Guide To Compulsory & Optional Vaccines For Babies

7 min read

If there is a newborn baby in the house or you are expecting one soon, people around you make sure that they have made you anxious and worried about the different types of vaccines for the baby. All that discussion and free advice by them is sure to confuse you!

But vaccines are crucial for any newborn baby. There are many questions regarding vaccines that are considered important, which vaccines are optional for babies, and when to give them. Read along, and we’ll try to answer these questions.

doctor giving vaccine to baby

Vaccines Protect the Baby from Infectious Diseases

It is an interesting concept. Say we vaccinate the baby for a disease. The vaccine consists of weakened and preserved disease-causing pathogens. So when the vaccine enters the body via the correct route, it activates the antibodies in our body that protect us against that particular pathogen. These antibodies practice against the vaccine, so when the actual infection occurs, they have the immunity and strength to fight it off.

Look at it this way – you play cricket, you are weak against the bouncer. You practice that ball over and over in the nets, perfecting the ways to deal with it. So during an actual match, whenever you face a bouncer, you can easily dispatch it via a great hook shot!

Importance of Childhood Vaccination

Now that we learned about how vaccines help the body fight pathogens, let us see why it is vital to vaccinate babies during childhood. You must have heard the saying, “Prevention is better than cure.” That is the whole concept behind immunization during childhood. The vaccine develops immunity. So, the baby is not affected by the disease. The body can fight back.

One more reason is the inability and the weakness of a baby to fight diseases on its own. Sure, the baby gets some immunity from the mom, but that fades away by the time the baby gets one year old. This is where vaccines come in. They help develop the strength and the antibodies to fight!

Things to Know for Parents Before Vaccinating their Baby

There are practically infinite things to know about the immunization process for babies, a whole lot of information. But most of the information out there can make you paranoid and anxious! So, let us make it simple for you! The most important thing is knowing the importance of vaccines. And that we have already covered so it’s necessary that every parent understands the importance of vaccines and stick to the schedules as directed by the doctor.

Minimal Side Effects of Vaccination

As little as they might be, there are some adverse effects in the form of discomfort, fever, ache, rashes, or pain at the site of injection. But it is normal. You expect side effects from a vaccine. If your baby has a mild fever or is acting restless after getting a vaccine, you need not worry about it.

Reaction Due To Vaccination

It is a rarity, but the best advice is to get to the nearest doctor to get it examined. The chances of the reaction occurring are negligible. So, it is better to get the vaccine without fearing the possibility of a reaction.

Record All Vaccines Your Baby Has Got

Compulsory vaccines, optional vaccines, number of doses, when to get them, you’ll find all that information as you read along in the next section. Don’t worry. We got it covered! However, for you as a parent, it is important to record all the vaccines given to the baby along with the dates.

baby getting intradermal vaccine

List of Vaccines Considered Necessary

There are several vaccines listed out there. And you must have heard people talking about many of them. But not all of them are compulsory. The government has only mandated the essential ones, the crucial ones! So here is a list of all the compulsory vaccines for babies:

BCG

  • Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine, commonly known as the vaccine for tuberculosis, is best to vaccinate the baby soon after birth.
  • If that is difficult, we can vaccinate the baby before it turns twelve months old.
  • The vaccine is intradermal. In simple terms, it is injected between the layers of the skin, usually the upper left arm region.
  • In India, it is compulsory.

BCG vaccine is not compulsory in the countries where the risk is not significant, like the US, Switzerland, Norway, etc. According to the WHO 2019 report, India recorded 2.64 million TB cases. As the risk is quite high, BCG is mandatory.

baby getting intramuscular injection

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis is a viral disease that affects the liver. It causes the liver to swell, leading to consequences. It is common in Asian countries, especially China and India. So, it is made compulsory upon birth.

