Children do not have a fully developed immune system from birth and require more protection after birth. This protection is usually given in the form of vaccines so that children do not catch commonly occurring illnesses. Here are some of them:
- DTap (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)
This vaccine protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. While diphtheria is a respiratory disease which causes paralysis, breathing problems, heart failure and death, tetanus is a bacterial infection that brings about muscle spasms and death, if left untreated. Pertussis, on the other hand, also known as a whooping cough, is another deadly disease that causes pneumonia, seizures and even brain damage. The first dose is given when the baby is 2 months, the second at four months, the third at six months and the 4th at 15 months after birth.
Polio is the paralysis of certain parts of your body. The virus that causes this condition is spread through contaminated food and water or the more frequently fecal-oral mode. However, this disease has been much reduced thanks to the polio vaccine that is given till the age of 5 years on certain days.
- MMR(Measles, mumps, rubella)
MMR protects your baby against measles, mumps and rubella. Measles leads to coughing, a high fever, a runny nose, conjunctivitis as well as a rash that starts on the face and then spreads to the rest of the body. The MMR has to be administered from one year to 15 months of age.
- Chickenpox (varicella)
Chickenpox is a disease in which you get a lot of itchy rashes in your body as well as headaches. Even instances of coughing are very common. It can easily be prevented by giving your baby a chickenpox vaccine, which is called varicella (as that is the virus which causes it). The varicella or chickenpox vaccine has to be administered from one year to 15 months of age.
- Hepatitis A and B
Hepatitis A and B are viruses, which cause the inflammation of the liver. It can lead to life-threatening problems however there are very few symptoms of it. You should vaccinate your baby with hepatitis B at birth and hepatitis A at one year of age. Hepatitis B vaccines should have another dose given one or two months after birth and the third 6 to 15 months after birth.
The flu is caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms of the flu include headaches, body aches, high fevers, chills, fatigue and exhaustion. Since there is a flu ‘season’, it has to be administered annually starting from 6 to 15 months of age.
The meningococcal vaccine is usually used to prevent meningitis caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitides. Meningitis is the inflammation of the tissues in the brain and/or spinal cord. Sometimes, it can even cause a life-threatening blood infection, which can lead to amputation, hearing loss, problems with the nervous system, mental retardation, seizures and strokes. These however, only have to be administered at 12 years of age.
The rotavirus bug is a lethal virus. It occurs primarily in young children and causes gastroenteritis, diarrhea and vomiting. It has to be taken twice once at 2 months of age and once at four months of age.
Finally, do consult a doctor about how and when to administer these vaccines.