Babies are born with protection against some diseases. The antibodies (certain proteins) are transferred to babies through placenta by their mother. Breast milk strengthens the immunity of the baby after birth and this immunity that babies get through breast milk supports their bodies in long term. Breast milk has the power to fight with all diseases that baby may catch from his surrounding environment and speeds the recovery as it has antibodies in it.
Vaccination or immunization is done till the age of 10/12 (according to schedule your pediatrician provides). Vaccination means protection. It is ways to create immunity against the diseases that can be prevented. They are one of the best protective measures against contagious diseases.
Understanding how vaccinations work:
Vaccine shots are made of disease-causing bacteria or virus but weakened or killed. The immune system of the body recognizes the foreign bodies and produce antigens or antibodies that fight the germs. These antigens attack the germs and eliminate them.
Once these antibodies are done fighting the foreign bodies, they don’t dissolve or disappear, instead, they remain in the bloodstream and protect against these disease in future before these germs have a chance of making you sick.
Painful and painless injection:
There are two kinds of vaccinations you can opt from.
1. Painful injection
2. Painless injection
Painless injections are recent inventions. Like painful vaccines, they are also given in combinations. They are acellular vaccines with fewer numbers of antigens as compare to painful vaccines. It is due to the absence of these few antigens that there is little or no side effect like fever, local pain or local swelling. Painful vaccines have whole cell bodies due to which the body needs more internal working and so there are symptoms like pain, fever or swelling.
Soothing newborn from a vaccine shot:
- Discuss with your pediatrician properly about painful and painless vaccination and choose accordingly.
- Hold the baby close to you and keep telling them it is going to be okay. Make them feel safe.
- It is advised to feed baby 30 minutes after the shot, post them keep breastfeeding them whenever they demand.
- Baby may lose appetite; sometimes he may even reject breast milk. Don’t worry or panic. Just keep him close to give comfort.
- Distract him with conversation or toys.
- Apply an ice pack on the vaccine spot thrice in a day for 2 days.
- Skip message for two days.
- Make sure that doctor prescribes medicine for fever. Keep the medicine with you; don’t wait for fever. Give the dosage as prescribed.
- It’s important that you stay calm. Babies sense panic easily and tend to behave cranky if they see you worried or nervous.
- Most importantly, if the baby has a fever or any other discomfort, the vaccination schedule is rescheduled. So always inform the doctor about any discomfort like cold, cough, ear infection, etc before giving a shot.
The vaccinations that are to be given from age 0-12 are:
- Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG); on birth
- Hepatitis-B; birth, 6 weeks, 14 weeks
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP); birth, 6 weeks, 10 weeks, 16-18 months, 4-6 years
- Oral polio; birth
- Inactivated polio vaccine; birth, 10 weeks, 14 weeks, 16-18 months
- Influenza type B; 6 weeks, 10 weeks, 14 weeks, 16-18 months
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV ); 6 weeks, 10 weeks, 14 weeks; booster at 15 months
- Rotavirus; 6 weeks, 10 weeks, 14 weeks
- Typhoid conjugate vaccine; 6 months
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); 9 months, 12 months, 4-6 years
- Hepatitis-A; 12 months
- Influenza; 12 months, 15 months
- Varicella; 15 months, 4-6 years
- Tdap and HPV (9-15 years)
The month slots and combinations may vary according to your pediatrician. This is a rough estimate of vaccination chart. Also, oral polio is given at place of injected polio according to availability. A booster may be given at 1.5 years of age.
Importance of vaccination:
Vaccinations are important to provide and strengthen the immunity of the babies. Therefore many diseases that are a threat to children’s life like polio have been eliminated, so it is important to get babies immunized. This not only protects your family but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases in the future.
Prevention is better than cure, so timely vaccinations must be given so that you don’t waste time, money and energy afterward in treating those diseases.
Boosting immunity of kids at home
Immunity in babies is not as strong as immunity in adults and so they are not capable of fighting diseases and infections easily. While vaccinations do the needed, it is also important to follow steps that help them boost their immunity naturally.
Few points are listed below:
- Breastfeed more often and on demand. Breast milk has antibodies.
- Serve seasonal fruits and vegetables. This helps in producing white blood cells and hence improving immunity.
- Boost sleep time. Fix a bedtime routine. Two naps are important for babies to make them relaxed and boost energy.
- Let them indulge in play time. Physical activity is very important for them for a stronger body.
- Vaccinations must be given on time.
- Fix meal time. Having food at regular times and intervals is good for digestion and help in keeping body stronger. Having meals at regular times also allows your child’s body to send hunger cues at meal times, which will allow him/her to eat well, which again leads to better immunity.
- Avoid heavy snacks.
- Always give freshly prepared food. Maintain food hygiene. Wash hands before preparing and feeding food.
- Teach them about healthy food and junk food. Differentiate homemade and the market made food so that they don’t get tempted easily.
- Limit screen time. Educate them about how more screen time can cause problems related to the eyes.
- Add curd in their meal. It has probiotics that help to fight against infections.
- Add garlic in cooking.
- Don’t give them excess sugar. Try replacing sugar with dates or fruits.
- Expose them to sunlight. It helps them with vitamin D in the body.
- Dress them according to the season. Too many layers are not good.