Last Updated on January 10, 2021 by The Health Master
Are vaccines safe ?
One of the most phenomenal achievements of modern medicine was the discovery of the Smallpox vaccine by Dr Edward Jenner in 1798. Since then, vaccination has been the most successful public health tool to curb many diseases across the world.
Despite this, vaccine-preventable diseases account for fatality in children more than any other disease. Growing awareness and popularity regarding newer vaccines have increased its acceptance, but still, there are many myths related to vaccination and its safety.
Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines undergo several phases of safety trials before entering the market. Even after that, they continue to undergo years of post-marketing surveillance by drug regulatory authorities to ensure safety.
Minor side effects like fever, pain at injection site and soreness are quite common, which usually subside in one or two days. Major side effects are extremely uncommon and rarely encountered in clinical practice.
Do vaccines contain harmful compounds?
As vaccines reach out to a large population across various time zones, they contain diluents and stabilizing agents which are important to keep them stable and free of contamination. These chemicals are also tested for safety.
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What kind of diseases are vaccines effective against?
Deadly and debilitating diseases like polio, tuberculosis, whooping cough, hepatitis B, rotavirus diarrhea, measles, tetanus, pneumonia, meningitis, typhoid, jaundice (hepatitis A), chicken pox can be prevented effectively through vaccinations
Are vaccinations optional?
It is a common misnomer that vaccines which are optional need not be taken. Vaccines not included in the national immunization schedule are termed optional, although it is not ‘optional’ in the practical sense.
The Indian Academy of Pediatrics, the national administrative body in the subject, has recommended optional vaccines for all children with affordable and accessible health care facilities. Vaccinations for pneumonia, meningitis, typhoid, hepatitis A, chicken pox and influenza, all come under this category.
Is developing natural immunity better than depending on vaccines?
Another myth among parents is that natural infections offer better and long-lasting immunity than vaccines. This is absolutely baseless, and also puts the child at risk of contracting some deadly infections, which can cause life-long complications.
Some diseases like meningitis, polio, T.B, diphtheria and tetanus can have devastating complications and can be effectively prevented by vaccines.
Can a vaccine be taken later if missed out?
Though it is preferred you take your vaccines as per schedule, most of them can be given later if missed out. This catchup schedule can vary for different vaccines, and should be discussed with the pediatrician.
Can painless vaccines be given instead of normal vaccines?
The primary doses of DPT given at 6, 10 and 14 weeks can cause fever and pain. A painless substitute for this vaccine is available too, which causes less pain at injection sites. These vaccines are not recommended on a routine basis.
They can be considered in rare circumstances where children develop significant reactions after the first dose.
Are there some specific vaccines in females?
HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine in girl children can prevent cervical cancer. This is recommended between 10-14 years and is very effective.
By Dr Bipin Jose
The author is a consultant pediatrician and intensivist at Rajagiri Hospital, Aluva
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