What is the hexavalent vaccine?
The hexavalent vaccine is a vaccine that is typically administered in children within their first year od age, to protect them against diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, polio, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae type b.
Diphtheria is an acute infectious disease caused by a toxin produced by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. The toxin inhibits the cellular functions of the heart, nervous system and kidneys. Transmission occurs through direct contact with an infected individual or carrier or by indirect contact, though contaminated objects (though such instances are more rare). Tetanus is a non-contagious infectious disease caused by Clostridium tetani, a bacterium that is widespread in the environment and can easily enter the body through small cuts in contact with soil or dirty objects. The toxin reaches the nervous system and can complications such as contractions and muscle spasms.
The acellular pertussis vaccine is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. The infection mainly affects children and occurs through droplets of saliva emitted by infected individuals through coughing, sneezing or talking. In children under the ages of one, whooping cough can be quite severe due to the onset of complications (apnea crisis, bronchopneumonia, convulsions, and encephalitis).
Poliomyelitis is an acute infectious disease caused by the poliovirus and affects the neural cells of the nervous system, resulting in paralysis, sometimes irreversible. It is a contagious disease and transmission is emitted by fecal-oral route: the virus passes through the feces that can contaminate water, food, hands and through saliva droplets, it is emitted from infected individuals or healthy carriers.
Hepatitis B is a contagious infectious disease caused by the Human epatitis B Virus (HBV), which is transmitted through blood and infected body fluids (blood, semen, breast milk, vaginal secretions). The infection involves the liver and can cause acute, fulminant or chronic hepatitis.
Haemophilus influenzae type B is bacteria widely present in the nose and throat, responsible for a majority of infections, especially in children under the ages of five. Transmission occurs through direct contact with salvia droplets emitted from infected individuals or carriers.
What is the hexavalent vaccine composed of?
The vaccine contains parts of all six of the diseases and is able to provide protection against them. The injection is administered intramuscularly into the antero-lateral thigh region.
When is it recommended to receive the hexavalent vaccine?
The hexavalent vaccine is a part of the compulsory vaccinations and is administered within the first year of a child’s life, typically in three doses. The components pertussis and haemophilus B are not mandatory , so it is possible for an individual to sign an agreement through which they refuse their administration.
For haemophilus B and hepatitis B, additional doses are not needed in the future.
For diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio, a recall or booster injection, is expected every 5-6 years. Another dose (reduced) is then recommended in adolescence. In adults, vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis is recommended every ten years.
What are the side effects of the hexavalent vaccine?
The hexavalent vaccine is generally well tolerated. Within 48 hours of administration, mild symptoms that may occur include the following:
- Redness at the injection site
- Swelling at the injection site
Like all vaccines, there is the possibility of serious problems occurring, such as severe allergic reactions and although rare, there are such cases that may present themselves.