Being a parent is a life-changing experience. Your priorities change and you shift from being carefree and relaxed to paranoid and protective. I am one of those paranoid parents who read for symptoms even if my babies catch the common flu. I am one of those paranoid parents who go for every vaccination possible. I have twins, and the expense of immunization is enormous, but I go for every vaccine. I go, not because I can afford it, but because I cannot afford to lose my babies to health issues and fatal diseases that are often ignored.
I may sound strong and persistent, but I urge each one of you not to take vaccinations lightly. Preventive healthcare is of utmost importance and the best gift you can give to your child. Today, I am going to specifically talk about the Meningitis vaccine by Sanofi Pasteur, experts in vaccinations and preventive healthcare with 40 years of experience and research.
Meningitis is an unpredictable, rare but damaging infection that can be quickly passed on from one child to another by simple coughs and sneezes. Most prone are aged below 5 years and common for kids coming in contact with adolescents, who are major carriers of the meningitis virus. This infection harms the brain and/or gets into the bloodstream, and if not treated or detected in time, can lead to death within 48 hours. Experts say that even if it is treated, there are lifelong challenges that the child faces.
Early symptoms of meningitis include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, seizures, swelling of that soft spot on the head and relentless crying. Sounds like regular flu issues, right? Which is why it is imperative to get the meningitis vaccine for your baby before they fall prey to this deadly disease.
As per data of 2016 and 2017, there have been 3251 cases of meningitis in India in 2016 out of which 205 have turned out to be fatal. In 2017, 3087 cases were reported leading to 146 deaths. The data also shows that boys have been more affected by the disease than girls. West Bengal saw the maximum number of patients in the country followed by Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Karnataka.
Following are some of the ways of protecting newborn babies from meningitis:
- Keeping babies away from people with any infection and cold sores. The disease can be transmitted and lead to severe circumstances for the child.
- Keeping them away from large crowds whenever possible and mosquitoes.
- Preparing food or bottles for the baby and touching the baby only with clean hands.
- Pregnant women between 35 and 37 weeks of pregnancy should be given a group B strep test and should be treated with antibiotics in case of testing positive.
For prevention against the disease, children should be vaccinated with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, also called MCV4. This one is given to children above 11 years of age. The MMR vaccine is given to children between 9 to 15 months of age and then again at 4 to 6 years.
The Sanofi Pasteur the vaccine costs about 5000 rupees, which may sound like a lot of money, but do we want to take a chance when it comes to our babies health?
Note: This information can be the first level of guidance about the disease. One can then consult a doctor for further information and advice. People should be aware of the condition, especially those who live in parts of the country where there have been many cases of meningitis.
Author: Mahrukh Shah