Even if a vaccine is not 100% effective at protecting from contracting a disease, it is likely to lessen the severity of the symptoms associated with it, says DR VARUN GUPTA
As our nation prepares for COVID-19 vaccines, we know that issues of equitable distribution and access for all — particularly for the at-risk population — are critical in determining the pace and success of the nation’s recovery. Allocation, distribution, access and utilisation of the COVID-19 vaccine will likely be the greatest public health effort of our generation.
And while this effort will present significant challenges, it also brings a new opportunity to expand the strength of existing immunisation infrastructure in India. This has become more important now than ever before.
Setting aside the current pandemic, vaccine confidence and hesitancy issues remain a challenge across all sectors of the healthcare system. Despite the well-known benefits of immunisations, more than 1.5 million people worldwide die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year.
Adult coverage lags behind current Healthy People targets for most commonly recommended vaccines: influenza, pneumococcal, tetanus, hepatitis B, herpes zoster, and HPV. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared vaccines to be one of the most important public health interventions of the twentieth century.
Because vaccines have been so successful at controlling diseases like smallpox and polio, we often take our relatively epidemic-free world for granted. But less than a lifetime ago, these diseases and others were still real threats to health. Despite vaccines’ successes, many people do not know how vaccines work, or that they are not just important for children, but adults too.
Aren’t vaccines for children?
Vaccines are for everyone, not just children. In fact, there are some vaccines that are specifically recommended for adults.
These adult vaccines protect against diseases that are more common in adults than children. Some vaccines protect against diseases that can be more serious when contracted by adults. Other adult vaccines may actually be boosters of vaccines that you received as a child. Boosters refresh the immune system’s memory of how to make the tools to fight a pathogen, so that it can continue to provide protection against the disease.
Getting vaccinated reduces your risk of getting diseases like shingles, measles, whooping cough, or influenza. Even if a vaccine is not 100% effective at protecting you from contracting the disease, it is likely to lessen the severity of the symptoms associated with the disease.
Reasons to get vaccinated:
- Vaccine-preventable diseases have not gone away.
- Vaccines will help keep you healthy.
- Vaccines are as important to your overall health as diet and exercise.
- Vaccination can mean the difference between life and death.
- Vaccines are safe.
- Vaccines won’t give you the disease they are designed to prevent.
- Young and healthy people can get very sick, too.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases are expensive to treat.
- When you get sick, your family is at risk, too.
- Your family and coworkers need you.
The writer is Head Medical Affairs at 1mg