What is Vaccination?

Vaccines are a type of medication that are given to people to prevent them from getting sick. In addition, they build body’s immunity or defense against disease. Vaccines do not only differ by their formulation and their mechanism of working inside our bodies, but also by the way they are administered. Like some vaccines are injected in our bodies while other are administered orally.


Why is Early Childhood Vaccination Important?

Early childhood vaccination is the process that is carried out during the first 15 months after a child is born. It helps protect children from developing serious diseases i.e., if they are vaccinated against a particular disease, they won’t catch it if they come in contact with it or even if they caught it, they would not develop serious symptoms. If a child is not vaccinated, they can develop serious conditions like disability from polio and in severe cases lose their life.

Unlike the common perception, vaccines are completely safe and effective. Vaccines have side effects which are minor and last for few hours to few days. But effectiveness of vaccines outweighs their side effects. All vaccines that are currently being used in Pakistan are licensed and approved after extensive testing. And they all regularly get retested, and their reactions monitored.

Disease Prevented by Early Childhood Vaccination

Early childhood vaccination targets ten diseases mentioned in the list below.

1. Polio

Polio is an infectious virus that most commonly affects young children. The virus targets the nervous system of its victims resulting in paralyses or permanent disability in the lower limbs. Polio is transmitted through contaminated water, food or through person to person to contact by infected saliva or feces.

Polio’s symptoms are fever, headache, weakness, stiffness in the head and back and pain in arms and legs.

2. Tetanus

The bacteria that cause tetanus is found in soil. It enters human body through cuts, wounds, and burns. Surgeries done through no-sterile surgical equipment can also lead to tetanus. If the disease is not treated, it can lead to death through paralysis of the muscles of throat and respiratory tract.

Symptoms of tetanus include muscle rigidity, muscle contraction, spasms, locked jaws and difficulty in swallowing.

3. Measles

Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease. Symptoms of measles appear in 10-12 days after exposure. It spreads through direct contact with the infected person or through cough or sneezes. Its symptoms are fever, runny nose, cough, watery eyes and rashes on the face and body. If it is not treated it can lead towards more serious conditions like swelling of the brain, blindness, pneumonia, ear infection or diarrhea.

4. Diphtheria

Diphtheria is one among life threatening diseases that poses serious damage to the internal organs of its victim including lungs, kidneys, heart, and stomach. It is a bacterial infection that spreads through person-to-person contact. It attacks the respiratory system specifically nose, throat and tonsils resulting in sore throat, fever, swollen glands of the neck and weakness.

5. Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is another of viral diseases. People infected with pertussis experience episode of extreme coughing which produces a whooping noise. It causes breathing difficulties for its victims. Since it is a viral disease, it spread from one person to another through cough, sneezing or touching of infected surfaces.

Its symptoms include nasal congestion, cough, mild fever, vomiting and bouts of extreme cough.

6. Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is one of the many serious diseases that are common in Pakistan. This disease is caused by a virus that targets the liver of infected person. It is transferred through blood transfusion, blood fluids or usage of infected syringes or needles. It is also transferred from mothers to baby at the time of the birth.

Its symptoms include fever, fatigue, poor appetite, stomachache, joints pain, nausea, dark urine, clay colored stool and jaundice. If it is not treated, it can lead towards liver failure.

7. Meningitis

Meningitis can be caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. It happens when body’s immune system attacks its own self. It is a serious condition that can cause death if not treated timely. It is transferred through nose, skill fractures or spinal fluids.

Meningitis’ symptoms include headache, fever, vomiting, stiff neck, fits, rash, light and noise sensitivity.

8. Pneumonia

Pneumonia is responsible for over 90,000 childhood deaths in Pakistan. It is a lung infection that spread through breathing. In pneumonia the air sacs inside the lungs fill up with pus making it hard to breath. Its symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, chest indrawing, fever, muscle pain, weakness, and low energy levels.

9. Childhood Tuberculosis (TB)

TB enters lungs through air particles that we breathe. Its symptoms include flu, fever, weight loss, blood in mucous, loss of appetite, weakness, and night sweats. If TB is not treated, it can lead towards lung and brain damage.

10. Diarrhea

Diarrhea is caused by Rota virus infection. Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of deaths in Pakistan. The symptoms of Rota virus appear after two days od infection and lasts for a week.

The main symptom of diarrhea is watery loose motion which can occur in combination with vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever. The excessive loss of water that occurs as result of loose motions can cause dehydration, which if not treated timely can lead to death.

Early Childhood Vaccination Schedule

To ensure your child’s safety from the above stated viruses and disease, you should get them vaccinated in the first 15 months after their birth. Complete vaccination of your child will take overall 6 visits to the health care facility near you.

The vaccination schedule is as follows:

Visit No.









6 weeks






10 weeks






14 weeks






9 months





15 months



Source: Federal Directorate of Immunization

This schedule should be strictly followed. In case you miss any vaccination date, take your child to the nearest health facility at the earliest date possible.

Note: You will be provided with a vaccination card upon your first visit to vaccination center. It helps in identifying the next vaccination dates. Please, safely keep that card and take it along to the vaccination center upon each visit.

Vaccination Centers and Cost

Federal Government, all four provincial governments and governments of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) are providing vaccines for children free of cost at government health facilities which include hospital, basic health units and rural health centers across Pakistan. Government also regularly sends vaccination teams door-to-door for vaccination to vaccinate children against polio virus.

Contact the Federal Directorate of Immunization Program

If you are facing any difficulty regarding your child’s vaccination, you can contact your local public health facility or you can contact Expanded Immunization Program (EPI) of Federal Directorate of Immunization Program on the following number 051-9255101 or via this email address fedepipakistan@gmail.com.

You can also contact Sehat Tahaffuz Helpline, 1166 if you need any assistance regarding Polio vaccines in Pakistan or contact 'Pakistan Polio Eradication Program' on WhatsApp through 0346-7776546.

To get direct updates regarding Polio vaccination in Pakistan, you can follow 'Pakistan Polio Eradication Program' WhatsApp Channel.

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