Why Childhood Immunizations Are Important
- During the first four weeks of being born, a baby is more susceptible to infections.
- During this time, babies should get vaccinated to fight infection. There are three vaccines—BCG, Hepatitis B, and OPV—that the baby can take.
- Newborns have sensitive skin so hygiene could be of concern as well.
- Regular bathing, diaper area cleaning, moisturizing, and sun protection is included in hygiene maintenance.
- Non-separation, skin-to-skin connection, and breastfeeding are important for a newborn’s health.
Why are childhood immunizations so important? Childhood immunizations are important because a newborn is susceptible to many diseases and infections and it is our responsibility to protect them. Due to weak immunity and interference of mothers' antibodies, very young newborns rarely respond well to immunization.
Immunization administration during pregnancy is safe, effective, and immunogenic for many diseases that are vaccine-preventable. Immunization of mothers protects both her and the baby against the sickness of the delivery trauma. For the first six months of life, an antibody is required.
Tetanus, influenza, and pertussis immunizations are provided during pregnancy to protect pregnant mothers and infants from disease.
A recent review conducted by the World Health Organization demonstrated no evidence of adverse outcomes in pregnant women or infants if they receive the Tetanus toxoid, conjugate meningococcus, inactivated influenza vaccine, or inactivated polio vaccines.
Some studies from the United States, Finland, and Israel have demonstrated that polio vaccination during pregnancy was safe and effective, and no increased risk of disabilities was observed.
During a 0–4-week period, newborns can get their first few vaccinations like the BCG vaccine, Hepatitis B birth dose, and OPV birth dose. These vaccinations should be done in the health care unit. For premature babies vaccination is a must.
BCG, or Bacille Calmette-Guerin, is a vaccine for tuberculosis . BCG is used in many countries with a high prevalence of TB to prevent childhood tuberculosis meningitis and miliary disease.
What Is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially severe infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. The bacteria that cause tuberculosis spread from person to person through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs and sneezes. A newborn baby's lungs are sensitive to this type of virus and there is a major risk of TB occurrence.
Why Newborns Should Get the BCG Vaccine
- To protect against tuberculosis.
- A newborn baby is more likely to get infected by bacteria causing tuberculosis.
- Newborn babies have low immune systems and their lungs are not that strong.
Dose Pattern for Vaccination
After birth, a newborn should get a vaccine from a healthcare provider from the same hospital or as early as possible till one year of age. The dose should be accurately 0.1ml (0.05ml until 1 month of age) given under the skin of the left upper arm.
Hepatitis B Birth Dose
A total of three doses of the hepatitis B shot are recommended for children to protect against hepatitis B. The first dose must be given after birth within 24 hours.
What is Hepatitis B?
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. When a person is first infected with the virus, he or she can develop an “acute” (short-term) infection. Acute hepatitis B refers to the first six months after someone is infected.
This infection can range from a very mild illness with few or no symptoms to a serious condition requiring hospitalization. Some people are able to fight the infection and clear the virus.
For others, the infection remains and is “chronic,” or lifelong. Chronic hepatitis B refers to the infection when it remains active instead of getting better after six months. Over time, the infection can cause serious health problems, and even liver cancer.
Symptoms of Hepatitis B
Usually, newborn babies do not show any symptoms.
Why Should a Newborn Baby Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
To protect your baby from hepatitis B, a very serious disease.
Prevents your child from developing liver disease and cancer from hepatitis B.
Protects other people from the disease because children with hepatitis B usually don’t have symptoms, but they may pass the disease to others without anyone knowing they were infected.
What is the dosage of the Hepatitis B Vaccine?
- 1st dose should be given shortly after birth.
- 2nd dose should be given in one to two months.
- 3rd dose should be given in 6-18 months.
The vaccine should be given at birth or as early as possible within 24 hours. It is given to a baby in 0.5ml of dose into the muscles of one side of the left mid-thigh.
Oral polio vaccine, including a birth dose (known as zero doses because it does not count towards the primary series), is recommended in all polio-endemic countries and in countries at high risk for importation and subsequent spread. The birth dose should be administered at birth, or as soon as possible after birth.
Why should the oral polio vaccine be given to newborns
- To prevent the risk of poliovirus in newly born babies.
- The Polio vaccine is the only protection against polio, a paralyzing disease for which there is no cure. Every child under five must be immunized against polio. The oral polio vaccine is safe and effective, and because it is administered orally, it can be given by volunteers. Its method of action ensures that the person-to-person spread of the virus is interrupted.
What Is Poliovirus Disease?
Polio is a contagious viral illness that, in its most severe form, causes nerve injury, leading to paralysis, difficulty breathing, and sometimes death.
