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Why are parents not getting their children vaccinated?

Written by Editorial Team |Published : May 6, 2014 11:42 AM IST

immunizationEven in the face of outbreak of a disease, parents are often found lacking in getting their kids vaccinated, indicated a study. 'We have always assumed that when the risk of catching a disease is high, people will accept a vaccine that is effective in preventing that disease. Our results may challenge this assumption,' said Elizabeth Wolf of University of Washington in the US.

For the study, researchers compared rates of infant vaccination with the diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine (DTaP) before and during an epidemic of pertussis (whooping cough) in Washington state. They found no difference in vaccination rates. Washington state experienced a pertussis epidemic from Oct 1, 2011, through Dec 31, 2012, and infants were hit the hardest. (Read: 10 vaccines recommended for your child)

The highly contagious bacterial disease causes uncontrollable, violent coughing that can make it hard to breathe. 'We hypothesised that a whooping cough epidemic would result in more parents getting their children immunised against whooping cough,' Wolf explained. 'But compared to a time before the 2011-12 whooping cough epidemic in Washington state, there was no significant increase in receipt of whooping cough vaccines for infants during the epidemic,' she noted. (Read: 8 ways to make your baby's vaccination appointment easy (Gallery))

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Why you are giving vaccines to your child?

Giving vaccines for different diseases confers what is called 'acquired immunity' to the disease in the way described above. Some of the diseases like polio, TB, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Measles, Hepatitis B which can be deadly in children can be prevented with vaccines.

In public health practice, vaccination is given to confer community protection so that even unimmunized children will have a reduced risk of getting the disease. This is called as the 'herd effect' of immunization.

What vaccines are available and what diseases are they effective against?

Vaccines recommended by the Government and available at Government hospitals at reduced costs include:

  • BCG vaccine (mandatory) Given as an intradermal injection soon after birth; prevents TB. Can cause a raised area at the site of the injection, do not apply any medicine to the site.
  • OPV vaccine (mandatory) Given orally as several doses till the age of five, this prevents polio. Poliomyelitis is a disease which affects the nerves causing muscle weakness and paralysis. It is given free of cost to all children below five years of age under the Pulse Polio programme.
  • DPT vaccine (mandatory) Given as an intradermal injection, it prevents three diseases (Diphtheria, Pertrussis and Tetanus).
    a. Diphtheria is an infection which starts with a 'sore throat' but can rapidly lead to formation of toxins (poisons) causing life-threatening complications.
    b. Pertrussis (whooping cough) affects the lungs in children below 15 months of age. Starting with cold and cough, it progresses to episodes of coughs with a 'whoop'. Complications include pneumonia, brain damage and death.
    c. Tetanus starts when a wound is infected with bacteria found in soil, it affects the body's muscles and nerves. The toxin produced by the bacteria causes muscle spasms, interferes with nerves and can be fatal. (Read: Vaccines for your child what you should know)

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With inputs from IANS

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