  • The Hepatitis B vaccine is intramuscular. In other words, it is injected into the muscles, usually around the mid-thigh region.
  • It is given right after the baby is born, within 24 hours.
  • Another way of vaccinating the baby is three separate doses.
  • The first dose is given when the baby is six weeks old.
  • The second one is given when the baby is ten weeks old.
  • The baby gets the final dose when it turns fourteen weeks old.

Pentavalent

It is one of the most important vaccines for the baby. As the name suggests, it combines five vaccines. It consists of:

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Haemophilus Influenza Type B infection
  • Hepatitis B

The pentavalent vaccine needs three intramuscular doses. The baby gets the first dose when it turns six weeks old. When the baby turns ten weeks old, it gets the second dose. The final jab happens when the baby turns 14 weeks old.

baby getting oral vaccine

OPV

OPV or Oral Polio Vaccine is famously known as “two drops of life” in the Amitabh Bacchan advert on television!

  • Two drops are the dose for the polio vaccine, right after the baby’s birth.
  • The baby gets three more doses of polio – when it turns six weeks, ten weeks, and fourteen weeks respectively.
  • The baby gets one more dose, called the booster dose when it is between 16 to 24 months old.

RVV

If a baby is having loose motions all the time, there might be a chance of Rotavirus infection. It is contagious and challenging to control! Therefore, RVV is prescribed by doctors.

  • RVV, Rotavirus Vaccine immunes the babies from this virus.
  • Three oral doses, five drops each, when the baby turns six weeks, ten weeks, and fourteen weeks old.

Measles

Measles, another lethal viral infection, can cause severe respiratory problems. It leads to pneumonia in babies, which can have serious consequences, even death.

  • The baby can take the first dose of measles anytime between when it is 9 to 12 months old.
  • It is injected between the skin and muscles
  • It is called the subcutaneous injection method and is taken on the right upper arm.

baby getting subcutaneous vaccine

Optional Vaccines for Babies

As mentioned earlier, not all vaccines are compulsory! Apart from the ones above, all the other ones are optional because the risk factor isn’t high. So, the government hasn’t mandated them. Here is a list of all the optional vaccines:

HiB (Haemophilus Influenza Type B Vaccine)

The infection in the bloodstream that these bacteria cause is very serious. It can be fatal for babies. However, it is rare, and thus, the vaccine is not compulsory. But it is recommended. Mode of vaccination: intramuscular injection on the thigh.

PCV (Pneumococcal Vaccine)

The major threat from this bacteria is pneumonia. It can be difficult to treat babies and hence PCV is recommended. The baby gets an intramuscular injection on the thigh.

Varicella

Varicella immunes the baby against chickenpox. Chickenpox is quite rare, so the varicella vaccine is not mandatory. It is injected via subcutaneous injection.

Risk and Responsibilities of Parents Who Choose not to Vaccinate their Babies

In India, most of the parents who have not vaccinated their babies at the right time are not fully aware of the importance and so, they may skip vaccination entirely. It comes down to lack of information or the accessibility to information. Or straight up, it can be out of ignorance, which is sad.

However, many parents choose not to vaccinate their baby, even though they have all the information about it. But with that decision come some risks and responsibilities, which they need to know about:

Have a look at the Risks associated with it!

  • The immunity is weak, so the risk of infection is high.
  • You are putting others around you at risk. It may infect the elderly and weak people in the family and community, like newborns.
  • The baby can get infected.
  • When there is an outbreak of a vaccine-preventable disease, the risk for your baby is extremely high.

And with all these Risks come Responsibilities

  • You got to speak honestly about the vaccination history of your baby to the healthcare professionals.
  • Learning and diagnosing symptoms for vaccine-preventable diseases is important.
  • Being aware of the guidelines in case of infection is an important responsibility.
  • Take extra care while traveling. Prevent contact with unknown people.

We recommend getting your baby vaccinated based on all the necessary information we have provided. Remember, one single step from your end can help the baby fight serious diseases its entire life!

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