There are so many doses of oral vaccines. And they are all absolutely safe. It is indeed safe to administer multiple doses of polio vaccine to children. The vaccine is designed to be administered multiple times to ensure full protection.
In the tropics, several doses of polio vaccine are required for a child to be fully protected—sometimes more than 10. This vaccine is safe for all children. Each additional dose further strengthens a child’s immunity level against polio.
Dose Pattern of OPV
The OPV should be given at birth or as early as possible within the first 15 days. Only two drops of vaccine are given orally to the baby.
Hygienic care of the newborn baby
Good hygiene is a must to avoid infections and maintain a long life span. Good hygiene means avoiding illness and having a good life. A lot of children suffer because their hygiene has been neglected.
Newborn hygiene includes regular bathing, moisturization, cleaning of the diaper area, cleaning of the umbilical cord, and so on.
Bathing can be delayed from the first bath for 12–24 hours. Nowadays, bathing cleansers have surfactants that are harmful to the skin of a two-week-old child. Skin cleansers should be soap-free and should have a neural/mildly acidic pH (pH 5.5 to 7.0). So use harmless chemical-free cleansers and avoid overbathing your newborn.
If it's possible, apply vernix caseosa on your infant’s skin. Vernix is a type of greasy covering to protect a newborn baby's skin.
Bub bathing is better than sponge bathing. Sponge bathing may contain bacteria on a wet sponge.
Use an emollient or moisturizer to prevent atopic dermatitis in newborns. Skin emollients apply smoothly and in a thin layer. Avoid excess moisturizing because it affects the baby's skin.
Umbilical cord must be cut with sterile scissors. Do not use antiseptics to clean the umbilical stump. It should be regularly cleaned for four to five days after birth.
Diaper Area Cleanliness
Always keep the diaper area clean. Whenever a mother changes a diaper, it should be cleaned with wet wipes with buffer pH. Wipes should be free from alcohol. After that, apply some cream to prevent dermatitis.
Avoid direct sun exposure to newborn infants. It's harmful to babies. Use clothing that protects against sun exposure. White and light clothing is recommended to use a headcover so that no excess air goes into the ear of the baby.
Newborn Health Care
- Breastfeeding should be done within 15 minutes after birth when the mother and baby are ready. Both healthy and low-weight babies are able to breastfeed. Human milk can protect newborns against many viruses, bacteria, and respiratory infections. It also has many nutritional compounds.
- The newborn should stay with the mother with skin-to-skin contact. Sleep is very important in newborn babies. They must sleep for 14 to 18 hours a day. Skin-to-skin contact always shows activation of the parasympathetic nervous system and promotes growth and development in newborns. A skin-to-skin connection reduces 25 per cent of newborn mortality risk. This practice should be included in your baby's care.
- Neonatal sleep has so many benefits, such as improved immune function, saving energy and memory, and regulation of neuronal development. Separation from the mother initiates a sympathetic system action.
By now you must have learned more about why childhood immunizations are important. After birth, a newborn is very susceptible to infection by viruses and bacteria. That's why the baby should get all the three necessary vaccinations—the BCG vaccine, the Hepatitis B vaccine, and the OPV vaccine.
As babies have sensitive skin, good hygiene is necessary to maintain a newborn, such as umbilical cord cleaning, regular bathing, moisturizing, diaper changing, cleanliness of diaper area, sub protection, eye protection, etc.
Newborn healthcare is an essential part of your paternal duties. It cannot be neglected. We hope this article on newborn care answers the question of why is childhood immunization important.
Did you like our Article?
- FAQ about Polio available at polioeradication
- Polio symptoms and cure available at Mayoclinic
- Hall RW, Anand KJ. Pain management in newborns. Clinics in perinatology. 2014 Dec 1;41(4):895-924.
- Khare S, Kumari S, Nagpal IS, Sharma D, Verghese T. Oral polio vaccination in infants: beneficial effect of additional dose at birth. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics. 1993 Mar;60(2):275-81.
- Kusari A, Han AM, Virgen CA, Matiz C, Rasmussen M, Friedlander SF, Eichenfield DZ. Evidence‐based skin care in preterm infants. Pediatric Dermatology. 2019 Jan;36(1):16-23.
- Chu HY, Englund JA. Maternal immunization. Birth defects research. 2017 Mar 15;109(5):379-86.
- Johnson E, Hunt R. Infant skin care: updates and recommendations. Current opinion in pediatrics. 2019 Aug 1;31(4):476-81.
- Hygiene: Better hygiene leads to better health, confidence, and overall growth. Available at Unicef