The Expanded Program on Immunization, an overview
The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) is a national strategy to ensure that mothers, infants, and children have access to recommended vaccines.
EPI is not a new program; in fact, it started in 1976 and initially only included vaccines to prevent diphtheria, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, tetanus, measles, and pertussis. Now, the program has grown into so much more, and it continues to save tens of thousands of lives in the Philippines every year.
Below, we’re listing down the vaccines your child needs, when they should receive them, and some facts you must know about them.
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG)
A baby usually receives a single dose of the BCG vaccine after birth. Named after the doctors who discovered it, Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin, this vaccine helps protect your child from tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection primarily affecting the lungs, but may also affect other parts of the body. Studies show that one shot of BCG may offer extrapulmonary protection for up to 15 years.
Under the Expanded Program on Immunization, a child will receive four doses of Hepatitis B vaccine. One right after birth along with BCG, and the other three within the Pentavalent vaccine shots, which we will discuss in the next section.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection primarily affecting the liver. One can develop it when contaminated bodily fluids (such as blood and semen) enters the body.
Please note that Hepa-B infection increases the person’s risk of developing liver cancer, making the vaccine even more important.
From the name itself, the Pentavalent vaccine may be able to protect your child from 5 diseases, namely:
- Diphtheria: a severe bacterial infection that can lead to respiratory problems, heart failure, paralysis, and even death.
- Pertussis: a contagious respiratory disease known as whooping cough.
- Tetanus: a serious bacterial infection that can cause painful muscle contractions, and even worse, paralysis.
- Hepatitis B: the pentavalent vaccine also contains the 2nd to 4th doses for Hepatitis B vaccine.
- Influenza B: finally, it also contains the HIB vaccine that can protect your child from influenza type b infections which may result in ear infections, pneumonia, and cellulitis.
A baby receives the Pentavalent vaccine thrice, at 6 weeks, 10 weeks, and 14 weeks. Another dose may be given when the child is anywhere from 12 to 18 months old.