Why This Year’s Immunization Week Counts The Most

A person sitting with their sleeve rolled up waiting to receive a vaccineWritten by: Shaowda Salehin 

Photo by: Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

International Immunization Week is celebrated every year in wake of how important it is for people to be vaccinated against harmful and sometimes deadly diseases and viruses. This year, the week holds a whole new meaning for the world because we are living through the greatest medical threat humans have faced in our time on the planet, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the toughest and most expansive virus to affect us yet. 

Immunization Week was first observed as part of WHO (World Health Organization) in 2012 as a way to encourage countries and populations to believe in the power of vaccines. The first vaccine ever created was for the deadly disease of smallpox by an English doctor, Edward Jenner, in 1796- this disease was so harmful that it killed almost 500 million people by the 20th century from when it first occurred in the early 16th century. It is incredible how we have been able to eradicate this painful and fatal infection. Louis Pasteur, 1822-1895, continued the research on vaccines that lead to further discoveries of immunization against animal transmitted diseases like Rabies. We have been successfully using vaccines for the past two centuries to save millions of lives and prevent pain for millions more- it is truly almost like magic how we are able to remove deadly threats against humanity for the furthering of our species. Immunization is especially important for children against diseases like measles and polio that can result in devastating early childhood deaths, loss of limbs, and other health deteriorations. There are laws set in place at Canadian schools in which children must present their immunization records to show that they are vaccinated against multiple viruses and diseases so that there is no chance of spreading in others. Vaccination is a critical measure taken to eradicate diseases that would otherwise destroy massive populations and it is essential that we all understand the gravity and necessity of being immunized. 

Vaccines are available to us readily in first-world countries but some other countries in South Asia, parts of Africa, and the Middle East do not have the same privilege as we do. World Vaccination week helps the WHO reach out to other organizations and governments around the world in hopes of promoting vaccination and inspiring populations to be properly vaccinated. There has been a growing fear and neglect of vaccines that has been proven to be scientifically inaccurate, vaccinations reduce deaths at much greater rates than them causing adverse effects. In reality, vaccines pose only the danger of allergic reactions or the triggering of underlying conditions in the patient. Every individual is different and depending on their health, they should consider all the effects of the vaccine before taking it. However, taking precaution does not mean that “anti-vaxxers” are correct, there are at most times no correlation between a vaccine and the onset of illnesses like Autism, which was of great discussion in the UK in the late ’90s. There has been more discussion in the past of vaccinations being unethical and preventing God’s intention. These radical notions have created a great deficit in the health of populations all around the world and the misinterpreting of false information has led to unreasonable fear against vaccinations. Universities and research facilities try their best to correct the mass population, but in the end it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that certain vaccinations are mandated so that people do not unknowingly or mistakenly harm themselves and their families. Vaccinations are also essential in protecting the health of future generations, ensuring that you do not pass on a harmful disease to your child- for the sake of the future, vaccination is essential. 

The COVID-19 vaccine is now accessible to Canadians and health officials are working tirelessly to ensure that we all feel safe receiving the vaccine. As this year’s Immunization Week approaches, I hope that everyone around the world will do their part in stopping the spread of the disease that has stopped the world on its axis. If not for us, I would like to leave a much safer and durable Earth for our children and future generations.

 A vaccine works by putting the inactive and non-harmful proteins and other genetic material from the virus into the individual so that they can develop an immunity to it. There are several vaccines available to fight against COVID-19, like Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen. There has been some debate as to whether a batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine was responsible for blood clotting in some persons administered in parts of Europe, causing unfortunate deaths. But there has been no evident research and neither has the vaccine stopped its production, so the idea is that it was that particular set of vaccines that may have increased the clotting in patients. Since all the vaccines are relatively new and research is still ongoing, it is crucial that we thoroughly understand the vaccine as well as COVID-19’s ever-changing strains. I recently was vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine along with all members of my household - we were highly impressed with the efficiency of the health clinic as well as the thorough before and after checkups during vaccinations. We were asked for any medical history that would be important for vaccination purposes such as allergies and previous reactions to vaccines- we were also told to wait at the clinic for 15 minutes under the care of nurses so that if any adverse reaction were to occur, we would be immediately taken care of. The vaccine provides protection against the virus to the 99th percentile, with only a 0.5% chance of contracting the virus after the delegated two doses. However, these stats are changing constantly depending on the efficacy of the vaccine against different strains. The vaccine is added protection against the virus but nothing is totally and fully guaranteed yet and we won’t know the outcome until we’ve reached the end in which everyone is vaccinated. 

Vaccines have continued to shield us from unimaginable loss of life and Immunization Week is a stark reminder of the power we have to fight. Stay hopeful Western, we have science on our side and we will be able to defeat this monstrous infection like we have before with other viruses. We have to work together as mankind, supporting our doctors and following the health guidelines to be vaccinated if appropriate for us. This is the most prevalent Immunization Week since it first started - I will be spending this week encouraging mass vaccination and donating to any organization requiring aid in vaccinating the less fortunate! Please do your part and be vaccinated. 

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