Vaccination or inoculation is, by definition, treatment with a vaccine to produce immunity against a disease. Why then, would anyone not want to be immunized against an illness? Of late, however, people have started deciding against protecting their kids from illnesses. The issue is so grave that the World Health Organisation (WHO) even identified it as one of the top ten global health threats that it will address in 2019. WHO has coined it as Vaccine Hesitancy, which is the reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated or have one’s child vaccinated?
What is the anti-vaccination movement: there’s history here
The anti-vaccination movement has a long history, rooted in France in 1763 and unfortunately, continuing through to today when the argument also has political undertones, especially in the US. The movement, which fundamentally goes against the idea of immunization, swelled with discredited theories that blamed vaccines for autism and other diseases. So what reasons do people have for refusing preventative treatment? Why is there a belief that vaccines cause more harm than benefit to the health of the kids who receive them?
Some attribute this demonization of the vaccinations to influential news, entertainment and media outlets like Oprah Winfrey, Jenny McCarthy, who are giving credence to the campaign which believes that vaccines cause many harmful side effects, illnesses, and even death. This is anything but the truth because even if vaccines trigger a side effect, it is rare, minor and temporary, such as a sore arm or mild fever. These can often be controlled by taking paracetamol after vaccination. Some others refrain from vaccination due to religious views. Other reasons for choosing not to vaccinate range from complacency, inconvenience in accessing vaccines, and lack of confidence.
The regression for modern medicine
In a time when people are acknowledging the importance of healthcare and are keen on health insurance plans online, this seems like a step backwards.
Arguably, there is no substitute for the function vaccination is performing – no single preventive health intervention is as action-effective and cost-effective than immunization. It is how India was able to eradicate polio completely – through a nationwide immunization campaign.
WHO attributes the prevention of 2-3 million deaths a year to vaccination, and estimates that a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved.
This anti-vaccination conversation has now triggered a resurgence of diseases we thought were long gone in countries that were so close to completely eliminating the diseases. Measles, for example, has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. In the US for example, CDC announced that we’ve had at least 695 cases this year, the most since 2000, primarily from 3 large outbreaks, one in the state of Washington and two in New York. The true number could be even higher.
The medical world has tried so hard to create immunity through vaccination. With global connectedness, it becomes even more likely that pathogens from one infectious disease might be transmitted and spread rapidly through a population.
The only thing that can protect populations against a rapidly spreading disease is the disease’s resistance created by herd immunity when the majority (at least 96-99%) are immune after vaccinations. What is also to blame is unfettered access to information on the internet. There has been a dramatic shift in the way people consume medical information online, even buying health insurance online, but a lot of medical information is unmonitored/unvetted.
The dissemination of false and misleading information is responsible for many negative consequences, but also includes parents not giving consent to having their children vaccinated. But arguments against vaccination stand no base when pitted against overwhelming scientific consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.
A movement that has zero scientific evidence or legitimacy has become one of the World Health Organization’s top 10 threats to public health. Even if part of the population refuses vaccination, it endangers the entire population who can come in contact with each other – it already brought back measles, a disease everyone, including the WHO was hoping to eradicate. The best action in this scenario is to be equipped to deal with whatever comes to you – and get a Bajaj Allianz Health Insurance plan, available on Finserv MARKETS, to take care of the medical treatment expenses incurred during hospitalization resulting from serious illness or accident. If your health insurance seems to be insufficient in terms of coverage, you can look for additional riders to add to your plan and extend the medical coverage in alignment with your needs. Buy a mediclaim policy online and combat rising medical costs. Health insurance benefits provide you with generous facilities, so make sure you are covered for cashless claims at network hospitals, pre- and post-hospitalization, diagnostic and medical expenses.
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