With the increasing concerns about child health in new age parents, the number of queries about vaccinations keep multiplying. How safe is a vaccine? What are the components of my child’s vaccine? What can be the long-term side effects of a particular component of vaccine?
As a first time mother and an educated and informed individual, I made it my mission to go for vaccination with maximum understanding so that I could rest easy that I am doing the best for my baby.
One of the first questions that I had for my child’s paediatrician was – What goes into the making of a vaccine? I had entered the paediatrician’s chamber with a good amount of research & was glad that I did so! He told me that vaccines can be broadly put into two categories and what goes into each of those.
Here’s what I learnt from him and I am passing it on so that every parent can make an informed decision.
In the preservative based vaccines, the most common preservative being used is Thimerosal. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines. (1) It contains ethyl mercury & it can have few side-effects like,
- Swelling at injection site
It was a little worrisome to know there were preservatives in vaccines. But my child’s paediatrician assured me that a few years ago, it was concluded through research and various studies that thimerosal is not harmful and cannot be linked to any disorders in children.
As healthcare professionals are shifting their focus to a mercury-free environment, there are alternatives available in form of preservative-free vaccines. Preservative-free vaccines come in a single-dose vial, unlike those offered in multi-dose vials. These might seem to be a bit costlier than the other alternatives available in the market and it is supposedly due to the logistics involved in creation & supply of these single-dose vaccines.
This made it clearer why the preservatives were used in the first place. Thimerosal, if required, is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose (multi-dose vials) to prevent growth of germs, like bacteria and fungi. But, for preservative-free vaccines, this is not needed as they are administered in single doses & the question for bacterial growth in vaccine does not arise.
I came out of the paediatrician’s office feeling relieved that now I have the option of choosing a preservative-free vaccine for my baby.
I read up on the internet again and found that independent scientific studies have shown that the preservative-free vaccines are as effective as the earlier versions. They are administered in similar doses as the other alternatives. With mercury-free options available in form of preservative-free vaccines, they are the preferred choice of vaccine for me as a parent!
Have you checked with your doctor for preservative-free vaccines? More knowledge about it would help you make an informed decision. Do share your thoughts with us in the comments.
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Disclaimer – The blog post has been written after detailed research & inputs from medical experts. But it should not be treated as a medical advice. For more information, please consult with your doctor.