Immunization has had an enormous impact on improving health statistics in any country. Vaccination plays a vital role to prevent infants, children and teens from 14 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine- preventable diseases can be serious if left untreated and may require hospitalization. You may wish to know how vaccines work on your health & immunity.
How do Vaccines help preventing diseases?
Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to diseases. When germs, like bacteria/viruses invade body, they attack and multiply. The immune system then has to fight the infection. Vaccines cause the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recognize and fight the vaccine-preventable disease in the future. Sometimes after getting a vaccine, there are minor symptoms,(redness or swelling) indicating the body building immunity.
Polio is a contagious disease. It spreads through contact with stool of an infected person or droplets of sneeze or cough. An infected person may spread the virus to others immediately before and usually 1 to 2 weeks after, developing symptoms. It can contaminate food and water when people do not wash their hands. The best way to protect against polio is to get the Polio vaccine called IPV (or inactivated poliovirus). Polio vaccine protects your child from polio& developing lifelong paralysis from polio.
Tetanus is non-contagious but serious disease caused by bacteria made toxin (poison). It causes painful muscle stiffness and can be deadly. Tetanus is very dangerous. It can cause breathing problems, muscle spasms, and paralysis (unable to move parts of the body). Muscle spasms can be strong enough to break a child’s spine or bones. The tetanus bacteria is found in soil. They get into the body through puncture, cut, or sore skin. A person can also be infected after a burn or an animal bite. The safest way to protect against tetanus is by getting the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTap shot). It protects your child from tetanus & painful muscle stiffness from tetanus.
3. FLU (Influenza)
The flu (influenza) is caused by influenza viruses, infecting nose, throat and lungs. Flu spreads easily causing serious problems, especially for very young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with asthma & diabetes through talks, cough, or sneeze, and drops of saliva with virus in the mouths or noses of people nearby. You may also get the flu by touching your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching flu infected object. The best way to protect against the flu is by getting the flu vaccine. It protects your child from flu and its spread including babies younger than 6 months who are too young to get the vaccine
4. HEPATITIS B
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus with developing an acute infection leading to hospitalization. Some people suffer from chronic hepatitis B infection even after 6 months leading to serious health problems like liver cancer.
The best way to stay protected of hepatitis B is getting hepatitis vaccine and boosters. It not only protects the spread but also prevents developing liver disease and cancer from hepatitis B.
5. HEPATITIS A
Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus. Children with the virus often don’t have symptoms, but they can pass the disease to others, including their unvaccinated parents or caregivers. These individuals can get very sick leading to hospitalization. Getting Hepatitis A vaccine is the best way to prevent hepatitis A vaccine. It not only protects from the deadly spread of hepatitis infection but also prevents your child from getting sick from hepatitis A as he or she gets older, when the disease is more serious.
Rubella, also called “German measles,” is a disease caused by virus. The infection is usually mild with fever & rashes. But, if a pregnant woman gets infected, this dangerous virus can cause either miscarriage or serious birth defects. The best protection against Rubella is getting measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR shot). It is vitally recommended by doctors for children and pregnant women
Measles is a contagious disease affecting the respiratory system causing fever & rashes. It is very dangerous for babies & young children where it can lead to pneumonia or deafness. The best protection against Measles is getting measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR shot). Doctors recommend 2 timely doses of MMR for children. It protects not only from measles but also the uncomfortable rashes & fever.
8. WHOOPING COUGH(PERTUSSIS)
Whooping cough or Pertussis is a serious respiratory infection of the Pertussis bacteria. It causes violent unstoppable coughing, being most harmful for young babies. It spreads easily through the air when a person with whooping cough breathes, coughs, or sneezes. The best protection against whooping cough is getting diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine (DTaP shot). Doctors recommend 5 timely doses for children.
Mumps is a contagious virus infected disease that spreads easily through sneezing & coughing causing long term health problems. It can spread before swollen glands appear or 5 days afterward. If symptoms are not mild, it may lead to meningitis, encephalitis or deafness. The best protection from Mumps is to get MMR vaccine. It protects your child from getting fever and swollen glands under the ears or jaw from mumps.
Diphtheria is a contagious disease caused by bacteria made toxin (poison) coating the back of nose or throat which can often get so thick that it blocks the airway to breathe. Diphtheria toxin can affect heart, causing abnormal heart rhythms & even heart failure. It can also affect nerves leading to paralysis. The best protection against diphtheria is getting the DTaP vaccine. Although DTap does not offer lifetime protection from diphtheria, boosters called Td vaccine are needed to keep up the protection. It can protect your child from developing thick coating in the nose or throat which makes breathing or swallowing difficult.
11. HIB (Haemophilus influenzae)
Hib disease is a serious illness caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae-B. Babies and children younger than 5 years old are most prone to Hib disease, causing lifelong disability. Symptoms differ depending on affected body part. The best protection against Hib disease is by getting Hib vaccine. This vaccine not only Hib casing lifetime disability but also protects your child from Meningitis (infection of the covering of brain & spinal cord).
12. CHICKEN POX
Chickenpox is a disease causing fever & itchy rashes of blisters spreading over whole body. It can be serious and even life-threatening, especially in babies, adults with weak immune systems. It spreads easily through cough/sneezes and also by touching the infected blisters. Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine protects your child from getting chickenpox and facing the uncomfortable itchy blisters. Doctors recommend 2 doses of Chickenpox vaccine.
13. Pneumococcal Disease
Pneumococcal disease is caused by the pneumococcus bacteria. It is often mild but can cause serious symptoms, lifelong disability, or death, especially children younger than 2 years. The best protection against pneumococcal disease is getting pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13).Doctors recommend 4 doses of PCV13 for younger children. It prevents your child from developing pneumococcal meningitis and pneumonia.
Rotavirus is a virus causing severe diarrhea & vomiting, leading to serious dehydration (loss of body fluid). The rotavirus virus spreads easily in families & hospitals through stool, diapers, hands etc. The best protection against rotavirus is by getting the Rotavirus vaccine. Doctors recommend 2-3 doses of this vaccine. It protects your child from Rotavirus & developing diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain from rotavirus.
Immunization is every child’s basic childhood rights and one should make enough efforts to keep them protected from these deadly contagious diseases. Vaccines are always safe to prevent the spread of diseases and effective in eradication of a certain health issue from society.
Dr. Pratik Paudel
Kathmandu Neuro and General Hospital