Perhaps one of the greatest discoveries related to health was the invention of vaccinations in preventing many childhood illnesses. Before such vaccines were available, millions of children died or made disabled worldwide from diseases such as Polio, tetanus, pertusis, pneumococcal meningitis, Diphtheria, Japanese encephalitis, Hepatitis B…etc. But, due to the effective implementation of vaccine schedules, many countries were able to eradicate or see a drastic drop in the number of children who became victims of these dreaded disease conditions.
When looking at the Immunization schedule recommended by the American Pediatric Association, anyone can get to know all the diseases that are being covered, timing of each vaccination and the number of doses of each type of vaccine given to children in the United States. Let us now go through some of the diseases that are being controlled through vaccination according to the current vaccination schedule.
Diphtheria : Was a major morbid factor in children in the 1920s and was controlled to a greater extent and now almost eradicated in the United States. The vaccine which is used is a toxoid or an inactivated form of the toxin which is the cause for the complications in Diphtheria. The schedule for giving the vaccine would be in the 2nd, 4th and the 6th months along with another dose between 15 – 18 months. A booster dose will also be given at 4 – 6 years of age and the vaccine can be given in combination of several other vaccines as well.
Pertusis or whooping cough : This is also a miserable disease for the child and will be characterized by continuous bouts of coughing which can resemble a dogs bark. The vaccine for the pertusis will also be given in the same sequence as the Diphtheria vaccine.
Tetanus : This is also a toxoid vaccine which will be given along with Diphtheria and pertusis and will also constitute of 5 doses.
Polio : Polio is a disease which lead to many instances of acute flaccid paralysis and left permanent disability among children. But, with the help of the vaccine, the disease is almost eradicated in USA and many parts of the world. If given, the vaccine follows the regime 2nd, 4th and 6th-18 months with a booster dose at 4 – 6 years of age.
Hib : Hemophilus influenza type b was a dangerous disease in the early 1980s and with the introduction of the vaccine, the number of cases related to this disease came down from 20,000 cases per year to few hundreds of cases. The doses of this vaccine is given at 2, 4 and 6th month along with a 4th dose between 12 – 15 months.
Pneumococcal : Streptococcus pneumonia is a bacteria which can lead to pneumococcal meningitis in the elderly and also in infants. It accounts for many infections at present as well. The invent of newer vaccines which can be given to infants below the age of one year made it possible to prevent the disease among these vulnerable age group. Therefore, the vaccine is recommended to be given at the ages of 2, 4 and 6 months with the 4th dose at 12 – 15 months.
Measles : Being almost in the verge of eradication, measles vaccine is given at 12 – 15 months and at the ages of 4 – 6 years as a combination vaccine with mumps and rubella.
Apart from the above, the routine vaccination schedule includes vaccines against rotavirus, hepatitis A, Influenza, Varicella as well as for Meningococcus.