Why are vaccines given to children?
A vaccine is a dead or weakened germ (bacteria or virus), or part of the germ that causes a disease. Childhood vaccination or immunization is a preventive treatment administered to children for certain medical diseases such as measles, mumps, polio, tetanus, and diphtheria.
When children are vaccinated for a disease, their immune system builds up antibodies that protect them from getting the disease if they get exposed to the disease-causing germ.
These diseases are caused by infections that can spread from one person to another. Thus, by vaccinating your child, you not only protect them from the disease and keep them healthy but also minimize the risk of infection from that disease in the community (herd immunity).
Vaccinating your child also helps to prevent the spread of disease to those who cannot be vaccinated, including those newborns who are too young to be vaccinated and people with weak immunity who may not effectively develop antibodies to fight the disease.
What are the different types of vaccines for children?
Each vaccine for each disease will contain a tiny amount of the virus or bacteria, or parts of the germ that causes the disease. The following are a few different types of vaccines:
- Vaccines containing attenuated or weakened live viruses such as measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Vaccines containing killed or inactivated viruses or bacteria, such as the injectable polio vaccine (IPV)
- Toxoid vaccines that contain an inactivated toxin produced by the bacteria that causes the disease, for example, diphtheria and tetanus toxoid vaccines
- Conjugate vaccines containing parts of the disease-causing bacteria combined with certain proteins, for example, the Hib vaccine
What vaccines do children get?
The vaccines needed for your child may vary depending upon your child’s age, health, the type of vaccines available, and where you live.
In case you plan to travel, additional vaccines (travel vaccines) may be needed because the disease pattern varies across different regions. Some of the vaccines are given as part of a combination vaccine.
This gets easy for the child and parents because fewer shots and healthcare visits are needed this way. You may talk with your doctor about which vaccines your child needs.
The usual vaccines administered to children are as follows:
- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs)
- Varicella virus vaccine (VAR)
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine
- Polio vaccines
- Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTP) vaccines
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines
- Rotavirus vaccine
- Hepatitis A (HepA) vaccine
- Meningococcal vaccines
- Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine
- Cholera vaccine
- Typhoid vaccines
- Yellow fever (YF) vaccine
- Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) vaccine
- Rabies vaccine
- Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine
Are vaccines safe for my children?
Vaccines are important for your child. They are generally safe, and the protection they provide far outweighs the small risk of serious side effects.
Usually, the side effects are mild and temporary such as fever, pain, soreness, or a lump at the site where the vaccine shot was given. Your healthcare provider will guide you about the possible side effects of certain vaccines.
You must report to your doctor if your child had a serious reaction to a vaccine shot so that they may guide you on how future shots are to be given. Your doctor may ask you to avoid vaccines in some special situations; for example, children who have certain types of disease conditions or cancer may not receive certain vaccines.
Some vaccines may not be given to children who are taking drugs that lower the body’s immunity.
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