Vaccines: A gift for entire life.
Worldwide, million children are affected each year by infections such as measles, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B and many other diseases. There are vaccines for these infections in the more developed countries make us forget its importance. However, in poor countries is not possible to afford these vaccines, which affect dramatically in infant mortality.
In recent years, many initiatives have been developed to expand the coverage of vaccines. It has managed to halve infant mortality of 12 million deaths per year in 1990 to 6,000,000 in 2015 according to the World Health Organization . Nowadays, there is no health intervention to reach many children and with a superior efficacy than vaccines, although much remains to be done.
Vaccines are not only impact on health. They lead to a long-term improvement in children’s education, in order to attend school for longer and with better performance. This allows parents to work rather than stay home with their children spending their money on such care, with consequent improvements in household economy and the country that this entails. In fact, it is estimated that an increase of 5 years in life expectancy represents an increase of 0.5 % annual GDP per capita. Therefore, immunization with vaccines impacts not only on the individual, but on the economy as a whole.
However, in recent years it has appeared especially in rich countries “anti-vaccine groups". While the vast majority of the population recognizes that vaccines are beneficial, as the scientific evidence affirm, there are lots of "pseudo-scientific" blogs that encourage the rejection of vaccines.
Thanks to the universal vaccination, in Spain have declined or practically eradicated many of the diseases which we are vaccinated for. These are some examples: Smallpox, polio, neonatal tetanus, measles, rubella or diphtheria. However, many of these diseases are prevalent in other countries and, as a result, travelers which are coming from these countries can reintroduce the disease in these places. The fact that a high percentage of the population is vaccinated acts as a protective barrier, because it helps not to spread the disease by not finding individuals who become infected. This barrier protects the entire society , including those who, by presenting certain diseases or allergies, can not be vaccinated and have an increased risk of severe infection. If children were not get vaccinated, it would resurface diseases by facilitating its spread.
Another argument used by the anti-vaccine groups is that most children which suffer diseases are vaccinated. Since vaccines are not 100 % effective and vaccination coverage in our country reaches 99 % of the child population, it is likely that cases of disease occur in vaccinated children. However, if the percentage of vaccinated children were lower it would be different.
Regarding side effects of vaccines, there is a great mythology developed by anti-vaccinia groups, as the ratio of MMR with autism or HPV’s vaccine with neurological symptoms. In both cases, it has been shown that the frequency of autism or alterations in the nervous system is even lower in vaccinated individuals than unvaccinated people.
Moreover, in the case of autism, there were commercial interests after the publication of an article signed by Andrew Wakefield that was published in The Lancet, based on false information that led the author to be sanctioned by the medical community.
Vaccines, together with the water purification and sewerage systems are public health interventions that have reported the greatest benefits to mankind. Therefore, everything we do in the first thousand days of the child's life from conception to 3 years, will has a severe impact for the rest of his life. Follow the vaccination schedule set by the Public Administration and consult your pediatrician if in case of doubt, remain to be effective ways to protect your baby, giving him a gift for life.