6 Infections It’s Important to Get Vaccinated for In India
It’s been months since the Covid-19 outbreak and while scientists are working meticulously, they haven’t been able to find a vaccine yet.
This itself shows the importance of a vaccine against an infection. A vaccine activates our immune system without harming us. Several infectious diseases can be avoided using this simple and effective way.
Vaccination activates the immune system’s memory. While getting vaccination, a weakened microbe is added to the body. The immune system then gets activated without the microbe affecting us. For a few infections, vaccination provides lifelong protection, while for others, the effect decreases over a few years and then booster doses are needed.
Let’s look at the six infections that it’s important to get vaccinated for every child and adult.
Caption: Scar due to a BCG vaccine. Credits: Commons wikimedia
Tuberculosis is an extremely harmful disease for infants and adults alike. The Bacillus Calmette Guerin or BCG vaccine is given to counter tuberculosis.
The BCG vaccine is a must and has been a medical mandate for more than seven decades. Also, it is one of the most widely used in current vaccines.
This vaccine is injected to the outer skin in the arm of infants. After this injection, preventive measures for tuberculosis should be taken as it is a temporary vaccine. Its effects don’t last over 15 to 20 years.
Diphtheria, Pertussis or Whooping cough and Tetanus
Caption: Heat map of Tetanus related deaths in 2012 Credits: Wikipedia
The DPT vaccine provides immunity and protection against the three deadly diseases, Diphtheria, Pertussis or a Whooping cough and Tetanus.
This vaccine is also known as the Triple antigen.
It is injected as an intramuscular vaccine to the infants at ages 1.5 months, 2.5 months and at 3.5 months. When the child grows up to be 1.5 years of age, they should be given a second dose of DPT vaccine.
At the age of five, they should be given a double dose of DT vaccine which is a protection against germs to keep tetanus as well as diphtheria at bay. It is recommended every ten years.
Again, at the age of 10, the tetanus vaccine is given. The DPT vaccine is not licensed for adolescent children who are seven years or older.
As older children and adults need protection against these three diseases, a vaccine by the name of Tdap is given. It can be given from 11 to 64 years of age.
Caption: A girl receiving oral polio vaccine in India Credits: Flickr
Polio is perhaps one of the most critical diseases in India. The Oral Polio Vaccine or OPV is given to counter polio.
Doctors and caregivers organize camps under government initiatives and even go to each house to administer the Pulse Polio Immunization Program where the OPV is given.
The OPV is a must for newborn babies to receive.
Caption: WHO-UNICEF estimates of hepatitis B vaccine coverage. Credits: Commons wikimedia
Hepatitis B critically affects the liver. The Hepatitis B vaccine and the Hepatitis B Immune Globulin vaccines are administered to infants at birth. T
This happens if the mother is a carrier of the Hepatitis B viral protein (HBeAg) or the surface antigen of the Hepatitis B virus (HBsAg).
However, if the mother tests negative for these viruses, then the vaccines are given to the baby after 6, 10, 14 and 24-weeks post-birth.
This vaccine is very useful and is one of the safest vaccines among the top six vaccines declared important in India.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)
Caption: A MMR vaccination kit Credits: Commons wikimedia
As the name suggests, the MMR vaccine protects against Measles, Mumps and Rubella or German Measles. In India, the monovalent measles vaccine is given nine months post-birth. The second dose of the MMR vaccine is given at 12 to 15 months of age.
Globally, 3 to 5 million cases of influenza are reported and up to 6,50,000 deaths occur each year.
Caption: Prototype for a Universal Flu vaccine Credits: Flickr
In tropical countries like India, influenza circulates throughout the year.
The true impact of influenza is usually under-recognized due to reasons like under-reporting and under-testing. Considering its impact, the most significant strategy is prevention through annual vaccination which can be taken at any time of the year.
Not only children, but experts recommend that even adults should get the influenza vaccine every year at the onset of fall.
In India, government hospitals offer many vaccination services made compulsory by the Indian Government at subsidized rates.
The WHO recommends that currently, pregnant women should get the highest priority when it comes to vaccination. Other groups to be considered for vaccination are, children aged 6 months to 5 years, individuals with chronic medical conditions like heart conditions or diabetes, the elderly, and healthcare workers.