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  In Nigeria, newborns typically receive the Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine as their first vaccination, given shortly after birth to protect against tuberculosis (TB). The BCG vaccine is typically administered within the first few days to weeks after birth, ideally before the infant is discharged from the hospital.
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Vaccination is critical in children to protect them from serious and potentially life-threatening diseases like measles, polio, and whooping cough. Vaccines strengthen the immune system, preventing illness and reducing the spread of infectious diseases within communities. Despite their proven effectiveness and safety, misconceptions about vaccines persist, fueled by misinformation. Common myths include fears about vaccine ingredients and false links to autism. Addressing these misconceptions through accurate information and education is crucial to ensuring high vaccination rates and safeguarding children’s health against preventable diseases.

How Vaccines Work

Vaccines function by activating the immune system to recognize and defend against specific pathogens like viruses or bacteria, all without causing illness. When a vaccine is administered, it may contain weakened or killed forms of the pathogen or specific components that prompt an immune response. This exposure enables the immune system to produce antibodies and activate other specialized immune cells targeted against the pathogen. Memory cells are also generated during this process, providing a lasting defence mechanism. In the event of encountering the actual pathogen later on, the immune system can swiftly recognize it due to the memory cells and mount a rapid response to eliminate it before illness occurs. This immune “sensitization” to the pathogen through vaccination establishes immunity, offering protection to individuals and populations against infection and its consequences.
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Myth #1: Vaccines cause Autism

The belief that vaccines cause autism is not supported by scientific evidence. Numerous studies conducted by reputable scientific institutions and health organizations have consistently demonstrated that there is no link between vaccines and autism. The misinformation suggesting otherwise originated from a now discredited study concerning the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine published in 1998, and subsequent extensive research has debunked this myth.

Myth #2: Vaccines contain harmful ingredients

The idea that vaccines contain harmful ingredients is false. Vaccine components, like preservatives (e.g thimerosal) and adjuvants (e.g aluminium salts), are present in safe, trace amounts approved by health authorities to enhance effectiveness and safety. Extensive research ensures vaccines are effective and safe for use, debunking concerns about harmful ingredients.

Myth #3: Natural immunity is superior to vaccination

Natural immunity, or innate immunity, provides a general defence against pathogens but is limited in scope and specificity. It lacks the precision and breadth of acquired immunity, which includes vaccine-induced immunity. Vaccination stimulates the adaptive immune response, creating a targeted defence against specific pathogens. Unlike natural immunity, vaccination allows the immune system to recognize and respond effectively to a wide range of disease-causing antigens.

Myth #4: The diseases we vaccinate against no longer exist

They do exist. The bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses that cause life-threatening diseases such as measles and polio still exist in the environment. Without vaccination, children remain vulnerable to these pathogens, which can lead to severe illness, disability, or death. Vaccination is crucial in providing immunity against these diseases by training the immune system to recognize and fight off specific pathogens. It not only protects individuals but also helps prevent the spread of these infectious agents within communities.
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Childhood vaccination is crucial for protecting children from serious infectious diseases like measles, polio, and whooping cough. By dispelling myths about vaccination, we highlight its importance in safeguarding individuals and communities. Vaccination not only prevents disease outbreaks but also reduces the economic strain on families and healthcare systems. Extensive scientific research confirms the safety and effectiveness of childhood vaccines, underscoring their vital role in disease prevention and promoting overall health. Encouraging parents to seek credible information empowers them to make informed decisions that benefit their children and contribute to healthier communities. Vaccination is a cornerstone of public health, ensuring a safer and healthier future for everyone.
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This article was first published on 27th April 2024


I am a passionate health writer. Recognizing the lack of comprehensive health knowledge among my non-medical peers, I took to health writing to provide scientifically sound and easily understandable health information.

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