Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.
Immunization prevents many childhood diseases which would have resulted in hospitalization, death or lifelong consequences only a few decades ago. It prevents over two million deaths worldwide every year. It is important as a parent that you appropriately immunize your child. It is one of the most important ways to prevent your child from having diseases. Vaccines are scheduled based on the prevalent diseases in an area. The different vaccines your child should receive include;
- BCG vaccine; protects against tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease that affects the lungs. It can also affect the brain, abdomen and the spine.
- Hepatitis B vaccine (HBV) vaccine; protects you child against hepatitis B virus which affects the liver and can lead to death.
- Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) ; this is given to protect your child from poliomyelitis. Poliomyelitis commonly affects children under 5 and can lead to irreversible paralysis of the limb and at times death.
- Pentavalent vaccine; this consists of vaccines against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), haemophilus influenza type B and hepatitis B.
- Diphtheria is a fatal disease which causes upper respiratory tract infection and swollen ‘bull’ neck. This can lead to difficulty in breathing and
- Pertussis causes severe coughing spells, and is most serious in babies.
- Haemophillus influenza type B causes bacteremia, pneumonia, epiglottitis and acute bacterial meningitis.
- Tetanus is a bacterial infection that causes a fatal disease which manifests as muscle spasms, neck stiffness. It results from wound infection exposed to clostridium tetani. It can result in death especially in children.
- Measles vaccine; protects against measles
- MMR vaccine; this is given to protect against; measles, mumps, rubella diseases. These diseases can result in deafness, blindness and infertility.
- Yellow fever vaccine; protects against yellow fever virus. There is currently no cure for yellow fever.
- Rota virus; given to protect the child against rota virus which is the commonest cause of diarrhea in children.
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV); protects against the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae which is a common cause of pneumonia, meningitis in children.
- Meningitis vaccine; protects against the organism that causes meningitis which is amongst the leading cause of death in children
- Typhoid vaccine; protects against salmonella typhi, which causes typhoid fever.
- Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine; given to female children only to protect against human papilloma virus which causes cervical cancer and genital warts. Three doses are given at 0,1,6 months point of contact.
The immunization schedule for each age is;
At birth: BCG, Hepatitis B Vaccine -1, Oral Polio Vaccine-0
6 weeks: Oral Polio Vaccine-1, Pentavalent 1, Pneumoccocal Conjugate Vaccine – 1, Rotavirus -1
10 weeks: Oral Polio Vaccine-2, Pentavalent 2, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine -2
14 weeks: Oral Polio Vaccine-3, Pentavalent -3, Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine-3, Rotavirus 2
9 months: Measles, Yellow Fever
15-18 months: Oral Polio Vaccine, Measles Mumps Rubella-1, Chicken pox
24 months: Meningitis, Typhoid fever
4-6 years; Measles Mumps Rubella-2
11-13 years; Human Papilloma Vaccine
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), measles mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR), rota virus vaccine, chicken pox vaccine, typhoid vaccine and human papilloma vaccine (HPV) have not been added to the routine scheme of vaccination by the Nigerian government. They are however also very important in protecting our children from vaccine preventable diseases.