Despite the proven advantages of immunisation, many people still shy away from vaccines and needles, overlooking the simple fact that they are far more likely to be seriously injured by a vaccine-preventable disease than by a vaccine itself. Moreover, the present scenario in India suggests that there is also a significant lack of awareness in the country regarding full immunisation and its numerous benefits. So to begin with, we would like to define ‘immunisation’ for you in simple words because it can save a lot of lives and prevent serious diseases.
What is immunisation?
Immunisation is the process whereby a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system to protect the person against subsequent infection or disease.
Now that you are aware of what immunisation actually is, you need to understand why you should say yes to vaccines and what good does immunisation do.
Immunisation is a proven tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening infectious diseases and is estimated to avert between 2 and 3 million deaths each year. It is one of the most cost-effective health investments with proven strategies that make it accessible to even the most hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations. It has clearly defined target groups; it can be delivered effectively through outreach activities; and vaccination does not require any major lifestyle change.
How does immunisation help?
- Immunisation protects against 25 different infectious agents or diseases including diphtheria, measles, pertussis, polio and tetanus.
- Immunisation prevents illness, disability and death from vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Vaccines interact with the immune system to produce a response similar to that produced by the natural infection, but they do not cause the disease or put the immunised person at risk of its potential complications.
- Modern vaccines are 90% effective in protecting against disease.
However, absolute immunisation is a distant reality even today. Let’s talk about some obstacles faced by health organisations in their efforts to make immunisation a regular and widespread practice.
What are the challenges faced?
- Lack of basic awareness regarding immunisation and on-going programs related to it.
- Lack of wider implementation of currently available vaccines against major diseases.
- Lack of area-wise data in medical records.
- Lack of community involvement and engagement in activities related to immunisation in both urban and rural areas.
- Lack of access to immunisation services in marginalised locations.
With a plethora of threatening diseases taking a toll of countless lives around the world every day, there is indeed a case for making immunisation mandatory in the present scenario. The phrase ‘prevention is better than cure’ might be a popular one, but do we really practice this advisable approach when it comes to our life? It is high time we did.