Immunization is one of the most favorable and cost-efficient tools for prevention of various diseases in the 20th Century. Childhood vaccination is one of the options that are prioritized under the childhood immunization initiative in many countries. Vaccination in itself has helped to reduce the affect of many diseases and eradication of some such as smallpox. Deciding to vaccinate your child goes a long way in ensuring not only his or her safety but that of the community as well.
The Working Mechanism of Vaccines
Vaccines contain the same pathogens which cause the disease. For instance, if it is a polio vaccine, it contains polio virus. However, the pathogen used is either suppressed or killed. This way, it cannot cause the disease but enables the body to create antibodies against the particular illness. Thus, when the individual is attacked by the said pathogen, the body is in a position to fight against it.
Effects of Not Being Vaccinated
An individual who has not received vaccination is more susceptible to the disease, unlike a vaccinated individual. Most of these illnesses are dangerous and may cause death at times.
- Fighting these illnesses can also cost a lot in terms of money, physical discomfort and time.
- If a pregnant woman contracts a disease which she was not immunized against, it is possible that her life and that of her child are at risk.
- In extreme cases, the person may lose his or her life.
On the other hand, an individual who has been immunized is not affected significantly in the event of contracting the disease.
Upon contracting these diseases, the individual is likely to be isolated.
- If the patient is a child, he or she risks missing classes.
- The child may also feel left out, and this can have a negative impact on the emotions of the child.
- In other cases, the entire family may be quarantined.
This can be avoided by immunization.
Public Health Risks
Children who are not immunized pose health hazards to those around them. This is because they may spread the disease to children who are too young for vaccination or those who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons.
Myths and Misconceptions Regarding Vaccines
There are many reasons that parents to either fail or delay in taking their child for vaccinations. While some of these people avoid vaccines because they think it is not important, other decisions are guided by religious beliefs, misconceptions and myths which are against vaccination. Listed below are some of the myths and misconceptions.
Overloaded Immune System
This is a common misconception.
- It claims that a child’s immune system can be overloaded upon receiving many vaccinations. This myth surfaced when the immunization schedule was expanded to include more shots. However, it has been proven untrue through scientific research.
- In fact, research has confirmed that vaccines work better when combined than when administered individually.
Some mothers have delayed vaccinations due to this myth.
Natural Immunity is Better
Some people argue that immunity gained upon surviving a natural infection is more effective. Whereas it is true that natural immunity lasts longer, it is also true that the risks of natural infections are greater than getting immunized.
Hygiene and Better Nutrition are Enough
Diseases cannot be controlled by maintaining hygiene and improving nutrition alone. In fact, vaccines have played a bigger role with a good example being the eradication of chicken pox.
Some individuals ignore vaccination on the basis that the diseases have been eradicated in their country. However, being vaccinated is still important since the future is uncertain.
Vaccination is Not Safe
Vaccination does not give a person complete immunity. During an outbreak, it is possible that a number of vaccinated individuals may be affected. The difference is that the vaccinated person is not affected adversely.
The decision of whether or not to have your child immunized remains a personal decision. However, the consequences can be experienced by the entire community. Deciding not to take your child for immunization might have social and physical implications. Vaccination has proved useful though not a hundred percent. Some individuals decide not to follow vaccination schedules because they believe in certain myths such as those presented above, however, understanding the facts is useful in eradication of preventable diseases.
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Author: Michele Holincheck, FNP