Vaccination, as we commonly know, is a term used to define immune system boosting mechanism for any individual at any age to develop adaptive immunity towards an illness or pathogen. It is not necessary that a specific illness may attack an individual at any age for sure. However, building resistance in a human body towards different pathogens is effective in living a longer and healthy life.Hence, childhood vaccinations are really important.
Societal Relevance of Infant Vaccination
Mostly, in developed countries, childhood vaccination schedule for infants is defined right after their birth. Initially after birth, Vitamin K is given to infants to decrease the chance of, now rare, otherwise fatal bleeding disorder known as VKDB (Vit K Deficiency Bleeding). This marks the start of immunization schedule for infants running its course for 2 years. On the contrary, childhood vaccination and initial immunization practices are ignored in underdeveloped countries. Common spread of viruses and bacterial infections and diseases is then abundantly seen in such areas and places where cleanliness and hygienic living standards are not promoted. Children mostly suffer from Influenza, Polio, Rotavirus, Hepatitis, Typhoid etc. This often results in death or a lifelong suffering due to a disability. It may also have no impact on the individual but may be transferred to next generation genetically.
The thinking that not all vaccines are important and that the infant can survive without vaccination is entirely untrue. Unfortunately, our society in Pakistan has a mixed reaction to this thinking. Most of the people are not aware of the importance and relevance of immunization.
History of Vaccination Importance in Pakistan
The last decade has seen a drop in the infant mortality rate due to better awareness and presence better healthcare for both the mother and infant. Vaccinating a child during the first 15 months after birth stamps the child against 10 deadly diseases that commonly affected children in the past. However, previously Pakistan was known to be among the top countries in the world affected by infant diseases. These included the likes of Polio, Tuberculosis, Rota virus, Measles, Chicken Pox etc. Viral fevers were reported in most parts of the country with lesser medical care and increased infant mortality rate.
Such risks have resided with the help of medical campaigns, awareness programs and educating the expecting mothers. Different types of vaccines and their easy availability has enabled medical practices to be far better now for children and their healthy brought up. Until 2011, almost above than 70% of the infants all over Pakistan were vaccinated for Polio, Measles, and TB. However, we’re still one of the last few countries that have been unable to eradicate Polio.
Why Vaccinating Infants is Important until a Specific Age?
Infants are at risk of highly dangerous and sometimes vulnerable to fatal diseases if not taken care of properly. Failure to vaccinate them means putting them directly into harm’s way for their health and future. It is very important to immunize them and prepare their body with strong resistance power to endure illness if affected at any point in life. Commonly given initial vaccines are Hepatitis, BCG vaccine against TB, Rotavirus vaccine, mmr vaccine against measles, rubella and mumps, OPV or IPV vaccine against Polio depending upon the need and the immunization schedule chart etc. Measles or mumps may still attack a child but then it is curable even though measles vaccine has been given. It does not however act fatal to an infant’s body.
General Vaccination Schedule for Infants in Pakistan
Any hospital or small clinic or medical centre can provide a general chart of vaccination and immunization schedule for a newborn and it can be followed easily. The Expanded Program for Immunization by the Government of Pakistan has clearly declared a schedule for infant vaccination schedule. For reference, following can be taken into consideration:
More awareness to people about vaccinating their children is necessary. There are still rural areas and underdeveloped locations in our country where the sufficiency of medical needs is at risk. Health topics, related health articles, medical campaigns, medical camps, and better education system can all help in eradicating the infant affecting diseases effectively. Free of cost medical services in areas where parents are poorly educated or have low awareness on hygienic and healthy lifestyles can benefit from such practices. This can eventually improve a healthy lifestyle for their children. You can also visit your nearby children hospital to know more about childhood vaccinations.