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Why Is It That Sometimes Vaccines Don't Work; Especially In Babies

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Vaccines are essential to maintaining community health, especially in babies. They are cost-effective, safe and used to prevent life-threatening diseases. But sometimes vaccines don’t work in babies due to any of the following reasons.

1. Immune suppression

A pre-existing disease in pregnancy may be one of the causes that certain vaccines do not work with new-born babies. HIV, neonatal herpes simplex, and syphilis are some of the infectious diseases which can be transferred from an infected mother to baby. These infections may suppress a baby’s immune system and due to this, the vaccine may not work properly.

2. Premature birth

Premature babies cannot cope with vaccinations properly because their bodies are undeveloped. An undeveloped immune system and body organs makes the vaccination conditions unfavorable to give effective results.   

3. Maternal antibodies

The presence of maternal antibodies may inhibit the development of the infant humoral response to both live and dead vaccines and it can be the reason why a vaccine may not work properly. The best-studied example for the inhibition of vaccination by the maternal antibody is measles vaccination in babies.

4. Vaccination Schedule

A vaccine doesn't work properly if a booster dose does not complete or if there is variation in the vaccination schedule. The important thing which needs to be taken care of is that optimal protection may not be achieved until the series of vaccines or booster dose are given at the right time.

5. Time intervals between vaccine doses

The vaccine will not work effectively if one live vaccine is administered soon after another because the first live vaccine will neutralize the effect of the second live vaccine. So it is important that minimum time intervals or gaps should be maintained for all vaccines to work effectively.

6. Route of administration of vaccines

Route of vaccination plays a very important role. For example, in the case of vaccines containing an adjuvant of pneumococcal and hepatitis it should be administered into the muscle mass otherwise it will not work.

7. Malnutrition and chronic diseases

It is noticed that babies with malnutrition may not be able to respond effectively to vaccines. The immunology of malnutrition is associated with impairments of the immune system. Also, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia are some chronic diseases which deteriorate a baby’s health conditions and immunization capacity.

8. Sickle cell disease and auto-splenism

Sickle cell disease and auto-splenism also hamper the effect of vaccination. Babies with sickle-cell anaemia are more prone to infectious diseases and due to complications of sickle cell anaemia and auto-splenism, the baby’s immune system does not respond to vaccination.

9. Nephrotic syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome is one of the most common paediatric renal disease. Most babies do not get protective immunity through vaccination, antimicrobial prophylactic and antithrombotic therapy in nephrotic syndrome due to their weaker immune system.

10. Issue with vaccine storage and its administration

Appropriate storage and handling of vaccines along with right administration techniques are necessary to get good results and if these things are not followed properly then vaccines will not work effectively, which can be one of the reasons for the failure of a vaccine especially in babies.


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