Immunization 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.
Immunization has impacted our relationship with disease on a massive scale. Smallpox was completely eradicated. Millions of children are saved from measles, mumps, tetanus and countless other diseases. we avert 2 to 3 million deaths annually by immunizing children.
We got really good at controlling diseases through immunization- diseases that were fatal on a large scale, and now people think that vaccination is no longer necessary. Every time I hear about the anti-vaxxer movement, I shake my head and mumble in alarm. Children are dying all over the world, dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.
In 2014, an estimated 18.7 million infants worldwide were not reached with routine immunization services such as DTP3 vaccine. More than 60% of these children live in 10 countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan, the Philippines, Uganda and South Africa.
Those in affluent countries that have benefited from several years of immunization programs have forgotten the danger that lurks.
The relative freedom of wealthy societies from fatal infections has been won through great struggles, which are all too easily forgotten. As generations grow up without the experience of losing friends and relatives through infection, so the balance of perceived risk and benefit looks different. So now, in addition to the old threats which are ever present, we constantly face pressure to drop or modify measures such as public immunization.
– Medical Microbiology: A Guide to Microbial Infections: Pathogenesis, Immunity, Laboratory Diagnosis and Control.
We still need immunization, children and adults alike. If you think your children don’t need their shots or that vaccines cause autism (which they certainly do not), please have a rethink. We were fortunate enough to have great minds discover a means of preventing diseases. Let us not let their work be in vain.