What is immunization?
Immunisation describes the process whereby people are protected against illness caused by infection with micro-organisms (formally called pathogens). The term vaccine refers to the material used for immunisation, while vaccination refers to the act of giving a vaccine to a person.
A vaccine usually contains an agent resembling a disease-causing bacteria. When this biological preparation is injected into your body, your immune system recognizes the agent and destroys it. However, your immune system remembers the agent and next time, when the actual microbe attacks you, it safeguards you against the disease. Vaccines are usually made from the toxins of the killed or weakened microorganism.
Some Immunization facts:
- Immunization saves 3 million lives every year.
- More than 1 million infants and young children all over the world die every year from rotavirus diarrhoea and pneumococcal disease. Both of these diseases can be prevented through vaccination.
- The global measles mortality rate has reduced by 74%. This has been possible due to intense campaigns for vaccination worldwide.
- Thanks to extensive vaccination drives, the cases of Polio have decreased by more than 99%. According to the World Health Organisation, only three countries in the world are now polio-endemic. It includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria.
- As per UNICEF, if all children were vaccinated with the existing vaccines, at least 25 million lives could be saved between 2011 and 2020.
- With the exception of drinking water, no other human undertaking can equal the impact immunization has had in reducing infectious diseases mortality – not even antibiotics
- Immunization reduces mortality, morbidity, reduces direct and indirect medical costs.
- Flu vaccine has led to a 70% decline in hospitalizations.
- Hepatitis B vaccines have caused a drop in the incidence of liver cancer
The World Health Organisation is driving a Global Vaccine Action Plan (GAVP) that aims to prevent deaths due to diseases that can be prevented through vaccination. Under this plan, the organization is working towards increasing the access to vaccinations, thereby increasing the percentage of coverage. By 2020, all the countries are aiming to increase vaccination coverage by 90% nationally. Vaccination is a major step towards the prevention of infectious disease.
Important Reasons to Vaccinate Your Child
- Vaccination protects children from serious illness and complications of vaccine-preventable diseases which can include amputation of an arm or leg, paralysis of limbs, hearing loss, convulsions, brain damage, and death.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, are still a threat.
- If children aren’t vaccinated, they can spread the disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to people with weakened immune systems, such as transplant recipients and people with cancer. This could result in long-term complications and even death for these vulnerable people.
- Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent.
- Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide..
- Getting immunized costs less than getting treated for the diseases that the vaccines protect you from.
- If exposure to a disease occurs in a community, there is little to no risk of an epidemic if people have been immunized.
Vaccinations aren’t just for children.
Adults need them too at times, depending on factors such as age, health conditions, travel plans and personal vaccination record.
India needs substantial improvement and awareness in adult vaccination. The government of India as well as the WHO consider childhood vaccination as the leading priority. However, there is no focus on adult immunization which also is the most ignored part of healthcare services in India. Adult vaccination coverage in India is negligible.
Adults can be vaccinated for a range of diseases such as swine flu, typhoid, hepatitis, tetanus and pneumonia. Vaccines such as hepatitis A and B, pneumococcal and meningococcal meningitis, rabies, human papillomavirus vaccine and tetanus are the most common vaccinations given in India.
The guidelines to get vaccinations in India are not as strict as in the UK or the US. People over 50 years, or those who are more susceptible to infections, are usually asked to go for vaccinations
It is important to take vaccines as precautions while travelling to certain countries. For example, yellow fever vaccination is needed by Indians travelling to African countries. We don’t have yellow fever in India yet – but the country has all the favourable parameters for it to thrive quite well. So if someone from India travels to Africa, contracts the disease and returns to India, they can spread the disease. Similarly, vaccinations against tuberculosis, typhoid and meningococcal meningitis are required if you travel to the US or European countries.
Know more about vaccines, consult our doctors at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. Please consult our Adult immunization clinic and our Centre for Mother and Child for child vaccines, please refer below link for more details: