Vaccines and Your Children: What to KnowMarch 9, 2020 5:19 am
A vaccine is a kind of modern miracle: a way of protecting you against catching a number of infectious and deadly diseases. A vaccine works by imitating the disease in question, using a dead or a very, very weak part of it. The small dose inside the vaccine causes the immune system to respond to the ‘fake’ infection in a controlled way, producing antibodies that build a natural defence. The dose is so weak that there are no symptoms of the disease. The human body will take only a few days to create the necessary germ-fighting tools. Once it’s done, those antibodies stay in the system – so should the disease ever come back in a ‘real’ form, the body knows just how to repel it.
- The incredible impact of vaccines
It’s no exaggeration to say that vaccines have completely changed our world. Vaccines are second only to clean water in fighting against infectious diseases. Since the first effective form was discovered back in 1796, smallpox has been completely eradicated. The WHO is now targeting polio for the next total eradication across the world. In many countries other diseases have been brought to near-zero levels, including whooping cough and chickenpox – all thanks to vaccines. According to the WHO, vaccines prevent a staggering 6 million deaths every year.
- What vaccines should my child have?
It’s hugely important to vaccinate children. While newborn babies have some immunity from their mothers, this is lost within a year. Children therefore are at the highest risk of becoming ill or dying from a disease, simply because they don’t have any protective antibodies to fight against infection. The best vaccination in Dubai includes BCG and HBV, which are given at birth. At two months old, your baby should be immunised against six diseases including polio and diphtheria, in five doses – called DTaP, Hib, HBV, IPV and PCV. Further doses follow at four months, six months and at 18 months. At one year old, the MMR and Varicella vaccines are due, with one further dose being given at 5-6 years old. Your surgery or clinic will usually give you a vaccination card so it’s easy to keep up with progress.
- Are vaccines compulsory in Dubai?
The list might sound a lot, but it’s all essential for your child’s health and wellbeing, and is all done very quickly. Schools make it compulsory for vaccination in Dubai to have been administered, and if they haven’t, your child may have to take part in a catch-up programme. If you’d like to send your child to a nursery or child care centre before then, it will be expected that you get the vaccines done at the right time, and you may have to show paperwork to prove your child’s age.
- Misleading information
Unfortunately, some parents nowadays have doubts about vaccines and their safety. Most of these concerns can be traced back to a now-infamous piece of research published in 1998. The study, from a scientist called Andrew Wakefield, linked the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine to autism. Since then, the study has been universally debunked, and even retracted by the journal responsible for publishing it, as well as 10 of the 12 co-authors. Sadly, the concerns raised by this study still abound – even though they have no basis in scientific fact. The result is an increase in previously unheard-of infectious diseases. In the UK, there were two measles outbreaks in 2008 and 2009. There are also a number of states in the US seeing the same problem.
- What about bad reactions?
A side effect is a possibility when taking a vaccine – but it’s important to be educated on the statistics at play here. There is a slim chance your child may have a sore patch around the vaccine for a day or two, and an even smaller chance of a slight fever, as the body responds to the vaccine. Statistics show that you are 100 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to have a serious allergic reaction! Compare that to the chances of a bad reaction to an everyday medicine like an aspirin (still very low at 12 in 10,000) and you can see the context. So the decision to take a vaccine really is a no-brainer, especially when weighed against the alternative.
- The risks of choosing not to vaccinate
If your child isn’t vaccinated and catches that disease, the outcome is unknown, though it is much more likely to be serious. Diphtheria for example is deadly in 3% of patients, according to the Mayo Clinic, with the rates higher for under-15 year olds. Leaving your child unimmunised also put other people at risk of catching those diseases – some of which (like rubella and measles) can be much more severe when caught in adulthood. This is called ‘herd immunity.’ Basically, in a population where most people are vaccinated, an infectious disease finds it harder to spread – because there just aren’t that many people that can be infected. The disease is likely to disappear as quickly as it has popped up. However, if a significant number aren’t vaccinated, then the disease is given a better chance of spreading. Choosing not to vaccinate has serious consequences not just for your own family but for everyone else around you, too.
- The truth
The fact is, vaccines protect your child from life-changing diseases and they have an excellent safety record. Most of us are lucky enough to live in a time and place when infectious diseases have been strictly controlled or eradicated entirely. Without signs of those diseases in our everyday lives, it can be easy to forget just how serious they once were. Make sure you immunise your child, choose vaccination in Dubai, and give them the best start in life possible.
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