The first time I heard about the painless vaccines was through my brother. It was around 2012, I was living and working as a Pediatrician in USA. As I was talking to my brother in India about his newborn baby he tells me that he took his baby to the Pediatrician and got the painless injections.
Considering my ignorance about the whole situation I thought some Pediatrician has convinced my brother to make my brother feel good about the vaccines. I did not pay much attention to this matter as every vaccine that my brother got for his child from there onwards was "painless".
Fast forward to 2015, I relocated to Bangalore and started my own clinic and now most patients who come for vaccines started asking for Painless vaccines. Then my research began in the form of questions to my other pediatric colleagues and the representatives from the pharmaceutical industry.
This is what I have figured about "painless" vaccine in the last one year.
To keep the matter simple and not too technical I will only highlight my conclusions here:
1. There is no painless vaccines.
2. The only vaccine that is subject to this confusion is DTP versus DTaP.
3. As compared to DTP, the DTaP vaccine is supposed to have lesser incidence of fever. The name itself says that it is acellular Pertussis and hence lesser incidence of fever.
4. This issue of DTaP causing lesser fever has been extending to causing lesser crying and the lesser crying has been reversely attributed to less pain and hence the "painless vaccine " concept.
5. I personally think this is probably a war between brands to promote one brand as compared to the other.
6. The good news now is that Indian Academy of Pediatrics also recommends DTP vaccine strongly for the primary series of vaccinations. Lately the "painless vaccine" has disappeared from the market.
My hope through this article is that more parents realize that there was never a "painless vaccine" and there is probably never going to be a "painless vaccine". Only oral vaccines like Oral Polio and Oral Rotavirus vaccines can be painless. Also the parents should protect themselves from any health care provider promising the same. This will also hopefully prevent the families save money in the long run by not paying more for these "painless vaccines".