Protected Together: Vaccines Work!
Immunization saves millions of lives every year and is widely recognized as one of the world’s most successful and cost-effective health interventions.
Yet, there are still nearly 20 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children in the world today, a major reason, besides unavailability, being the reluctance shown by many parents in getting their children vaccinated, which is contributing to resurgence of preventable diseases in various parts of the world.
In early April a worker in Pakistan was shot outside a family home as he attempted to talk the family into vaccinating their child against polio. And late last year, two aid workers were gunned down as they were on a vaccine drive.
The number of people who refuse to vaccinate their children is growing thanks to an anti-vaccine grassroots movement that shares information on social media platforms. Those who decline to have their children vaccinated are part of the reason for a resurgence of preventable diseases in various parts of the world.
According to Govt of Pakistan’s Expanded Program on immunization, following are some potentially lethal diseases for which vaccines are widely available and used. What a time to be alive!
Childhood Tuberculosis (TB)
TB is usually spread through breathing and that is how it enters the lungs. If left untreated, it can harm the lungs and brain.
Polio is a highly infectious viral disease that mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted through contaminated water and food, and from person to person by infected saliva or faeces. The virus attacks the nervous system which can cause paralysis, mostly in the lower limbs and it is often permanent.
Rotavirus infection is common in young children and adults. Rotavirus is the number one cause of diarrhea and kills around 53,300 children in Pakistan each year.
Its symptoms appear after two days and last for a week. If left untreated, it can also result in death, especially in young infants.
Pneumonia is a lungs infection that spreads through breathing. It causes inflammation which results in stiffness of lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. If left untreated, it can also result in death, especially in young infants.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Pertussis is an infectious disease that causes violent coughing spells with a whooping noise which makes it difficult to breathe. Pertussis is spread from one child to another through the nose or mouth by coughing, sneezing or touching infected surfaces. If left untreated it can harm the child’s internal organs.
Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in the soil and it enters the body through open wounds like cuts, burns and non-sterile surgery. If left untreated, it can result in death through paralysis of the throat and respiratory muscles.
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that results from the Hepatitis B virus. It is spread through exchange of blood or other body fluids of an infected person and also transmitted from an infected mother to a child at birth. If left untreated, it can result in liver failure.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the inside layers of the brain. It can be bacterial, viral or fungal. Meningitis can be triggered by an autoimmune disease when the body attacks itself e.g. lupus. An adverse reaction to medicines may cause meningitis. The virus can be transmitted through the nose, skull fractures or spinal fluid. If left untreated, it can result in death.
Diphtheria is a contagious bacterial infection that spreads from one person to another and attacks the respiratory system (nose, throat and tonsils). If left untreated, it can damage internal organs that may result in death.
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can easily be spread from person to person by sneezing, coughing or physical contact. Measles is a highly infectious disease that can easily be spread from person to person by sneezing, coughing or physical contact.
How many of these diseases are you vaccinated against?