Vaccination is one of the essential health activities and requirements for all individuals and especially children. It has also become referred to as immunization or inoculation. Vaccination is essentially exposing the individual to a mild strain of a virus or infection as a way to allow for acquiring immunity against that particular virus or infection. Vaccination enables the body to strengthen its defenses against a specific virus or infection by introducing it to the body and allowing the body to create a defense that can get deployed when the virus gets recognized in the future. The body develops specific antibodies or protection against the mild strain of the virus, allowing it to have defenses already in place when the individual acquires the virus through transmission. When the individual gets infected by the virus, the body can recognize the particular virus or infection and recall the defenses it already has in place against the specific infection. These defenses can be replicated and can get into action and ensure that the transmitted infection or virus gets fought and eliminated.
What We’ll Discuss On This Article:
- Infant Immunization
- COVID-19 Pandemic
- Vaccine Trials
- Vaccine Manufacturing
- Vaccine Approval
- Vaccine Distribution
- Vaccine Misinformation
- Accurate Vaccine Information
- Lessons from COVID-19
Vaccination, therefore, is a way to ensure that the body is ready to fight a particular infection by allowing it a test fight, if you may, with the virus and defense. When your body is vaccinated, it can fight the specific disease, as it creates an effective defense that can later be called on and replicated when dealing with the actual infection or virus. Vaccination is encouraged for numerous types of infections and diseases. There are various vaccines out there, and I will name just a few. They include the measles vaccine, polio vaccine, a tetanus shot, chickenpox vaccine, meningitis vaccine, pneumonia vaccine, whooping cough vaccine, hepatitis B vaccine, typhoid vaccine, and rabies vaccine, among others. These ensure that the body has systems and defenses in place to fight the particular infection or disease through fighting and eliminating a mild strain of the virus or disease.
Vaccination is especially important when it comes to toddlers and young children. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all children under the age of 5 get vaccinated. It should get done for protection against numerous diseases such as polio, measles, among others. Such action ensures that the children are protected, and their bodies can effectively fight the infections when they are transmitted to them and infected. Vaccination is probably one of the best health solutions that ever got discovered. Vaccines promote health by teaching the immune system to recognize and fight infections that cause diseases. Health experts correlate it to anti-malware software in that it tackles the problem before it even takes root. Such in-time protection ensures that vaccinated individuals never have to suffer the ravages of diseases that have existent and approved vaccinations.
In the current pandemic, COVID-19, there is yet to be a developed and approved vaccine meaning that, at the moment, there is no effective vaccination agent that can get deployed to ensure protection even before infection. It means that we have to wait for a vaccine to become developed and tested adequately to allow for its approval. When approved, it can then be disbursed to all nations all over the world as a way to prevent populations and individuals from getting the virus. The entire process of vaccine development from the onset to completion is lengthy and usually takes a decade or more, i.e., ten years or more from start to approval and use. Some viruses and diseases do not have vaccines available yet, including HIV/AIDS. The world’s experts in vaccine development have only developed a vaccine in the shortest time of four years. As such, it is quite a lengthy and vigorous process. Vaccines have first to get developed through the deployment of various techniques such as blocking the cellular openings of the virus cells to make it harmless or essentially killing its cells through multiple agents, among other methods.
Once a promising technique and vaccine get seen to destroy vaccine cells or render them harmless in the lab, the vaccine goes into animal trials. Here it is tried in rats or monkeys and other test animals. They get infected with the virus, and the vaccine under examination gets administered. Their vitals get monitored, and this allows scientists to collect data on the effectiveness of the vaccine and its side-effects. When the tests are successful, and the vaccine gets proven to have no adverse side effects, it may become approved for another round of animal trials, or even the first round of human trials. Human trials are complicated and dangerous. The only vaccines that get to this stage are those that are the most effective or those that are effective and with little to no adverse side-effects.
Human trials are phased and can be in three phases, as can the entire vaccine trial process. Human trials call for volunteers who are infected with a mild strain of the infection or virus and then given the vaccine. They get monitored, and their vitals screened over the entire process. Such action ensures that accurate, sufficient, and dependable real-world data gets collected on the effectiveness of the vaccine against a particular infection or virus. It should get noted that diseases have numerous and distinguished causes, and those caused by a virus are different from those caused by bacteria, and so on. There is the need, therefore, for a vaccine to be particular in its targeting of a specific virus strain.
Moreover, viruses can be in families where the coronavirus is a family of viruses, for instance. It means that the SARS-COV-2 virus and strain that causes COVID-19 is different from the SARS-COV virus of 2003. Additionally, that even as particular viruses and their strains are related, they are very different in the various way they interact with the body and also with vaccines. For instance, the current Cov-2 virus is different in structure to the previous one in that its cells have numerous cellular spikes, as I am sure you have seen in depictions of COVID-19.
Vaccine manufacturers have to be very specific in their targeting of viruses or infections, and they cannot assume that since viruses are similar, the same medications or vaccines will be effective. To explain this, let me use vehicles. If you own a Subaru Impreza and the next person owns a Subaru Outback from a previous year, it would not be wise to assume that the vehicles will have similar parts or specifications. The point is that they may both be Subarus but very different. The same holds for a recent model of the Impreza and one from half a decade ago. They may have the same brand or family and, in the case of viruses, cause, but be very different in specification and characteristics. Such difference complicates the process of vaccine production, and a lot goes into developing vaccines. There is a lot of investment also that is required to produce an effective vaccine. When a vaccine becomes urgently needed as in the current pandemic and ensuing lockdown, even more investment is required. Trying to manufacture a vaccine in several months is like trying to build a rocket in the same period. It takes a lot of work to get a vaccine just to animal trials, leave alone human trials, and approval.
