According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 5 children is still missing out on routine life-saving immunizations. These immunizations could help avoid preventable diseases that result in 1.5 million deaths each year.
In 2013 alone, 21.8 million infants around the world did not receive life-saving vaccines. Lack of access, inadequate supply and a shortage of information about immunizations all contribute to these numbers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe vaccines as containing “the same germs that cause the disease, but the germs have been either killed or weakened to the point that they don’t make you sick.” Vaccines help the immune system build up resistance to dangerous diseases.
‘Herd immunity’ helps all
Vaccines are effective 90-100 percent of the time. However, some children are not able to get vaccines for certain medical reasons, or because they are too young to be vaccinated. This leaves children without protection, therefore having to rely on “herd immunity.” The CDC describes herd immunity as “even if one child gets sick, the disease will probably not spread because it has nowhere to go. If the sick child comes in contact only with children who are immune, the disease will die out.”
According to Dr. Scott Spies of Novant Health Matthews Children’s Clinic, vaccines are one of the most proven things we have in medicine in terms of safety and efficacy.
“I have no concerns with vaccines,” Spies said. “Unfortunately, people, especially in the United States, are afraid of vaccines because of what they’ve read on the Internet.”
No link to autism
There has been a fear of vaccines causing autism, thanks to misinformation from the 1980s where a doctor in England said there was a link. “His study has been proven wrong in over 100 studies across the world,” Spies said. And the CDC has also said there is no link between vaccines and autism.
Vaccines given to children can help prevent diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, chickenpox, polio and measles, but also pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhea – two of the biggest killers in children younger than 5.
For adolescents and adults, vaccines are available to prevent influenza and meningitis, as well as cervical and liver cancer.