Family Med-eZine TeamTuesday, 15 Apr 2014, 05:11 pm

Each child is special and has very special needs during the growing up years. Parents today take utmost care to ensure that they have a healthy childhood. Children, especially infants are particularly vulnerable to infections and one important thing that parents can do to keep them in good health is by getting them vaccinated in a timely manner. 

Why Vaccines?

Early childhood is a critical time when rapid growth and development of the body takes place. As the immune system is not well developed at this time, children are vulnerable to a number of infectious diseases like diphtheria, hepatitis-B, measles, rubella, tetanus and polio, all of which can have a negative impact on their overall growth and development. 

Vaccines are a safe and effective method to prevent and control a number of these childhood diseases. By vaccination, killed or weakened forms of disease causing micro-organisms are injected into the body. As a response, the body’s immune system produces an army of antibodies, which will help fight the disease if it attacks in the future. It is important that children are up-to-date on vaccines to keep these diseases at bay. 

Immunisation schedule

As a parent, it is important to be aware of the multiple vaccines available, the right time to administer them—for maximum benefit and the number of doses required, such that they protect your child against various diseases. The below reference guide, lists out the recommended vaccines along with the timing of various doses for children through 12 years of age. Also mentioned are some optional vaccines, which your paediatrician may recommend, depending on the specific requirements of your child and his or her risk of contracting the infection.

VaccinesSide-effects of Vaccines 

Though vaccines are meant to provide protection against diseases, in some cases they can cause side- effects as well. These side effects—like pain, swelling and redness at the injection site, are generally mild and tend to go away quickly. Sometimes, these can be accompanied with fever, rashes and uneasiness as well. Severe side-effects like an allergic reaction requiring immediate doctor visit, are generally very rare.

Points to remember

It is important to talk to your family doctor and if required, he can refer you to a paediatrician regarding your child’s vaccination schedule. He will help you understand the pros and cons of each vaccine, the need for multiple doses and why the timing is important as well. Your child’s vaccination schedule may have to be modified based on the health status, the type of vaccine and the area of your residence (some diseases may be more prevalent in your area). Based on these, the doctor will help customise the schedule such that it best fits your child’s needs.

  • In case your child has missed a particular vaccine dose, your family doctor can help you plan the catch-up vaccination as well.
  • Vaccines are safe to administer even if the child is suffering from minor illnesses like fever, cold, cough etc.
  • Do inform the doctor, in case your child has exhibited any significant reaction to a previous vaccine dose.
  • In case, your child experiences severe side-effects—like an allergic reaction following a vaccine dose, immediately seek the help of your doctor.
  • Do remember that the effect of vaccines slowly wears off with time, it is thus important for teenagers to get a booster dose of certain vaccines that they had during their childhood.
  • With newer research constantly happening, vaccines are being modified every year. It is important to keep abreast with them, since some are now being changed to combination vaccines. Your family doctor can help you with this information. 


Compulsory Vaccines

Optional vaccines


BCG- for Tuberculosis

OPV- for Polio

Hepatitis B (Dose 1)- for Hepatitis B virus caused liver inflammation and disease


6 weeks

DPT (Dose 1)- for Diphtheria, Pertussis (Whooping cough) & Tetanus

OPV (Dose 1)

Hib (Dose 1)-for severe bacterial infection (meningitis, pneumonia)

Hepatitis B (Dose 2)

Rotavirus (Dose 1)- protects against severe viral infection (fever, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea in kids)

PCV (Dose 1)- helps against severe bacterial infection (pneumonia, meningitis and ear infections)

10 weeks

DPT (Dose 2)

OPV (Dose 2)

Hib (Dose 2)

Rotavirus (Dose 2)

PCV (Dose 2)

14 weeks

DPT (Dose 3)

OPV (Dose 3)

Hib (Dose 3)

Rotavirus (Dose 3, depending upon the brand)

PCV (Dose 3)

6 months

Hepatitis B (Dose 3)

Flu vaccine (Dose 1)- protects against flu

7 months


Flu vaccine (Dose 2)

9-12 months

Measles vaccine- protects against measles

At 12 months-

Hepatitis A (Dose 1)- protects against liver disease, jaundice

Cholera vaccine (Dose 1 ad 2 weeks later dose 2)- protects against cholera

15-18 months

DPT (Dose 4)

OPV (Dose 4)

Hib ((Dose 4)

MMR (Dose 1)- protects against Measles, mumps & Rubella (German measles)

At 15 months-

Chicken pox (Dose 1)- protects against chickenpox

PCV (Dose 4)

At 18 months- Hepatitis A (Dose 2)

2 years

Typhoid (revaccination every 3-4 years)


5 years

DPT (Dose 5)

OPV (Dose 5)

MMR (Dose 2)

Chicken pox (Dose 2)


10-12 years

Tdap- protects against Tetanus, Diphtheria & Pertussis

HPV (only girls, 3 doses at 0, 1-2 and 6 months)- protects against HPV infection, known to cause cervical cancer


*According to the Indian Academy of Paediatrics- Recommended Immunisation Schedule


BCG: Bacillus Calmette Guerin- for Tuberculosis, OPV: Oral Polio vaccine, DPT: Diphtheria, Pertussis (Whooping cough) & Tetanus, Hib: Haemophillus Influenza type B, PCV: Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine, MMR: Measles, mumps & Rubella, Tdap: Tetanus, Diphtheria & Pertussis, HPV: Human Papilloma virus