Vaccinations began Edward Jenner, a country doctor living in Gloucester, who created the world’s first vaccine for smallpox in the 1790s.
Since then, vaccinations have gone on to save millions of lives and eradicate many unpleasant and dangerous diseases.
Here are 15 compelling reasons to make sure you and your family are up to date with your immunisations, and how this can help you, your family and your community stay well.
Vaccinations – what the World Health Organisation has to say about them
There is arguably no single preventive health intervention more cost-effective than immunization. Time and again, the international community has endorsed the value of vaccines and immunization to prevent and control a large number of infectious diseases and increasingly, several chronic diseases that are caused by infectious agents.
Immunisation saves lives
An immunisation can mean the difference between life and death. Immunisation currently prevents 2-3 million deaths every year. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves.
Diseases which are preventable by vaccination still exist
In fact, cases of disease such as measles – which are preventable – still occur today in the UK. Global measles deaths have decreased by 84% from an estimated 550 000 deaths in 2000, to 89 780 in 2016, thanks to immunization programmes.
Read our article on measles here: https://onlinefirstaid.com/measles-outbreak/
Global travel is a passport for disease
Bacteria and viruses capable of causing illness and death can be easily transferred to those who haven’t been vaccinated against them.
With global travel ever more popular, diseases are just as able to travel as people.
Thanks to vaccinations, some diseases are close to being eradicated
Such as polio. Two out of three strains of wild polio have been eradicated. In 2016 fewer children were paralysed by polio than any other year.
They also hope that the HPV vaccination programme will eradicate cervical cancer. The early signs are incredibly encouraging.
New vaccines are continually being created…
For example, a new vaccine against dengue fever has been licensed in several countries. The first pilot to protect children against malaria was piloted in 2018 in three African countries.
You may no longer be protected by childhood vaccinations
Some vaccines you received as a child require a booster if you want to remain protected. For diseases such as pertussis (whooping cough) or tetanus, protection may not be life-long and needs to be re-administered for maximum protection. Many holiday vaccines also need boosters.
Getting vaccinated helps protect your kids
Your vaccination can help protect your children, especially babies who are too young for vaccines. Whooping cough vaccines are recommended for pregnant women – preferably between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation – and anyone who has contact with young babies. It’s the same for the flu vaccine. There’s no flu vaccine licensed for infants younger than 6 months old.
Vaccinations boosts your immunity
If your child has been vaccinated against a disease, their body can fight it off better. However, if a child’s is not vaccinated, they remain at higher risk of catching and becoming very ill from the illness.
For the good of the community
If more parents have their children vaccinated, more children in the community will be protected against an illness, such as a measles outbreak. This is known as herd immunity. There will always be some children who are unprotected because they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. Or because they’re too young to be vaccinated, or in some rare cases, because the vaccine does not work.
Vaccinations can protect you throughout your life
Some vaccines are just for adults. For example the vaccine against shingles – also known as herpes zoster or zoster - is caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. Furthermore as risk for shingles increases as a person ages, the vaccine is recommended for adults 60 and older.
Vaccinations help keep you healthy
Vaccinations throughout your life can help protect against many viruses and infections. When you don’t have vaccines, you leave yourself open to illnesses such as shingles, pneumococcal disease, influenza, and HPV and hepatitis B – both of which are leading causes of cancer.
Vaccinations are safe
There is a strong body of research and data that suggests vaccines are safe. In fact, vaccines are considered amongst the safest products in medicine.
Vaccine-preventable diseases cost time and money
As well as making you feel very poorly, vaccine preventable disease can make you feel unwell for a week or two, therefore costing time and therefore money.
Vaccination before university
Students starting university for the first time are at an increased risk of meningitis. This is because they are more likely to stay in halls of residence and have closer contact with new students who may unknowingly be carrying the meningitis bacteria. Have the vaccinations recommended by the Department of Health. Some colleges may require proof of routine vaccinations, so it pays to keep a record. Your GP should have this information on your NHS record.
First Aid for Life campaign to help prevent accidents and illnesses and to keep people informed with helpful information, so they can make informed decisions about their health needs.
Understanding first aid is part of this message. We encourage as many people as possible to equip themselves with these life-saving skills.
Written by Emma Hammett RGN
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