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Vaccination is a simple yet extremely important responsibility of parents towards their babies. It can be simply explained as providing a newborn with virulent organisms that help stimulate the immune system to fight against disease-causing or pathogenic organisms.
Video: Newborn Vaccination in The First 24 Hours
Why Is A Newborn Vaccinated?
Newborns are prone to a variety of infectious diseases owing to their low immunity levels. Vaccinations strengthen their immune system to prevent these dangerous diseases. While a number of preventable infectious diseases have been eliminated or eradicated by means of vaccinations, about seven of them are preventable by timely and scheduled vaccination of every newborn baby. These include diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, haemophilus influenza type-B, hepatitis, polio, and pneumococcal disease.
First Vaccines For Your Newborn
It is essential to administer the following important vaccines within the first few hours of birth. This list of vaccines for newborn baby will help protect against deadly diseases.
1. BCG Vaccine
The Bacillus Calmette Guerin or the BCG vaccine is usually the first immunization for baby after birth. The National Immunization Schedule has listed BCG as a compulsory vaccine (single dose) that shall be administered within the first week. It offers the newborn protection against tuberculosis.
2. Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV)
OPV is orally administered alongside BCG, usually on the first or second day after birth. It helps protect your baby against Poliomyelitis. OPV is given under The National Immunization Schedule as doses of zero (at birth), 6 months, and 9 months of age, followed by a booster shot at 4 years of age. India has successfully eliminated poliomyelitis and in order to eradicate it, polio vaccination is made compulsory for all children less than five years of age.
3. Hepatitis B Vaccine (Hep-B)
The Hepatitis B vaccine is given to prevent hepatitis B infection in children. The first or zero dose is also given alongside BCG and OPV after birth. It is a compulsory vaccine included in the National Immunization Schedule.
BCG and HepB are injectable vaccines, while OPV is an orally administered live vaccine.
Besides the routine vaccinations, the baby may be given a shot of Vitamin K after birth. Babies nowadays are usually given this injection of Vitamin K as a routine. Vitamin K is essential for the clotting of blood. A minority of newborns can be congenitally Vitamin K deficient, which may cause bleeding (spontaneous) or even bleedings inside vital organs like brain or liver. Injecting babies with Vitamin K protects them from this bleeding condition.
Side Effects Of Newborn Vaccines
Vaccines given at birth have not been reported to have any severe side effects. Your baby may have soreness at the injection site or be fussy and irritable, for which an antipyretic syrup may be given for symptomatic relief.
A BCG vaccine usually leaves a scar on the injection site, usually over the left arm; the scar may be visible after many years. It usually begins as a tiny erythematous spot (redness of the skin) and may increase in size with the growing baby. It requires no treatment.
What To Do If There Is A Serious Reaction?
Severe reactions post vaccination are pretty rare; however, you should immediately consult a pediatrician in case the baby shows the following symptoms:
- High temperature (102 F or more)
- Fast or shallow breathing
- Keeps crying continuously for hours
- Throws fits or seizures
- Is poorly responding
- Not accepting feeds
- Sleeping excessively
- Appearance of a visible rash anywhere on the body
- A swollen face or eyelids
The above symptoms can hint towards an allergic reaction of severe intensity and need medical attention.
Soothing Your Newborn Baby After Immunizations
Injectable vaccines are painful to the baby and often make the baby restless and irritable, resulting in excessive crying. Breastfeeding is the best way to soothe your baby. It calms down the crying baby and makes it comfortable due to the warmth of the mother’s body.
Formula milk fed babies also need to be kept in skin to skin contact with the mother. As soon as the inflammation settles by itself, the baby will stop crying and often fall asleep after retiring. Rubbing ice or applying turmeric and antiseptics is usually not required. Nor are any analgesics advised to relieve the pain.
When Will The Next Vaccines Be Given To The Baby?
According to The National Immunization Schedule, infants in India are vaccinated at fixed ages in months. After the vaccines given within the first week of birth, your baby will receive the next vaccines at around 6-8 weeks. Following is a brief list of vaccinations (with the ideal ages) that shall follow the vaccinations given at birth.
- At 1.5 months age: Second dose of HepB, and first doses of Polio and DTP vaccines
- At 2.5 months age: Second doses of DTP and IPV
- At 3.5 months age: Third doses of DTP and IPV
- At 6 months age: Second dose of OPV and third dose of Hep-B
- At 9 months age: Third dose of OPV and first dose of Measles, Mumps and Rubella combination (MMR) vaccine
- At 9-12 months age: Typhoid Vaccine
- At 15 months age: Second dose of MMR
- At 18 months age: First booster doses of DTP and IPV
- At 24 months age: Booster of Typhoid Vaccine
- At 4-6 years age: 2nd booster of DTP, 1st booster of OPV, and MMR-dose 3
Type B Hemophilus Influenza vaccine, Pneumococcal Vaccine, Inactivated Polio vaccine, Rotavirus, and HPV are optional vaccines which are recommended beyond the compulsory scheduled ones, for added protection. It is recommended to discuss this with the paediatrician.
Conclusion: Vaccinating your newborn is highly beneficial for ensuring good health and disease protection for your baby. It should be practiced as per the national guidelines for efficient immunisation and results.