Vaccines and Boosters are essential for full immunity from diseases

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Vaccines and Boosters are essential for full immunity from diseases

World over, parents and children are experiencing a new way of life altogether. A majority of the last three months have been spent indoors. And this is likely to continue for a while. As we adjust to this ‘new normal’, there is also a need for us to understand why vaccinations are even more important in this scenario. Let us make sure that our children are fully protected against preventable diseases.

 

Experts around the globe have expressed concerns over children missing out on critical life-saving vaccines due to the pandemic which could expose them to a whole host of diseases.

 

How do vaccines protect against diseases?

 

Children are born with a full immune system that is capable of recognizing harmful germs and fighting against them without us even knowing it. The body produces antibodies that fight these invading antigens. The body remembers the original antigen and defends itself against it when it attempts to re-infect a person, even after many decades. This protection is called immunity.

Vaccines contain the same antigens or parts of antigens that cause diseases, but the antigens in vaccines are either killed or greatly weakened. When they are injected into fatty tissue or muscle, vaccine antigens are not strong enough to produce the symptoms and
signs of the disease but are strong enough for the immune system to produce antibodies against them. The memory cells that remain, prevent reinfection when they encounter that disease in the future.

 

Vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis

 

Let us discuss the role of vaccinations and immunity specifically from the perspective of vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

Vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis are critical, so much so that the percentage of children receiving the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTP) is often used as an indicator of how well countries are providing routine immunization services.

 

References:


https://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/burden/diphtheria/en/
https://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/burden/vpd/surveillance_type/passive/pertussis/en/
https://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/burden/vpd/surveillance_type/passive/tetanus/en/>

Among the three, diphtheria and pertussis are contagious while tetanus causes significant muscle stiffness and all of them can be fatal.

The Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) recommends that vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis be administered as per the schedule indicated in the figure.

 

 

References:


https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/tdap.html, Accessed on June 25, 2020
http://acvip.org/parents/columns/diphtheria.php, Accessed on June 25, 2020>

It is important to note here that activation of immune memory and the process of antibody creation takes between 4-7 days after a vaccine is administered. But for diseases like
diphtheria and pertussis that have incubation periods shorter than this period require
regular boosters to maintain protective antibody levels.

So while your child may have received the initial doses, it is critical that they receive the prescribed booster doses within the recommended time frame to continue maintaining immunity against these diseases. Furthermore, children are reservoirs of infection and can be carriers of diseases that could put younger siblings and older grandparents at risk. Therefore, vaccination not just protects those who receive it but also those who may not have developed immunity for multiple reasons.

If you have a preschooler, or an adolescent and they are due for a DTP booster, then do not hesitate to call your pediatrician for advice and ensure that they receive their dose on time!
Know More

 


References:


http://acvip.org/parents/columns/how-vaccines-prevent-diseases.php, Accessed on June 25, 2020
https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-health/immunization/, Accessed on June 25, 2020
http://acvip.org/parents/columns/tetanus.php, Accessed on June 25, 2020
https://iapindia.org/pdf/124587-IAP-GUIDE-BOOK-ON-IMMUNIZATION-18-19.pdf, Accessed on June 25, 2020
http://acvip.org/parents/columns/how-vaccines-prevent-diseases.php, Accessed on June 25, 2020

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