All children are entitled to early doses of vaccines in order to improve their body immunity. There are two types of vaccines; active and passive vaccines. Active vaccines provide immunity which is slow to develop but is long lasting for example; vaccines against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps and rubella disease.
Passive vaccines provides instant protection but only lasts a short time, and can cause allergic reactions for example anti-snake venom, hepatitis A gamma globulin. Immunisation from mother to baby is an example of acquiring a natural passive immunity.
Disease prevention is the key to public health. It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it. Vaccines prevent disease in the people who receive them and protect those who come into contact with unvaccinated individuals. Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases and save lives.
The Government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Health has worked hard to safe guard the lives of children through vaccination programmes that prevent diseases.
Vaccines are very effective in preventing death and disabilities due to certain contagious and viral diseases. They minimise expenses and therefore contribute to the social and economic welfare of people.
It is important to understand that a decision to vaccinate is a decision to safeguard and protect individuals and entire communities from contagious diseases. Where immunization programmes are implemented at total community immunity, the likelihood of transmission from an infected person to another is greatly diminished.
Understanding the causes and spread of infection helps in the development of new vaccines. For example; the best mode of preventing and reducing the severity of flu is a timely and regular development, proper disbursement and prompt administration of the influenza vaccine.
The influenza vaccine that is used annually is an inactivated trivalent vaccine. This means that the flu vaccine contains three inactivated flu viruses?one influenza B and two influenza A strains.
Because the currently available permitted vaccines are inactivated vaccines, the flu vaccine is incapable of causing the flu contrary to common misconceptions. The effectiveness and plausibility of the trivalent vaccine depends on the match between the strains of influenza that are circulating and the viruses in the vaccine.
Parents are constantly concerned about the health and safety of their children and take many steps to protect them. These steps range from child proof door latches to child safety seats. In the same way, vaccines work to protect infants, children, and adults from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases.
Vaccine preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor?s visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.
It is true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies got from their mothers. However, the duration of this immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.
If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease germ, they may not be strong enough to fight the disease.
Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but babies are now protected through vaccination.
The only group of children who are not vaccinated are those with medical constraints such leukemia, and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination.
The author is a medical doctor at Rwamagana District Hospital.