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Childhood immunization is a major focus of Paediatrics practice.
Though adults also can be immunized, it is often voluntary or required for travel purposes.
However, in children, it is like a law. Indeed in most places, it is a punishable offence not to immunize your child.
Of course, parents always have lots and I mean lots of questions on immunization.
In fact, if you are going to be waken up from your beauty sleep as a Paediatrician by a new mum, apart from issues of colic, I think immunization comes a close second as the reason to.
Immunization is important! Immunization is life-saving! Childhood immunization is one of the most cost-effective public health initiatives ever!!!
In this article, I will explain briefly what immunization is, the benefits of childhood immunizations the commonly available vaccines and the diseases they protect against.
What is immunization?
Immunization is the process by which an individual’s immune system becomes fortified or strengthened through the use of vaccines against some diseases.
What is Vaccination?
VACCINATION is the administration of vaccines to prevent specific diseases.
What is a Vaccine?
A vaccine is a preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or part of living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease.
Is there a difference between Immunization and Vaccination?
Vaccination means the vaccine was given but the body immune system needs to respond appropriately for your child to be protected against the disease.
If a child gets the vaccine but his or her immune system for one reason or the other did not react by producing the antibodies that will protect you when you are exposed to the disease, you have only been vaccinated but not immunized.
Vaccination is necessary to have immunization. However, not every vaccination automatically leads to immunization.
This is very important as sometimes the vaccines given were not potent because there is a break in the cold chain to preserve it.
It could also be poor administration for example giving the BCG vaccine into the muscle instead of the skin. In those scenarios, the child has been vaccinated but not immunized. Sometimes, it is just some cross-reaction in the body system.
This may explain one of the questions Mums ask why their child still came down with a disease s/he has been immunized against. The child could have been vaccinated alright but not immunized.
Why should I immunize my child?
Immunization prevents between 2 and 3 million deaths every year in all age groups from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), measles, mumps and rubella.
An estimated 1.7 million children died from vaccine-preventable diseases in 2008 before reaching their fifth birthday.
Due to polio eradication efforts, over 8 million people are walking today who would otherwise be paralysed, and the incidence of polio has declined by 99.8%.
In Nigeria, for one year now, we have not recorded any single polio case.
Immunization prevents debilitating illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions.
Vaccines have the power not only to save but also to transform lives ― giving children a chance to grow up healthy, go to school and improve their life prospect.
What are the available vaccines and what diseases do they protect against?
BCG – protects against Tuberculosis
Meningococcal vaccine (MCV) – protects against meningococcal disease.
Hepatitis B (HBV) vaccine – protects against Hepatitis B virus infection.
Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) OR Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) – protect against poliomyelitis.
DPT Vaccine– This protects against diphtheria (D), tetanus (T), and pertussis (P) (whooping cough).
Hib Vaccine – protect againsts Haemophilus influenzae type bwhich causes spinal meningitis and other serious infections).
In Nigeria we now give DPT, HBV and HIB together as one vaccine called PENTA (means 5 vaccines in one preparation)
Measles Vaccine – protects against measles.
MMR (Measles, Mumps Rubella) vaccine – protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles).
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) – protect against pneumonia, infection in the blood, and meningitis.
Another form of pneumococcal vaccine, PPSV (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine) is used in special conditions and in adults.
Varicella Vaccine – protects against chickenpox.
Rotavirus Vaccine – prevents infections caused by Rotavirus, most common viral cause of diarrhoea and vomiting in kids (RotaTeq or Rotarix)
Hepatitis A Vaccine – protects against Hepatitis A virus infection.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine – protects from Human Papilloma virus infection which is linked to cervical cancer and other cancers.
Seasonal influenza vaccine – protects against different flu viruses.
These are the common vaccines available for children and the various diseases they protect against. The schedule (or timing) for giving these vaccines vary from one country to another.
Indeed it can vary from one hospital to another in the same country. The most important thing is to ensure that as parents, you take all the vaccines at the time specified in your Immunization Card or Chart. The one shared above is just a sample.
You can also let me know your thoughts by dropping your comments below. More importantly, ensure that all your children are fully immunized so they are protected against the vaccine-preventable-diseases.