Myths and facts about the ‘harmful’ effects of vaccines

A host of the new generation parents get their knowledge of vaccination from their pediatrician and through the websites of WHO and the Ministry of Health. When my son was born four-and-a-half years ago, we decided to be actively involved in understanding the need for vaccination, following the vaccination schedule, and staying updated about preservative-free vaccines.  Having a Doctor spouse made these choices spontaneous and the same was encouraged by the pediatrician.

Yet, a section of elderly relatives, friends, and acquaintances warned us about the adverse effects of vaccination in infants. It was shocking to hear that seizures or other life-threatening diseases could be an after-effect of vaccination. While my husband confronted the claims with his background in medical education, I decided to read-up on the harmful effects of vaccination before meeting the pediatrician for a detailed session.

The most common side-effects of vaccination could lead to soreness, swelling, mild fever, rashes, and pain which generally persist for a couple of days only. Yet, I stumbled upon reports that suggested autism as a side effect of vaccination. Thimerosal, a mercury-based compound, found in preservatives, was blamed for the increase in autism in children. But those claims were refuted because no substantial evidence could link the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism or even the hepatitis B vaccine to multiple sclerosis.

During our conversation with the pediatrician, it was an awful revelation for me to know that newborn babies suffered from the risk of life-threatening diseases like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Their congenital conditions could also be detected during this stage. This meant that they already had a high risk of facing an untoward medical condition. But at times, the proximity of a vaccination schedule in a similar time frame leads to incorrect reasoning as the cause of the event.

He mentioned that the chances of serious side-effects like a seizure or life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. Statistics show that if 1 million doses of a vaccine are given, only 1 to 2 people may have a severe allergic reaction.

When a person encounters a pathogen, it is difficult to predict whether the reaction inside the body would be mild or severe. But vaccines are pre-tested to ensure that the response to these weakened or dead pathogens leads to the development of immunity in the body without harmful side-effects.

Other than physicians being the primary source of vaccination information, the availability of the immunization information system (IIS) from the healthcare provider also describes the common and rare side effects of a vaccine. At times, the vaccine manufacturers also provide some of these details through package inserts.

In India, pharmacovigilance of vaccines is highly important to promote the safe use of vaccines. India launched the Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) surveillance program in 1986 for monitoring suspected adverse events following immunization.

Considering the times that we live in, failure to immunize a child carries a higher risk of leaving them exposed to potential diseases.

Our doubts and concerns were put to rest by the in-depth QnA session with the pediatrician. Ever since we have strictly adhered to the vaccination chart and ensured that we don’t compromise with the healthy future of our son. We trust vaccines for the development of his immunity towards diseases.

However, our responsibility doesn’t end there. It is imperative to understand the need to spread this knowledge and correct information about the importance and safety of vaccination. Only by creating awareness in the society, we can hope for the holistic development of our future generation.

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.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/vaccine-side-effects-and-adverse-events

https://www.vaccines.gov/basics/safety/side_effects

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/1201/p2113.html

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-vaccines-are-dangerous/

http://www.ijp-online.com/text.asp?2019/51/4/243/266824

E for East India Comedy (EIC)

The dynamic group was one of the first few joint collaborative efforts of 7 Indian stand-up comedians Atul Khatri, Sorabh Pant, Sapan Verma, Sahil Shah, Angad Singh Ranyal, Azeem Banatwalla, and Kunal Rao. After Atul Khatri and Sorabh Pant left the channel, the rest of the five comedians have been running the show and taking pot-boilers at the current political and socio-economic situation in the country through their YouTube channel.

EIC- the original team
Kunal Rao, Sahil Shah, Angad Singh Ranyal, Sorabh Pant, Sapan Verma, Atul Khatri, Azeem Banatwalla – the original EIC team (source: Deccan Herald)

The performers also have their solo shows on the channel where they speak about relatable content. On Amazon Prime, Sapan Verma has his stand up special called ‘Obsessive Comedic Disorder’, Azeem Banatwalla’s show is titled ‘Cometh The Hour’ and Angad Singh Ranyal tickles the funny bone with ‘Kaafi Filmy.’ But what is unique about this channel is that it extends its spread to include musical comedies, sketches, talk shows about Bollywood and charchas on relevant topics. My favorites on this channel are the outrage videos where one of the comedians speaks on uncomfortable topics like trolling, animal abuse, SSC scam, inaccessible India among many others.

