Are Vaccines compulsory?

Dr. Paula Goel , pediatrician

Vaccination protects us against diseases. As per the Government of India and the IAP (Indian Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations all children are vaccinated against common & dangerous childhood illnesses . Vaccination starts at birth as babies have low immunity and vaccination helps to build up immunity. Certain vaccines are compulsory or mandatory and are to be given to all babies as soon as they are born as part of the Universal Immunisation Program. Some optional vaccines are also offered to babies who are considered at high risk of catching certain diseases, or if they live in or are traveling to high-risk areas.

Compulsory vaccines

  • BCG vaccine for tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • PV (oral vaccine) and IPV (injectable vaccine) against polio
  • DPT vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Haemophilus influenzae B vaccine
  • Rotavirus vaccine
  • Typhoid conjugate vaccine
  • MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella
  • Hepatitis A vaccine

Optional vaccines

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
  • Influenza vaccine
  • Meningococcal vaccine for meningitis
  • Chickenpox  (varicella)
  • Japanese encephalitis vaccine and Cholera vaccines are given in high risk areas only, or in case of travel to high-risk areas.

The same vaccine may have to be given at different age groups to increase immunity. Vaccines are given as per the vaccine schedule at different age groups  from infancy to 10years of age .  The childhood vaccines lose their immunity by the time the child becomes a teenager , hence Vaccines are given in teenage years to boost up the immunity .  The vaccine schedule states the age at which the specific vaccine has to be given . The incidence of childhood diseases have decreased with the improvement in the vaccination schedule and the death rate of children under 5 years have decreased . Eventually , these diseases will be eradicated completely . Vaccination continue to be given, even after eradication of the disease, to prevent the resurgence of the disease.
Regular followups are needed to prevent the diseases from reappearing nd causing epidemics in community . New vaccines are available in the market under different trade names . Combination of vaccines are available like 5in 1 vaccine or 6 in 1 vaccine . Same vaccine may be available in different formulations like oral polio and injectable polio
It is important to keep updated with the latest vaccination schedules and also ensure that your child receives vaccines that are considered to be painless
Some vaccines can be combined to reduce the total number of shots your child gets.

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