GOHIL: Let’s educate one another on gains of immunisation
5 months ago, 26 Apr 18:30
This week as we observe World Immunisation Week themed ‘Vaccines work, Do your part’, we highlight the collective action needed to ensure that every person is protected from vaccine-preventable diseases yet many of us may not be familiar with the importance of being immunised against infectious diseases that can be fatal.
Immunisation is providing protection against an infectious disease by introducing to the body a preventive antigen or immunogen, in the form of a vaccine which is either the killed or altered form of the bacteria or virus.
This vaccine is responsible for ensuring the body produces the fighting mechanism, that is antibodies protecting against subsequent exposure to the disease or infection.
The diseases caused by these viruses and bacteria have not been eradicated, they still exist, and in this era, where a person can travel across the globe in a day, the risks of exposure and transmission is much higher than anticipated.
The Ministry of Health since 1980s, through the Kenya Expanded Programme on Immunisation (KEPI), has enabled the country to immunise children and antenatal women to curb six childhood diseases: TB, Whooping cough, Tetanus, Polio, Measles, and Diphtheria.
This is a crucial step to ensure our nation has healthy individuals and prevent the economic and social losses due to the vaccine-preventable diseases.
Immunisation has a significant impact on the well-being of an entire family and the country at large. When a person of the household is infected, chances of passing the infection unknowingly to other family members is very high especially children including neighbours.
In addition to the above, there are additional vaccines that protect against diseases like Rota Virus that causes diarrhoea and the Flu vaccine that protects against influenza which is highly recommended for the elderly and children.
During the 2017 National Immunisation Stakeholders Meeting by the Ministry of Health, it was indicated that eight out of every ten children are fully vaccinated before their first birthday.
The Ministry, Unicef, The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI), USAID, WHO and Clinton Health Access initiative (CHAI) are working to ensure that every child is immunised especially in the urban informal settlements. Each one of us, can make a difference, by educating one another and encouraging each other to prevent loss of lives by achieving universal immunisation.
Vulnerable individuals such as people living with HIV/AIDS, or cancer patients, whose immune system is compromised, can significantly benefit from these vaccinations.
Immunisation is essential for infants and the elderly as they are at higher risk of serious infections, however, vaccine-preventable diseases can affect anyone and, therefore, it is crucial to stay protected.
Just like eating healthy food and doing regular exercise, on vaccination, ‘prevention is better than cure’.
Jaimini Gohil, Chief Pharmacist, Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi
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