Immunization saves millions of lives each year and vaccines play a major role. Yet, there are still hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated people.
World Immunization Day, recently celebrated on November 15, aims to make everyone aware about the importance of getting timely vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases.
With the current coronavirus pandemic continuing to affect millions of people around the world, knowledge about vaccines for protection from rapidly spreading infectious diseases is more important than ever. Although a vaccine for COVID-19 is not yet widely available, there are vaccines for many other highly contagious and deadly diseases. And these vaccines are a safe and effective way to save lives, prevent outbreaks, and maintain overall health.
Over the years there has been much confusion about vaccines. Despite any misunderstandings, vaccinations are an important part of worldwide health because they prevent the spread of contagious and dangerous diseases. These include measles, mumps, polio, chickenpox, whooping cough, and diphtheria. While some diseases are mild, like cold viruses, others can cause life-altering changes and result in death, like smallpox.
To fully realize the significance of vaccines, which World Immunization Day strives to do, it is necessary to understand what a vaccine is and how it works. A vaccine or immunization builds people’s natural immunity to a disease before they get sick, and keeps them from getting a disease and spreading it to others. For most vaccines, a weakened form of the disease is injected into people’s body through a shot in the arm or leg so they can produce antibodies to fight against it. These antibodies last a long time and continue to fight off the disease if ever exposed to it again.
Aside from smallpox, all other diseases are still active in some part of the world. If diseases come back. If people stopped getting vaccines, the diseases would come back and there would be epidemics like there were decades ago. For example, it happened in Japan in the 1970s with whooping cough. Despite about two-thirst of Japanese children receiving a vaccination and few cases of the disease in 1974, rumors started claiming that the vaccine was unsafe and not needed. Just two years later, the vaccination rate for whooping cough dropped to about 10% and by 1979 there was an epidemic with more than 13,000 cases. Once vaccination rates improved, the number of cases declined.
During a challenging time like today’s global pandemic, supporting people’s wellness through a healthy immune system is essential. Just as vaccines help with healthy immune systems, so does clean water because it works as an immune system booster and contributes to improved health and overall well-being. Water helps carry oxygen throughout the body, which contributes to a properly functioning system. It also helps remove toxins from the body, which helps prevent them from building up and negatively impacting the immune system. Additionally, small modifications, like adding lemon or drinking tea, can enhance the benefits of water. Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, which helps prevent disease and fight against the common cold. Tea provides antioxidants that can help protect against sickness. Besides drinking, another benefit of clean water is that it can be used to wash away germs that may lead to unwellness.
Both vaccines and clean water are vital to overall health. Getting vaccines to fight off and prevent the spread of dangerous diseases, and drinking clean water to stay hydrated and help ensure the body is functioning optimally are both important and necessary ways for people to maintain a healthy immune system and stay well.
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