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Unlike the other pages on this site, the vaccination pages are country specific -- oriented to India.


Essential Childhood Vaccines

This article written by:
Dr. Parang Mehta
About Dr Parang

Vaccines are meant to protect children from diseases.  With the increasing number of diseases now preventable by vaccination, it has become necessary to take a close look at vaccines available and decide which ones are important.

The Government of India has decided that vaccination against certain diseases is important for all children in our country.  These vaccines must be given to all children.  The list is based on a study of the vaccines, the local disease patterns, and cost of immunising the annual birth cohort (all the children born in the country in a year -- about ten million in India.)

Tuberculosis :- This is a common and dangerous disease, and affects both adults and children.   It is becoming common in developed countries again, as an accompaniment to the AIDS pandemic.  Children usually get the disease from adults in the home, but the source of infection could be anyone -- servant, teacher, visitors, etc.  The BCG vaccine gives some protection against it.  Only a single dose is needed, as soon after birth as possible.

Poliomyelitis :- This disease can cause life long paralysis.  The Oral Polio vaccine protects children against this terrible and incurable disease.  Five doses are recommended in the first year in India, followed by one booster each in the second and fifth years.

Apart from these doses, two additional doses are given every year as part of the National Pulse Polio Campaign.  These two doses must be given to all children below the age of five years, even if they have received the full routine vaccination.


Whooping Cough.  

These diseases are unfortunately still common.  They can be prevented by giving three doses of the  DPT vaccine  in the first year, and one booster each in the second and fifth years.  Children receiving this vaccine do not need to be given the tetanus vaccine every time they are hurt.

Measles :- This is the most highly infectious human disease known, and affects almost every unvaccinated child.  Measles can be a very severe disease, sometimes even causing death.  There is no treatment for this viral illness.  The measles vaccine offers protection against this illness.  It should be given after the age of nine months but is given sooner under special circumstances.

Other vaccines are available, which are sometimes called optional or additional vaccines.  They do protect your child against some troublesome diseases.  Many diseases are not serious or life-threatening, but can lead to school absenteeism, and even the loss of an academic year, if they strike during examinations.  On the other hand, some diseases are serious but rare.  And in some cases, the vaccine is on the optional list because of its high cost.  The parents of each child can make a decision on whether to take them or not.

Last revision: July 30, 2010

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