Where to get them:
Free at EPI centres across the country, public hospitals and dispensaries and at private hospitals and clinics.
Where to inject:
Dr Tabish Hazir at Children’s Hospital, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, says it is important that all vaccines be injected by well-trained vaccinators. A slight mistake can cause serious complications such as haemorrhage, infections, damaged nerves etc. The BCG, a vaccine to prevent childhood tuberculosis, for example, needs to be injected with extra care. It should be injected strictly intradermally in the arm. It should form a permanent scar after eight to 12 weeks.
All others vaccines, expect OPV for polio which is administrated orally, are injected intramuscularly in the anterolateral aspect of the thigh. The side effects of these vaccines are minor, such as fever and swelling at the site of the injection, and are reported in few cases.
Strongly recommended vaccines:
Rotavirus: Rotavirus enters through the mouth and leads to the diarrhea bouts in infants aged up to six months. The vaccine is administered orally at ages two and four months.
Chicken pox: The Varicella vaccine protects against chicken pox that results in rash, tiredness, headache, fever. Severe attack could lead to infected blisters, bleeding disorders, swelling of the brain or pneumonia. The first dose is given between 12 and 15 months; second dose is administered at four to six years of age. A second option is to administer the two doses three months apart to children between the ages six and 13 years. If older than 13 years, the child is given the two doses a month apart.
Hepatitis A: Spread through contaminated food and water or direct contact, the virus leads to fever, stomach pain, loss of appetite, fatigue, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes) and dark urine. If complications occur, you could be dealing with liver failure, joint pain, kidney, pancreatic, and blood disorders.
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German Measles): Characterised by rashes, swollen salivary glands and pregnancy miscarriages and foetal congenital defects. The MMR vaccine that is given in two doses: at age 12 to 15 months and 4 to 6 years.
Meningococcal disease: Bacteria that can lead to meningitis or blood infection. The vaccine is given at 11 or 12 years, with a booster at age 16 for kids 13 to 18 years old who haven’t been previously vaccinated.
Influenza: The flu vaccine is developed each year after the WHO studies the five or six epidemic influenza strains around June and July, says paediatrician Dr Sohail Thobani with South City Hospital. The vaccine hits the markets in September each year.
(All prices subject to change and always consult your doctor or paediatrician before making any medical decisions for your child).
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, June 30th, 2013.