What Are the Benefits of Immunization: Expert Answers All Queries
This World Immunization Week, Ms Preeti Sudan answers all your questions on immunization.
This World Immunization Week, Ms Preeti Sudan answers all your questions on immunization.(Photo: FIT)

What Are the Benefits of Immunization: Expert Answers All Queries

(Every year, 10 November is observed as World Immunization Day. FIT is reposting this story in light of this)

Immunization is an important part of ensuring that certain diseases are at kept at bay throughout one’s life. Immunization protects children against certain specific and serious diseases, which could otherwise become life-threatening.

But there are a lot of misconceptions and doubts about the process of immunization and why it is important and when to get a child vaccinated etc.

So we got Ms. Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, to clear the air on immunization and answer all your questions.

What is immunization?

Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease.
Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease. Immunization is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to avert between 2 and 3 million deaths each year.

What are the benefits of immunization?

Immunization protects children against certain specific and serious diseases, which otherwise would lead to stress, worry and expense of having a child become very ill and possibly die from a disease that could be prevented by administration of a vaccine.

Also Read : Facebook Might Remove Anti-Vaccination Groups Spreading Fake News

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Which vaccines are currently provided under UIP? 
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Under UIP, immunization is provided free of cost against 12 vaccine preventable diseases:

  • Nationally against 9 diseases: Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Rubella, severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and Meningitis & Pneumonia caused by Hemophilus Influenza type B
  • Sub-nationally against 3 disease- Rotavirus diarrhea, Pneumococcal Pneumonia and Japanese Encephalitis; of which Rotavirus vaccine and Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine are in process of expansion while JE vaccine is provided only in endemic districts.
Where can we get our children vaccinated?

You can visit any government health facility, including hospitals, medical colleges, urban dispensaries, Primary Health Centres (PHCs), Community Health Centres (CHCs), sub-centres and Anganwadi centres for getting your children vaccinated. Please contact the ASHA /or ANM of your area to get details of the immunization sessions being held near you and ensure you take your children to the nearest immunization session to get them vaccinated as per the recommended immunization schedule.

Also Read : These Para-Athlete Polio Survivors Urge Parents to Vaccinate Kids

Why is timely vaccination important for my child? How much does vaccination cost? 
A health worker administers the vaccine to an infant in India.
A health worker administers the vaccine to an infant in India.
(Photo Courtesy: Facebook/I.T for Development)

Vaccines ensure the best protection to children when they are given at the right ages, and in required number of doses. At certain period of life, there is a maximum incidence of a particular disease. Therefore, to prevent harm caused by the disease, vaccines are provided at that particular age. For example, the occurrence of Polio is maximum in children below 5 years of age; hence, vaccination against polio is given in routine immunization as well as in campaigns to children below 5 years of age.

Vaccines are costly and government spends a lot of money to make them available free of cost to every beneficiary.

My child has received all doses of a vaccine through routine immunization. Will s/he still require additional doses during a campaign? Also, if my child is sick, can s/he be vaccinated?

Yes. A campaign is organized to ensure that majority of children in vulnerable age group get immunized to control transmission of disease causing organism. Thus, even if a child has received the age-specific and recommended vaccines in routine immunization, s/he should get “additional” doses of the vaccine during campaigns. It also provides additional protection to the child against the disease.

A sick child suffering from mild illness (like mild cough and cold, or mild fever) can be safely vaccinated with injectable or oral vaccines. However, a child who has some serious illness or is hospitalized (like in high grade fever, severe diarrhoea, etc.), should not be vaccinated until his or her condition improves.

Also Read : From Rabies to Hepatitis: Why Vaccines Are Important for Adults

Why some vaccines are given in thigh, while others in arm, or orally? Can’t all vaccines be given from mouth, instead of injection?
A child being administered polio drops.
A child being administered polio drops.
(Photo: IANS)

Route of each vaccine is decided after assessing maximum protection that it will generate in the body. Each vaccine leads to protection against target pathogen only when they are administered by its specific route. Therefore, different vaccines are given by different routes.

Can vaccines cause allergy?

Some children may be allergic to certain vaccines or component of a particular vaccine (like antibiotic or preservative), and administration of vaccine in such children may result in allergic reaction, like itching, or appearance of red spots on the body, soon after the vaccination. If there is any history or such kind of symptoms observed during previous vaccinations then inform the same to health worker or doctor before getting the next dose of the vaccine.

(Ms. Preeti Sudan is currently serving as Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India. Prior to this posting, she was Secretary, Department of Food & Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution)

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