Why I recommend vaccination for every child

22nd September 2015 was when I entered into the new phase of motherhood. As I held the tiny bundle of joy in my arms after a difficult c-section, everything else felt inconsequential. In a while, the Pediatrician came for his round of duty and this was when he spoke about the need for vaccination in the case of new-born babies. My husband, also a Doctor by profession, listened attentively as the Pediatrician explained the vaccination chart to us.

The next couple of weeks were about getting adjusted to this new schedule of life. My focus area had shifted to understanding the importance of WHO-recommended exclusive breastfeeding for six months and surviving the state of being perennially sleep-deprived. I was lucky to be surrounded by an understanding and supportive family to help me cope up with this sudden change that was both physical and psychological.

Amidst such a chaotic life, reality dawned on me once my infant turned six weeks. The first vaccination was due and the nervous mother in me shadowed the rational individual that I was normally known to be. It was at my husband’s insistence that we decided to visit the Pediatrician. As I spoke my heart out, the empathetic and knowledgeable doctor emphasized the importance of vaccination in the life of a newborn baby.

He spoke about the functionality of vaccines in protecting babies against life-threatening diseases like Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, Viral Diarrhea, Polio and Haemophilus Influenza B.He went on to elaborate how immunization helped in curbing complications related to diseases that could lead to convulsions, meningitis, encephalopathy, and death. While I was convinced about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the Pediatrician was patient enough to dig deeper into my worries about the pain related to injections. It was at this point that he introduced me to the new concept of an acellular vaccine with less pain.

I was shocked to find that as per a recent report, one of every four child-deaths (high infant-mortality rate) in India was caused by pneumonia and diarrhea, two infections that could be controlled and prevented through immunization. In the last couple of years, I researched to understand how the benefits of vaccination extended much beyond the prevention of specific diseases in individuals to enable a healthy and fit future for societies and nations. Vaccination in the long term indeed saves time and money while also taking care of the weakest members of society.

Every parent wants to protect their child from all kinds of untoward instances. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness and the spread of misinformation on social media often lead them towards decisions that might not be favorable for the child’s health and future. In the course of staying updated with the vaccination schedule for my now 4-year-old son, most of my misconceptions related to immunization have been replaced by research-backed information. Today, I can gladly say that I have chosen a healthy future for my son as well as the future generation by deciding to protect him with the shield of immunization.

What’s #YourCareQuotient? How much do you understand your child when it comes to sleep patterns, feeding, and vaccination? Take the easy, interactive quiz that guides you and get the childcare guide now. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of the public awareness initiative supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.

A for Amit Tandon

While Ashish Chanchlani would have been a bigger name for the 17 million followers he entertains on his YouTube channel, my personal favorite happens to be Amit Tandon aka The Family Man.

Amit Tandon
Source:tandonamit.com

Amit’s jokes are centered around a typical middle-class family and are generally devoid of abusive language, making him a perfect choice as a family entertainer. He was one of the first stand-up comics to debut with a  show on Netflix and has a huge audience base across the globe. You can catch his hilarious videos on his YouTube channel here.

Here’s one of my favorite videos. Have fun.

This is the first post of the Blogchatter A2Z challenge 2020 under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona’. See you tomorrow as I unravel who gets featured in the post for B.

 

Theme reveal post – Blogchatter A2Z-challenge 2020

This is my third year at the A2Z challenge / Blogchatter A2Z challenge. The first year was thrilling. I wrote on the theme ‘A dollop of Bengal’. I followed it up with my debut Detective Thriller ‘Deal of Death’ that is available on Amazon here. The second-year was a little hectic because my son started school in mid-April. I wrote on parenting with a dash of humor.

This year, I was in a dilemma whether to go ahead with the challenge or drop the idea. I am into my fourth month of an MFA creative writing course and currently, I’m juggling three fiction classes there. At one point, I almost thought of giving up this challenge because I was already writing 4000 words on a weekly average.

But the excitement of participation didn’t take long to rub one me. I started hunting for themes. Blogchatter gave me some great advice. All I knew was that I couldn’t write beyond 100 words per day. So, after ransacking my brains, I realized that I am going to go ahead with the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona’.

2badge

Considering the anxiety that all of us are going through, I wanted to speak about anything other than the deadly virus that seems to have brought our lives to a standstill. So, I will talk about Indian stand-up comics on the net, shows that promote humor in the form of a stand-up special or through YouTube channel. As we grapple with the pandemic engulfing our existence, this is my way of dealing with stress.

