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World Immunization Day 2018: 12 Important Facts About Immunization

This week is the World Immunization Week (April 24th - April 30th) and it aims to highlight the collective action needed to ensure that every person is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases. This year, the World Immunization Week 2018 theme is "Protected Together, #VaccinesWork", which encourages people at every level, from donors to the general public.

In India, states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have very little awareness about adult vaccination. Many adults also have co-morbid conditions such as heart disease, lung disease and liver disease, all of which make them more susceptible to certain infections. Vaccination against deadly diseases is therefore needed to save adults as well" according to Dr. V.V. Ramana Prasad, Senior Consultant Chest Physician, as quoted by Times Of India.

"By the time adults gain awareness of the need for vaccination, they cross the age of 50 years", said Dr. V.V. Ramana Prasad.

Vaccination is one of the most effective and important methods to prevent diseases and death occurring from infectious pathogens that could cause bronchitis, pneumonia, invasive pneumococcal disease, bacteremic pneumonia and meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Have a look at some of the important facts about immunization, as stated by the World Health Organisation.

  • Currently, immunization prevents between 2-3 million deaths every year. It prevents vaccine-preventable diseases, including diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, cervical cancer, rubella and tetanus.
  • In 2016, an estimated 116.5 million, about 86 percent children worldwide under the age of one year received three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine. They are protected against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness or disability.
  • All vaccines are carefully tested before they are approved for use, as well as regularly reassessed and constantly monitored for side effects.
  • A new vaccine against dengue has been licensed in several countries. This year, the first vaccine to protect children against malaria will be piloted in three African countries.
  • Vaccines provide better immunity, although the immune response to a vaccine is similar to the one produced by a natural infection. Vaccines are less risky, as they do not put individuals at a risk of the disease's potential complications.
  • Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus, which results in high fever and rash, and can lead to blindness, encephalitis or death. Globally, measles death has decreased by 84 percent from an estimated 5,50,000 deaths in 2000 to 89,780 in 2016.
  • Global vaccination coverage has stalled at 86 percent, with no significant changes during the past year. An estimated 19.5 million infants worldwide are still missing the basic diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine.
  • Due to vaccination, polio cases have decreased by over 99 percent since 1988, and meningitis A has been nearly eliminated in 26 African countries.
  • In the year 2016, the WHO region in the US became the first in the world to have eliminated measles. This involves mass vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella throughout America.
  • In the year 2016, very few children were paralysed by polio than in any other year, with the virus restricted to a few areas in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
  • India and the entire WHO South-East Asia region have been declared polio-free.
  • Vaccines can help limit the spread of antibiotic resistance. The global increase in disease caused by drug-resistant bacteria, due to misuse and overuse of antibiotics is a major public health concern, according to WHO. Vaccinating is a very effective way to stop people from getting infected and thereby in preventing the need for antibiotics.

Given below are some of the myths and facts about vaccines.

1. Myth: Too Many Shots Weaken The Immune System

Fact: Each dose of vaccine allows the body to mount an immune response and make antibodies, so that the body can fight off a real infection. Children are provided multiple vaccinations to give them as much as protection as early as possible.

2. Myth: Vaccines Are For Kids Only

Fact: There are numerous vaccines that can aid in keeping adolescents and adults healthy too. The most common vaccination is the flu shot, which is given annually. Adolescents should receive a meningitis vaccine and elderly adults can benefit from pneumonia vaccines. Adults also require boosters for tetanus and pertussis.

3. Myth: Natural Immunity Is Better

Fact: Natural immunity can increase the risk of complications. Chicken pox can lead to encephalitis and pneumonia. A polio infection can cause permanent paralysis, mumps, deafness, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and brain damage. That's why vaccines are very much necessary, as they will trigger lifelong immunity.

4. Myth: Vaccines Aren't Necessary Because The Disease Has Been Eradicated

Fact: According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the only infectious disease that has been eradicated worldwide is small pox. Today, worldwide there are outbreaks of diseases like measles, mumps and pertussis. Vaccines can protect you when you are around people who are vaccinated.

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