Are there any circumstances under which vaccination of young children is forbidden?
There are particular conditions when the immunization of your child, unfortunately, cannot be performed. If all terms and conditions are followed accordingly, complications are avoidable. These are the circumstances under which your child's pediatrician might advise against or delay your child's (or your own) vaccination:
o Immune-compromised conditions, such as these:
- HIV, AIDS
- Long-term steroid therapy
- Chemotherapy for cancer (leukemia)
- Inborn defects of the immune system (Louis-Barr syndrome)
o Severe chronic disease (e.g. vasculitis)
o Spina bifida or bladder exstrophy
o Allergic reaction of unknown origin
o Severe encephalopathy followed with uncontrolled seizures
o Recent bout of the flu or any other infectious diseases
o Premature baby - Preemies whose birth weights are under 2 kg or 4 lbs 6 oz are usually vaccinated much later because of their low weight and the immaturity of their brain.
o Recent blood transfusion
o Recent vaccination against other infections
o Low platelet count (tendency to hemorrhage (bleed))
o Allergy to any component of the vaccine
What are the side effects of vaccination in young children?
All babies and young children are very different from one another, given all the special circumstances of their intrauterine development; the way they were born (whether there was any hypoxia during the birth due to complicated labor or any other reasons); how their first months of life went; the way they were and are fed (whether they were breastfed); their social environment; and their family background.
It is doubtful whether the media always take all these features into account when they splash particular and unique cases about the side effects of vaccines onto the pages of their publications. The sensationalism prevalent in the media very often makes them forget the ethical aspects of the issue and the danger they expose society to when their articles make moms refuse vaccinations for their little ones.
When your baby's immune system is initially affected by a vaccine, as it's meant to, your little one might develop some unpleasant symptoms afterward. Some immediate or distant side effects of immunization are the following:
o Moderate fever
o Rash which is not as pronounced as in the disease your baby was vaccinated against
o Severe allergic reactions
o Itchiness of the skin
o Enlargement of lymph nodes
o Stomachache, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting
o Seizures, edema of the brain, coma
Distant side effects may develop within hours or days.
Who collects the data about side effects and complications after vaccination?
If your child experiences any problems after the shot, you should first of all contact your child's pediatrician, who will deal with your concern. He will give you the proper guidance and some important instructions.
All cases are reported to, and monitored and recorded by, the authorities (the CDC or Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention).
There is a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to which doctors send a report about any adverse effects after vaccinations. You may also do the reporting yourself by visiting their official website http://www.vaers.hhs.gov/ or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
Also, there is the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), which deals with individuals who suffered any injuries or complications after immunization and can thus seek compensation. VICP is a federal program. Persons who believe that their general health condition deteriorated because of shots can make a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382, or learn more about the program by visiting the VICP website: http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/index.html
Vaccines and a baby's health
Vaccines are designed to be injected into the body so that the body believes it is being attacked. The body then releases antibodies and antigens that defend it against harm, while getting it prepared for potential risks in the future. Vaccines are a must for the overall health of a child. While the baby may, after being vaccinated, feel a little uncomfortable and develop a rash, tenderness, or fever, these are normal, mild symptoms that tell you the body is getting used to the vaccine.
Vaccines are subjected to test runs and trials before they are prescribed or even available for use. Regular checks and monitoring by a number of research cells and centers, such as the VAERS or the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, the CBER or Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, and the FDA or the Food and Drug Administration, ensure that the vaccines are safe and devoid of major side effects. Research groups and cells collect samples and run tests all throughout to discover any changes in patterns, evolving trends, and the appearance of irregular symptoms. These changes are tracked in conjunction with drug associations, and careful measures are observed to keep the risks presented by vaccines to a minimal level.
Some common myths and assumptions surrounding vaccines for babies, for example, that they could lead to other disorders in children; that they should not be administered while the person is suffering from the common cold; that they are no longer necessary as the field of medicine is evolving; and that one's baby or child, if perfectly healthy, will never contract a disease, etc., are not true. The more advanced technology and medicine get, the stronger the grip of deadly diseases as they evolve new strains. The best practice is to do what one can and avoid these harmful ailments from the very beginning, rather than have to deal with them at a later stage in life. It behooves every parent to know the facts and not be overcome by irrational fears.
Safety comes first
Just as every individual's body is different from those of others, so is the way it reacts to external factors, including vaccines. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry! Though vaccines for babies are considered safe, it is always advisable consult a doctor and have your child undergo an overall health check-up before a vaccination. Administering vaccines at will, without prior consultation with a pediatrician, is not a very good idea. Additionally, if irregular symptoms like shortness of breath, severe redness, high fever, or any other symptoms of concern appear, it is your duty to take the baby to the hospital rather than wait for the symptoms to settle or resolve on their own. Another good practice is to keep a close watch on your child at least for a few hours prior to the administration of any form of vaccination, and if you observe anything out of the ordinary, do not proceed.