So, hop on as I start preparing this joyride beginning on April 1st, 2020. Subscribe to my blog to stay updated. You can also follow me on FB/Twitter/IG @soniasmusings.

In the meanwhile, stay safe, stay indoors and don’t forget to wash/sanitize your hands.

Preservative-free vaccines for a healthier future

In an era of the internet and global exposure, an individual has multiple means of assessing the available options to fathom the consequences of their choices. When my son was born, both my husband and I wanted to check every aspect of the mandatory vaccines that were to be injected once he reached the milestones in life. It was our pediatrician who enlightened us with an in-depth analysis of the need for vaccination in children. But there was a nagging feeling about the side-effects of preservatives in vaccines after we came to know about mercury being one of its components. We carried out a detailed check about the need for preservatives in vaccines before going for a detailed discussion with the pediatrician.

From the available sources, we understood that preservatives were compounds that killed or prevented the growth of microorganisms like fungus and bacteria. In case the vaccine was accidentally contaminated due to repeated needle puncture of multi-dose vials, the preservatives prevented microbial growth. Thimerosal, (approx 50% mercury by weight), has one of the most widely used preservatives in vaccines.

In 1998, there was a study in Britain where a Doctor claimed about the MMR vaccine causing autism in children. Thimerosal was one such ingredient that was considered to be responsible for this hazard. This study led to such an uproar than many parents shunned vaccines. The results were proved to be incorrect due to the small sample size and various other conditions not taken into consideration for a conclusive deduction. Eventually, the FDA, CDC, National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine had to declare the usage of Thimerosal in vaccines as safe to eradicate the fear and bring the vaccination process back on track.

Yet, one cannot deny the fact that mercury is known for its toxicity. While there is no conclusive proof for its harmful effects as a preservative, no study has also proved for certain that it is safe. This is what makes the case of preservative-free vaccines stronger.

In the last few years, Thimerosal has been removed from most of the vaccines used in developed countries. However, it is still used in vaccines meant for developing countries. While the lack of awareness is one of the reasons, the fact that vaccines are sold to developing countries in multi-dose vials at a lower cost-per-dose also makes them a preferred choice. It is assumed that single-dose vials of vaccines (preservative-free) are not economical for developing countries, both in terms of the cost of vaccines per unit and cold chain requirements. But these assumptions might not be based on the actual scenarios in these countries.

Multi-dose vials have the added advantage of occupying less cold-storage space per dose. This aspect is overshadowed by a shocking percentage of vaccine wastage. Single-dose vials become more appealing and effective in terms of simplifying inventory logistics and vaccine tracking. In a developing country like India, one of the strongest reasons for switching to single-dose vials in the future could be the process of cost-effective manufacturing of these ampoules which makes them affordable.

Based on our discussion, the pediatrician agreed to our choice of a preservative-free vaccine. It took us an additional week to comply with the vaccination schedule but we decided to stick by our conviction of a healthy future for our son. While the findings of research-based studies related to the effects of mercury in vaccines have been vague and full of conflicts, we consider it advisable to be better safe than sorry. Hence, if the option of a preservative-free vaccine is available for a child, it is always recommended to consult with the pediatrician and opt for the same.

What’s #YourCareQuotient? How much do you understand your child when it comes to sleep patterns, feeding, and vaccination? Take the easy, interactive quiz that guides you and get the childcare guide now.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of the public awareness initiative supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.

References –

https://www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/safety-availability-biologics/thimerosal-and-vaccines

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/patient-ed/conversations/downloads/vacsafe-thimerosal-color-office.pdf

https://vaccineindia.org/article/thiomersal

https://ijme.in/articles/commentary-controversies-surrounding-mercury-in-vaccines-autism-denial-as-impediment-to-universal-immunisation/?galley=html

Double Awards in Literature on International Women’s Day

8th March is celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day. While I am aware of the history that brought this day into existence, it breaks my heart to think of the nature of crimes, violence, and harassment that women face 364 days a year. If only we had been successful in normalizing the belief of equality between both the genders, we wouldn’t have needed a special day to remind everyone that even in 2020, women are forced to fight for their rights to survive with respect.

