumococcal disease can lead to meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord coverings); infections of the ears, sinuses and blood; pneumonia; deafness; and brain damage. About 1 out of 15 children who get pneumococcal meningitis will die from the infection.
Vaccination Schedule For Infants And Children From Birth Through 6 Years:
Here is the vaccination schedule recommended by Center for Disease Control and Prevention, USA. This vaccination schedule is designed to protect infants and children early in life when they are most vulnerable and before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.
Vaccine Number of Doses Recommended Ages Other Information
DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis) 5 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, 4-6 years Some children get a vaccine called DT (diphtheria & tetanus) instead of DTaP.
Hepatitis B 3 Birth, 1-2 months, 6-18 months
Polio 4 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, 4-6 years An additional dose of polio vaccine may be recommended for travel to certain countries.
Hib (Haemophilus influenza) 3 or 4 2 months, 4 months, (6 months), 12-15 months There are several Hib vaccines. With one of them the 6-month dose is not needed.
PCV13 (Pneumococcal disease) 4 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12-15 months Older children with certain health conditions also need this vaccine.
Your child’s doctor might offer some of these vaccines as combination vaccines (several vaccines given in the same shot). Combination vaccines are as safe and effective as the individual vaccines, and can mean fewer shots for your baby.
When some children should not get certain vaccines
Most children can safely get all of these vaccines. But some children should not be given vaccine due to the following factors:
- A child who is moderately or severely ill on the day of vaccinations might be asked to come back for them at a later date. A child who has a mild cold or other illness on the day vaccinations are scheduled may be vaccinated.
- Any child who had a life-threatening allergic reaction after getting a vaccine should not get another dose of that vaccine. Tell the person giving the vaccines if your child has ever had a severe reaction after any vaccination.
- A child who has a severe (life-threatening) allergy to a substance should not get a vaccine that contains that substance. Tell the person giving your child the vaccines if your child has any severe allergies that you are aware of.
Talk to your doctor before your child gets:
DTaP vaccine, if your child ever had any of these reactions after a previous dose of DTaP:
- A brain or nervous system disease within 7 days
- Non-stop crying for 3 hours or more
- A seizure or collapse
- A fever of over 105°F (40.55°C)
PCV13 vaccine, if your child ever had a severe reaction after a dose of DTaP (or other vaccine containing diphtheria toxoid), or after a dose of PCV7, an earlier pneumococcal vaccine.
Risks of a Vaccine Reaction
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own. Most vaccine reactions are not serious: tenderness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given; or a mild fever. These happen soon after the shot is given and go away within a day or two. They happen with up to about one half of vaccinations, depending on the vaccine.
Serious reactions are also possible but are rare.
Polio, Hepatitis B and Hib Vaccines have been associated only with mild reactions.
DTaP Vaccine has also been associated with the following problems:
- Mild Problems: Fussiness (up to 1 child in 3); tiredness or loss of appetite (up to 1 child in 10); vomiting (up to 1 child in 50); swelling of the entire arm or leg for 1 to 7 days (up to 1 child in 30) usually after the 4th or 5th dose.
- Moderate Problems: Seizure (1 child in 14,000); non-stop crying for 3 hours or longer (up to 1 child in 1,000); fever over 105°F (1 child in 16,000).
- Serious Problems: Long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, and permanent brain damage have been reported following DTaP vaccination. These reports are extremely rare.
Pneumococcal Vaccine has also been associated with the following problems:
- Mild Problems: drowsiness or temporary loss of appetite (about 1 child in 2 or 3); fussiness (about 8 children in 10).
- Moderate Problems: fever over 102.2°F or 39°C (about 1 child in 20).
After Any Vaccine:
Any medicine can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at about 1 in a million doses, and would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death.
Can there be is a serious reaction?
Look for anything that concerns you, such as signs of a severe allergic reaction, very high fever, or unusual behavior.
Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include hives, swelling of the face and throat, and difficulty breathing. In infants, signs of an allergic reaction might also include fever, sleepiness, and disinterest in eating. In older children, signs might include a fast heartbeat, dizziness, and weakness. These would usually start a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.
What should I do if the reaction is severe?
If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can't wait, call emergency or get the person to the nearest hospital. Otherwise, call your doctor.
How Can I Learn More?
Ask your child’s doctor. The doctor can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of information. You can also call your local or state health department.