What Exactly are Baby Friendly Vaccines?

Background on Immunity

Immunity is the ability of the body to resist and fight germs (disease causing organisms) that can cause infectious diseases.

Vaccination is the process by which an individual’s immune system is artificially strengthened and prepared against a disease causing agent. To realize optimal benefits immunizations are performed early in life to prepare the body for future attacks by the actual germ.

Kenya Expanded Programme on Immunization (KEPI)

KEPI was established in June, 1980 by the Kenya government to oversee and monitor vaccinations to all children in Kenya against five common diseases at that time. To improve outcomes, a number of vaccines have been added since then.

Challenges

Pain, general discomfort with incidental reactions have been some the challenges that parents and caregiver worry about following administration of vaccines especially the injectable.

Solution

To address the pain aspect, the baby friendly versions of the vaccine were developed whereby pain management concepts were incorporated into the vaccines, to reduce trauma to the baby. Unfortunately, these are mostly availed by the private health institutions at an extra cost. Nonetheless, most parents and care givers opt for this version of vaccines for the comfort of the children.

Note that some facilities develop immunization schedules on specific days of the week for convenience and to avoid logistical challenges.

Baby Friendly Vaccine Benefits on our Insurance Products

To meet this need, Resolution Insurance added the baby friendly version of the vaccines into the outpatient cover benefits. This version of vaccines is what is referred to as baby friendly vaccines. They are currently covered up to twenty thousand shillings (Kshs 20,000.00) under outpatient cover in most of our corporate and individual products.

To understand this further, please find the below vaccines under KEPI and highlights of the diseases in question.

Vaccines  

Given at birth

1) BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin)

Given as an injection under the skin of the right upper arm. It helps protect the child against Tuberculosis (TB).

2) Polio Vaccine: This is either an injection or through mouth drops. It helps protect the child against poliomyelitis (polio) to avert crippling in children.

Given at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age

1)   Pentavalent Vaccine: Contains a combination of five vaccines hence the name penta. It acts against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenza.

2)   Polio Vaccine: Given in three rounds. Children can safely receive the polio booster any time before they are 5 years old.

3)   Pneumococcal Vaccine: This vaccine helps to prevent pneumonia. Was added in 2012.

4) Rota Virus vaccine: Helps prevent rotavirus infection which is the leading cause of diarrheal diseases in children worldwide. Given at 6 and 10 weeks of age. It’s the most recent addition to KEPI schedule

Given at 9 months of age

1) Measles

At birth, the baby inherits protection against measles from the mother. This fades off at about 9 months and the child requires their own immunity. The measles vaccine is therefore administered at 9 months of age. A booster dose of the measles vaccine can be given at about two years just in case the child’s immune system did not respond well to the first dose.

2) Yellow fever

In selected regions (declared as yellow fever prevalent zones) in Kenya and other countries, the yellow fever vaccine is given at the age of 9 months. Yellow fever is a disease that causes the destruction of blood. The virus causing yellow fever is transmitted by mosquito.

Every 6 months up to 5 years:

Children should have additional Vitamin A to build their immunity. Vitamin A is commonly found in breast milk, carrots, liver, eggs, and fish. Due to poor diet, Vitamin A deficiency makes children susceptible to infection.

Although not covered in our products, adolescent girls and women would benefit from a vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the virus responsible for cervical cancer. Unfortunately, the vaccine is not yet available in government health facilities.

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