IMMUNIZATION
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Vaccines are the world’s safest method to protect children from life-threatening diseases

-UNICEF

Overview

Immunization is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines reduce the risk of getting a disease by stimulating the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent disease.

Vaccination scan prevent more than a dozen serious diseases. Failure to vaccinate may mean putting children at risk for serious and sometimes fatal diseases. Immunization prevents diseases, disabilities, and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases(VPDs), such as cervical cancer, polio, hepatitis B, measles, influenza, pneumonia, rubella, and tetanus.

According to the World Health Organization, “Global vaccination coverage – the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines – has remained the same over the past few years.”

Why Immunization is Important?

Some diseases that are caused by viruses can’t be cured with antibiotics. The only way to control them is by immunization or vaccines. Vaccines help people especially children to grow up healthy and happy.

Most unvaccinated people who come into contact with an infected person will catch the disease. For example, if someone has whooping cough, up to 90% of the unimmunized people in their household will catch the disease. This means it is not only important for babies to be vaccinated, but also for all family members to be up to date with their boosters.

Here are a few benefits of immunization:

  • Vaccination is safe and effective at preventing diseases
  • Protects you, your family and future generations from infectious diseases
  • Helps to develop a stronger immune system which reduces the risk of auto-immune conditions
  • Immunization can help children with the weak immune systems to brace against certain diseases
  • Prevents severe illness and safeguards from the vaccine-preventable diseases
  • As children’s immunity is fragile, it prevents the spreading of diseases from one child to another
  • Immunized people pose low to no risk of epidemic diseases

However, some people are considered to be moderately or severely immunocompromised (have a weak immune system). They include people with HIV/AIDS; cancer and transplant patients who cannot be vaccinated. This might be because they are too young or too sick. You can help protect these vulnerable people by keeping your family’s vaccinations up to date. When you get vaccinated, you are playing an important role in keeping yourself and your community safe.

When enough people in the community are vaccinated, the spread of the disease slows down or stops completely – this is because the disease can’t move easily from person to person. So as long as enough people are vaccinated, the disease will not spread. This is called herd immunity or community immunity and protects friends, family and others, especially those who cannot be immunized. 

However, it is advised to check your doctor first. Your doctor will advise which vaccinations you need based on your HALO: health condition, age, lifestyle and occupation. 

Early Childhood Immunization

Early vaccination begins from birth as they are meant to prevent diseases that are most likely to occur when a child is very young and the risk of complication is greatest. Babies’ immune systems are not strong enough to handle some serious diseases. This is why it is important to vaccinate them to strengthen their immune system without having to get sick. Also, vaccines are the best way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Sometimes, combination vaccines are used so that children receive fewer injections.

Vaccines are given according to certain age sand the vaccination schedule of babies begins with the hepatitis B vaccine given in the hospital at birth. It is recommended to follow the vaccination schedule timely and maintain the records of the child’s vaccinations. A significant delay in vaccination puts children at risk of the serious diseases the vaccines could prevent.

The following vaccinations and schedules are recommended:

  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
  • Hepatitis A (HepA) vaccine
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine
  • Hepatitis B (HepB) vaccine
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine
  • Meningococcal (MenACWY, MenB) vaccines
  • Pneumococcal (PCV13, PPSV23) vaccines
  • Polio (IPV) vaccine
  • Rotavirus (RV) vaccine
  • COVID-19 vaccine
  • Dengue vaccine

How do vaccinations work?

The vaccination uses your body’s immune system to increase protection against infection before you come into contact with that infection. The vaccine contains the dead or weakened form of the virus or bacteria injected into the body. Your immune system does not know whether the vaccine virus is strong, weak or dead and receives the virus as a red alert, considering it to be dangerous. As are spouse, the immune system quickly creates antibodies to fight the virus and clear it. If you come into contact with an infection after you’ve been vaccinated, your body works to stop you from getting the disease, or you may get just a mild case.

Every time your body fights against a certain disease or infection, it becomes stronger. So, when your child or you catch a similar infection in the future for real, the immunity responds effectively. Without catching a disease or spreading infection, the antibodies eliminate the virus.

Immunization and COVID-19

Nowadays, getting aCOVID-19 vaccination is very important as it builds protection against the virus. The vaccination helps our bodies develop immunity to fight againstCOVID-19 and prevent us from getting severely ill. It also lowers the risk of spreading the virus that causes coronavirus.

Even after getting the vaccine, it is advised to continue wearing masks, clean our hands, and maintain social distancing while avoiding crowds. 

If anyone has already experienced COVID-19, you should still get a COVID-19 vaccine for added protection.

Immunization – Side Effects

Any vaccine can cause side effects. Some people may experience mild side effects usually for one or two days such as pain, swelling and redness, fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain these usually resolve quickly. Keep in mind that the most common side effects are a sign that your body is starting to build immunity(protection) against a disease.

However, serious side effects are extremely rare such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, fast heartbeat and rashes. It is advised to call the doctor immediately if you experience a severe allergic reaction.

Conclusion

Prevention is better than cure. Immunization prevents the diseases from occurring or recurrence. There are many diseases and life-threatening infections that have no medical treatments. These conditions may cause severe complications and sometimes turn fatal.  

Deciding not to be immunized puts you, loved ones and the community at risk of unnecessarily catching an infectious disease that can be very serious and even deadly. 

To book an online or physical consultation with the talented and experienced Infectious Disease Specialist – Dr. Hanif Kamal in Karachi click on https://www.shifaam.com/doctors/karachi/pediatrician-child-specialist/hanif-kamal-10811. You can also download the Shifaam Health App from Google PlayStore (bit.ly/2JqZo3C) or the iOS App Store(apple.co/2QUVxQz). We are just a call 021-37132273 or Whatsapp 03477222273 away.


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