World Immunization Week 2022: Vaccination Has The Power To Free Your Childs World
This years World Immunization Week theme Long Life for All underlines the power of vaccination for adults and children alike.
Vaccinations ensure that we live fulfilling lives
The ‘pandemic babies' are finally stepping out. The school they experienced through a laptop screen is now being replaced by schoolmates, teachers, snack breaks, and colorful classrooms. A welcome change for the little ones and their parents! The adults and elderly had to choose the preventive power of vaccination to ensure that children around the world have a safe environment to study and play in.
This year's World Immunization Week theme – Long Life for All – underlines the power of vaccination for adults and children alike. Vaccines help to protect generations of people against infectious diseases at every stage of life. Today, we have safe and effective vaccines for more than 25 diseases, an outcome of over 200 years of research, worldwide collaboration, and rigorous testing.
In the last two years, all of us, young and old have experienced the uncertainty, loss, and fear, that accompanies disease outbreaks. The pandemic has made parents miss or delay their children's wellness checkups and vaccination due to lockdown restrictions. Even as countries race to get their population vaccinated against COVID-19 vaccines, routine immunization has taken a hit, leaving children at risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases like flu, polio, and pertussis.
This World Immunization Week, with the world opening for the younger generations, it's time to get back on track with routine vaccines. Let's keep up and catch-up with our vaccination schedules for our children and the community.
The World Health Organization defines catch-up vaccination as the action of vaccinating an individual, who, due to delays, inaccessibility, hesitancy, service interruptions, etc., has not received doses of vaccines for which they are eligible, as per the national immunization schedule.
Epidemiology of countries that are prone to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, the vulnerability of the population due to low immunity, gaps in vaccine coverage, duration of the delayed vaccination, and extent of disruption in vaccination services, are key parameters that determine the urgency of catch-up vaccination.
With schools re-opening, school-based immunization presents us with an opportunity to increase vaccination coverage rates. We can facilitate catch-up vaccination and drive awareness of the threats of disease outbreaks due to gaps in vaccination. Health-seeking behaviors of disease prevention through vaccination can have a multiplier effect among large homogenous age groups, thereby resulting in a higher rate of catch-up vaccinations. Children can share their vaccination cards with the school healthcare practitioner who in turn can either vaccinate them or provide necessary guidance on vaccination.
Collaboration with other healthcare services such as antenatal care, primary healthcare facilities, and other disease control programs for seasonal infections can also drive catch-up vaccination rates among the population.
The value of vaccination should not be viewed in isolation. Studies have indicated that COVID 19 severity was less in children who were fully vaccinated when compared with children who were partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. Vaccinations not only prevent disease but can ensure that our children can go to playgrounds, the elderly can go for their morning walks and catch up with friends and the working adults get to the workplace.
Vaccinations ensure that we live fulfilling lives. As parents and caretakers, let's make it our collective responsibility to complete our child's circle of protection by being up to date with their vaccination schedule. Let's catch up to get ahead together as a community.
(Dr. Kuharaj Mahenthiran, Medical Expert in vaccines from Mumbai)
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