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Celebrated every year at the end of April. World Immunisation Week promotes the use as well as awareness of vaccination on a global scale. It marks the importance of Vaccination, which is one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health invention.
Immunization saves millions of lives every year. In 2017, the number of children immunized is 116.2 million, which was the highest ever reported. Still, there are still nearly 20 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world today.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 6.3 million children under the age of 15 years died in 2017. But, out of which 5.4 million were under the age of 5 years.
These statistics are a clear reminder of how far we have still to go. All around the world, various efforts have been made to increase awareness among people about the efficacy of these vaccines. One of them is the World Immunisation Week.
What is Vaccination?
Vaccination or Immunisation is the injection of a killed microbe in order to stimulate the immune system against the microbe for preventing diseases. Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system, the natural disease-fighting system of the body.
In layman words, a vaccine is a treatment which makes the body stronger against a particular infection. In other words, it makes the immune system stronger, which is made up of millions of cells including T cells and B cells.
Four types of vaccines are currently available:
• Live virus vaccines: They use the weakened (attenuated) form of the virus. Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine, all comes in this category.
• Killed (inactivated) vaccines: These vaccines are made from a protein or other small pieces taken from a virus or bacteria. Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine is an example of this.
• Toxoid vaccines: are the ones that contain a toxin or chemical made by the bacteria or virus. They will make you immune to the harmful effects of the infection and not to the infection itself. Diphtheria and tetanus vaccines are examples.
• Biosynthetic vaccines: They contain man-made substances that are very similar to pieces of the virus or bacteria. The Hepatitis B vaccine falls in this category of vaccines.
How does a vaccine Work?
Vaccines are more like an early training, to prepare the body in advance of a foreign invasion (also infection). They prepare the body to fight against diseases without exposing it to disease symptoms.
When bacteria or viruses enter the body, immune cells called lymphocytes respond by producing antibodies (protein molecules). These antibodies fight the invader (also antigen) and protect the body against further infection.
But, when the body faces a particular invader for the first time, it can take several days to produce an antibody response. For antigens like the measles virus or whooping cough bacteria, a few days is too long. At last, the infection can spread and kill the person before the immune system can fight back.
And that’s where vaccines come in. They are made of dead or weakened antigens. Vaccines can’t cause an infection, but the immune system still sees them as an enemy and produces antibodies in response. After the danger has passed, most of the antibodies will break down, but immune cells called memory cells remain in the body.
When the body encounters that antigen again, the memory cells will produce antibodies fast while striking down the invader before it’s too late.
Common Vaccines around Us
Immunization in India was introduced in 1978 as an Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI). The programme came into force in 1985 and was expanded as Universal Immunization Programme (UIP) to cover all districts in the country by 1989-90.
In 1992, UIP becomes a part of the Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme. And since 1997, immunization activities have been an important agenda of National Reproductive and Child Health Programme.
Under the Guide of UIP, Government of India is providing vaccination to prevent seven vaccine preventable diseases i.e. Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, a severe form of Childhood Tuberculosis and Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) and Diarrhoea.
Following are the most common Vaccines:
Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) Vaccine:
It’s a class of combination vaccines against the three deadly infectious diseases in humans: Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus. The vaccine includes components like diphtheria and tetanus toxoids, which kills whole cells of the bacterium causing pertussis (whooping cough).
Both, DTaP and Tdap are the combined vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The difference is in the dosage, with the upper case letters signifying higher quantity.
In kids, it is given in five doses with the first three doses around 6 weeks, 10 weeks & 14 weeks’ time after birth, fourth dose (the first booster dose) at around 16-24 months and fifth dose (the second booster dose) at 5-6 years. Adults between 18 and 64 years who have completed their primary vaccination, still should get a Td booster dose every 10 years.
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases. If 1 person has it, 9 out of 10 people close to that person who isn’t immune will also get measles. And serious cases of measles can lead to brain damage and even death. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent measles. MMRV vaccine provides protection from measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). The vaccine is given in two doses. The first one between 10 -12 months and the second one around 10 – 24 months. If the vaccine is not given before 12 months, then it can be given up to 5 years.
Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae Type B) Vaccine:
Hib is a bacterial illness that leads to deadly brain infection in young children. It causes diseases like meningitis, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, arthritis and infections of other parts of the body.
Also, it can be transmitted through contact with mucus or droplets from the nose and throat of an infected person.
Hib vaccine protects kids and adults from Hib disease. DTaP-IPV/Hib vaccine protects kids from Hib disease, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, and polio. Given in three doses: At 6 weeks, 10 weeks & 14 weeks after childbirth.
Hepatitis B (Hep B) Vaccine:
Hepatitis B is a disease caused by the hepatitis B virus that affects the liver. It can cause mild illness lasting a few weeks and can lead to serious, lifelong illness.
The disease spreads when blood, semen, or any other body fluid infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person.
The vaccine is made from parts of the hepatitis B virus but it does not cause any infection. Altogether, it is given in 2, 3, or 4 shots over 1 to 6 months.
Infants get their first dose of hepatitis B vaccine at birth and will continue until 6 months of age. If the Adolescents, younger than 19 years of age who have not gotten the vaccine should also get vaccinated.
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccine:
BCG, or Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, is a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB) disease. It’s an infectious disease which mostly affects the lungs and is caused by a bacterium known as Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
The bacteria in the vaccine is weakened (attenuated). So, they do not cause any disease in healthy people. It is given at birth or as early as possible until one year of age and is injected intradermal (in the skin) and on the left upper arm.
So, make your contribution by creating awareness or sharing this information to people around you. I hope that you find this blog interesting and helpful. Feel free to share, like and comment in the section below.
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