To us, vaccinations always meant a simple calculation. Get your baby vaccinated and he/she is risk-free for the rest of their life. But this math became somewhat complicated when we were introduced to the terminology of “booster dose” by our pediatrician. Reminders! Yes, we all need reminders in our daily lives. As humans, due to our busy schedules and multi-tasking attitude, we need a nudge to regain focus on what we care about. At times, these reminders help us look back at the things that are way too critical to miss out on.
In the same way, booster doses act as a reminder of our babies’ immune system, so that none of the doors remain open to the diseases. Many vaccines, like DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) and MMR need booster shots to continue prevention against the infection.
What is DTap Vaccine and why is the booster dose of DTP so important?
DTaP vaccine gives protection against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, of which diphtheria and pertussis come under communicable diseases (i.e. it spreads from person to person) and can become very serious in babies and young children. For tetanus, we all are aware that it enters our body via cuts or wounds. Our pediatrician shared that, while DTaP is given to children younger than 7 years [ref2], a booster dose Tdap is given at the age of around 11 years. And this booster dose continues the protection against these diseases. I was just talking about “reminders” right? With time, our body can lose the antibodies that were formed during the first cycle of vaccination. Waning antibodies and immunity open the doors to infections once again. Just like our memory weakens, our body’s immune response also weakens.
And this is when our body needs reminders, to continue fighting with the diseases. If our immune system slows down, sufficient antibodies will not be produced, and we become susceptible to pathogens in the environment.
This is the reason why booster doses of certain vaccines are recommended. Post this explanation, it became clear to us as to why they are called booster shots. These shots boost immunity that slowly declines from vaccines that were given earlier to our young children. There is also a very small percentage of babies that remain susceptible to diseases even after their first vaccination. Such booster doses are more crucial for their life-long immunity.
One of the biggest examples in our history is Russia’s diphtheria outbreak in the 1990s (which was the largest diphtheria outbreak of the world, post-1960). During 1991-1994[Ref1], diphtheria cases increased manifolds in Russia and a substantial percentage of these cases were among persons aged more than 14 years. This was a big lesson for the whole world, to continue with vaccination, but also ensure that the booster shots are not missed out.
Booster shots, like flu shots, should be taken annually; while others like DTP should be taken in consultation with your doctor. If you have missed the booster dose for your child due to the lockdown, don’t wait. Take an appointment today and get them the shot.
Talk to your pediatrician about the vaccinations and booster doses your child needs. Keep a track of their immunization schedule and remind yourself about the due booster dose.
It is very important, don’t miss it!
#DontWaitVaccinate your child now! Get more information on DTP booster vaccines here.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of the public awareness initiative supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur India bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.