Prevention is better than cure. This is something we were taught since we were in school. Medical science today is laying more and more stress on preventive medicine. ‘What can we do to prevent someone from falling ill’ is the motto. Immunization is the cornerstone of preventive medicine. Many times parents ask me ‘When we were kids only a few vaccines were available, why so many now? ‘
My answer to them is that many more are yet to come, and as medical science progresses more and more vaccines would be introduced. We urgently need vaccines against malaria and dengue which are still in research phases.
Updating everyone on statistics, the infant mortality rate in India in 1947 was somewhere around 150 deaths per 1000 live births. This figure dropped down to 64 in the year 2000 and is 43 deaths per 1000 live births as in 2014. Progress in preventive pediatrics and vaccination is the major reason for this progress. However our figures and still below the desired level. You will be surprised to know that Bangladesh has an IMR of about 31, their vaccination program is more effective than ours. When you look at the immunization schedule there are some vaccines which are mentioned but not required for everyone. These vaccines are recommended for certain high risk categories. If someone asks me if a particular vaccine is compulsory or optional, my reply is all routine vaccines should be given. We should try and prevent illness in our children as much as possible. Giving an example, we make our children wear sweaters in winters to protect them from the cold weather, similarly vaccines are like a shield against certain life threatening illnesses.
Let us talk a little about some important vaccines which are available today and what they prevent our children against.
- BCG- against Tuberculosis
- DPT- against Diptheria, pertussis and tetanus
- Hib- H influenza type B ( against meningitis in young babies )
- OPV/IPV- polio
- PCV- against pneumococcal pneumonia
- Rotavirus vaccine- against Rotavirus diarrhoea
- MMR- Mumps measles and Rubella
- Varicella – chickenpox
- Hepatitis B and Hepatitis A
- Typhoid vaccine
- Tetanus vaccine
- Cervical cancer vaccine – against cancer cervix
Vaccines given in high risk conditions
- Flu vaccine – against influenza A and H1N1
- Meningococcal vaccine
- Yellow fever vaccine
- Japanese B encephalitis vaccine
Discuss with your Pediatrician
Discuss with the pediatrician of your child on if any special vaccine needs to be given to your child.
Most of the vaccines have an efficacy ranging from 70 to 95% . We all witness the dengue epidemic almost every year . There is a lot of research going into vaccine against dengue, malaria and even HIV. Imagine what relief it would bring to all of us if we have vaccines against these three major illnesses as well.
Children are our responsibility and the future of our country is going to be their responsibility. We need to ensure a healthy future for our children and for the world. Getting vaccines on time and getting all the vaccines due to our children is also every child’s right in this world.
On this world immunization day let us all pledge to protect our children from vaccine preventable illnesses.
Let us invest into a healthy and bright future for our children.