As you can imagine, when a company successfully develops a vaccine, it can be like winning the lottery. Depending on the infection or virus, the company would become set to benefit for a while. Benefits would get enjoyed until a better and more effective vaccine is produced, or when other vaccines get produced, that have fewer side effects. Numerous vaccines and even medications have gotten disapproved or disqualified when it comes to treating diseases due to their adverse side-effects. A good example is Hydroxychloroquine. It got excluded as a blanket treatment for COVID-19, as in some instances, its side-effects included fatality and were fatal. Its use is, therefore, not approved for all cases. A promising drug is Remdesivir but has also not become proven to be effective in all cases. I am not a medical doctor, and I cannot advise one to take or not take any medication. If you suspect you are suffering COVID-19, please call your local health center for assistance and instructions. It became advised that you should call before availing yourself to ensure that you do not infect others on your way there, or when you get there and are waiting to get served. Please observe a social distance of 2 meters, wear a facemask covering your mouth and nose, cough or sneeze into your elbow, and sanitize your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
Companies that are developing the vaccine for COVID-19 have been called upon to not be too keen on profiteering. As the situation is an emergency, and not all nations would afford to buy enough stocks for their populations, the vaccine should get provided at a reasonable price. Governments are also encouraged not to be too selfish and buy-out vaccine stocks. The vaccine effort and supply should be unified and considerate of the infection rates of various places or regions. Local, regional, governmental, and non-governmental health agencies should find an excellent middle-point to ensure that vaccines get to where they are needed, as soon as possible, to save as many lives as possible.
Unfortunately, even before COVID-19 emerged, there was a lot of misinformation when it comes to vaccination and whether vaccines are effective and safe. As such, you must always get your information from the right sources. These sources include the WHO and similar recognized entities and groups. The WHO has adequately covered the topic of immunization as in WHO Immunization . Vaccination is effective and proven as a shield against infectious or communicable diseases. When a condition such as measles that has an approved vaccine gets transmitted to a vaccinated individual, they will not catch the disease and will remain protected. Protection can only become guaranteed if immunization gets done as per the set guidelines. Some vaccines are single-dose, and one would only need to be vaccinated once. Others are double dose, and the individual needs to get immunized twice, i.e., The first time for the first dose and the second time to get the second dose. When it comes to tetanus, the immunization can include up to 5 doses. The period between each dose and the number of doses are different for each vaccine and disease, and this is information that can get sourced from your local health institution. There is also a notion that individuals can become protected through herd immunity. Herd immunity occurs when a significant part of the population has developed resistance against a virus or infection. It got cited that such immunity would mean that the transmission of the virus would become inhibited. Herd immunity suggests that due to prior infection or vaccination of a majority of the population, the virus has nowhere to go, i.e., it cannot spread as most people are already protected.
Misinformation is dangerous. Some people have lost their lives due to diseases that can be vaccinated, such as measles, out of misinformation. Vaccines are not harmful, and they prevent disease. It is so wrong that some parents can even endanger the health of their toddlers or young children by failing to take them for vaccination. As long as a vaccine is approved by the relevant authorities and recognized by international bodies as effective and safe, it can get used to prevent a particular disease. Please avoid sourcing information on such critical matters from social media. If it relates to health, please consult your local health administration. Government hospitals and clinics will have leaflets and pamphlets on such information and will explain to you how various vaccines work, their dosage, and the frequency of immunization. Do not endanger your life or that of your child by failing to be vaccinated or by disallowing vaccination.
Vaccines are not only for children and can get used for the entire population. If you are an adult and have never gotten vaccinated for measles, for instance, please ensure that you get vaccinated. Recently, there have been outbreaks of diseases such as measles, as more and more people are failing to get vaccinated or vaccinate their children. Even when a vaccine gets approved for COVID-19, please ensure that you get vaccinated. Remember that for a vaccine to be approved, it has to get tested thoroughly, its side effects analyzed, approved by the FDA, for example, and then manufactured and distributed. As it is, there is currently no approved virus for Coronavirus. When an effective one is available, it will get approved. I am sure that the WHO and other global health stakeholders will endorse and recommend vaccines that prove effective. Be wary of rogue vaccines. When there is doubt on a vaccine, and the WHO has not recognized it, please wait and ensure that it gets approved as safe and effective. Again, I am not a doctor, and these are only my recommendations. Contact your local health office for more information on COVID-19 and what to do about it.
Vaccination could be the only resolution we have to the current pandemic and ensuing lockdown. As we undergo COVID-19 and its adverse effects even on our economies, let us learn from the various occurrences. For instance, face masks, in my view, are here to stay as we also deal with climate change and the air pollution it has caused. As such, let us familiarize ourselves with taking certain precautions such as using face masks and hand sanitizers. These will also be crucial in preventing future pandemics.
Moreover, ensuring that we adhere to recommendations such as staying home when possible, will be essential to how soon and effectively we can limit the spread of any other viruses or pandemics that will occur in the future. When it comes to epidemics, transmissible or communicable diseases, time is of the essence. The sooner we take the necessary measures, the more protected we willbe.
Let us pray and engage in prayer for those we have lost so far, and wish a speedy recovery to those who have caught the virus. The pandemic could still enter another phase or even other phases, and our consistency in prevention will be the determinant factor. Please stay safe. Stay at home and stay-in when possible. Avoid crowds, wear your facemask, and sanitize your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer. It is human nature sometimes to take issues lightly, but we all must exercise caution. Let us not let culture, religion,religiosity, misinformation, politics or other factors inhibit vaccination or how well we protect ourselves and those around us. Vaccines work and are safe when approved by the relevant local, regional, and international authorities. When a vaccine gets approved across the board, then it is safe and effective. The events of the last few months have shown our inner beauty , bravery, and innovation as we have done our best to protect ourselves and others. Please let us maintain the same.