What are vaccines? Whenever germs enter into the body of a human being, the immune system distinguishes them as external substances to the body known as antigens. The immune system then fights against the antigens through the production of the correct and rightful antibodies. Vaccines then are a weakened version of a specific antigen or virus that causes a certain disease and are weakened to the point that they cannot produce any symptom of the specific disease. However, since the immune system is alert, the weakened antigens leads to its stimulation which in return produces antibodies. These antibodies protect a child in case he or she is exposed to similar antigens causing a certain disease in the future (Dawson, 2011). Vaccines then are meant to help keep a child healthy by driving out dangerous childhood diseases. In conclusion, vaccines are a way of boosting a child’s immunity against specific diseases.
Types of vaccinations
Vaccinations come in different types, and the first one is attenuated or weakened live viruses which are usually used to in vaccines such as those used in mumps, measles, rubella usually known as the (MMR) vaccine. Secondly, there is killed, or the inactivated viruses and are usually used in vaccines such as IPV. The third one is toxoid vaccines which contain inactivated toxins that are produced by the bacterium for instance, tetanus or the diphtheria vaccines. The last one is the conjugate vaccines which are vaccines that contain both the bacteria and some proteins and a good example is Hib vaccine (Neustaedter, 2002).
It is recommended that every child gets multiple vaccines rather than a single one if possible. Sometimes the vaccines need to be taken in combinations to avoid giving numerous shots to the child and should be given regarding the age of the child. Some of the vaccines recommended for a child to prevent specific diseases include the flu vaccine, DTaP vaccine, Td vaccine, HBV vaccine, IPV vaccine, MMR vaccine, rotavirus vaccine, Hib vaccine, varicella vaccine, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, meningococcal conjugate vaccine and HPV vaccine (Mitchell, 2012). All these vaccines boost immunity against specific infections and illnesses. Purpose Vaccination is one of health innovation that has demonstrated to be the most effective way to prevent diseases in the world.
Immunization has been termed as one of the most important development in the field of medicine for the last 150 years along with others such as antibiotics, anesthesia, and sanitation. However, since vaccines are administered to healthy children to prevent some infections or diseases, not everyone welcomes the idea with open hands. Some people have been arguing against vaccination contributing their concerns on the safety of vaccines. Due to the administration of the effects of the vaccine of diseases vaccinated against are not felt by people anymore, and people’s attention is now focused on the side effects of the vaccines. This shows that the influence about vaccines is based on the risks involved and the benefits derived thereof (Neustaedter, 2002).
Due to these unfounded allegations about vaccines safety, the rate of vaccination has reduced, and this paper attempts to argue for the case of vaccines explaining why people need to embrace vaccination for their children. Case for vaccination More than 100 years ago most people were dying due to infectious diseases in the world because there was no control for spreading of the diseases from one patient to another. Diseases such as diphtheria and smallpox would cause disaster in cities and towns taking away lives of millions of people without any warning. However, since medical science developed vaccines, spreading of serious infectious diseases has reduced (Nyhan, Reifler, Richey & Freed, 2014).
There are still some infectious diseases which effective vaccination have not been developed, and scientists are working hard to develop them to prevent illnesses, disabilities, and deaths caused by the diseases. These include tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and malaria. Infectious diseases can be devastating, and they are real and in existence. This fact should give people enough reason to support any method provided to prevent infection and spread the diseases, and that’s vaccination.
After embracing the fact that infectious diseases are devastating, people and especially parents need to understand that immunization or vaccination saves millions of lives every year and they are capable or eradicating some diseases. About 40 years ago only a few children in the world could access vaccination and 1980s a worldwide effort was launched to help provide vaccines to more than 80 percent of children in the world (Offit & Moser, 2011). This effort was not in vain because vaccination saves over 300 million lives every year which is roughly ten thousand in a day. The effort also helped in the prevention of illnesses and disability caused by such diseases. Also diseases such as smallpox used to kill millions of people while disfiguring others each year. However, in the year 1978, naturally occurring smallpox was eradicated through global immunization after the world’s first vaccine was developed (Offit & Moser, 2011).
Also, polio was among the leading epidemics causing paralysis in both children adults like 50 years ago. The modern medicine was not able to cure or stop polio and it only after the polio vaccine was developed that cases of polio reduced with a possibility of eradicating it completely from the world.
Why should people dwell on the side effects of vaccines instead of the benefits which have been felt all over the world?
The benefits of vaccines strongly outweigh the rare side effects of immunization, and it is correct to say that vaccines are indeed safe. Vaccination remains to be among the best and safest medical interventions in the modern world because every newly developed vaccine go through thorough testing before it is licensed and is also monitored for side effects. The good thing is that technology advances continuously, and these advances help to make vaccines safer and easier to administer to the children (Neustaedter, 2002). For instance, new vaccines have been developed to protect children from multiple diseases using one injection.
This is just but one way that vaccination has been made easier and safer through reduction of the number of injections a child gets. Again, children are exposed to more viruses, bacteria, toxins and other dangerous substances than they are exposed to through vaccines. Ingredients such as formaldehyde, aluminum, and thimerosal have been removed or decreased to trace amounts in vaccines for all children below six years old (Kennedy, Basket & Sheedy, 2011).
