Vaccines for All | World Immunization Week
As we celebrate World Immunization Week, we recognize the role of vaccines in society and learn what we can do to spread the right information about them.
With the recent developments in the various coronavirus vaccines, we have come to understand anew the importance of immunization in the prevention of diseases.
As we look forward to the distribution of these vaccines to everyone around the world, it is also necessary to ensure that regular vaccines are not overlooked. During this global pandemic, many children were not vaccinated, putting them at risk of severe diseases like measles and polio. This is even made worse by the spread of misinformation about vaccination.
As such, the World Health Organization (WHO) seeks to raise awareness about the role of vaccination in bringing people together and improving people's health and well-being throughout their lives. This year’s celebration of World Immunization Week comes with the theme “Vaccines bring us closer” with the aim of increasing public support for vaccination and recognizing it as a public benefit that saves lives and protects health.
Vaccines Throughout History
For more than two centuries, vaccines have protected us from diseases that endanger human lives. Clearly, we have come a long way from the smallpox vaccine developed by the British doctor Edward Jenner. Through various immunization programs, we have been able to live without the burden of diseases like smallpox and polio, which have previously claimed the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
There have also been continuous advancements in vaccine technology, taking us closer to a world free of diseases like tuberculosis and cervical cancer, as well as ending childhood diseases like measles.
Just last year, there were 26 deadly diseases that we could prevent with safe and effective vaccines. At this time, COVID-19 has already been added to the list of vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), thanks to the availability of vaccines that are deployed under emergency use to save lives from the pandemic.
While vaccines may not be a perfect solution, more research is ongoing, and they can help us get closer to a future where we can all live together again.
What We Can Do Now
As more and more people are being protected from the coronavirus, the elimination of travel bans, masking, and physical distancing requirements may soon be made a reality.
Here are two ways to combat misinformation and ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are distributed safely and fairly to all:
Learn the facts
Vaccines are one of the most important developments in modern medicine because they are both safe and reliable. In fact, between 2000 and 2018, measles vaccinations saved the lives of an estimated 23.2 million children. In addition, maternal and neonatal tetanus, which is lethal in newborns, has been eradicated in all but 12 countries as of July 2019 with vaccination.
The COVID-19 vaccine, like other vaccines, serves as a safety barrier, protecting families and societies. It is therefore important to look for correct and trustworthy information through our national health authorities, UNICEF, and the WHO.
Know what to do if someone you know is spreading misinformation
It can be inconvenient and uncomfortable correcting a friend or family member, but misinformation can bring about undue confusion. And this can undermine people’s confidence in taking the vaccine.
To be able to react appropriately, try to see where their information came from and who created the content. You may also have to choose whether to engage in the discussion or not. If you do decide that it is safe for you to participate, prepare to share accurate information and facts from credible sources. In some cases, it is better to approach your friend or family member privately – in person or by direct message. In this case, they will not feel publicly embarrassed and will be more likely to be receptive to the information you are presenting to them.
Above all, let us do our part in helping build a better, safer, healthier future, at least through the information that we share about these vaccines.