My daughter was 2 months old when I took her to the doctor for her vaccination. She was scheduled for DTP vaccine. The doctor asked me if I would prefer less painful vaccines or painless vaccines.
I asked him, “What’s the difference?” Seriously, I had no clue there were painful and painless varieties.
He told me, “The vaccines are the same, it’s just with painless vaccines, there will be less discomfort to your baby. However, it will be a bit more costly.”
I didn’t think twice and agreed to the administration of painless vaccines. I trust my pediatrician blindly. He is a no-nonsense doctor; if he says something, it has to be true. I thought the story ended it there.
However, the next day, my mother in law was surprised to see my daughter up and playing, with no signs of fever, discomfort or pain. That’s when I told her that I had opted for painless vaccines. She was not happy and advised me that I should have opted for regular vaccines because painless vaccines are less effective.
I didn’t comment. I had to delve deeper into it to respond. I searched on Google, talked to other mothers and then even called up the pediatrician. And this is what I learnt.
The whole debate of painless vaccines mostly concerns DTP versus DTap vaccines. DTP is Diptheria, Tetanus toxoids and Pertussis while DTaP stands for acellular Pertussis.
What are painless vaccines or less painful vaccines?
Painless or less painful vaccines or acellular vaccines as the name DTaP suggests, contain fewer antigens rather than whole cells which are found in the painful variants. These vaccines are administered via needle and syringe, just like their painful counterparts.
Are they really painless or less painful?
Keep in mind, painless vaccinations are not completely pain-free. As they are administered via needle and syringe, they cause as much pain when administered as painful vaccines.
Why are they called painless or less painful?
DTaP vaccines are called painless or less painful because they cause fewer side effects vis-à-vis painful vaccines, such as-
- A child experiences lesser pain and discomfort.
- There is no or less swelling or redness at the injected site.
- These vaccines don’t cause high fever in the child.
Are painless vaccines equally effective?
Well, this may be debatable. It is believed that painless or less painful vaccines lack whole antigen cells, still there is no difference in immunity. Also, the extra antigens are not there in vaccines with less pain than in painful vaccines. Still, weaning of immunity is seen with both the vaccines. This need is fulfilled by giving the booster doses at 15-18 months and 4-6 years of age.
Another line of thought says that a child even though immunized can still get the disease, no matter he was given painless or painful vaccines, if he comes in contact with another child who has the disease and if his own immunity is quite low.
What should parents do?
Parents should not go on hearsay, but should first check with their pediatrician about the best vaccine for their baby. Medical science sees quick advancements and doctors know the best. Trust your doctor and do as he says like I did. My doctor advised me to go for DTap i.e. Painless vaccination and I agreed, with no questions asked.
What I think about painless vaccines?
My daughter was given painless vaccines as both primary and booster shots. She never developed a fever, redness or swelling. Furthermore, she never cried, became cranky or lost appetite. It’s a boon for parents who dread vaccination time just for the above-mentioned reasons. Yes, these vaccinations are more expensive. So, I would suggest if your budget allows for it and if your doctor administers it, go ahead with painless vaccines.
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