In a report published by BBC in September 2018, the percentage of children (under the age of two) having MMR vaccinations dropped from previous years by a 1%. Another statistic shows that since 2008, this is the year with the lowest number (95.1%) of children getting the 5-in1 vaccine ( DTaP/IPVHib).
These falling numbers are a matter of great concern as the the benefits of vaccination far outweights any negatives when it comes to protecting your child from developing deadly diseases.
The article below will detail various aspects of vaccination and the 2019 schedule for immunization in the UK.
What Is Immunization Or Vaccination?
Our bodies are already in-built with the immune system which rejects any foreign body that tries to infect us and make us ill. The natural immune system is prudent enough to take care of our body from the pathogens which affect our body but at times, the pathogens take over and manipulate our immune system causing chronic illness in our bodies. To make the immune system stronger than its natural form and to make it more effective when attacked by foreign bodies – immunization is done.
Vaccination or immunization helps the immunity in our body to react faster than it could naturally do, to recognize the pathogens quickly and eliminate them from the body. It is a preventive measure which decreases the chances of having chronic life-threatening diseases which used to kill people earlier and causes many epidemics.
Some of the popular vaccines protect from measles, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, TB and others. The medical fraternity is actively working for finding the vaccines for life-threatening disease – Cancer and HIV, hope they develop it soon.
Vaccination is offered by the UK government because it not only protects an individual but the society as a whole. It is important for the government of the UK because there are many diseases which spread like in a few days and cause an epidemic, and to save its people, the government takes precautionary measures with their pre-designated vaccination schedules.
How It Affects Your Body?
The word ‘Immunization’ came from immunity or immune system of the human body. As mentioned above, it is effective enough to fight the pathogens which attack from outside but it sometimes fails because it cannot recognize the foreign bodies and whether the foreign bodies are dangerous or not.
Immunization or vaccinations work at this pace and make the immune system of the human body understand which pathogens are dangerous for the body and can cause diseases. The pathogens have antigens, and the immune system of the body makes antibodies to fight those antigens. Now, immunization helps the immune system to make those antibodies real quick before the antigens of pathogens can even attack and harm the human body.
Immunization also helps the immune system cells to remember which antigen caused infection and to protect the body from similar antigens in the future. You may be wondering how it can prepare the body for the future and here is the answer. Vaccines expose your body to a lighter and safer version of chronic diseases. For example, it injects a dead form of the pathogen in the body to make your immune system understand to protect the body when active pathogens attack. Similarly, different vaccines have different ways of strengthening your immune system.
If the body responds to the given vaccines, then it would automatically form an adaptive response based on the immune system. This helps in the future to protect the body from the real infection.
Vaccines are mostly in the form of injections containing two different elements. The first element which is injected is the antigen of a pathogen causing disease to make the body’s immune system recognize it. The second part is the adjuvant. It is injected to make the body realize the potential danger and prepare your body to respond to the antigen and form stronger layers of protection.
Why It Is So Important?
For a parent, the most important reason for vaccination would be his or her child’s health for which they can do anything and everything. Vaccination helps them protecting the kids from deadly diseases. Now let’s see the other reasons for vaccination:
- There are many diseases which are preventable by vaccines and can save your children from paralysis of limbs, convulsions, damage of the brain, hearing loss and even from death.
- Every year, there are many in the kids who gets hospitalized due to diseases like measles, whooping cough, mumps. All these diseases are preventable by a single vaccine called MMR. It is important to have this vaccine to protect your child from having such health issues and getting hospitalized.
- Children are prone to getting infections as their immune system are still developing and are not as strong as an adult geared to prevent the powerful infection carrying pathogens. This is why, even when there is a dramatic decrease in the percentage of kids getting infected in the UK, but when there is a traveller from outside who has a certain infection, can again provide a threat to your child’s health. This is why vaccination is still important.
- Often seen in different places, where vaccinations are not done properly or parents choose not to vaccinate their children, leading to outbreaks of epidemics.
- The UK government, doctors, scientists are working day and night to develop vaccines to protect its citizens. They have the vaccines for more or less all the infectious diseases so that society as whole can beprotected. It is not just about you but about the society which you need to think about when considering vaccines.
2019 Schedule For Immunization In The UK
If you are blessed with a baby recently and are worried about when to start the vaccination process, here is the whole schedule that you need to know and follow to secure the health of your bundle of joy:
During The First 2 Months
Within the first 2 months or 8 weeks of the birth of the baby, you need to arrange for:
- The first dose of 6-in-1 vaccine. This vaccine will protect the baby from diphtheria, polio, Hib disease, Hepatitis B, Pertussis or whooping cough and tetanus.
