Vaccination has been around for hundreds of years and today’s vaccines are a very real part of modern medicine. Efforts taken during the 18th and 19th centuries led to the eradication of Small Pox in 1979. Since then many more vaccinations have been created and more diseases are close to being wiped out. Modern flu vaccinations help prevent serious cases of influenza among high risk adults and children, as well and keeping outbreaks under control. The future may hold vaccines for cancers or HIV. Although modern medicine holds vaccines to the highest standards, there are many myths and beliefs supporting an anti-vaccination lobby. Due to recent outbreaks of Measles and Whooping Cough cases in the US, the topic of immunization warrants a discussion and further detail.
Recent outbreaks such as the Ebola outbreak in 2014 bring to light the issue of diseases and their effects on the globe. Although our standards here in the US are very high, travelers from other countries can bring in potentially harmful viruses and diseases. Shortly after the New Year, several cases of Measles have been traced back to Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Theme Parks. Six of those cases were among unvaccinated children. It is believed that just one infected visitor was the cause of the outbreak according to the Dept. of Public Health. In 2010 there was also a Whooping Cough outbreak in California with 9000 cases, 10 of which resulted in death. With international travel so prevalent, we need to keep in mind that the US isn’t separate from the world community. One visitor from a country where a disease is endemic can threaten our public safety here at home.
Many of our Upstate HomeCare customers are dealing with symptoms that would be much worse if they were exposed to diseases that vaccines try to prevent. Measles and Whooping Cough greatly task the respiratory system and can result in pneumonia or worse. Part of the benefit from vaccines has to do with a concept called “Herd Immunity.” This is defined as “the immunity or resistance to a particular infection that occurs in a group of people or animals when a very high percentage of individuals have been vaccinated or previously exposed to the infection.” The intent is then to help protect the portion of the population who is more susceptible to the disease by preventing it from gaining any foothold. This protects those who cannot receive the vaccine due to immune deficiencies or allergies. The symptoms of the disease are higher risk than having a side-effect from a vaccine injection. For example, see the following stats for Measles and Rubella versus their vaccine MMR.
Pneumonia: 6 in 100
Encephalitis: 1 in 1,000
Death: 2 in 1,000
Congenital Rubella Syndrome: 1 in 4 (if woman becomes infected early in pregnancy)
Vaccine MMR Reactions:
Encephalitis or severe allergic reaction: 1 in 1,000,000
Although some health concerns have arisen over the safety of vaccines on our children, the risk of highly contagious diseases is far greater to our young children and elderly than the side-effects of a vaccine. Good education is the key to choosing the right decision for your child and yourself. Everyone should research what is in each vaccine and consult their physician in regards to any allergies or other possible reactions; then you can make an educated decision. For more information on the misconceptions of vaccines and facts, please take a look at the following Q&A from the World Health Organization or any of the other links below regarding the safety of vaccines and possible side-effects.