Mind and Body: Recognizing the importance of immunizations

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control support World and National Infant Immunization Week, which is April 24-30 this year.

This year’s theme is “Protected Together, #Vaccineswork.”

Both organizations want to highlight how vaccines positively affect individuals throughout their lifetime and create a strong global health system (increasingly important as the world becomes more interconnected).

Many goals have been achieved, but continued gaps cannot be forgotten.

Some interesting statistics:

— There was an 84 percent drop in measles deaths between years 2000 and 2016.

— During 2017, more than 116 million infants were vaccinated. The highest number ever.

— Polio cases have decreased by 99 percent since 1988, and only three countries in the world (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) continue to have endemic polio cases.

In the U.S., many people have thankfully forgotten what it is like to know someone affected by polio or measles.

Immunizations are a cost-effective health intervention that prevents 2 million to 3 million deaths every year.

When higher numbers of the population are vaccinated, everyone benefits through what is called herd immunity, a term that refers to when large numbers of the population are vaccinated, the disease incident rate drops significantly, benefiting those who cannot be vaccinated because of age or other contraindications.

New vaccines continue to be developed against dengue fever and malaria.

Vaccines are also serving as a frontline defense against antimicrobial resistance by reducing infections and the need for overprescribing antibiotics.

Vaccines against Hepatitis B and the HPV virus can actually prevent certain types of cancer.

However, battling vaccine-preventable diseases continues to be a struggle as evidenced by recent outbreaks of measles, mumps, chickenpox and pertussis here in the U.S.

Locally, Kentucky has been fighting a hepatitis A outbreak, and in timely fashion, the hepatitis A vaccine is now a required vaccine for children entering school.

The Clark County Health Department provides vaccines for uninsured or underinsured children and children with Medicaid up to age 19. Contact us with any questions you may have about specific immunizations or just immunizations in general at 859-744-4482. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Join us as we celebrate lifesaving immunization programs and look forward to a world without any of these preventable diseases.