Vaccines are biological products that impart immunity to the recipient. Vaccines may be live attenuated, killed or toxoids.
Vaccines are administered to children to protect them from infections that could cause death or severe disability.
Vaccines are of three types:
Killed vaccines: Killed vaccines contain microorganisms that are killed by various processes. E.g. Salk vaccine for polio.
Live attenuated vaccines: These vaccines contain live microorganisms that can multiply to a limited extent in the child, but they are unable to produce an infection. They usually provide long-lasting immunity. They could, however, result in disease in people with decreased immunity, for example, those suffering from cancer, AIDS or under treatment with corticosteroids; live attenuated vaccines should be avoided in people with decreased immunity. E.g. oral polio vaccine.
Toxoids: These are bacterial toxins that have been rendered inactive, but they retain their ability to produce an immune reaction. E.g. tetanus toxoid and diphtheria toxoid.
A vaccine is made often from bacteria and viruses, but is unable to produce an infection in a normal child. However, it retains its ability to produce an immune reaction. The child produces antibodies against the organism, thus conferring protection to the child against that particular organism. For example, if a live attenuated polio vaccine is administered to the child, the child produces an immune reaction against the polio virus in the vaccine. The same antibodies also protect the child if an actual polio virus infects the child.
Most vaccines are safe in children and do not cause any complications. Mild adverse effects like local pain, fever and mild rash may be observed. Serious complications are rarely observed with the use of vaccines. The benefits of the vaccines outweigh their risk even in the face of these rare serious complications and their continued use in children is recommended.
The Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) was launched in India in 1978. It aimed to cover 80% infants against six diseases, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, typhoid and childhood tuberculosis. The program was later expanded to cover 100% infants in 1985 and was referred to as the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP). Under this program, typhoid vaccination was discontinued and measles vaccine was added. Vaccines are administered free of cost under this program.
The Indian Academy of Pediatrics also has its list of recommendations to include some of the newer vaccines. These vaccines may be administered to the child if the parents agree and can afford the vaccine. This list includes some of the newer vaccines which have not been considered under the National Program as yet.
- KD Tripathi. Essentials of Medical Pharmacology 6th edition
- Vaccine India - (http://www.vaccineindia.org/)
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