27 April 2016
Immunization has a key role to play in helping us stay healthy.
In the past few months, children immunization has been at the forefront of discussions and reports of the World Health Organization.
This week, starting on the 24th, the WHO celebrates the World Immunization week. This is a week in which the WHO really tries to fight diseases that can be prevented by immunization. Last year according to the Director General of the organization, immunization led to notable wins in the fight against polio, rubella and tetanus.
While it is important that children get immunized against diseases, it is also important that adults get immunized as immunization is not exclusively for children. It is however unfortunate that a lot of people are not sensitized on this aspect and the importance of immunization. They do not know that a single shot might avert all kinds of diseases in their adult life.
What is immunization?
When we get sick, our body generates antibodies to fight the disease and help us get better. These antibodies stay in our body even after the disease has gone to protect us from getting the same illness again. This is called immunity. You don’t have to get sick to develop immunity; you can be given a vaccine.
Immunization protects people from disease by introducing a vaccine into the body that triggers an antibody response as if you had been exposed to a disease naturally. The vaccine contains the same antigens or parts of antigens that cause the disease, but the antigens in vaccines are either killed or greatly weakened. Vaccines work because they trick your body to think it is being attacked by a disease.
Adults require booster, shots to maintain immunity. Adults who were not adequately immunized as children may be at risk of infection from other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Why you should get immunized.
1. Since the introduction of vaccines, many serious illnesses have been brought under control. Immunization can protect you from: blood infection, diphtheria, hear infection, Haemophilus influenza type B, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), influenza etc.
2. Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects follow vaccination, e.g severe allergic reaction. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects.
3. It is our public health duty to be healthy and prevent the spread of nasty diseases.
4. It is cheap compared to the expense of treating a disease.