Roughly speaking, the world can be divided into two groups of people. People who support vaccines and those who don’t. We all must have witnessed intense discussions and heated arguments between these two groups of people and have seen them passionately defend their respective point of view. These debates are bound to make parents nervous who love their children the most and want to provide them with the greatest possible care. There are concerns like childhood immunization may lead to developmental disabilities. The current global pandemic has refuelled these kinds of fears about immunisation. Countries worldwide rushed to create a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. While many countries successfully started administering covid vaccines to their adult population as early as the second year of the pandemic, very few countries have been successful in producing a vaccine for children.
Across the world, mass vaccination of the younger population against covid-19 is yet to begin. Nonetheless, all the vaccines made so far have received a huge pushback from anti-vaxxers and skeptics in general. Protests against the covid vaccination mandates have been witnessed in nations like the United States and, more recently, across Europe. From the very ﬁrst, experts have been warning us that mass vaccination is the only way out of this pandemic.
Hence, this kind of vaccine hesitancy is especially concerning for two reasons – (i) the natural ability of the virus to mutate and give rise to virulent strains like Delta and Omicron variant and (ii) the lack of protection for our children in the form of effective vaccines or any type of antiviral medication.
Vaccines for children have existed in the past, and mass inoculation against polio and smallpox has resulted in their complete eradication. This is nothing short of a miracle and an absolute blessing for our children and all the future generations. Even after proven success, there is always a looming fear that children vaccines are dangerous. In this blog, we will focus on exploring the different advantages and disadvantages of childhood vaccines in order to create an objective understanding on the subject. However, it is always advisable to consult your child’s pediatrician or a professional health practitioner before taking them for any kind of immunization.
Childhood vaccines and the success so far……
Within the ﬁrst two years of a child’s life, roughly 15 vaccines are prescribed in India. This includes measles, rotavirus, hepatitis-B and BCG, which should ideally be given within 24 hours following birth. In the U.S, within the ﬁrst two years of a child’s life, roughly 24 injections are advised, including vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough, polio, hepatitis A and B, inﬂuenza type B, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumonia, and meningitis.
Experts argue that vaccines are often an essential way of starting a healthy life. Our infants are exposed to a variety of bacteria and viruses that are naturally present in our surroundings shortly after birth. Some of these can cause major harm to our baby and could be life threatening. Although we build natural immunity to such viruses over time, it may not always
be enough or may slow down the recovery process and give rise to unnecessary complications. For instance : natural mumps infection could lead to deafness and natural polio infection may lead to permanent paralysis. Vaccines, however, prevent your child from developing these serious complications and curbs the virus outbreak. According to a report published in BBC, India recorded 741 polio cases in 2009. This was nearly half of the caseload of the world. By 2010, the cases dropped to 42 and it kept declining further. This fall in cases was attributed to the countrywide polio vaccination drive.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that the vaccines that are created for the children are absolutely safe and are important. They go through rigorous and extensive development program. Vaccines contain antigens which are weakened bacteria or viruses or part of it. It mimics the disease-carrying agent and prepares our body to ﬁght the disease in the future. They are carefully curated and are only approved if multiple clinical trials show that the danger of sickness outweighs the risk of the vaccine.
Mass immunisation of children at a young age has been credited with a decrease in the number of cases of common diseases such as measles, mumps, polio, and chickenpox. To prevent these diseases from re-emerging, we as parents need to make an informed decision about getting our children inoculated against these viruses. Because the viruses and bacteria that cause these deadly diseases still exist and can affect your child. Vaccines help your child develop a stronger immune system against these viruses, saving them from serious diseases and, in some cases, permanent disability and death. As a result, doctors highly advise that every child receive the recommended immunizations at the appropriate times throughout childhood in order to have a stronger immune system.
Childhood Vaccines and its side-effects
It will be a false claim to make if one says that there are no side-effects to vaccines. As a medical product, every vaccine has a possible side-effect. They are usually minor and short-lived. Some of the common side-effects include low-grade fever, pain and redness at
the injection site. These minor side-effects only last for a few days. On the other hand, severe and long-term side effects are a rare occurrence . However, like any other medicine, vaccines are not 100% effective or 100% safe for all individuals. A health provider may refrain from giving your child a smallpox vaccine if they are immunocompromised. For example : if they have leukemia, lymphoma, have had bone marrow or other kind of transplants, are undergoing radiation treatment and so on. To prevent the virus from spreading to other regions of your body or to other people, it’s critical to carefully care for the vaccination site.
Until the scab goes off, you can infect another region of your body or other people.
Parents, on the other hand, should consider all factors before deciding whether or not to immunise their child against a disease. A decision not to immunise a child carries risk, as it exposes the child and everyone who comes into contact with them to a possibly fatal disease. Our approach should be to make an informed decision. Our doctors are the best resource for guiding us through this process, dispelling myths and assisting us in making the best decision for our child’s health.
In the meantime, following are the steps that we need to follow before we take the decision to inoculate or not to inoculate our children :
- Talk to your trusted doctor and discuss about the beneﬁts and side-effects of vaccines
- Inform your healthcare provider about the allergies and conditions that your child have
- Closely monitor your child after inoculation, look out for adverse side-effects and report them duly