Vaccinations: Should you give your baby vaccinations?
Vaccinations: Five in One - what does it protect against?

Vaccinations: Five in One - what does it protect against?

Five in One Vaccine: Diseases protected against

1. Diptheria

An infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose, mouth, throat) caused by the diphtheria bacterium and toxin. This is a serious infection with a high mortality rate, transmitted via droplet infection (e.g. coughs and sneezes) or skin-to-skin contact. Improved sanitation and widespread vaccination have made it very rare in the Western world.

There have been a handful of cases in the UK, believed to have been contracted abroad. Some of cases were in vaccinated individuals. Treatment is via the diphtheria antitoxin and antibiotics.

2. Tetanus (aka lock jaw)

Tetanus is usually caused by the tetanus bacteria entering a deep wound. The bacteria make a toxin that causes muscles to spasm, leading to the inability to breathe and the possibility of suffocation. Tetanus bacteria live in soil and dirt, especially where manure is present.

Contracting the disease does not confer permanent immunity and neither does the vaccine, which is why boosters have been so common. It is now believed a high frequency of tetanus boosters may interfere with the immune reaction and there is a gradual retreat from this approach. Most recorded cases in the UK are found in drug users, the elderly and road traffic accident and burn victims.

3. Pertussis

Pertussis, better known as whooping cough, is a bacterial infection of the airways that can occur at any age but mostly affects infants and young children. Increasingly severe coughing spells, followed by the characteristic ‘whoop’ can last for several weeks. Most people fully recover but some develop complications such as pneumonia; babies under six months are particularly vulnerable.

4. Poliomyelitis (aka polio)

Polio is caused by viruses that attack the nerves and it can lead to paralysis or muscle weakness, most commonly of the legs. Paralysis of the muscles that control breathing and swallowing can be fatal. Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, the virus is circulating in only a handful of countries including Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan and Somalia.

The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and multiplies in the intestine, from where it invades the nervous system. Initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. Oral Polio Vaccine is no longer used in the UK and is gradually being phased out worldwide due to vaccine-derived polio cases. It is replaced by IPV, which contains a killed version of the Polio virus.

5. Haemophilus influenzae type b infections (Hib)

These bacteria are responsible for severe pneumonia, meningitis and other invasive diseases almost exclusively in children aged less than 5 years, hence the early inclusion in the vaccination schedule. Hib bacteria are transmitted through the respiratory tract from infected to susceptible individuals.

From most available studies, vaccine efficacy appears to be high, however, provocation disease - vaccine-induced disease - has been linked to previous Hib vaccines. Studies in Finland suggest a casual link between the Hib vaccine and an increase in insulin-dependent diabetes by the age of 10.

Image © iStockphoto

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