IMMUNISATION WEEK: Tetanus, diphtheria vaccinations provide lifetime immunity for your baby
What you need to know:
- The Kenya Expanded Programme Immunization Schedule describes Hepatitis B as an infection of the liver which is caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV).
- The benefits of having your baby administered with these vaccines have been medically proven to last into their adulthood.
- Adults who did not receive a full series of tetanus and diphtheria shots as children should only get routine vaccines.
The vaccinations your baby will receive at six months, ten, and fourteen months have the potential to offer a lifetime of protection. The vaccination schedule produced by the Ministry of Health and dubbed Kenya Expanded Programme Immunisation Schedule states that your newborn will receive a vaccine against Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae (Type b). These doses are administered at 0.5mls through injection at the left outer thigh. These doses are contained in a single shot known as Pentavalent Vaccine. The Pentavalent Vaccine contains five antigens (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenzae Type b).
According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), these vaccines will protect your baby from a series of diseases that could prove fatal if your baby goes unvaccinated. According to the CDC, diphtheria is a bacterial infection that affects the mucous membranes of the throat and nose. A sheet of thick, greyish matter covers the back of the throat, making breathing difficult. Symptoms of this disease usually include sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and weakness. Over the past ten years, Kenya has not reported a case of diphtheria. The last six cases were reported in 2001. Pertussis is also known as whooping cough. This disease is highly contagious and is characterised by uncontrollable, violent coughing. The symptoms of this disease include nasal congestion, a running nose, and persistent sneezing.
Tetanus is a bacterial disease that affects the nervous system and which can easily turn fatal. With tetanus, a patient experiences painful muscle spasms. “These spasms usually affect the jaw and neck muscles. They are so severe that they can fracture bones or interfere with breathing, leading to death. The tetanus vaccine is also given to pregnant women to prevent neonatal tetanus,” the WHO states. With tetanus, the infection normally enters the body through the wound of the navel. Infections are more common when women deliver at home under unsupervised and unqualified midwives and unsterilised conditions. “Tetanus occurring during pregnancy or within 6 weeks of the end of pregnancy is called maternal tetanus, while tetanus occurring within the first 28 days of life is called neonatal tetanus,” the WHO states.
The Kenya Expanded Programme Immunization Schedule describes Hepatitis B as an infection of the liver which is caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). “This disease is spread when semen, blood, or other body fluids from an infected person are passed on to the body of an uninfected individual,” the guidelines schedule states. Symptoms of this disease vary but will mostly include the yellowing of the eyes, dark urine, abdominal pain, liver failure, cancer, or scarring in chronic cases.
Haemophilus Influenzae Type B is caused by the bacteria known as H.influenza. “It is made up of all diseases caused by this bacterium such as bloodstream infections and ear infections. This bacterium is notorious for causing nearly all cases of severe pneumonia and meningitis in babies below the age of five years,” the guidelines developed by the Ministry of Health state. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Hepatitis B and C are attributed as the two main causes of chronic liver disease. Currently, over 200,000 people in Africa die from the complications of viral Hepatitis B and C-related liver disease annually.
The benefits of having your baby administered with these vaccines have been medically proven to last into their adulthood. For instance, medical research that appeared in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, in 2021 established that adults who completed childhood vaccinations for tetanus – also known as lockjaw – and diphtheria do not need to take booster shots against these two diseases. These echoed recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) on tetanus and diphtheria vaccinations for adults. According to the WHO recommendations, adults who did not receive a full series of tetanus and diphtheria shots as children should only get routine vaccines.
According to the medical research report, though, these findings should not be misconstrued as a form of advocacy against vaccination. “Everyone should get their series of tetanus and diphtheria shots when they are children. But once they have done that, they should be protected for life,” said Dr. Mark Slifka, a professor at Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine. In this research, Dr. Slifka was following up on a 2016 medical research project that had suggested that childhood vaccination against Tetanus and Diphtheria could produce at least 30 years of protection.