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Infant immunisation: Safe, effective and essential

This year,World Immunisation Week is celebrated from 24-30 April and the theme is Protected Together: Vaccines Work! In light of this, POLHN is putting the spotlight on the importance of infant immunisation to demonstrate the value of vaccines for children, communities and the world.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO)  immunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.

Mechanism of action

A vaccine is made of a dead or weakened infectious organism or part of an organism (antigen) that causes the disease in question. When patients are exposed to a disease in vaccine form, their immune system is able to build up antibodies. These antibodies protect them from contracting the disease if and when they are exposed to the actual disease.

What is infant immunisation?

©WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

Infants are extremely vulnerable to infections; that is why it is so important to protect them via immunisation. Infant immunisation is a process to build active immunity in infants and toddlers against disease for a better chance of survival. It is also an important indicator used to predict the likelihood of a child having a healthy life. Moreover, if a mother has been immunised, then her baby might get some protection from specific diseases due to passive immunity (the transfer of antibodies from mother to infant born to her) as well. However, this level of protection can be low and wears off quickly, putting the newborn at risk of getting infections.

Targeted diseases for infant immunisation

The Center for Disease Control recommends the following vaccines in children age 0 to 6 years.

  • Hepatitis (A and B)
  • BCG (TB vaccine)
  • Rotavirus
  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Bacterial meningitis (Hib)
  • Polio
  • Pneumococcal infections
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Chickenpox

WHO's work

WHO is working worldwide with several organisations to provide universal immunisation. According to WHO, 116.2 million infants worldwide received a vaccine of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) in 2017. 123 countries had covered 90% of their infant populations with diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis at this time, thus protecting them from a fatal infection causing severe disability.

The recommended schedule of vaccinations for children is briefed in table that has been updated in December 2018.

Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) is working in collaboration with WHO to provide a free online immunisation course for healthcare professionals and train them for monitoring, effective planning and management of immunisation programmes on an extensive scale.

They offer free online immunisation courses with certificates to encourage health workers in order to learn the managerial and demographical strategies of immunisation plans.

This course not only helps health workers to learn more but also assists everyone to better serve humanity. POLHN’s free online health training courses are recognised worldwide. People who enrol gain a significant scope of knowledge that is widely applicable in the medical field. POLHN targets the Pacific island region to deliver optimum medical facilities and enhance health standards in the area.

The purpose of this course is to spread public health awareness and decrease the death rates related to lack of immunisation in underdeveloped parts of the Pacific and elsewhere. POLHN’s free self-paced programmes help train health workers and increase their knowledge and skills through eLearning.

Significant features of the course:

The purpose of this course is to enable students able to understand:

  • Principles of immunity and immunisation;
  • Management and supervision of immunisation programmes;
  • Evaluation of positive vaccination coverage and interpretation of inference;
  • Strategies used for immunisation programmes; and
  • Comprehensive knowledge of the targeted disease.

For further information visit the POLHN site and sign up to the course for free.