- PCV or Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine – first dose which protects against Pneumococcal disease
- The first dose of Rotavirus Vaccine to protect against rotavirus
- MenB vaccine’s first dose to prevent from Type B meningococcal disease
Within 2 Months To 3 Months
- A second dose of 6-in-1 vaccine to protect against the six deadly diseases namely whooping cough or pertussis, Hepatitis B, Hib disease, tetanus, diphtheria, and polio
- A second dose of Rotavirus vaccine – protection against rotavirus
Till 4 Months Or 16 Weeks
- The third dose of the 6-in-1 vaccine – protects from diphtheria, polio, Hib disease, Hepatitis B, Pertussis or whooping cough and tetanus.
- Second Dose of PCV or Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine
- Second Dose of MenB vaccine
Within 12 To 13 Months Of The Birth
- Hib/MenC Vaccine – It is to protect from Hib disease, and Type C meningococcal disease
- The first dose of MMR Vaccine to protect from Measles, rubella, and mumps.
- PCV Booster to protect from pneumococcal disease
- MenB Booster to protect from Type B meningococcal disease
From 2 Years To 5 Years
This is the time when the kid starts going to school and it is also the time when the kid interacts with other kids, people and have become more prone to getting infections from others but if you have already given the child all the above mentioned vaccines, you can relax. In the first 3 years, the vaccine that is given to the child is:
- Annual vaccination is provided to protect against Flu caused during season changes – Nasal Flu Vaccine. This is one of the latest inclusion in the vaccination schedule of the UK for the year 2018 - 19.
At 3 Years 4 Months
When your child reaches this age, you need to provide:
- MMR booster vaccine to protect the child from measles and mumps and also from rubella.
- One Pre-school booster is also provided which is a 4-in-1 vaccine that prevents diseases like diphtheria, polio, tetanus, and pertussis.
- During 12 to 13 years, 2 doses of HPV Vaccine is must which is given to protect from HPV which is the primary cause of cervical cancer.
- A teenage Booster vaccine is to provide from tetanus, polio, and diphtheria
- The MenACWY vaccine is provided to protect from 4 different meningococcal disease types.
Know About Different Vaccines And The Diseases It Prevents
- Hepatitis B Vaccine: Hepatitis B virus causes the infection of the liver which is known Hepatitis B. The symptoms are like flu like illness, jaundice, fever, malaise, and others. This can turn chronic in nature. The vaccine for hepatitis B contains the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) which is absorbed in aluminium hydroxide adjuvant. There are now combination vaccines for both hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
- Diphtheria Vaccine: Diphtheria is caused due to bacteriumCorynebacterium diphtheria. This disease infects the upper airways and the throat and also produces toxic material in the body that causes others organs to malfunction. Some symptoms are low fever, pain in the throat area, neck glands getting swollen and in severe cases, the patient might have myocarditis as well when the toxin level rises in the body. It is a fatal disease and has a higher mortality rate in the children. So, it is important to get your child vaccinated with the 6-in-1 vaccine within the first two months and carry on with the schedule as mentioned above. For optimum protection from the disease, you need to have all three rounds of the vaccination.
- Whooping Cough or Pertussis: It is a disease caused by bacteria and the early symptoms of the disease are running nose, low fever, mild coughing and in the babies and kids, apnea or a break in breathing are also common. If the severity increases, the symptoms can get worse like severe coughing which will last for long and there will also be sound while coughing like “whoop” from which the diseases derived its name. The vaccine for these diseases is required to be provided to the child from the age of 2 months to 6 years at a particular interval. Anyone having an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients of the vaccine should never take the vaccine as it may be life-threatening.
- Hib Vaccine: Hib or Haemophilus Influenzae Type B attacks children within the age bracket of 5 years and it can also attack adults who are having certain health issues. This diseases can cause life-threatening infections like meningitis, pneumonia, throat infection or Epiglottitis and Bacteremia which is a bloodstream infection. Children under the age of 5 years need to have all the 3 doses of the vaccine and also an additional booster dose around the age of 12 to 15 months. If a child over the age of 5 has sickle cell disease or bone marrow transplant, then doctors recommend the parents this vaccine for their child.
- Polio Vaccines: Polio has been one of the main mass killer diseases in all the parts of the world. Vaccination for polio started to eradicate the disease from the roots and at present, the campaign is a success with the rate of people having this disease gone down drastically. This dangerous disease has no symptoms in the beginning and if there are few symptoms like fever, sore throat or headache and stomach problem they are not that clear which leads to serious illness as it cannot be detected in the early stages. When polio affects the brain (sometimes it does in severe cases) then there are complications like Paresthesia, spinal cord, and brain lining gets inflamed and even it can lead to paralysis (partial or full). This disease gets transferred from polio patients when they sneeze, coughs, or if a person touching the excretion of the polio patients and without washing hands properly, they eat food. From 2 months to 6 years, the doses of polio vaccines need to be taken at regular intervals to completely eradicate the chances of having this deadly disease.
