Vaccines are safe and effective and save lives. The Spanish Society of Pediatric Primary Care (AEPap) highlights a decalogue under the slogan “Vaccinate, Protect” why children should be vaccinated and vaccinated against viruses and bacteria that can cause serious diseases.
- They protect our health: vaccines protect against some viruses and bacteria that cause serious and life-threatening diseases. They activate our defenses and help us defend ourselves against microorganisms.
- They save lives: children and adults continue to die today from diseases that could be prevented with vaccines, such as polio, tetanus, meningitis, diphtheria, whooping cough. Undoubtedly, vaccination and water purification have been the public health interventions that have saved the most lives throughout history, and continue to do so.
- They can control and eliminate diseases: with the coordinated effort between many countries it is possible to eradicate them forever. An example is smallpox , which was definitively eradicated in 1978, after having produced up to 5 million annual deaths. The polio is close to disappearing, and other diseases (diphtheria, tetanus, measles, etc.) have greatly diminished.
4. They prevent some types of cancer and degenerative diseases: the hepatitis B vaccine has been shown to prevent cirrhosis and liver cancer, and the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, cervical cancer. The measles vaccine, meanwhile, prevents neurodegenerative diseases.
- Vaccination is not just a “child thing”: children and adolescents and adults should be vaccinated at any age; both healthy population throughout life and people who, due to their health situation, may have more risks. And in some special situations (pregnant women, international trips, certain professions, etc.)
- They are in solidarity: in addition to protecting oneself, they protect others, our contacts. They prevent the transmission of the disease and have a protective effect on other unvaccinated or poorly defended people: this is known as “group immunity”.
- They are safe and effective: there are many false myths about vaccines, as they are among the safest products used in medicine and are only approved after having been subjected to rigorous controls and studies. Any vaccine can cause some adverse effect, but most of them are benign, transitory and easily controllable. Furthermore, there are very few real contraindications to vaccines.
- They are a basic right: there is no reason for a child to die or suffer serious consequences from a vaccine-preventable disease. In Spain, the National Health System (SNS) provides free of charge most of the necessary vaccines for all children, depending on their age. The decision to vaccinate a minor is up to their parents or guardians, but “we must not deny children this right.”
- They are part of a healthy lifestyle: vaccines are as important as diet and physical exercise to stay healthy.
- Vaccination advice: it is necessary to find out about the recommended vaccination schedule and go to the health center on the scheduled dates. At that time, the vaccination card or book must be carried so that the vaccines given are noted. You should also consult your pediatrician or nurse if you have questions, and do so in advance if you intend to travel abroad.