The Immunisation Programme | Emma's Diary India

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The Immunisation programme

The Immunisation Programme

We explain child immunisations and the diseases they protect against

Here we look at the immunisation timetable and explain why it's so important for your child to be protected from these illnesses.

Why immunisation works

Internationally, the reason so many of the diseases that children are immunised against are rare or, in some cases, no longer occur in the UK is because of the success of the immunisation programme.

In India, the recommended immunisation schedule or timetable can be found on the Indian Academy of Paediatricians website IAP India Immunization Timetable

How it works

When your baby is immunised she'll be given a weakened form of the disease so that her body naturally produces antibodies to it.

This means that if she then comes in contact with the illness she'll have the antibodies to fight it off.

There is no risk of her catching the disease from the vaccine she's given. However, very occasionally, when children get older they catch an illness that they have been vaccinated against as a baby, but it is in such a mild form that it does them no harm.

How the injections are given

Vaccines are usually injected into the muscle in the thigh, using a small needle. While the injection is being given you'll be asked to hold your baby close and to keep her leg still.

Your baby will probably cry immediately afterwards but should quickly settle. If you are breastfeeding, putting her to the breast during the vaccination will help to comfort her.

Possible side effects

After the injection you may notice that the area becomes red and there may be a small lump at the site of the injection.

You will be advised to give your baby paracetamol following the Men B vaccine at two and four months. This is because fever is very common after this vaccine. Paracetamol should be given as soon as possible after the immunisation and then again 4-6 hours later with a third dose 4-6 hours after that. Ibuprofen is not recommended.

Very occasionally a child may develop a temperature of 39°C or above, or have a fit or convulsion. If any of these symptoms occur or you are at all concerned about your baby always contact your doctor.

What happens if you miss one?

It takes a number of injections before your baby is fully protected, so it's important to complete the whole of the course.

If your baby has missed any she can still catch up, even if it's been a few months since her last injection, and you won't have to start the course all over again.

About the diseases

Diptheria: A rare but potentially fatal disease in which a membrane forms at the back of the nose and throat leading to severe breathing difficulties. It can also damage the heart and nervous system.

Whooping cough (pertussis): This is highly infectious and causes long bouts of coughing and choking. Whooping cough can lead to convulsions, ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis and even brain damage. In babies under one year, it can be fatal.

Tetanus: This disease affects the nervous system causing painful muscle spasms and breathing difficulties. Although it is rare, there is still a very real risk of catching it from infected cuts and it can be fatal.

Hib: Haemophilus influenzae type b is a very serious infection that mainly affects children up to the age of four. Hib Meningitis, which is one form of this disease, can cause brain damage, loss of hearing and other serious health problems and can be fatal if it is not treated quickly.

Pneumococcal infection: This is one of the most common causes of meningitis. It can also cause bronchitis, severe ear and sinus infections and pneumonia.

Meningitis C: Group C meningococcal bacteria cause a form of meningitis and septicaemia (blood poisoning) which can be fatal.

Meningitis B: Meningoccal group B bacteria cause life-threatening infections including meningitis and blood poisoning and is the leading infectious killer of babies and young children in the UK.

Rotavirus gastroenteritis: This is a highly infectious stomach bug that causes diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting, tummy ache and fever. It can lead to complications, such as extreme dehydration, which can be dangerous

Polio: The polio virus can cause muscular paralysis. Although rare in the UK it can still be caught abroad.

Measles: This is a serious illness which can cause inflammation of the brain, convulsions, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia. It can sometimes be fatal.

Mumps: Although this is usually a mild illness it can cause serious complications. One in four boys who get the infection over the age of 12 develop inflammation in one or both testes, which can lead to infertility. Less commonly in both boys and girls it can cause viral meningitis and hearing loss.

Rubella (German measles): A mild disease but one that can seriously harm an unborn baby if it's caught during pregnancy.

Influenza: Flu can be a very unpleasant infection in babies and young children and can lead to serious complications, such as bronchitis, pneumonia and painful middle ear infection. In some cases, hospital treatment is required and in rare cases it can be fatal.

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