This is the fifth post in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’ Stay tuned to know the featured content creator for F on Monday.

You can check all the previous posts over the weekend here. Enjoy this hilarious video by Angad Singh Ranyal, one of the EIC group members.

D for Vir (D)as

Most of the readers would remember Vir Das for acting in a couple of Bollywood movies (Go Goa Gone, Delhi Belly). But what makes him stand-out is the fact that he is one of the first few successful stand-up comedians taking the craft of humor to an international level. In 2017, he was the first Indian stand-up comedian to debut on Netflix with his show ‘Abroad Understanding.’ The versatile performer has hosted shows across different genres, written for esteemed magazines and repeatedly made it to the Netflix platform with shows like ‘Losing It’ and his latest, ‘For India.’

Vir Das - Source:LBB
Vir Das – Source: LBB

Known for his strong opinions on politics, society and human behavior, Das is often seen speaking about the uncomfortable and bitter realities coated with a layer of humor. His bold views have subjected him to trolling but the sassy performer has delivered a comeback in his classic witty style.

This is the fourth post in the Blogchatter A2Z series under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona.’ See you tomorrow as I disclose the name featured in the post for E.

You can read the previous posts here. Have fun watching this clip from Vir Das’ first Netflix special.

C for Captain Nick

Last year, I came across this channel on YouTube called Captain Nick. Content creator Niharicka Singh who runs this channel posts videos of different formats but most of these are hilarious and ridiculously relatable. She plays multiple characters in her comedy sketches, the most famous among this being Mataji. There are comedy videos, sketches, vlogs and a couple of challenges but the intrinsic factor that connects all of these is the underlying humor.

Captain Nick - IWMBuzz
Captain Nick – Souce: IWMBuzz

If there’s one aspect that makes her stand out, it is her straightforward nature and honesty that comes across as her USP in the videos. A former RJ, Captain Nick is ruling the trending list with her characters and content.

This is the third post in the Blogchatter A2Z series under the theme ‘Laugh in the time of Corona’. I hope to see you tomorrow as I reveal the name of the featured artist in the post for D.

You can catch up with the previous posts here. Enjoy this video by Captain Nick as I leave you with a smile.

 

 

 

 

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.

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

Looking back at A2Z challenge 2019

For the last five days, I have had conflicting emotions. On one hand, I was relieved that the crazy month of April was over and I didn’t have to work at odd hours to schedule my posts. On the other hand, I missed reading and interacting with fellow bloggers who have now become a part of my extended virtual family. To spare myself the state of confusion, all that I have sincerely done since 2nd May is to catch up on my sleep. Today morning, when I saw the link for a reflection post, I jumped in to share my experience of an eventful A2Z challenge this year.

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary Reflections badge

After my first successful Blogchatter A2Z challenge last year, I had written about my experience through a post filled with learnings, gratitude, and nostalgia. Last year, I had no plans in place. I was undecided on the theme until it was time to reveal it. Not a single post was based on predecided topics or written in advance (I didn’t even know that there was an option called schedule). This year I had decided to be a bit more organized in my approach since I had been waiting for the A2Z challenge for months together. I wanted to have a theme ready, wished to sort out the topics of the posts and even considered writing a few of them in advance. But old habits die hard. The plan to plan my posts stayed only in a state of planning as I dashed towards my usual last-minute execution mode.

