While the debate around vaccines rages on, especially in the online world, there’s an immutable element so many people forget: vaccines work. Highlighted during this year’s World Immunisation Week, vaccines not only save lives, but work to prevent the spread of diseases too.
Should I vaccinate my child?
Medical professionals across the country were sent scrambling for resources when a Measles outbreak hit Gauteng earlier in 2017. An emergency vaccination campaign was rolled out, across the province, and later across the country, in an attempt to isolate the outbreak and prevent further infections taking place. Alarmingly, investigations revealed that the cause of the outbreak could be linked to a family who chose not to vaccinate. While vaccination in South Africa remains a voluntary procedure, it is an important medical one, that seeks to support and protect the health of all South Africans. Vaccinating your children isn’t just about protecting their health – it’s about protecting the health of others too, especially individuals who are immunocompromised and cannot be vaccinated. In an interview with LifeDoc earlier this year, Sister Elsabe’ Hayward, RN. RM. RCHN. RNA. International Childbirth Educator I.C.C.E. Student SACLC, shared her insights into the process of vaccination and the importance of sticking to the childhood immunisation schedule, emphasising the importance of childhood immunisations:
“Vaccination saves lives and many of us wouldn't be here if it were not for vaccination. Smallpox, for example, has been totally eradicated, thanks to vaccines…vaccinations prevent death, deformities and complications from disease.”
Smallpox is no more
It’s true that Smallpox is no longer a concern for humanity. During the 1970s, a global vaccination campaign put an end to the spread of this acute contagious disease, and the World Health Organisation confirmed in 1980 that Smallpox had been eradicated.
Polio is in the past
Similarly, Polio – a highly infectious viral disease – has been mostly eradicated, thanks to international immunisation campaigns. There is no cure for Polio – it can only be prevented through vaccination. It’s thanks to large-scale vaccination campaigns that Polio is no longer a major health concern, although some cases are still reported in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Since 1988, the Polio prevalence rate has fallen from 350 000 cases, to just 37 cases, worldwide, in 2016.
Vaccines work (and they’re free)
The South African National Department of Health provides a well-rounded set of childhood immunisations to all children in South Africa. These are offered to families through public and private health care facilities, with additional, optional vaccinations also made available at a cost. Check out this helpful tool from Parent24 that’ll tell you which vaccinations your child needs and when.
LifeDoc Can Help
LifeDoc™ helps you take control of your health care. Now available for download as a mobile application, LifeDoc™ helps you take charge of your personal health information, making it easier to keep track of appointments and schedule those important immunisation appointments, while securely storing your personal medical history. Register here or like the LifeDoc™ Facebook page for regular updates. You can also stay on track with LifeDoc™ developments on Twitter.