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  • Writer's pictureDr, Vijayshree Patil


We’ve seen in the video what vaccines are and why they’re important.

They make your immune system create specific antibodies to be able to fight off a disease without actually getting the disease.

They also help create something called herd immunity also known as community immunity, which means the protection offered to everyone in a community by high vaccination rates. With enough people immunized against a given disease, it’s difficult for the disease to gain a foothold in the community, reducing the likelihood of a deadly outbreak.

Vaccines are given in a particular schedule at a particular age. Now, why is this important?

The timing for each dose of a vaccine is based on two factors. First, scientists determine the age when the body’s immune system will provide optimal protection after vaccination. Second, that information is balanced with the need to provide protection to infants, children and adolescents at the earliest possible time based on the highest age of risk for that disease.

Doctors and public health specialists study the commonest and deadliest diseases in a country and advise a specific immunisation schedule

There are two immunization schedules available in India:

1. Universal Immunization Schedule (UIP):

• Started by the Indian Govt. in 1985.

• These vaccines are available at every Govt. health care centre whether rural or urban, for free or at a very minimal cost.

• It includes 12 commonly occurring deadly infectious diseases in India that can affect children.

• These vaccines are compulsory. They HAVE to be given to children.

• To find out more about the schedule, refer link :

2. Indian Academy of Paediatrics Schedule (IAP) :

• The above (UIP) vaccines along with a few others which aren’t part of the Govt. schedule can be availed of with private practitioners as per the IAP schedule.

• The diseases covered in here include the one with compulsory vaccines (same as the Govt schedule) and “ optional” vaccines like Typohoid, chicken pox, Hepatitis A, etc.

• These are not free (of course), some could be slightly expensive, but they do effectively protect your child from getting life threatening diseases.

• To find out more about this schedule, refer link :

Your child’s health and safety are very important to your child’s doctor. The schedules above, are considered the ideal schedules for healthy children but rarely, there may be exceptions.

For example, your child might not receive certain vaccines if he/she has a weakened immune system due to a chronic condition like leukemia or is taking certain medicines that weaken the immune system. Sometimes a shot needs to be delayed for a short time, and sometimes not given at all. Apart from these circumstances, it is recommended that you stick to the timeline of the immunisation schedule.

What if I miss my vaccination schedule?

Its best if you can stick to the timeline that is given. However in case you do miss a date, there is a certain “catch up period” of a few days that you can discuss with your paediatrician. Ensure you give the vaccine within that time period.

Pre and post vaccination care:

Before the needle :

• Remain calm and confident.

• Bring your child’s favorite stuffed toy or blanket.

• Breastfeed your baby before the needle and continue during and after the needle.

• Avoid pain relievers before the needle they are not proven to reduce discomfort/pain during injection.

• If your child is older, explain that he/she will “get a vaccine in the leg or arm with a needle. It will feel like a pinch or pressure/pushing for a few seconds”.

During the needle

• Hold your baby close. An older child may sit upright and held on your lap in a hug.

• Distract your baby/child with a favorite toy, singing, cuddling, bubbles, rattles, pinwheels.

• Breastfeed.

• Stay calm, take a few slow, deep breaths if you are nervous and speak to baby/child in a soothing voice.

• Direct an older child to take slow, deep breaths.

• Acknowledge your child’s pain, but do not focus on it.

After the needle

• You will be asked to stay for 15 minutes after the needle to watch for any signs of reaction.

• Your child may experience fever, pain, redness and/or swelling at the injection site for 1-2 days after vaccination. Medicines may be used for relief (check with the health care provider for dosage if child is less than 6 months).

• MMR, Varicella (live vaccines) - After these vaccines fever and/or rash can occur from six to 23 days

• Placing a cold cloth over the site may help.

• Encourage the child to move the limb.

• Cuddle and comfort your child.

• A lump may form under the skin and could last for 1-4 weeks.

Reactions after vaccinations:

Mild fever, fussiness, tiredness, poor appetite, and vomiting are seen in a lot of children.

Do not be alarmed with these reactions. They usually last from approximately 12-48 hrs after a vaccine.

In case of mild fever, cold sponging, hydration will help. If the doctor permits, medication may be given. This should resolve in a day’s time.

Adverse reactions can occur very, very, very rarely in children (less than one in a million). However, In case any of these problems occur, please seek medical help:

• Trouble breathing or swallowing

• Swelling on face of lips, or tongue gets bigger (indicative of allergy)

• High fever (39°C/102.2°F or higher) or persistent fever for more than 48hrs.

• Crying for more than 3 hours

• A strange cry, different than their normal cry

• Hives (raised red or pink spots of different sizes on skin)

• Seizure or convulsions (shaking, twitching or jerking motions of the body)

• Swollen abdomen, vomiting often, bloody stools

Infections are one of the biggest killers of children worldwide, more so in a country like India. Vaccination is scientifically proven to be the best way to prevent infections. We owe it to our children to give them a bright future and there is no better gift we can give them, than the gift of good health.

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