Pharmaceutical companies pushing new vaccines will tell you that your child has no hope of being disease-free if you don’t get him/her vaccinated against every vaccine-preventable disease.
The list is long. HPV vaccination against cervical cancer; BCG against tuberculosis, DPT against diphtheria (an acute respiratory disease caused by bacterial infection), whooping cough and tetanus; or vaccination against chickenpox … But what does your child truly need?
Of all those listed above, DPT and BCG vaccinations are the only essential ones.
They are part of the national immunisation schedule that the government has made mandatory.
Apart from DPT, the schedule includes vaccines against tuberculosis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis-B.
With an increasing number of diseases now preventable by vaccination, paediatricians say it is important to know which ones are truly important.
“Under the national immunisation programme, essential vaccines are given free to all children,” said Dr K.K. Kalra, director, Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, a paediatric specialty hospital in Geeta Colony in east Delhi.
The list of vaccines, said Dr Kalra, was made after a thorough study of the vaccines, the local disease patterns and the cost of immunising all the children born in the country in a year, which is about 10 million in India.
“Apart from the three primary doses and two booster doses of DTP at two years and five years, no special doses are needed,” said Dr Kalra.
He said though many private hospitals have been pushing for variants of DPT and adding booster vaccinations, they were not really needed.
Dr Vinod Kumar Paul, head of department of paediatrics at the AIIMS, too said the variants were not necessary.
“I think we should not hype these parallel vaccines, which the private sectors and companies are promoting for personal gains. My advice is that instead of getting confused, people should stick to the standard national immunisation schedule,” he said.
He said doses were additionally available in the market but there was no national recommendation.