“Doc, I know about polio and measles, what are the other childhood diseases which I must vaccinate my baby against?”
Dr Ojum Ekeoma Ogwo
Something very soul stirring, happened in my hospital last year. A young mother, not more than 20, came to vaccinate her first child. She was carrying her baby in a “ kangaroo baby pouch”, very “yopy”, and a real “ajebo”. After vaccinating her child, she came into my office and sat on the consulting chair.
I said to myself:
■ ‘Where is this “ajebo”, coming from?’
Probably a USA returnee.
■ May be one of those, “doc I am unable to express my breast milk”. or
■ “Doc why did they manufacture baby formula, if you doctors insist on exclusive breastfeeding for at least 6 months?”. Or
■ “Doc, I have an intolerable breast pain after suckling the baby. Or
■ “Doc, can I augment breastfeeding with water and baby formula?”
While in actual fact all they wanted to say is, “I don’t want my breasts to sag, so I won’t breastfeed”. So I prepared myself for fireworks, and to tongue-lash her. Then I said innocently, “how can I be of help, to you and your baby?” I was taken aback, when she replied – “doc, I know about polio and measles, what are the other childhood diseases which I must vaccinate my baby against?”
I was dumbfounded, flummoxed, in fact I was nonplussed.
Then I said casually, “did I hear you right? Please come again”. She repeated, what I heard earlier. I got up from my chair, went round to where she sat with her baby. Shook her hand, then carried her baby boy, and whispered into his right ear -“young chap, you are in good hands, you have a curious mother”. The young lady smiled matronly. You see, in the medical parlance, “a curious mother is a competent mother”. Forget the old adage which says – “curiosity killed the cat”, in humans curiosity is the beginning of wisdom.
I quietly educated the young lady with her baby. Then noted that I must write about this curious ajebo in my Sunday column. Most of us like the young lady, know next to nothing about the childhood killer diseases, apart from polio and measles. I am also quite sure that most of us do not know the latest modifications, in childhood vaccinations, that the triad of ‘DPT’, has been modified to pentavalent “DPT plus 2”, and that a new polio vaccine has been introduced. I shall explain shortly.
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What is a vaccine?
■ Vaccines are either parts of viruses or bacteria (called antigens), or weakened live viruses.
■ Vaccines are given to babies before their antibodies completely disappear.
■ Most babies get up to 20 vaccines before they are one year old, depending on the country.
■ Vaccines preventable diseases account for approximately 22% of child deaths in Nigeria, amounting to 200, 000 deaths per year.
■ Note that most vaccines are free, especially in Nigeria and other 3rd World countries.
■ That is why Bill and Melinda Gates are pumping in millions of dollars, into Africa for the eradication of polio.
■ So, mothers should please take their babies for vaccination.
■ On the first immunisation day, mothers will be given a card that will help health practitioners and themselves keep track of the vaccines, their babies have taken, and will still take.
■ For new parents or first timers, they will be taught how to keep tracks of all vaccines their new born babies need.
To make things easier for new timers, under listed are the requisite ages, dates and vaccines their babies should take, and the abbreviated vaccines are explained shortly.
What are the ages for vaccination?
1) At birth ……………BCG, OPV, HEPBO.
2) At 6 weeks………..OPV1, PENTAVALENT1, PCV(optional).
3} At 10 weeks……….OPV2, PENTAVALENT2, PCV(optional).
4) At 14 weeks………..OPV3, PENTAVALENT3, PCV, ROTA VIRUS(optional).
5) At 9 months………..Measles.
6) At 12 months………Yellow Fever.
7) At 15-18 months….MMR, OPV, Chicken Pox (Optional).
8) At 24 months. ………Meningitis, Typhoid Fever (Optional)
Please cut this out and paste by your baby’s cot, for daily reminders.
Now explanation of some abbreviations. BCG-Bacillus Calmette Guerine; is the tuberculosis(TB) vaccine. TB causes lung infection, but can spread to many organs, causing serious illness, disability and death. OPV – Oral Polio Vaccine; Polio mainly affects children under 5 years of age. One in 200 infections, leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralysis 5 to 10% die, when their breathing muscles become immobilised.
NB – Nigeria was removed from the list of pandemic Nations in 2015, because not a single case of polio was reported in 2 years. In 2017, if no case of polio is reported, Nigeria will be officially declared polio-free.
HEPB – Hepatitis B Vaccine; Hepatitis B can cause chronic liver disease, and put people at high risk of death, from cirrhosis of the liver, and cancer of the liver.
– This is a combination of 5 vaccines-in-one. 1-Diphtheria. 2-Tetanus. 3-Pertussis (whooping cough). 4-Hepatitis B. 5-Haemophilus influenza. 1-Diphtheria; is a fatal disease. It is a bacterium that causes a severe throat and upper lung infection. 2-Tetanus; is also a fatal disease. It is a bacterium that causes weakness and paralysis of muscles, when allowed to fester in a deep dirty wound.
3-Pertussis (whooping cough), is a bacterium that causes severe coughing fits. It can lead to fatalities, especially in infants. 4-Hepatitis B is a virus that causes severe liver damage. It can be fatal.
5-Haemophilus influenza type B is a bacteria, that causes meningitis and bloodstream infections. Most cases are in infants or the elderly. It can be fatal.
Next week we shall discuss,”the new polio vaccine”, and a short note on on types, mode of transmission, signs and symptoms of the deadly polio (poliomyelitis). So as to appreciate why Bill & Melinda Gates, plus others, are committed to polio eradication. Meanwhile, please endeavour to vaccinate your child.