Nine long months of waiting are finally over and your little angel has arrived to fill your life with happiness and tenderness. The year ahead will be full of amazing experiences; your baby’s first smile will bring tears to your eyes; his first attempt to sit or stand will make headlines in your family and his first word will fill you with pride. Along with all these joys, the first year of your baby’s life will also be filled with vaccinations. This may sound scary but remember that shots give you the best shot at protecting your baby from common childhood infections.
TB or tuberculosis is extremely common in India…your baby can get exposed to these dangerous germs anywhere and hence it is a must to protect your baby from this infection by giving him/ her the BCG vaccine at birth in the hospital itself before you and your new-born are discharged.
Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection mainly acquired through contact with blood and body fluids. There is no cure for this deadly infection and hence prevention is the only way to protect your baby. Hep B vaccine is given in three doses: at birth, at 6 weeks, and again at 6 months
DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis)
Diphtheria is a serious respiratory disease which has claimed many lives before vaccinations were initiated. Pertussis was another monster which caused pneumonia in infants. Tetanus is an infection which begins when dirt enters a wound or cut. Tetanus is severely serious in newborn babies and young children. Your baby is protected from this dangerous trio with the DTP vaccine recommended at age of 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks by the IAP.
Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b)
The arrival of the monsoons is marked with the shower with viral infections like influenza. Adults may be able to withstand the flu with rest and fluids but in an infant, it can cascade to pneumonia and bronchitis and hospitalization. You can protect your baby from this by vaccinating him/ her at the ages of 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks.
Polio is a serious viral infection that can cause paralysis. Polio has been curtailed in India because of continuous vaccination programmes, however sometimes outbreaks are seen. Vaccinating your baby for this is mandatory and recommended in four doses at ages 6 weeks, 10 weeks, 14 weeks in the first year of his/ her life.
Diarrhoea is one of the most common causes of infant death and rotavirus is the main culprit behind this. The rotavirus vaccine can prevent your baby from falling prey to this and is given in three doses at age 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks.
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
Pneumococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can cause blood infections (sepsis), pneumonia, and meningitis. IAP guidelines recommend that you protect your baby from pneumococcal disease by vaccinating him/ her at the age of 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks.
MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
Imagine that your baby’s delicate skin gets covered with angry red bumps. This is what happens when your baby suffers from measles. It is sad that India contributes to almost 47% of the Global Measles deaths. Rubella or German measles is a mild viral infection in which fever and rash occurs. Mumps is a painful condition in which the cheeks swell due to infection in the salivary glands. If your baby gets this infection, he/ she won’t be able to swallow and will be restless and irritable for a few days.
These viruses are extremely contagious and can spread through air via coughs and sneezes of infected persons or by touching an infected surface.
The MMR vaccine protects against all three and the first dose is given at the age of 9 months.
Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine
Typhoid, a disease spread by contaminated food, water and flies; is widely prevalent in India. A typhoid conjugate vaccine can protect your baby from this and is given at the age between 9 months to 12 months but with a gap of at least 4 weeks from your baby’s MMR dose.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection that spreads through contaminated water. It can cause dehydration in infants. Hepatitis A vaccination is given at the age of 12 months.
To summarize, your baby will be receiving numerous immunizations during the first 12 months of his/ her life which will protect him/ her against 14vserious illnesses that can cause both him/ her and you untold suffering and discomfort. You may feel that the first year of your baby’s life is loaded with shots but remember that these vaccinations are vital as they provide your baby with the best shot at preventing infections.