The importance of Childhood Vaccinations

There cannot be a better time to understand the importance of vaccination than the current time where the whole world is battling with the  Covid-19 pandemic.  Everyone is looking forward to the development of a vaccine against this killer virus.  I am certain science will oblige us and we will have  a vaccine for coronavirus soon but, for now,  just forget about coronavirus and focus on those many diseases that were prevalent 100 years ago and used to cause serious disability or death in children and adults.  Most people are familiar with polio causing paralysis but not many people know that the skin disease, measles, can cause a fatal encephalitis (brain infection) or the chest disease, tuberculosis, can cause a fatal intestinal infection or even meningitis. 

The first vaccine may have been developed in the 18th century but it was the 20th century where we saw massive development in vaccinations.  The development of vaccines to protect against infectious diseases is one of the most significant achievements in both medicine and public health. Vaccines have prevented literally millions of deaths – the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates at least ten million globally between 2010 and 2015 – and spared countless others from getting sick.

The top two public health achievements in the 20th century have been the introduction of vaccinations and car seat belts.  The fact we can protect individuals and communities against some of the deadliest diseases by a simple and safe injection is one of the miracles of modern medicine.    We now rarely see diseases such as polio, measles and mumps in the developed world, thanks to the effectiveness of vaccines.  One disease, smallpox, has been completely eradicated from the world due to effective immunisation.   The other diseases still exist, though, in much smaller numbers.  In order to stay protected from them it is very important that we vaccinate our children as per the national immunisation plan of the country we live in.  Any lapse in vaccination can result in disease reemergence as we have seen with measles recently.  As per WHO data, worldwide more than 140,000 people died from measles in 2018.  Most of them were children under five years of age.  This is a sad situation and we must work hard to convey the message that vaccination against common childhood diseases is vital and very important.  A small number of parents who do not believe in vaccination should know that remaining unvaccinated in a predominantly vaccine-protected community exposes their children to the most severe possible outcomes for many preventable diseases.

More or less, vaccination schedules in most countries are similar but there can be minor differences.  In the UAE, the Ministry of Health has devised a comprehensive vaccination plan for children that begins at birth and we strongly recommend all parents should fully comply with this plan.  In addition, doctors in Dubai may also recommend some additional vaccines for your child.  Dubai has a multicultural population and doctors have to keep in mind need for additional vaccines depending upon your country of origin and your travel needs.  So, in summary, remember the old saying, ‘prevention is better than cure’ and strictly believe in it by vaccinating your children on time as per the local immunisation schedule.  Remember these five important reasons to vaccinate your child

  • Immunisations can save your child’s life
  • Vaccination is very safe and effective
  • Immunisation protects others you care about
  • Immunisations can save your family time and money
  • Immunisation protects future generations