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World Immunization Week 2020: Everything You Need To Know About Vaccines

World Immunization Week is celebrated in the last week of April (24 to 30 April). Its main objective is to encourage the use of vaccines to protect people of all ages against diseases. Globally, Immunisation is considered a cost-effective public health intervention and every year millions of lives are saved by immunisation. The World Immunization Week 2020 theme is #VaccinesWorkforAll.

Vaccines trigger the immune system to protect the body against infections or harmful diseases. Vaccines help develop the body's natural defences to build your resistance to specific infections and strengthen your immunity.

How does a vaccine work?

Vaccines train the immune system by preparing it to fight a harmful disease or infection without exposing it to the symptoms of the disease.

When the immune system is exposed to the invading germs such as bacteria or virus, it starts naturally producing antibodies that help fight against the disease. In the future, if you ever expose to the germ again, your immune system recognises the germ and quickly destroys it. Vaccines work by lowering the risk of getting a disease by working with your body's immunity. Most vaccines are given by injection, but some are given orally.

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Types of vaccines

  • Live, attenuated vaccines [2]

This type of vaccine contains a whole bacteria or virus that has been weakened or killed, so that they create a protective immune response and do not cause a serious disease in healthy people. After immunisation, this vaccine creates a strong and lasting immune response in the body. One dose of live, attenuated vaccines through injection is effective, however, if given orally three doses are required.

Live, attenuated vaccines protect against mumps, measles, rubella and chickenpox.

  • Inactivated vaccines [2]

These vaccines contain whole bacteria or virus that has been killed or weakened or small parts such as proteins or sugars of the bacteria or virus. These vaccines produce an immune response in different ways and most often, multiple doses are needed to build up the immunity.

Inactivated vaccines protect against hepatitis A, polio, rabies and flu.

  • Subunit vaccines

These vaccines include subunits of the germs, which means it contains only the essential antigens of the germs. There are different types of subunit vaccines: toxoid vaccine, conjugate vaccine and recombinant vaccine. These vaccines protect against hepatitis B, HPV, whooping cough, shingles and hib disease.

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Why should you get vaccinated?

Vaccines help protect the body from serious infections and diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that every year vaccination saves between 2 to 3 million lives [3].

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What diseases do vaccines prevent?

According to the WHO, vaccines protect against various diseases like cervical cancer, hepatitis B, cholera, diphtheria, influenza, measles, meningitis, mumps, pneumonia, Japanese encephalitis, polio, rabies, rotavirus, rubella, tetanus, typhoid, varicella, yellow fever and pertussis.

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When should you get vaccinated?

The CDC recommends the following age groups to get vaccinated: [4]

  • One to two months - Hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP), polio, pneumococcal and rotavirus vaccines.
  • Four months - diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP), polio, rotavirus and hepatitis B vaccines.
  • Six months - Polio, rotavirus, pneumococcal and diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP) vaccines.
  • Seven to eleven months - There are no vaccinations for children between seven to eleven months.
  • 12 to 23 months - Chickenpox, polio, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, pneumococcal, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP) vaccines.
  • Two to three years - The child should go for yearly check-ups.
  • Four to Six years - Polio, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), chicken pox, influenza and diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis) (DTaP) vaccines.
  • Seven to ten years - The child should visit the doctor for check-ups.
  • 11 to 12 years - HPV, flu, Tdap and meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
  • 13 to 18 years - The child should go for yearly check-ups.
  • 19 to 26 years - Some vaccines are recommended for adults such as flu and HPV vaccines
  • 27 to 60 years -Adults should get the flu vaccine every year. If Tdap vaccination is not given in the adolescent stage then an adult should take the vaccine now.

Healthy adults aged 50 years should receive a zoster, pneumococcal and flu vaccines.

Story first published: Thursday, April 30, 2020, 19:04 [IST]
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