Immunization: What You Need to Know

“Immunization! Get it for at least 2 reasons:

To protect yourself and to protect those around you”

Before vaccines, people became immune only by getting a virus and surviving it. And surviving it, in this case, is usually probable and risky. However, with the help of vaccines, we no longer have to go through the virus because we can prevent it

Immunization is a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination. Vaccination can be interchanged with immunization or inoculation. It is the act of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific disease.

When you get an immunization, you’re injected with enfeeble form of (or a wisp of) a disease. This set off your body’s immune response, causing it to either generate antibodies to that particular ailment or induce other processes that escalate immunity. However, these vaccines contain only killed or weakened forms of germs like viruses or bacteria making them safe. Hence, they do not cause the disease or put you at risk of its complications.

Why Your Child Needs Immunization?

why go for a vaccine

It is a fact that “Prevention is better than cure” as the popular saying goes. Immunization helps protect one from a disease before it even reaches him. It protects us from serious diseases and prevents the diseases from spreading. Although one can heal/recover from a specific disease, immunization makes it easier and more guaranteed. These vaccines reduce the risks of getting a disease by working with your body’s natural defences to build protection.

Due to immunization, some diseases like diphtheria, polio and smallpox are becoming rare. Also, the once-common infectious diseases such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough can be controlled. So it is strongly advised to keep immunizing until disease is eliminated. Immunizations protect children from more dangerous childhood diseases. Any of these diseases can cause serious complications and can even kill.

“Vaccines are the most cost-effective healthcare intervention there are. A dollar spent on a childhood vaccination not only helps safe life but greatly reduces spending on future healthcare.” – Ezekiel Emanuel

Common Diseases Prevented by Childhood Immunization and Number of Needs

Number of Doses
1. (Chickenpox)Varicell
1 dose of varicella vaccine 
2. Measles, Mumps & Rubella1 dose of measles, mumps & rubella vaccine (MMR)

3. Influenza

1 or 2 annual doses of influenza vaccine (number of doses depends on influenza vaccine history) 

4. Hepatitis A

2 doses of hepatitis A vaccine 

5. Hepatitis B

3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine 

6. Polio

3 doses of polio vaccine

7. Rotavirus

2-3 doses of rotavirus vaccine (depending on the brand used)

8. Haemophilus Influenza type B

3-4 doses of Hib vaccine (depending on the brand used)

9. Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis

4 doses of diphtheria, tetanus & pertussis vaccine (DTaP) 

10.  Pneumococcal

4 doses of pneumococcal vaccine

Side Effects

side effects

 Like any other medication, vaccines can cause mild or serious side effects, so applies to these. The majority of these are minor and go away within a period of time.

The common side effects of Immunization vaccines are:

  • Fever (a temperature of over 38°C).
  • Fussiness, feeling tired, loss of appetite, vomiting.
  • Redness, soreness, or swelling where the shot was given.
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Babies may be unsettled or sleepy.
  • Sometimes, a small, hard lump (nodule) may persist for some weeks or months where the injection was given. This requires no treatment and should not be of concern.

Serious and rare side effects of vaccines include:

  • An immediate allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. This is very rare like one person out of one million people experiences anaphylaxis after vaccination. It can be completely reversible if treated quickly.
  • A febrile seizure, which is caused when a child’s fever rises quickly. This seizure can be frightening but it usually does not cause permanent or have a lasting effect. It normally lasts for 1 or 2 minutes.
  • There is a small risk of intussusception from rotavirus vaccination which is a type of bowel blockage. The estimated range is 1 in 100,000 children who get rotavirus vaccine and it can be safely treated in the hospital.

Generally, it is expected that you stay at the clinic or close to a health professional for at least 20minutes after receiving a vaccine in case of further treatment. As a result, serious reactions are very rare after immunization. People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. So, it is strongly advised that you immediately tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears. Remember, vaccines are continually monitored for safety, and like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects.

What If We Stop?

what if we stop

Immunization saves millions of lives every year. To some point, immunization is not only for today, tomorrow or protects ourselves, it is for the future. Also, it ensures a safe future for us, our children and their children continuously. However, a decision not to immunize a child involves more risk and could put the child at risk. Moreso, others who come into contact with the child at risk of contracting a potentially deadly disease.

What happened in Japan is a good example of what could happen if we stop vaccination. In japan 1974, up to 83% of the children were getting whooping cough vaccine. That year, only 390 cases of whooping cough cases were reported in the entire country. And not even a single whooping cough-related death. Later, immunization rates dropped until only 11% of the children got vaccinated. In 1979, more than 12,000 people suffered whooping cough and more than 39 were reported dead. When the vaccination resumed and was improved, the number of the disease dropped again.

Most of the diseases that these vaccines protect us from have not disappeared today. But all thanks to these vaccines and the professionals that made and keep improving them. If we let ourselves become defenceless by not vaccinating, these diseases will hit us back. Even worse than before because the world’s population is also increasing. It is not time to stop vaccinating, rather we should increase, improve and support it until its fully eliminated. 

Related: Enviromental health

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