There’s an old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’, and vaccination is one of the most powerful tools for preventing serious health problems. Just as you make sure your loved ones eat healthy food, get enough sleep and enjoy plenty of exercise, you need to make sure they’re all getting regular check-ups and staying up-to-date on their vaccinations.
African Vaccination Week is a time when health professionals strive to raise more awareness of the importance of getting vaccinated. These fast facts on vaccination will give you an idea of just how crucial it is for your family’s health.
What is Vaccination?
Vaccination is the process of getting a vaccine, usually in the form of an injection. A vaccine is a preparation of an inactivated microbe or virus. It works to stimulate your immune system and help your body to recognise specific diseases, so that you can fight off those diseases quickly and effectively.
Vaccination leads to immunisation, which means your body becomes immune to (protected from) various infections and diseases.
Are Vaccines Safe?
Yes! Vaccines are widely recognised as successful and cost-effective preventative treatments. They are designed to protect you and your family from serious (or even deadly) diseases. Every vaccine goes through extensive safety testing before it’s recommended for use.
Vaccination saves between 2 to 3 million lives every year, by protecting young children against measles, diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Some of the newer vaccines available can also immunise children against pneumonia and rotavirus diarrhoea, which are often deadly to little ones under the age of five.
Vaccines play a vital role in protecting the people around you as well, by preventing the spread of infectious diseases from one person to the next.
Can My Family Afford Vaccination?
The South African Department of Health provides free vaccination to all infants and children up to the age of 12 at clinics across the country.
Who Needs Vaccines?
It’s important to be aware that vaccines are not just for children. Some childhood vaccines last for a lifetime, but others can wear off over time, leaving adults at risk for new and different diseases.
Certain vaccines, like whooping cough and tetanus, require a booster every 10 years after the initial childhood vaccination. Whooping cough vaccines are also recommended for pregnant women and people who have contact with young babies.
Adolescents and adults can now also protect themselves from life-threatening diseases, by vaccinating against meningitis, hepatitis B and especially nasty strains of influenza (flu).
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is another important preventative measure for adolescent boys and girls, as it can help to prevent various forms of cancer in the reproductive system.
Speak to your family doctor about which vaccines or boosters you need, to make sure you and your loved ones stay healthy and protected.
The 8th African Vaccination Week. Retrieved from: http://www.african-vaccination-week.afro.who.int/en/
Adult vaccination. Retrieved from: www.adultvaccination.org
Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Retrieved from: www.cdc.gov/hpv/cancer.html
Amayeza Information Centre. Retrieved from: www.amayeza-info.co.za