10 Things You Need to Know About Vaccines

The one positive which has emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic is that most people have understood the value of, and need for vaccination. Even those who had been anti-vaccination for a long time, have finally realized that vaccination saves lives. Extensive vaccinations over the past few decades have protected entire populations from diseases which maimed, disfigured, paralyzed, or even killed people by the millions over centuries.

  1. Vaccines Save Lives
  2. Typically, people have associated vaccination with newborn babies, toddlers, and young children. However, it is vital to remember that there are many vaccines which adults need to take to protect them from communicable diseases like yellow fever, influenza, or Ebola. Apart from the list of vaccines which children must get; adults need to take several kinds of vaccine shots for tetanus, HPV, Hepatitis A and B, and water borne diseases like typhoid. These days, you rarely hear of people dying from ailments like rabies because they had been bitten by a dog, or even mumps, tetanus, or German measles. The range of vaccines which children should be given by the time they are five years old ensures that properly inoculated children are safe from at least 14 life threatening diseases. Millions of people are alive and whole because of the vaccines which they were given in their growing years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), two to three million lives are saved annually thanks to vaccinations.

  3. Vaccines Teach Your Body’s Defence System to Recognize Specific Virus or Bacterium, and Fight It
  4. The entire purpose of inoculation is to help your body’s immune system to identify viruses and bacteria as enemies, and fight them by developing antibodies. Your immune system is supposed to fight invaders which hurt you. Vaccination teaches your body to fight the enemy, and destroy it. This is because the blueprint for producing antigens is implicit in the vaccine.

  5. What Will Happen If Vaccination Programs Are Halted?
  6. You, your loved ones, and just anybody who comes in contact with you are in jeopardy of contracting some vaccine preventable contagious disease if vaccination programs are halted. In the U.S. in 2011, there was a major outbreak of measles in pockets where unvaccinated people had been exposed to patients in other countries. You don’t want to be a super spreader, whatever be your geographic location. Think of all the people you come into contact regularly from whom you might be infected, or whom you could infect ― family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours, acquaintances you meet at the gym, fellow commuters on any mass transit system, classmates ― if you are not vaccinated. Vaccine hesitancy is regarded a leading threat to global health.

  7. Jeopardy from Contagious Diseases Is Real, Not Imaginary
  8. If you have never seen a smallpox survivor who has lost their sight, or have become severely disfigured; count yourself lucky. Till even half a century ago, barring those who had cow/s at home, almost every family had lost some family member to smallpox. And, that is only one disease which has been eradicated. Consider all the various diseases which have been controlled, or nearly eradicated, by vaccination drives. An entire generation has grown which has not suffered from chicken pox, polio, cholera (which often wiped out entire villages earlier), German measles (rubella), or even whooping cough (pertussis).

  9. Beware of Complications When Get You Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
  10. Measles is so contagious that one infected person can infect as many as 18 people if they have not been inoculated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned on its official website, “Nearly 1 to 3 of every 1,000 children who become infected with measles will die from respiratory and neurologic complications.” Pneumonia is worse as it is the leading cause of child mortality of children under five years of age in India. Other complications from preventable diseases include hearing loss, amputation of limb/s, brain damage, or seizures.

  11. Follow the Vaccination Schedule as Closely as Possible
  12. When a child is born, the doctor will hand you a list of all the vaccines she must be given, and the timeline for it. For example, neonatal babies should be given BCG and Hepatitis B injections within a week of birth. It is estimated that many people have not developed liver cancer because they received Hepatitis B shots at birth. Most of them should have been completed by the time your kids are five. Be certain to give them the booster shots too.

  13. Vigorous Vaccination Programs Have Radically Reduced Infant Mortality Rates
  14. The infant mortality rate in India in 2020 was 29.848 deaths per 1000 live births ― a sharp fall from 1950 when the infant mortality rate was 185.67 per 1000 live births. It is as much an indication of how successful the practice of giving children of different ages vaccines to prevent certain ailments has been, as it is a tribute to the wisdom of some state governments that prioritized vaccination drives to reduce child mortality radically, that India boasts the largest under-14 population in the world. When you realize that in India as many as 1,27,000+ deaths (almost 20 percent of global child mortality figures) occur due to pneumonia, then you will appreciate that protecting children from it by giving them shots of Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV) is critical. Still, the under-5 mortality rate is dismal as in 2019 India and Nigeria accounted for one-third of global under-5 child mortality.

  15. The Usually Overlooked Benefit of Vaccines
  16. Few people realize the economic impact of vaccination. If infants are protected from diseases like chicken pox, influenza, rotavirus, diphtheria, also called scarlet fever, and measles, then consider the savings on healthcare ― doctor visits, medicines, and hospital costs. Vaccines free up the parents’ productive time if they don’t need to skip work to care for the little ones. Converted into monetary value, the economic value is nothing to whistle at.

  17. The Dangers from Vaccine Reactions Are Lower Than the Dangers of Infection
  18. One major reason why parents of infants and toddlers cavil at vaccinating their children is the probability of adverse reactions like rashes, fever, pain, stomach upset, coughs, the probability of developing autism from vaccines. Some parents are terrified that their little sweethearts’ immune system may not be able to handle the load of the introduction of such dreaded diseases into their bodies. Parents should realize that the infants are exposed to all kinds of bacteria and viruses daily. The whole point of age-appropriate vaccination is to prevent newborns and infants from succumbing to preventable, life threatening illnesses now or later in life. When you pause to consider all that your little one might have to endure if she/he gets infected, then the cost-benefit ratio will weigh heavily in favor of vaccination.

  19. Vaccines Help in Building Herd Immunity
  20. There are many people who cannot be vaccinated due to health conditions like cancer, diabetes, recipients of organ transplants. However, if 95 percent or more people in any given community are vaccinated, then it significantly lowers the probability of the unvaccinated folks of contracting a contagious disease. It was conjectured that there were lower rates of Covid-19 infections in 2020 in India as many people have received BCG injections within the first week of birth.
    Takeaway: Don’t gamble with your own or child’s present and future health. Follow the vaccination routine as prescribed. Expectant mothers should be given tetanus toxoid shots as well as shots for influenza and Hepatitis B.

Content Reviewed by – Asian Hospital Medical Editors