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Ravi Kiran, a cute little 4 year old boy had just moved in to my neighbourhood. It took only a few months to start loving him. Believe me, he was such a talkative boy for his age. One day when I returned from the college tired, my mother who was his best friend was gloomy. Apparently, Ravi was admitted in a private hospital that day morning as he had high grade fever and vomiting. When I called his father to enquire about little Ravi’s health, I was told that Ravi was suffering from “Meningitis”. The next day, when I visited him at the hospital, Ravi was in deep sleep. The poor kid was looking very tired. He was diagnosed with “Tuberculous Meningitis” which meant that the bacterium causing Tuberculosis had decided to injure Ravi’s brain instead of his lungs. The infection of the brain had caused the fever, vomiting, seizures and all the other symptoms. Ravi was discharged after about 2 weeks treatment at the hospital. Ravi had survived a deadly disease, but he wasn’t the same old active and talkative boy that everyone loved. He had lost his hearing sense due to the brain injury caused by the Meningitis and the hearing loss was going to be permanent. The disease had changed the life of a boy at such a young age. His parents were the culprits and they knew it.


This is not an isolated event in India. Ravi’s hearing disability could have been easily prevented. His parents were against the idea of vaccination like millions of Indian parents. If Ravi was fully immunized (vaccinated) for his age, he would not have acquired the disease in the first place. Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Haemophilus Influenza are two of the most common causes of Meningitis in young kids of India. There are two very effective vaccines against these dangerous bacterias namely the BCG vaccine and the HiB vaccine. These two vaccines can prevent humans from many diseases including Tuberculous Meningitis, Miliary Tuberculosis, Otitis Media (ear infection), Pneumonia (lung infection), Encephalitis (brain infection) and so on.

Every parent who is against the idea of vaccine is misinformed – period! They do not know the importance of vaccines and how effective they are. In this article, I will try to clarify some of the common doubts and misinformations regarding vaccines.

The Importance of Vaccines

Dr. Edward Jenner – Father of Vaccination

Vaccines are without doubt one of the most important inventions of mankind. From preventing a deadly disease like Small Pox which has taken the lives of many unfortunate people to completely eliminating the same disease from the face of earth and now, playing a huge role by preventing deadly cancers like liver and cervical cancers, vaccines are no doubt the most important development in healthcare sector around the world. Not only Small Pox, many diseases have been already completely eliminated from many developed countries only because of proper and effective vaccination programmes in those countries. The WHO (World Health Organization) declared India as a “Polio Free” nation in 2014. This is a huge milestone in India’s healthcare system considering the facts that neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan are still hot regions of Polio. The very last case of Polio to be reported in India was in 2011, thanks to the Polio vaccine and the effective National Immunization Programmes. The Government of India has been providing many vaccines absolutely free of cost to the whole Indian population for more than 30 years now. Considering the fact that many diseases can be prevented with just a few shots and drops of vaccines, it is a wise investment even if one has to purchase the vaccines which are not included in the Immunization Programmes.

If you want to know more about the Universal Immunization Programme, click here.

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Due to the advances in Medical science, a lot of effective vaccines are currently available in the market which prevents us from numerous diseases. Vaccines have been discovered against bacterias as well as viruses which are the agents behind many diseases. Some of the major vaccine preventable diseases are :-

  • Poliomyelitis or Polio
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • German Measles or Rubella
  • Hepatitis
  • Rotavirus Disease
  • Cervical cancer caused by Human Papilloma Virus
  • Liver Cancer caused by Hepatitis Virus

 

 

  • Tuberculosis
  • Diseases caused by H.Influenza like otitis media, pneumonia, meningitis etc
  • Diphtheria
  • Whooping Cough or Pertussis
  • Tetanus 

 

Are Vaccines Safe

Vaccines have been introduced to the world for more than 50 years now. Vaccines are safer than most antibiotics and drugs used to relieve pain. Every vaccine is introduced after years of clinical studies by researchers, scientists, doctors and other professionals. The chances of getting severe allergic reactions to vaccines are minimal compared to most of the newer antibiotics. Every time a vaccine is introduced into India’s National Immunization Programme, the false news of the safety and dangers of vaccination spreads among the medias. This is the work of vaccine haters, usually those people who do not believe in modern medicine. The medias then take up these silly protests and blows it up to create a hot breaking news. If you are worried about the safety of the vaccines, ask your doctors and do not depend on the news medias to clear up your doubts.

