Through vaccination we have seen diseases that once meant serious illness, debilitation or even death for those who contracted them almost eradicated but in recent years those diseases are beginning to return in first world countries.
Cases of whooping cough, mumps, measles, rubella, and even polio are springing up around the globe at an inconceivable rate due to children not receiving vaccinations – this not only puts your child at risk but the health of others at risk too.
A vaccine, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a substance that is usually injected into a person or animal to protect against a particular disease”. Vaccines work by mimicking disease agents and stimulating the immune system to build up defences against them – thus becoming immune to that particular disease (immunisation). When a vaccine is administered into someone it is called a vaccination.
There are 15 vaccine-preventable child diseases including diphtheria, chickenpox, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, and meningococcal. Vaccinations are administered at multiple times through a child’s early years and protect the child.
So why are people opting not to vaccinate their kids? There are reasons that are associated with location and not being able to afford them in countries like Africa but in countries like the United States and Australia, this is not the case. The rise of preventable disease in first world countries is associated with fear that the vaccination will harm the child or does not work.
As with almost all medications there are certain side effects that are unavoidable but things like a fever, vomiting or a rash are much preferable to the possible diseases they could face if left unvaccinated; the benefits greatly outweigh the risks.
There is overwhelming evidence that supports the fact that vaccinations do work. The measles vaccination, for example, is thought to prevent one million deaths each year and since the trend of not vaccinating children has taken off, cases have exploded in countries where it is readily available, even Australia, with around 40 cases this year alone.
Getting your child vaccinated is easy, fast and relatively painless. It will protect them and others from disease, so it is important that you get them vaccinated at the appropriate times in their lives. For more information on vaccines and where you can get them done, visit the Immunise Australia Program.