Do you remember the first time when you took your li’l one for vaccination? I remember it oh so well! My husband went inside to hold and get the baby vaccinated while I waited outside with my fingers plugging my ears so I don’t hear him cry. And at the same time, I was bawling my eyes out. The nurses were so amused looking at the spectacle that I was, that they stopped whatever they were doing and huddled around to console me. Things have been much better since that day but I still get the heebie-jeebies if I am the only one taking them to the doctor. I prefer that my husband does the ‘’holding down’’ while I do the ‘’consoling’’ part.
We all are aware of the importance of following the schedule for vaccination. The basic vaccination schedule given by IAP (Indian Academy of Pediatrics) gives a range of time between which you can get your child immunized with a specific vaccine. Here are some of the common myths and facts related to vaccination. However, I would like to specify that as every child is different therefore do consult your pediatrician before making any vaccine-related decision. This writes up is for you to make more informed choices.
Severe reactions in store!
Myth: Vaccines can cause severe reactions and might cause the very disease they are being administered for.
Fact– The word ‘’vaccine’’ means exposing a healthy child to a weakened or dead virus. Something that might make us nervous as parents. The thing is that no vaccine is 100% risk-free or provides complete protection yet the chances of a child developing a reaction to a vaccine are far less than all the hassles a child might have to go through if it actually contracts the disease.
Not every kid needs vaccination!
Myth: It’s OK if few kids are not vaccinated if most of the kids are.
Fact– It is vital for every kid to be vaccinated on time to be fully sure that they are protected. The kids who are not vaccinated on time can act as reservoirs for the virus. Those kids can be at risk who are either behind their schedule or cannot be vaccinated due to certain medical issues if they are exposed to a kid who is not vaccinated. A non-vaccinated kid can also be a risk factor for pregnant women and very small babies who are yet to be vaccinated.
The vaccine isn’t a lifelong friend
Myth: The effects of a vaccine wear off over time.
Fact-Vaccines provide lifetime protection. Only thing is it is not 100%. We do need the booster shots from time to time. For example, a tetanus booster shot is recommended once in ten years. Even if the vaccine is not providing 100% protection and it fails, the outbreak is pretty mild. As seen in chickenpox vaccines many times.
Who needs a vaccine if I got spinach!
Myth: A good diet and a healthy lifestyle is all the protection my child needs.
Fact– while a healthy nutritive diet and a good immune system developed with a good lifestyle may add to the overall health of your child but they do not provide disease-specific protection. For that, you have to put your child’s immune system at the task by exposing it to a specific type of virus so it can produce required antibodies. Through vaccine, this is being done in a more ‘’controlled environment’’ than it will be when your child is exposed naturally to a disease.
Polio is gone and so should vaccination!
Myth: As diseases like diphtheria and polio have been wiped out, I need not get my child vaccinated for them.
Fact– Just because a disease is in its dormant stage does not mean that it will not return. There have been cases where the disease has reared its ugly head and claimed an innocent life. Sometimes the viruses quietly become hybrid and form a more sophisticated and dangerous strain. What with frequent international travels we expose our child to? What if a disease that is dormant in our country is rampant in a country we are traveling to? Until a disease is declared ‘’ eliminated’’ from the face of the earth, we should keep our guard up.
Ain’t no disease high enough for my child!
Myth: Chickenpox is a mild disease that my child can deal with.
Fact– Chickenpox causes more death than any other vaccine-preventable disease can. It can lead to other complications like strep infection. Chickenpox also has the tendency to re-emerge in adults in the form of shingles (herpes zoster) a very painful nerve and skin disease. Although a chickenpox vaccine does not rule out shingles a one hundred percent, the risks are greatly reduced. The older a child gets, the more severe infection a chickenpox attack will cause. Better to expose the child to the virus at a young age and get done with it.
Have a look at this awesome pictorial about vaccinations by Indian Pediatrics Association. Save the image, take a printout and slap it on the fridge door.
So here are some of the myths and facts related to vaccination. What’s your take on vaccination? Are you getting them done on time or are you waiting for the natural exposure? Has there ever been an adverse effect on your child due to vaccination? What was it and how you dealt with it? Let us know in the comments section.