Off late, there has been a lot of debate on our forums about vaccines that pain less. As parents, don’t we all want to know what are these vaccines and what do they mean for our babies?
To begin with, let us look at how a vaccine works!
What is a vaccination?
Vaccinating is the process of introducing controlled amount of disease-causing-microbes (antigens), whose disease producing power has been destroyed, in the body. When these antigens are introduced in a baby’s body through a vaccine, the body is amply prepared to identify and guard against any future attacks from the same antigen.[i]
How do vaccines work?[ii]
What is a combination vaccine?[iii]
Anyone would hate to see a little baby go through multiple pricks for different vaccines, especially through the first few months of her life. Leave aside the pain of taking the baby to a pediatrician’s clinic multiple times and queueing up with that little soul!
Today, there are combination vaccines which can protect babies from as many as 6 diseases such as Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (Whooping cough), Polio, Haemophilus influenza B and Hepatitis B – in fewer shots.
Do “Painless” vaccines exist?
The term ‘Painless vaccines’ is misleading, as it implies that the vaccines shall result in no pain during or after administration. Any vaccine can cause fever & pain. However, acellular vaccines have lesser chances of pain, swelling and high grade fever as compared to whole-cell vaccines.
What are vaccines that pain less and how do they work?
The need for acellular vaccines arose when due to side effects by whole-cell vaccine, several countries like the U.S, Japan, etc. asked for a safer pertussis vaccine.[iv]
Whole-cell vaccines, which were developed first, contain the entire organism that has been inactivated. To address the adverse reactions observed with the whole-cell vaccines, acellular vaccines were developed that contain purified components of the same organism (that are specifically responsible for causing the disease).[v]
In a nutshell, since acellular vaccines contained purified components of an organism, they result in lesser reaction (fever, rashes, etc.) post vaccination.
In that case, are they effective?
Acellular vaccines that are being widely used have shown consistent efficacy and effectiveness in various countries across the globe. [vi] These vaccines have been increasingly being used in most of the developed countries for more than a decade.
Vaccination has a positive impact in reducing the overall burden of disease. Both types of vaccines be it whole-cell or acellular are effective in reducing infant mortality provided they are given as per recommended schedule every time.
Disclaimer: This article is part of an educational initiative by Sanofi Pasteur on vaccines. The post is not meant to be a replacement for a doctor consultation, nor is it a medical recommendation. Please consult your child’s pediatrician to understand the appropriate immunisation course for your child.
[iv] Plotkins Text book of Pediatrics
[Vi] Lambert LC. Pertussi vaccine Trials in the 1990’s. j Infect Dis.2014 Apr 1;209 Suppl 1:s4-9
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