Deciding The Best Vaccination For Your Child: Painless or Painful Vaccine?

  • Team Kidmish Jul 02, 2018

One of the most significant inventions of science has been the ability to save infant lives from potentially fatal diseases through vaccination. These life-saving vaccines are administered to children starting right at birth up to 10 years of age. The importance of vaccines for children is recognized beyond any shadow of doubt as they help build immunity and give them a healthy start in life.

Having said that, children do have a phobia of needles, which when coupled with the pain and discomfort experienced during vaccination can make them reluctant at the mention of needles. Painful vaccines may distraught children but are a blessing in the face of life-threatening diseases.

Also, a mother’s natural instinct is to protect the baby from any perceivable harm, so when their babies cry during vaccination mothers can’t help but lose their composure as well. As babies are more sensitive to painful stimuli, the discomfort associated with vaccinations can make them more vulnerable to further immunization. According to parents, the subsequent reactions like fever, long durations of crying, and local pain and swelling experienced at the injection site are the biggest drawbacks of immunization.

Therefore, many parents found relief when a breakthrough was achieved in the form of painless vaccines. Since then, there has been a lot of debate and comparison between the traditional painful vaccine and its painless counterpart. We will endeavour to uncover the truth about administering painless vaccines for children so that all your doubts pertaining to it are addressed.





The traditional painful vaccine is administered as a combination vaccine for children known as the DTP vaccine. It stands for Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (whole-cell). As the entire cell component is utilized in the DTP vaccine, it includes all the antigens that provide a higher standard of immunity.

Painless vaccines are also available as a combination vaccine for children. It is commonly known as DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, acellular Pertussis). The acellular part refers to the fact the vaccine does not contain the entire cell components and excludes specific antigenic and allergenic parts. The vaccine comprisesoffewer antigens to produce immunity against diseases.


The painful vaccine is also known as Pentavac or the Easy-five vaccine. It protects the baby from 5 diseases like

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis (cellular component)
  • Haemophilus Influenzae type B
  • Hepatitis B

The painless vaccine is also referred to as Pentaxim. Likewise, it gives immunityagainst5 diseases namely

  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis (acellular component)
  • Haemophilus Influenzae type B
  • IPV (Injectable Polio Vaccine)


The whole-cell Pertussis vaccine has an effective rate of 78%. Its efficiency decreases over time at a rate of 2 to 10% per year. It provides a stronger immunity against the Pertussis virus as it has all the antibody-stimulating antigens present.  

Painless vaccines are about 71-85% effective. However, the painless vaccine has a faster waning period which means that its effectiveness decreases more rapidly than the painful vaccine. The acellular Pertussis vaccine fails to provide adequate immunity as the vaccinated child may still carry the virusdormantlyand spread it along to other children who are not vaccinated or have weak immunity.


The painful vaccine is cost-effective, and its price is nearly half as compared to its painless counterpart.

The price of the painless vaccine is almost double that of the painful vaccine.


  • Provides higher immunity against diseases
  • It is cost-effective which means that it is available to a broader section ofthe Indiansociety.
  • Little to no pain experienced, except the pricking of the needle, while administering the painless vaccine for children
  • The absence of adverse side-effects like fever, long bouts of crying, and redness and swelling at the site of injection.


  • The painful vaccine may cause pain during vaccination
  • Other side-effects experienced by kids are subsequent fever, long hours of crying, and swelling and redness at the injection site.
  • It falls short of providing long-term immunity.
  • The painless vaccine is cost-intensive limiting its use to the well-endowed population of India.


The Indian Academy of Paediatrics encourages parents to choose the painful DTP vaccine for primary immunization. As per the childhood immunization schedule, the primary series of vaccination using the painful vaccine is to be administered at 6 weeks, 10 weeks, and 14 weeks.

The painless vaccine can be administered as booster shots. According to the pediatric immunization schedule, the booster doses have to be given at one and a half years and 5 years.

Now that the fundamental differenceinthese two types of vaccinesareclear to you, your decision is going to be an informed one. For mothers, who approach the imperative vaccination schedules with dread, these top 3 tested methods will help make your trip to the paediatrician a smooth sailing one.

  • A numbing agent: A pint-sized amount of the over-the-counter cream Lidocaine 4% can be applied to the area where the baby is to be injected (like the upper arms, thighs, or buttocks). Leave it for 30-60 minutes prior to vaccination, and the effect will last for 1 hour where your baby will not feel the prickling sensation of the needle. Care should be taken that under no circumstance the cream is kept for more than 2 hours.

  • Distraction: Using a temporary form of distraction like singing to your child, engaging them in a conversation, or making silly faces can go a long way. Even handing them their favourite toy or rhyme book will keep them distracted long enough not to be affected by the needle.

  • Feeding: Breastfeeding your baby, if you are comfortable with it, at the time of being immunized can make them feel secure and calm them down drastically. Alternatively, sugar syrup can be smeared on the baby’s pacifier, the sucrose in the syrup will activate the pain relievers in the brain, thus alleviating the pain caused by injections.


Parents need to make tough decisions for their kids throughout their lives, and the choice of vaccination is one of the most crucial ones as it can have a lasting effect on your child’s health. Even in testing situations like that of vaccinations mothers can see the bigger picture, and it is worth the effort when your baby is healthy and making the most of his life.

We always appreciate your feedback and suggestions as it helps us grow and by sharing your personal experiences with vaccines for children, you can help someone in a similar situation.

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