Are you aware of World Vaccination Week?

Next week is World Vaccination Week, a global campaign led by the World Health Organization (WHO) that takes place annually to promote the importance of vaccination in preventing disease and protecting public health. In reality, vaccination is a common practice in industrialized countries, but we often have no real understanding of its importance. Read more about vaccination and its week in the RC REDOL article below.

Unlike medicines, which treat diseases after they occur, vaccines prevent harmful diseases from occurring. They are administered before contact with pathogens and train the body’s natural defences, the immune system, to identify and fight specific pathogens.  In addition, the immune system is designed to remember pathogens and how to fight them, so if the body comes into contact with the same pathogen a second time, it will be destroyed easily and quickly before the disease can develop.

But how do they work? Vaccines are made using only dead, inactivated, or weakened pathogens, so they are not capable of causing the disease or any of its complications, and are a simple, safe, and effective way of training the body to protect against that pathogen. Vaccination is therefore one of the most effective measures to prevent the disease and reduce the spread of epidemics.

By getting vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and the community, especially those who are most vulnerable, such as young children, the elderly, and people with chronic medical conditions. However, not everyone can be vaccinated, as certain groups cannot be vaccinated, such as very young babies, people with underlying health conditions, or those who suffer from certain allergies. For this reason, vaccination is always managed by healthcare professionals who will assess the risks and benefits it may pose to you and help you make an informed decision.

Although some people cannot be vaccinated, they can still benefit from vaccines due to herd immunity. This happens when they live in a vaccinated community, as pathogens will have difficulty circulating there sincemost of the people they meet will be immune to them. This makes it less likely that unvaccinated people will be exposed to the pathogens.

Nevertheless, just as no single vaccine can provide 100% protection, neither can herd immunity provide total protection. Also, like medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. They are usually minor, such as redness and soreness at the injection site or mild fever, and will pass within a few days, while more serious side effects are possible but extremely rare. In fact, you are more likely to be injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine.

Vaccination is not a new thing either. Mankind has been trying to prevent disease by intentionally exposing healthy people to smallpox since at least the 15th century, but it wasn’t until 1796 that Dr. Edward Jenner developed the first successful vaccine. Since then, vaccines have been developed to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases and save more human lives than any other medical invention in history.

The WHO estimates that vaccines currently prevent 3.5 to 5 million deaths per year, 4 million of which are from childhood vaccines alone. This is why this global organization has launched World Vaccination Week, an excellent opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of vaccination, encourage preventative action, and combat the misinformation that can lead people not to get vaccinated.

Vaccination Week is highlighting the importance of being vaccinated at all ages and for all vaccine-preventable diseases, an initiative that can benefit from everyone’s efforts. Indeed, healthcare is a global issue and can only be improved through global solutions with local impact, which is why RC REDOL is also drawing your attention to this very important event: World Vaccination Week.

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