Get immunized or hospitalized, your choice!
So! It took the great Big B to campaign against Polio and now India is literally Polio free. But that’s just one disease. What about children still being hospitalized for FLU, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, meningitis? What about adults and elderly who cough up to death? Who to blame? People or doctors!
People are admitted to hospitals for FLU, pneumonia, shingles, diphtheria, meningitis! They refuse to get the vaccine and then agree to spend hundreds of thousands in hospitals. Even after this, there is no guarantee of survival depending on how severe the condition and the complications! In most cases, people are responsible for this adamant behavior but in some cases, people aren’t even educated by their healthcare providers. They don’t know that one shot can prevent the suffering, hospitalization and even death.
An article published by NIH states that Pneumococcal disease is like a burden and it’s prevention is urgent. There is a lot of cost and stress associated with pneumonia. And if not controlled, can infect the patient’s family members.
Almost everyone (including me) got chicken pox in their childhoods. Guess what! They are all susceptible to get Shingles, a painful condition which affects eyes, face or even other parts of the body. Most of these diseases cause enormous pain, trauma, hospitalizations and even deaths. Not only patients are affected, but since they are contagious, family members can get sick too! It’s so important to get adults vaccinated with Tdap in households where a baby is going to be born because infants do not get this vaccine till 2 months after birth.
Initiative from healthcare providers
In India, education and awareness are a big opportunity. This is where primary care or family doctors must play a vital role. In India, the concept of annual check up almost doesn’t exist. So there is nothing like wellness visit where doctors can offer them the vaccines. Patients visit the doctors only when they get sick….period! And that’s why a mass campaigning about primary care and immunization is a must in India. Meanwhile, the doctors or healthcare providers must take it to themselves to educate every sick patient that comes to see them.
India and the world
Unlike people in countries like US, people of India are not aware of vaccines to prevent several diseases. Rural or urban, the ideology of prevention is not as prevalent as in other countries. As a matter of fact, India is behind Bangladesh or China in this aspect. So it’s not about being Western or Eastern, it’s all about prioritizing. As we all saw, when India prioritized eradicating Polio, they were successful. They need to figure out how to educate masses on immunizations.There are countries that create so much awareness and educate the masses about preventing something like HPV infections which are so dreadful in growing adolescents. There is so much research going on to create vaccines for conditions like HIV, cancer and even diabetes! So there is a lot of opportunity for India to cope up with developed nations in this aspect. India, being an emerging global leader, must develop strategy towards Prevention of communicable diseases.
In US, access to vaccines has dramatically improved since the retail pharmacy giants like Walgreens got themselves in the business of Immunization. FLU shots are offered as early as August till end of FLU season and other vaccines are offered all year around. So, millions of people are vaccinated everyday with one or the other vaccine. There are a lot of government clinics where people can get their shots for free.
Myths and Barriers….hmm
Many myths and barriers around immunizations:
1) Vaccines don’t work- Trying to defy science
2) Vaccines are not safe- Rumors
3) Vaccines cause bowel disease – https://www.ibms.org/resources/news/vaccine-preventable-diseases-on-the-rise/- This claim was debunked by the scientific community
4) Vaccines cause Autism- Vaccine Autism Scandal from decades ago
5) Vaccines can actually make someone sick- How? On the contrary, vaccines activate your immune system to store immunity and use it when needed.
6) Religious barriers- No comments!
Because of all these myths and barriers, a lot a anti-vaxxers started propagandizing against vaccines. Hence, there has been a significant rise in preventable diseases lately. The WHO has reported that the number of measles cases reported in the first three months of 2019 has quadrupled in comparison to cases reported at the same time in 2018, with the Ukraine, India and Madagascar being the worst affected.
So, to sum up, do not be a anti-vaxxer. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist and get your shots today!
“The ideal thing would be to have a 100 percent effective AIDS vaccine. And to have broad usage of that vaccine. That would literally break the epidemic.”- Bill Gates