All these measures are put in place to ensure the safety of immunization.Trusting on the safety of the vaccines has led to increased protection of the unprotected because they are effective. A specific infectious disease can spread by nature to many people and the more the number of children who are immunized the lesser the viruses will spread to the unprotected children. This exercise is called the herd immunity, and it improves the safety of people in a certain area from the infectious diseases (Offit & Moser, 2011). The herd immunity helps to save children and even adults who cannot be vaccinated due to some reasons such as age or poor health for instance, those undergoing chemotherapy.
Also, it helps in protection of future generations for instance, when a mother is vaccinated, she protects an unborn child from contracting viruses that would bring about some congenital disabilities. People trust drinking water as one effective way to help reduce diseases and mortality rate easily and safely. The other effective way that does is this immunization because vaccination prevents the disease from happening in the first place. This provides benefits such as greater access to education and reduction of treatment costs related to preventable diseases among others.Finally, vaccination saves money and time for both the parent and child in a great way.
The government always have a hard time deciding on where to spend limited health care money. In other words, they try to consider the best intervention that would provide the largest benefit yet with the lowest cost. Vaccination is among the best health interventions that cost very little but provides high benefits to the well-being and health of the whole community. An infectious disease will cost time and money when a child gets sick to the parent and possibility of long-term disability is also a disaster (Nyhan, Reifler, Richey & Freed, 2014). For instance, in the United States, polio vaccine saves about $6.14 on treating one patient with polio diseases with a $1 vaccine and in Canada, they save about $30 million in treatment cost of Hib by spending about $12 million in vaccination. People should not wait for the worst to happen when it can be prevented from happening.
Why are children still dying from vaccine-preventable diseases?
It is evident that prevalence of vaccines is high in both the developed and developing countries in today’s world. However, there is still a high number of deaths occurring from vaccine-preventable diseases. One explanation of these deaths can be a weakness of health systems especially in developing countries whereby they are not able to cope with the devastating set of health issues. For instance, tetanus disease has been striking poor children and women to almost a fatal scenario. Some of the children in the affected areas do not have access to basic vaccination services and end up getting sick, sometimes disabled or even die (Dawson, 2011).
Children in developing countries and living in poor conditions are more likely to die from a vaccine-preventable disease due to lack of vaccination services. Again, when a newer vaccine is developed these children are still disadvantaged because it takes time before they get these vaccines despite being the people who need them most. For instance, vaccines for prevention of Haemophilus influenzae type B and hepatitis B took time before they could effectively be administered in children in developing countries (Dawson, 2011). Finally, due to decreased vaccination coverage, the vaccine-preventable diseases tend to re-appear.
As people in developing countries are struggling to improve vaccine availability for their children desperately, developed countries are facing the challenge of infectious diseases assumption. People in Europe and North America thinks because these diseases hardly appear, the threat is no more. Others see the vaccine to be more dangerous and fear its administration to their children (Calandrillo, 2003). These mix-ups have led to a resurgence of severe infectious diseases such as diphtheria, pertussis, and measles. Different outbreaks have been experienced in different countries which becomes costly to control, and in times some children end up dying.
Recommendations Over 130 million children in the world need to be immunized every year, and for this need to be met, all immunization systems must be provided with enough resources, qualified and motivated staff and adequate supply of vaccine and syringe. The staff must make sure that the vaccines are kept safely to avoid being destroyed by heat or any other form of damage to ensure its effectiveness is administered to the recipients.
Stable immunization systems need to provide adequate physical access, acceptance and deployment of the services, offer quality vaccines, safe injections, effective record keeping and secure funding (Neustaedter, 2002). This will set people to be prepared for future vaccines such as malaria or HIV/AIDS. Every child in the world deserves to be immunized and enjoy the benefits of the life-saving vaccines. Even the poorest countries has and need to improve their immunization programs because the world has all the resources it requires to do all this.
Vaccination of children has been proven to the world to save children from infectious illnesses, possible disabilities and even death. However, despite being an effective and safe way to save life, there are still people who have negative perceptions on the safety of vaccines. Others think that the diseases prevented by the vaccine are easy to heal and thus it’s unnecessary to have vaccines. However on the argument for vaccination people need to first agree on the existence of contagious diseases, vaccines have helped to save many lives and eradicate some diseases, and again the benefits derived from the vaccines outweigh the claimed side effects which are even rare.
Vaccines have also helped in saving lives of unprotected children or adults (herd immunity), and vaccination above all saves time and money for the affected. People need to embrace vaccination by all means and even work towards improvement of immunization systems to prevent chances of illnesses, disabilities, death or even resurgence of the diseases when the provision of the vaccination services drops.
Calandrillo, S. P. (2003). Vanishing vaccinations: why are so many Americans opting out of vaccinating their children? U. Mich. JL Reform, 37, 353.
Dawson, A. (2011). The moral case for the routine vaccination of children in developed and developing countries. Health Affairs, 30(6), 1029-1033.
Kennedy, A., Basket, M., & Sheedy, K. (2011). Vaccine attitudes, concerns, and information sources reported by parents of young children: results from the 2009 HealthStyles survey. Pediatrics, peds-2010.
Mitchell, D. R. (2012). The essential guide to children’s vaccines. New York, NY: St. Martins Paperbacks.
Neustaedter, R. (2002). The vaccine guide: Risks and benefits for children and adults. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books.
Nyhan, B., Reifler, J., Richey, S., & Freed, G. L. (2014). Effective messages in vaccine promotion: a randomized trial. Pediatrics, 133(4), e835-e842.
Offit, P. A., & Moser, C. A. (2011). Vaccines & your child: Separating fact from fiction. New York: Columbia University Press.