World Immunization Day (November 10th)
Homo sapiens are born with a certain degree of immunity which fights against foreign particles right from the first day of birth. Termed as innate immunity, this includes our skin, gut and mucous membrane of the throat that act as the primary sources of defense that start working soon after a baby is born. Physicians too administer the BCG vaccine against tuberculosis within the first 24 hours (mostly) which openly indicates the need for a solid immune system right from birth. All these aside, it generally stands that our immune system grows stronger as we grow up and reach adulthood yet another reason for the decreased cases of sickness among adults compared to babies. Isn’t it common that we see a baby susceptible to cold, fever or diarrhea every now and then and parents rushing to their pediatrician/physician concerned about the infant’s health?
Immunity: The Protective Wall
Born into this world and experiencing the love and affection overpoured on us as newborns is heavenly. Amidst all this, what makes it necessary for the physicians to break these pleasures and present our parents with a long list detailing the immunization schedules? Can’t they be any kinder than poking our sensitive skin and making us throw tantrums on each of our doctor’s visits? Our parents and physicians are handing over the greatest gift in life-uncompromised health in the form of immunization which we don’t understand as babies.
Immunity is the ability to single out the presence of foreign objects in the body that can cause harm and flush them out of the body as soon as possible. Our body’s immune system is comprised of different types of cells, organs, proteins and tissues. When this immune system comes across unwanted foreign objects such as a bacterium, virus or parasite it triggers out an immune response. Immunization is the process of making a person immune/resistant to diseases by vaccinating the person. Vaccines trigger this immune system to protect the person against infection or disease. A new-born baby has a certain degree of immunity acquired from his/her mom through breastfeeding. But as the kid grows up developing an immune system of his/her own this immunity diminishes as breastfeeding stops and immunization is the best cost-effective health investment that requires no major lifestyle modification to compensate for lost immunity.
Immunization currently prevents 2-3 million lives every year in people across age groups from deadly diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and measles and is recognized as the world’s most successful and economic health intervention. On a positive note, more children than ever before are getting vaccinated. Still, around 19.5 million kids under the age of one did not receive DTP 3 vaccine. Increased awareness among people regarding the need for immunization, easy availability of vaccines and affordable rates at government centers have made it possible to almost eradicate polio and decrease measles occurrence rate as much as possible. All these improvements, advancements and eradications have been possible mainly due to days such as the World Immunization Day that promotes the need for vaccination for all citizens worldwide.
These vaccines are quite useful in minimizing antibiotic resistance. That’s because, vaccination minimizes infection attack and in turn intake of antibiotics also decreases. Hence, advancements in immunization in terms of developing new vaccines and using existing vaccines more effectively are great ways to tackle antibiotic resistance. When antibiotic resistance is not curbed it can result in devastating effects details of which are clearly mentioned at www.firsteatright.com.
World Immunization Day
World Immunization Day is celebrated on November 10th every year as a means of making people aware about the need for timely vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases. Even WHO upholds the vitality of immunization declaring it to be a proven cost-effective tool for controlling and eliminating life-threatening diseases.
India is the proud owner of one of the largest Universal Immunization Programs (UIP) in terms of the number of people benefitted from vaccination, number of vaccinations used, localities covered and the human resources involved. Although UIP has been functional for more than 3 decades, only 65% of children are immunized within their first year of birth. To tackle this issue, our Indian Government came up with the Mission Indradhunush program in December 2014 which aims to help kids within two years of age and pregnant women to be fully immunized according to the vaccination schedule.
Immunization rates are increasing but not meeting the targets set by governments worldwide. Campaigns, banners, meetings and camps arranged on this Immunization Day improve awareness and give us hopes on witnessing a brighter future. Routine immunization is required for building a strong health base and also provides our children with the chance of a healthy life from the beginning.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.
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