Beach Vacation Mar 2020
Beach Vacation Mar 2020

This year the day wasn’t meant to be any different because I have stopped celebrating women’s day or rather give in to the discounts and offers that have trivialized the intent behind this day. The only special event on 8th March was that my 4.5-year-old had finished his final exams and we could plan a short beach vacation with our childhood friends and their families. It was a refreshing change to switch off from writing, my MFA course assignments and the daily humdrum of life for three days. We went on a trip down the memory lane as the vehicle took us out of Kolkata towards the Mandarmani sea beach.

But life was waiting around the corner with some special surprises in the store. The first mail in the morning arrived from The Spirit Mania (TSM) Group conferring me with the Influential Women Award 2k20 in Literature. Before I could get over the excitement of this surprise win, the second award arrived from the Literoma group in the form of the Literoma Nari Samman 2020 Award in the field of Literature again. While I couldn’t make it to the TSM award venue in person, the pre-planned trip also made me skip the grand Literoma Award function held at the New Town Library, Kolkata. A friend of mine accepted the trophy, medal, and certificate on my behalf and it is only today that I can hold it in my hand basking in the glory of this success. Women’s Day for me became a day of double celebration this year as I won these two prestigious awards as a female Indian author in the field of Literature.

Literoma Nari Samman Award 2020
Literoma Nari Samman Award 2020

These awards help me stay motivated in my chosen field of creative arts. They give me encouragement on days when the sky outside the window overlooking my workstation feels gray. Thank you TSM group and the Literoma group for appreciating and awarding my work. All the love poured in primarily because of my debut Detective Thriller ‘Deal of Death’ that established me as an author (you can purchase a copy from the link here). Heartfelt gratitude to my readers for choosing to be a part of my writing journey. It is now time for me to go back to reading, working on more assignments and continue creating content with a purpose in mind and stronger determination in the heart.

What it means to be a woman in India!

Today morning, I woke up to multiple messages related to International Women’s Day. 25 percent off on groceries!’ ’10 percent discount on flowers!’ ‘No making charges on diamond jewelry,’ among others.

And at that moment, I realized that the March Madness had begun. Until three years ago, March Madness for me usually began with a gentle reminder from my reporting authority in the banking sector. Or with an aggressive message from the Boss. They would both remind me that after the end of the financial year, there would be an appraisal process to keep my blood pressure and stress levels high.

As a writer, now, the reasons for stress and frustration have shifted reasons but they have not shifted loyalties like my account’s financial statement. Today, a different kind of seething anger gripped my soul. I wanted to question each of these brands and ask them if that is all Women’s Day meant to them.

And yet, all their propositions felt better than any of the headlines, I’ve woken up to in the past few months- violence, moral policing and gender stereotyping. In a bid to highlight the daily struggles we face as women, I decided to take everyone through the stages of being a female in this country.

Stage one- the birth

Since you are a girl, you don’t get to be born. You are aborted in your mother’s womb, itself. In case, you do manage to make your way to the world, you are either dumped in a dustbin or choked to death. Because what are girls, if not unwanted responsibilities?

Click HERE to read about the 11 stages of being a woman in modern India as I pour my heart out in this piece on women’s web. Because we have, for ages and across generations, fought for ourselves and no matter how much fear you instill in us, remember, we will rise. Like the phoenix from the ashes, we will rise.

Snippets from the Thriller Writers’ Panel Discussion at the Women Writer’s Fest, Kolkata

On Saturday 8th Feb, I traveled with my debut book ‘Deal of Death’ to The Saturday Club, Kolkata for an insightful discussion about women writing thrillers. The panel was moderated by Baishali Chatterjee Dutt and had prolific authors like Kiran Manral, Sharmistha Gooptu, and Damyanti Biswas along with me speaking on how ‘thriller’ was an umbrella genre comprising of various sub-categories. We focussed on the stereotyping that women writers face while writing books in a genre predominantly occupied by writers of the opposite gender. In an engaging and thought-provoking session, we shared our experiences of becoming writers in this genre and the way forward.

Sharing a couple of pictures and bits of my opinion recorded live.

The Thriller writers panel
The Thriller writers’ panel
Meeting Anupriya, Damyanti, Paromita and Kiran Manral
Meeting Anupriya, Damyanti, Paromita and Kiran Manral

 

The media coverage in the form of an article on the event is available here.

The full recording of the event is available on the FB page of Shethepeople.tv here.

Do let me know what you think about the session.