“It was Friday when my daughter came from school complaining she had caught the flu. We sent her to her room and did what all parents do; liquids and meals in bed. We kept her away from school. She became less animated. The fever was gone but she had a sore throat. Her dad took her to the hospital where the doctors said the flu has to run its course. One day as I was helping her take a bath, her eyes began to shut. She stopped breathing. My daughter died in my arms. If I knew the flu was going to take my beautiful girl away, I’d have begged her to take the vaccine. There are parents out there that believe the shot is bad. Death is bad.”
This is a mother sharing her daughter’s story. She is now living with the guilt of not getting her daughter immunized at birth.
What is Immunization?
Immunization is a process of making the human body ready to fight against infections and prevent life threatening conditions. It is a cost-effective investment in the health of our children.
When you get sick, the body produces anti-bodies to fight against the germs to provide protection. These antibodies stay in your body even after the disease disappears to protect you from falling to the same illness again. This is called immunity. However, you don’t have to get sick to develop immunity. You can gain immunity against diseases through immunization.
Immunization is achieved through vaccination which is the administration of a vaccine via an injection or in the form of drops.
Immunization Coverage in Pakistan
In Pakistan, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) is working hard to vaccinate 6 million children against 9 targeted diseases. The program is being carried out in each province of the country. Children are fully immunized in most of Punjab, Sindh, KPK and Baluchistan.
EPI focuses on the following 9 deadly Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs) in Pakistan:
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Immunizations, also called Vaccinations, are shots/drops given at birth to infants and young children of different ages for disease control and prevention, providing life-time protection in just a few rupees. It prevents a child from falling prey to an illness and stops the spread of the disease from one child to another and thus leads to a healthier community, reducing morbidity and mortality.
Side-Effects of the Vaccine Shots
Some common side effects of vaccination shots are as follows, however these should not be taken as a reason to opt out of immunization.
Injection site reactions (pain, swelling, and redness)
Muscle and joint pain
However, these can’t be as bad as death! Not vaccinating potentiates the risk.
Recommended immunization schedule of Pakistan is as follows:
BCG & Oral Polio Vaccine
Pentavalent (DPT, Hep-B, Hi B) & OPV
6,10 & 14 weeks
3 Doses at 4 weeks a part
Measles, Mumps & Rubella (MMR)
1st Booster DPT/D.T & OPV
2nd Booster DPT/D.T & OPV
from 9 months
from 1 year 2
2 Doses, &12 months a part Others
Immunization coverage in Pakistan could be improved by taking the following initiatives:
Emphasis on early childhood immunizations
Increased access to antenatal care
Incorporation of tetanus immunizations as standard of care during antenatal visits
Appropriate counseling during maternal tetanus immunization campaigns