As Filipinos continue to get inoculated against the COVID-19 virus, it’s important to also pay attention to other vaccines that contribute to a person’s wellbeing. National Immunization Awareness Month is celebrated every August to emphasize the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.
This is especially true for children, who are more vulnerable to diseases because of their underdeveloped immune systems. When they are vaccinated, they develop infection-fighting antibodies that protect them from many diseases as they grow up. It also contributes to herd immunity, which prevents the spread of diseases, even for those who are not vaccinated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), routine vaccinations during childhood help prevent 14 diseases. For children born from 1994 to 2018, it will inhibit an estimated 936,000 early deaths, eight million hospitalizations, and 419 million illnesses.
Below are just some of the diseases that vaccinations can stop:
Pneumonia. Pneumonia is a lung infection caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Inflammation in the air sacs in the lungs, called alveoli, causes it to fill with fluid or pus, resulting in breathing difficulty. Most people recover from pneumonia but some cases can be fatal.
Flu. The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory illness caused by viruses. It infects the nose, throat, and even the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, with symptoms ranging from a cough to a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Some cases include a fever, while children may also be exposed to vomiting and diarrhea. The CDC says that the first step to prevent this disease is an annual flu vaccine.
Measles. Measles is a viral infection that affects children. This is marked by fever, dry cough, runny nose, sore throat, inflamed eyes or conjunctivitis, and a skin rash. Vaccines are recommended to prevent measles, with doctors usually giving the first dose at 12 to 15 months.
Mumps. Mumps is caused by paramyxovirus that involves pain, tenderness, and swelling in the parotid salivary glands in the cheek and jaw area. It is a contagious disease that can be transmitted through direct contact, saliva, or droplets from an infected person. According to CDC, vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease. It is usually included in the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine combination administered during the 12 to 15 months. A second dose is also advised when a child reaches four to six years old. Mumps can still appear on fully vaccinated individuals but they are less likely to have severe complications.
German Measles. German Measles, also known as rubella, is a viral infection that can spread from one person to another through direct contact or droplets from an infected person. It is a highly contagious disease common in children ages five to nine years old. It is recommended for children between 12 to 15 months old to get the rubella vaccine to prevent the disease. Children are also advised to get a booster shot when they reach four to six years old.
Polio. Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a potentially fatal disease caused by the poliovirus. This illness gives flu-like symptoms including sore throat, fever, tiredness, and nausea. More serious cases affect the brain and spinal cord and lead to paralysis. The polio vaccine is recognized to protect children, with the CDC noting that 99 kids out of 100 who have been inoculated will be shielded from this disease.
Hepatitis. This is an inflammatory condition of the liver caused by a viral infection due to contaminated food and water or direct contact with infected blood. There are five types of hepatitis: A is an acute, short-term disease, while B, C, D, and E can be chronic.
Chickenpox. Chickenpox is a disease caused by a virus. It results in an itchy blister-like rash that spreads over the entire body. The disease can be life-threatening and highly contagious. According to the CDC, up to 90% of the people surrounding someone who has it will become infected if they are not immune. Two doses of the vaccine are more than 90% effective in preventing chickenpox.
Vaccines normally come with side effects that can be reduced with medication. One common side effect is fever. Children who experience fever after vaccination can rely on Paracetamol Calpol for Kids.