By Dr Rahul Nagpal
Young children are exposed to many types of germs during their growing years, some of which can cause serious diseases. Since a child’s immune system is still developing, it cannot fight against all deadly diseases. According to the World Health Organization, immunisation is one of the most successful public health interventions to prevent deaths from infections such as diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus in all age groups. With medical technology now much advanced, combination vaccines are now available that reduce the number of shots your child needs, while protecting against the same number of diseases. A single shot can now give protection against numerous diseases. The 6-in-1 vaccination is one of them.
What Is 6-in-1 Vaccination?
With a single shot, the 6-in-1 vaccination can protect children from six serious illnesses — diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis B, and poliomyelitis.
According to the immunization schedule of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, children are recommended to take the DTP-IPV-Hib-HepB vaccines at the age of 6, 10 and 14 weeks. Opting for the 6-in-1 vaccination means children will need to take only two injections — the 6-in-1 shot and a pneumococcal vaccine — and one oral vaccine (rotavirus) on each of these occasions.
Why Combination Vaccine Can Be A Boon
Building a child’s immunity starts at birth itself. The right vaccinations, given according to the recommended schedule, help a child build lasting immunity against such serious illnesses. The introduction of combination vaccinations has made it more convenient to follow the immunisation schedule. Children receive fewer shots but get the same level of protection as they would have with separate vaccines. Parents could be relieved that their child experiences lesser injection pain and discomfort.
In recent years, India has intensified its efforts to increase immunisation coverage in the country, which has resulted in significant improvement as shown by the National Family Health Survey — NFHS-5. The percentage of children aged 12 to 23 months who are fully vaccinated has increased from 62% (NFHS-4; 2015-16) to 76.4% (NFHS-5; 2019-21) in India, according to available data.
A recent study also shows that there has been a marked improvement in immunisation coverage in rural areas, but limited improvement in urban areas. Hence, more needs to be done to make parents aware of the benefits of immunisation and the availability of vaccines. This will help improve immunisation coverage to 90% and beyond. With combination vaccinations, children receive fewer shots but get the same level of protection as they would have with separate vaccines.
The author is Director and Head of Paediatrics and Neonatology at Fortis Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
[Disclaimer: Information appearing in this article is for general awareness only. Please consult your doctor for any medical queries, any question or concern you may have regarding your condition. The disease list indicated for vaccination is not complete, please consult your child’s paediatrician for the complete vaccination schedule.]
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