Vaccination (same as immunization) helps your body’s defence fight infection. A vaccine is safe and effective, and is introduced into your body to strengthen your its natural defence against infection. Vaccinations help your body be resistant to diseases such as hepatitis, COVID-19 and measles.
A vaccine can be given through injections, by mouth or as a nose sprays. A vaccine usually contains a killed or weakened form of a virus or bacteria. When the vaccine enters your body, it recognizes the virus or bacteria and starts to produce antibodies to fight them. Your body's defence remembers the disease when it is exposed to the live in virus or bacteria. Vaccines may protect you for months, years, decades and even a lifetime. You may also be required to take boosters for some vaccines.
When a child is born, its receives some level of protection against viruses and bacteria from its mother. However, this level of protection is unable to sustain a child throughout childhood. The immune system needs to be supported through vaccines. The list of recommended vaccines varies from country to country as various diseases are country-specific. In Africa, the following vaccines are important so ensure that you double-check with the clinics nearby when your child needs to come for vaccination. The schedule for National Immunization Schedule Nigeria includes the following vaccines:
- Tuberculosis (at birth)
- Polio (at birth, 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks)
- Hepatitis B (at birth, 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks)
- Rotavirus (6 weeks, 10 weeks)
- Diphtheria (6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks)
- Pertussis (6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks)
- Tetanus (6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks)
- Pneumonia (6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks)
- Yellow fever (9 months)
- Measles (9 months and 15 months)
You will be given a card where vaccinations are recorded and you can use it to monitor your child’s vaccination. If your child misses any vaccinations, reach out to your healthcare provider on what next to do.
As we get older, the protection the childhood vaccines may reduce. Therefore, some of these vaccines require boosters in adulthood, for added protection. Other vaccines are required only as we grow older. Vaccines and boosters for adults include:
- Human papilloma virus (HPV): protects women from getting the virus that causes cancer of the cervix.
- Hepatitis A and B.
- Yellow fever.
- Covid 19.
- Other important vaccinations include mumps, measles, rubella, meningococcus, and influenza.
It is also important to get vaccinated against specific diseases before you travel to disease-prone areas.
Vaccines help our immune system fight against various diseases and thereby protecting us from and reducing the adverse effects of certain diseases. If you worry about vaccines or if you experience side-effects from a vaccination, contact your healthcare provider for more information.