Vaccination a building block

2017-04-26 06:02

At least 19,4 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children were recorded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) worldwide.

The statistics of the WHO were recently put in the spotlight by the ­vice-chairperson of the ­National Council for Persons with Disabilities in South Africa, Dorothy-Anne Howitson, during a call for members of the community to get immunised in line with Immunisation Week.

In her request for everyone to visit their nearest clinics, doctors or adjacent medical facility and ensure their prescribed vaccination, ­Howitson emphasised that “it is to protect ourselves and to protect those around us”.

She explained how ­immunisation prevents loved ones from suffering from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Immunisation week is observed from 24 to 30 April this year.

According to the WHO, immunisation has the potential of averting an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths a year.

Howitson elaborated on how routine immunisation is a building block of strong primary health care and universal health coverage for its role in providing a point of contact for health care at the beginning of life, offering every child the chance at a healthy life from the start.

“Immunisation is also a fundamental strategy in achieving other health priorities, from controlling viral hepatitis, to curbing anti­microbial resistance, to providing a platform for adolescent health and improving antenatal and newborn care,” she explained.

She cited the preference of an individual rather tolerating serious risks from a vaccine-preventable disease than from the vaccine itself.

“For example, in the case of polio, the disease can result in paralysis, measles can result in encephalitis and blindness, and some vaccine-preventable diseases can even result in death.

“While any serious injury or death caused by vaccines is one too many, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks. Many more illnesses and deaths would occur without vaccines.”

Howitson emphasises that successful vaccination programmes depend on the cooperation of every individual to ensure the well-being of all concerned.

“We should not rely on other people to stop the spread of diseases.

“We, too, must do what we can,” she concluded.

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