According to the WHO and UNICEF, 20 million children missed out on lifesaving measles, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in 2018. “Vaccines are one of our most important tools for preventing outbreaks and keeping the world safe”, said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO…
Since man’s discovery of vaccines, the burden of infectious diseases has considerably lessened. In fact, the WHO says that only clean water has performed better. Contradictorily, there’s been a recent anti-vaccine wave, and that is despite the unarguable statistics of success in disease prevention that vaccination has achieved. It’s understandably commendable that people want vaccines to be as safe as possible, but as a matter of fact, independent experts have shown that vaccines are quite safer than therapeutic medicines which have managed not to be in so much scrutiny regarding their benefit to risk ratio. However, one truth stands sure. There are a thousand reasons more to use vaccines than reasons not to use them, especially in children who happen to be the largest recipient of vaccines worldwide. Here, we mention a few.
Immunization saves lives. This is essentially the basis of using them anyway, and they have proved to be indispensable to this cause. In fact immunization is considered one of the greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century in this regard. Currently, polio is one disease on its way to being eradicated completely from the human race, Nigeria being one of the few countries yet to be declared polio free and this is almost entirely attributable to the advent of polio vaccines.
Vaccines don’t just protect the person vaccinated; they also extend the sphere of protection to others in the community including babies too young to receive vaccines, unvaccinated healthy children and adults, pregnant women, the elderly e.t.c. A transmissible disease is one that has to be spread through a particular media, humans being an example of such media. Vaccination ensures that a person does not have a disease, let alone spread it. This is captured in a concept referred to as herd immunity. Albeit, herd immunity against a particular requires that a certain percentage of the population be vaccinated against that disease. This shows the need for mass effective vaccination of individuals susceptible to the disease.
Vaccines also happen to be very cost effective. Come to think of it, it’s way cheaper to prevent a disease than cure one and this stands true for virtually every single disease known to man.
The risks of natural infection far outweigh the risk of immunization for every vaccine and avoiding vaccines might mean avoiding a certain amount of risk but is actually the riskier choice.