Vaccines are one of the most extraordinary marvels of the medical fraternity. They are usually given in childhood to effectively help a child fight against serious and often deadly diseases. While most vaccines are shown in the childhood phase, there are adult vaccines, which are given to grown-ups as and when required. Further, vaccines stimulate the natural defences of the human body and help it fight against dangerous infections faster.
In India, the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) was launched in 1985. It is one of the most extensive public health programmes that annually targets nearly 2.67 crore newborns and 2.9 crore pregnant women. Under UIP, immunization is provided free of cost against 12 vaccine-preventable diseases:
In the last few years, there have been a lot of disputes concerning the validity of vaccines. However, studies have proven that vaccinations are beneficial for children overall growth and health. While children might sometimes have side effects related to the vaccine, the most critical thing to understand is that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the side effects that they could cause. Ahead are three significant reasons why vaccinations are vital for children, especially during their growing years.
Advances in medical science have made it possible for infants and children to be protected against a hoard of dangerous infections, including hepatitis, meningitis, and pneumonia. In the past, these diseases could take the lives of many children, and many of these infections are now a thing of the past only due to vaccination. In India, polio used to result in many fatalities and economic damages, but thanks to polio vaccination, no new cases have been reported since January 2011.
Even if children must undergo some discomfort like pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection, these are minimal compared to the impact and trauma caused by dangerous infections and diseases. Serious side effects of vaccines are minimal, and it is highly recommended that every child gets the required vaccination so that their health and well-being are not affected.
Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, even eliminated multiple diseases that had huge fatality rates in the past. For instance, the smallpox vaccination has played a pivotal in helping to eradicate the disease not just in India but worldwide. Children do not need to get a vaccine for smallpox as the disease is non-existent. By vaccinating children against dangerous infections, it is possible to reduce the damage that they cause. If we continue vaccinating children and creating awareness about its importance, we may be able to secure a future for children that is free from dangerous infections.
In conclusion, vaccination in children is an important right they deserve as it can play a critical role in their overall growth. Most vaccines are given more than once, at different ages, and in combinations, which means that parents/guardians should keep a proper vaccination schedule for their children, so they do not miss any of their shots. Although a doctor will also maintain this schedule, parents must be responsible and track their children's immunization schedule so that it is conducted promptly.
Dr. Kumar Salvi, Consultant Paediatrics &Neonatology
Fortis Hiranandani Hospital Vashi