When I started thinking about a theme two nights before the day of the theme-reveal post, I considered all the possible categories that I write about. Unfortunately, nothing seemed interesting. It was Sr. T’s idea that I write about the most relevant situation in my life at that moment which was all about Tuneer’s school admissions. I didn’t want to make the articles sound boring or coated with advice. In fact, I am the kind of flawed mother who would perfectly fit into that category of clueless parents seeing advice from the experts. So I thought of turning my harrowing experiences into humorous ones. All that I was worried about was how to stretch a topic so narrow into creating twenty-six posts. Yet whenever I sat down to write my post of the day, the fun element in reminiscing those memories helped the words flow effortlessly into a draft.

Survivor badge
Survivor badge

Continue reading “Looking back at A2Z challenge 2019”

Y for Yin and Yang

The dictionary meaning of Yin and Yang stands as two complementary forces that come into play to balance and create something bigger and better. When I began writing this school admission series, I had mentioned the protagonist as my 3.6 yr old son Tuneer along with Sr. T and me as the supporting cast. Through the last twenty-four posts, I have written about our experiences and emotions related to this phase. Today’s post is dedicated to those who bring equilibrium to Tuneer’s life filling it with joy, love, affection and protect him from those who might be the reasons for stress and undue pressure (yeah me!).  Introducing his lifelines –

Tuneer with his family - paternal grandma, paternal grandpa, father, maternal grandpa and mother (l to r)
Tuneer with his family on his 2nd birthday – paternal grandma, paternal grandpa, father, maternal grandpa, and mother (L to R)

1. Babai aka his father

I have an exclusive post dedicated to this man and his adorable equation with the kid. Yet I need to reiterate the fact that the boy had the maximum escapade from my scoldings because of his father. According to him, there’s nothing that the boy could do wrong. It didn’t matter if the boy refused to answer any question, showed no interest in picking up English or denied his knowledge about my name. His standard reply to any exasperated statement of mine went as “But he’s such a sweet boy”. The apple of his eye is getting so sweet every day (read naughty) that I’ve started fearing for our enhanced blood sugar level (read stress).

2. Dadai aka his paternal grandfather

Until Tuneer was born, I had always been a favorite of my father-in-law. He was more supportive of my decisions than those that were taken by his son. Equations changed between us the day he became a grandfather. His unconditional support towards his only grandson exceeds all limits. He refuses to listen to anything against the ‘innocent’ child. He was the toughest to convince about the interview preparation. As per him, any school that considered English speaking skills to be a selection criterion for nursery admissions deserves to be trashed by every single parent. According to him the fact that Tuneer could answer his name and recite a rhyme should have convinced every interviewer about his intelligence level. No amount of argument could convince him otherwise.

Continue reading “Y for Yin and Yang”

A recollection of experiences of the Blogchatter E-book carnival 2018

Exactly a year ago, I was concentrating on writing my second last post in the A2Z challenge when the reminder mail from Blogchatter arrived in my inbox about signing up for the Blogchatter e-book carnival. I wasn’t sure if I had the time or skills to convert my posts to a book. That is why I was one of the last ones to sign up for the e-book. Little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the best decisions in my writing career.

As the days progressed, I realized that the book based on the theme ‘A Dollop of Bengal’ from my A2Z challenge posts needed more information, detailed research and better structure that looked quite difficult in the limited time period. With just a few days left for submission, I realized that the only way out would be to bow out of the carnival. But Blogchatter turned out to be a perfect example of what a sense of belonging to the blogging fraternity can lead to. Just six days before the date of submission, I sat down motivated by my fellow bloggers, to write my first ever detective thriller ‘Deal of Death’ introducing Raya Ray.

Deal of Death_Sonia Chatterjee
Deal of Death_Sonia Chatterjee

Post submission, I executed all my marketing knowledge for the next few days to create an interesting trailer for the book launch and a video on the book reading. Through social media promotions, I had managed to create such a hype about my book that it led to 80 downloads hours before the book could be officially launched on 22nd May. Deal of Death went on to become the first book to run out of stock despite getting restocked twice within a week of launch. Encouraging reviews and positive feedback helped me establish my identity as a writer. Two months later, Blogchatter gave the authors an option to take the book to a different platform and most of my fellow authors went ahead and published it on Amazon.

Continue reading “A recollection of experiences of the Blogchatter E-book carnival 2018”