- Tetanus Vaccine: We all have heard about Tetanus injections whenever we get a cut on our body by something which is metallic in nature and got rust on it or if we fall down or have an accident on road. This is because the Tetanus of scientifically known Lockjaw diseases is uncommon but very dangerous in nature. It can kill the person within 2 to 3 days if the injection is not taken at the right time. it is not contagious that is the only safe side of the disease. The symptoms of tetanus are a headache, stiff muscles, fever and seizures, and high bp and sweating unnecessarily. The bacteria of the disease enters the body through broken skin and the bacteria are found in dirt, poop, rusted iron, other metals, dust, etc. If you have a burn on your skin, it can lead to tetanus as well. Tetanus vaccines are provided from 2 months of the kid's age to 6 years and later as well. It is always better to have one booster shot of the vaccine every ten years and if you haven’t taken the vaccine to make sure, to get one tetanus injection within 24 hours of getting a deep cut, burn on your skin.
- PCV: Pneumococcal diseases are caused due to bacteria and the infection harm lungs causing pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia. The symptoms of the diseases include cough, pain in the chest and fever with chills at times when one got pneumonia. When it leads to meningitis then the symptoms look like fever, stiff neck, feeling confused headache, fatigue and not feeling like drinking anything. For bacteremia the symptoms fevers with chills. It is a contagious disease and also leads to various health problems and thus having the vaccines at the right time is crucial for your babies health.
- Rotavirus Vaccine: It is a viral infection mainly affects the young kids and the babies and leads to symptoms like throwing up, fever, pain in the stomach, acute diarrhea and dehydration and behavioural changes. It is a contagious disease spreads from one child to another easily and children get severe health issues having this infection leading to hospitalization. However, the Rotavirus vaccine can protect your babies from this deadly disease if you get the vaccination done at the right time.
- MenB vaccine: It is introduced to protect from the major causes of meningitis and poisoning of blood which is caused by the Type B meningococcal bacteria which is commonly known as MenB. In the year 2011, 750 people had these diseases and 50 people died out of them. It is a vaccine that is given to the babies at the age of 8 weeks and at 16th week. At around 12 to 13 months of age, a booster vaccine of the same disease is also given.
- MMR: This vaccine is given for protection against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. While measles causes symptoms like fever, runny nose, rash, and watery eyes, mumps causes headache, fever, tiredness, appetite loss and pain in muscles and if the case complicates then it can lead to ovaries and testicles swelling, brain tissues inflammation, meningitis and even death in rare cases. Rubella is characterized by sore throat, red and itchy eyes, fever, rash, and headache.
- HPV: There is 150 kind of viruses which causes these diseases and there is no symptoms fo these diseases which can lead to diagnosis and this is why it is highly dangerous. It can lead to cancer like cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, penile cancer, calcar cancer, anal cancer or rectal cancer and also cancer in the throat affecting tongue and tonsils as well. This disease spreads through skin contact or having sexual relations. Everyone needs to have HPV vaccine after the age of 9 years especially during the teenage years and it can be done until 26 years of age.
Vaccinations Offer To Elderly People And Women
The vaccines for elderly people are there to prevent certain infectious diseases like:
- There is a Flu Vaccine which is given to aged people who are above the age of 65.
- For people who are over and above the age of 70, Shingles vaccines are offered to them.
- Anyone who is aged 65 years or above are offered with a vaccine which will protect them from Streptococcus pneumonia.
- For women who are pregnant, there are two vaccines which are offered and they are:
- Flu Vaccine during the pregnancy
- From the 16th week of pregnancy, the whooping cough vaccines are also provided.
Is vaccination safe for your child?
Yes, vaccines are referred to as safe for your child by doctors all over the world. The doctors, researchers, and scientists are constantly developing, testing and examining different types of vaccines and only offer them to the public when they are fully satisfied with the implications of them being safe for administration.
Things To Remember When Getting Vaccinated
- Earlier there were many diseases like smallpox which used to kill not one person but many in society and outbreaks of epidemics killed masses. Vaccines are introduced to eradicate those diseases from the root. For instance, now there is hardly any country where its citizens have smallpox.
- Each vaccine researched and developed goes through a strict quality test to prevent any mishap. Once the vaccines are proved to be safe for humans, then only they are introduced in the country.
- You can get sick even if you are vaccinated, but then the severity can be less.
- Since vaccines are made from different elements and components, if a person is allergic to any of them, they can get an allergic reaction. It is important to consult the doctors before getting the vaccination done.
- If someone has a weak immune system then it is difficult to vaccinate him or her and the diseases can only be protected by close supervision and monitoring.
Certain Side Effects Of Vaccination
- At the injected place, there can be swelling, pain and redness for a certain amount of time
- Muscle and joint pains and weakness
- Fever – low to high grade
- Loss of memory in extreme cases
- Disturbance in sleep
However, these side effects are not faced by everyone, there are a few who already have certain health issues or sensitive to certain drugs can have these side effects.