The usual side effects of vaccination are redness, sometimes and pain at the site of injection. But that can happen in any injections and is not confined to vaccines alone. Fever can occur in some kids and that can be easily kept under control by fever reducing medicines. Even if these reactions happen (which occur rarely) it can be controlled with few medications and most of these reactions are not severe. These reactions are nothing compared to the disabilities that these vaccine preventable diseases can cause. Your baby might cry in pain for a few minutes, but if you do not vaccinate, your child along with you could cry for a lifetime.

Vaccination saves Money and Time

“Prevention is always better than cure”

I don’t think anyone would disagree with that. Vaccines can prevent many diseases as listed above. Please do not under-estimate these diseases. Only a few of them are life threatening, but most of these diseases have life long complications. Disabilities are the most threatening complications of these diseases. For example, Polio can make a child lifelong paralysed. Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS-Rubella in a newborn baby of an affected mother) can make the child mentally retarded, if the child survives. Heart diseases, Cataracts and Hearing loss are the other conditions associated with CRS. Meningitis and Encephalitis can injure any part of the brain and thereby affecting any part of the body including sensory organs. Who would want their child to be disabled for lifetime? Just consider the amount of time and money one can save by preventing such disabilities! I would recommend the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to all the girls who are about to get married even if 3 doses of the vaccine costs around 10k Indian Rupees, simply because it prevents Cervical cancer in women.

Vaccination Protects Everybody

One of the main reasons why Vaccinations are superior to medicines is the fact that they work by producing immunity in the individual as well as the community. This type of Immunity is called “Herd Immunity”. This means that one vaccinated child can induce the immunity acquired from the vaccination to another unimmunized child in the neighbourhood. This is also the reason why many children who are not vaccinated, gets protection from the disease. They get the immunity from the vaccinated children in their community. Taking this fact into consideration, you can help your whole family, your friends and your community to get immunity against the vaccine preventable diseases if you vaccinate your child. Thus, vaccination is a social service to be honest.

When to avoid Vaccines

Mild fever, running nose, cough are not contraindications for vaccination. Children who are taking drugs which suppress the immune system like steroids for lung diseases and kidney diseases should not be given “Live” vaccines. The “whole” Pertussis component in DPT vaccine should not be given to children suffering from Neuronal diseases like seizures. In this case, “acellular” Pertussis vaccine can be recommended. Children known to have congenital heart or other organ diseases should first consult with their doctors before administering the vaccines.

Wrapping Up

Vaccines are one of the most important inventions of mankind. They are very effective in preventing many diseases some of which are disabling and even life threatening. India is a Polio free nation now only because of vaccines. They are safe and causes only minimal side effects (if any) which are not severe. The benefits of disease prevention offered by these vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects. Parents who are not willing to vaccinate their children are surely misinformed. Vaccines has helped in eradicating some killer diseases from this world like Small Pox and is on the verge of eliminating several other diseases. If we vaccinate our children today, we can help eradicate some of the present diseases and save our future generations form it’s hold. My only request to the Vaccine Haters is this – even if you do not encourage vaccination, please do not deter it and spread false information about it.

Dr Prasoon

Dr Prasoon

Author at BeingTheDoctor
Dr Prasoon, founder of BeingTheDoctor is a qualified medical practitioner who finds time to write articles on "health" and his "clinical experiences". He is currently engaged in providing primary health care services in rural India. Learn more in the "about" page.
Dr Prasoon
Why to Vaccinate your Child?
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