Q. What are vaccines and why are vaccinations important?

A. Vaccines are health products that trigger a protective immune response in your child′s body and prepares it to fight infections in the future. Simply put, a vaccine immunizes the body from disease-causing germs. While certain vaccines can prevent your child from catching the infection altogether, some vaccines can reduce the severity of the disease.
Vaccines are also effective in establishing “herd immunity”. This means they not only protect individuals who have been vaccinated but also protect their family members and community. When a large majority of a population is vaccinated against infectious diseases, it helps to eliminate or sharply reduce the incidence of that disease.

Q. What are the diseases that vaccines prevent?

A. Vaccines protect against several serious diseases including measles, polio, whooping cough, meningococcal disease, rotavirus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, chickenpox, and influenza.

Q. How are vaccines given?

A. A vaccine can be administered orally, by injection (intramuscular, intradermal, subcutaneous), or by puncture. It can also be transdermal (delivered across the skin like a patch) or intranasal (given through the nose). In recent times, some clinical trials have also tried to deliver vaccines via mucosal surfaces, or surfaces that cover the inside of body parts such as the nose and mouth. This can avoid the need for injections.

Q. Which vaccination schedule should I refer for my baby?

A. Every year, the IAP (Advisory Committee on Vaccines & Immunization Practices) formulates guidelines on the best possible way to immunize children and protect them from vaccine-preventable diseases. These guidelines include list of stages linked to child age (how many weeks, months or years of age the child is) and accordingly list the vaccinations which need to be given to the child. http://acvip.org/files/Table I-IAP Immunization Scedulhe 2016-Final.pdf

Q. Are vaccines safe?

A. Every vaccine undergoes careful and complete testing before being licensed. It is also closely monitored for as long as it is being administered. Vaccines are the best defense mechanism we have to protect our children against serious, and sometimes deadly, infectious diseases.

As a precautionary measure, it is best to obtain accurate information about any possible side-effects of a vaccine when taking your child for a dosage. The pediatrician will be able to provide you with complete information so you can make an informed decision about vaccination.

Q. Are there risks associated with vaccination?

A. Vaccines have successfully protected millions of babies from infectious diseases. They are among the safest medicines available.

However, all medical procedures do carry some risk. In the case of vaccination, serious side effects are very rare. The main risks associated include mild redness, fever, and swelling. These usually disappear within a few days. In case your baby does develop a severe allergic reaction - which is extremely rare - the doctor and clinic staff is trained to deal with it.

Q. Where to get my baby vaccinated?

A. Check with your child′s pediatrician to see if they administer vaccines. Your local hospital or clinic is also likely to administer essential vaccines for children, including influenza, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B. Many pharmacies and community centers also offer immunizations.

Q. How do I keep track of my baby′s vaccinations?

A. Check with your child′s pediatrician to see if they administer vaccines. Your local hospital or clinic is also likely to administer essential vaccines for children, including influenza, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B. Many pharmacies and community centers also offer immunizations.

Q. What if I miss an appointment? Does my baby have to start the vaccines all over again?

A. No. If your baby misses some doses, it′s not necessary to start over. Your doctor will continue from where he or she left off.

Q. Do lapsed immunizations interfere with vaccine efficacy?

A. No. If your child has gone longer than the recommended interval between his vaccine doses, it usually does not affect the immune response to live and inactivated vaccines. Any interruption in the vaccination schedules or an extended lapse between booster doses does not mean your child will need to start over.

Q. What is a growth chart?

A. A growth chart is a tool that is used to evaluate your baby’s growth rate and find out whether or not your baby is growing as per the standard growth rate. The rate of growth differs in boy and girl babies, which is why they also have separate growth charts to track this difference in growth patterns.

Growth patterns differ across babies. However, growth rate is a useful metric to track whether or not your baby is healthy. It is generally seen that children who are growing as per the expected rate, and whose height and weight are well matched, are healthier. It is important to understand that this does not mean their height and weight are the same. It simply means that such children gain weight in proportion to their height and gender.

Q. What does a growth chart measure?

A. A growth chart tracks your baby’s growth according to three parameters:
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Head circumference
In order to assess your baby’s growth, you need to measure/get these parameters measured by your baby’s paediatrician. Once you have the measurements, enter these numbers into your baby’s growth chart. These numbers need to be tracked over a period of time. These measurements will reflect whether or not your baby is growing as per the standard/expected growth rate. It is also advised to discuss these numbers with your paediatrician who will help ensure that your little one’s growth is in accordance to the standard/normal curve.

Q. What references do you use for the standard growth chart?

A. We use the child growth standards published by the World Health Organization (WHO), which describe the optimal growth for healthy, breastfed children.

http://www.who.int/childgrowth/standards.

Q. What is the ideal range in the growth chart?

A. The ideal range in the growth chart has been defined as per the Percentiles data provided by the WHO. Percentiles are very commonly used clinical metrics to analyse the growth patterns of children. This is how a percentile works - it ranks your child’s position by showing the percentage of the reference population that your child would equal/exceed. For example: if your child’s weight is in the 75th percentile, this means her weight is more than 75 children and less than 25 children when compared to 100 children in her age group.
The WHO provides percentile range from 3rd to 97th percentile for each stage of baby's growth starting from birth to 5 years. For example: for a 1-month-old baby girl, 3rd and 97th percentile weight measurements are 3.2 kg and 5.4 kg respectively. So, the ideal weight range for a 1-month-old baby girl is 3.2-5.4 kg.

Q. What if my baby’s growth curve doesn't follow the chart?

A. If you notice temporary fluctuations in your baby’s growth curve, don't get too anxious. This is quite normal. If your baby is going through a growth spurt, the growth chart might display an upsurge. Similarly, if your baby has just been through a spate of illness, the chart might indicate a temporary down.
However, if your doctor notices that your baby is not keeping up with her curve over time, he will conduct a thorough check to diagnose if something is preventing your baby from growing optimally.
Growth charts are effective screening tools to see if your child’s health and overall growth require further investigation. However, they cannot be reliably used to diagnose a problem. This is because growth charts can sometimes indicate a problem that doesn’t really exist, or overlook a problem that should have been identified.
paediatrician before taking any action or making any modifications to her feeding, sleeping habits, physical activities, etc. Your doctor will be able to ascertain if there really is anything to worry about and also give you the reassurance as well as next steps for action to be taken.
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