Immunization is a public health initiative that's taken across the world. Every year immunization helps to avert a number of diseases such as tetanus, measles, and diphtheria etc. The World Immunization Week celebrated on the last week of April, is a global drive towards raising awareness about immunization and decreases the rate of diseases, that can be prevented through vaccines. Before we delve into further details, let's find out what is immunization.
What is immunization?
Immunization is the process of making a person immune to a disease by injecting a vaccine into his body, containing the germ of that particular disease. It uses your body's natural defense mechanism, your immune system, to develop resistance to certain diseases. If the immunized person gets in contact with the disease (for which the person has taken a vaccine), then his/her body gets protection against the disease. You can get immunized in any diagnostic centre or diagnostic labs in your area.
Here are a few facts about immunization:
1. Every year, immunization prevents about 2 to 3 million deaths from diseases such as a whooping cough or pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, and measles. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this number can be improved, and an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided by expanding the global vaccination coverage. The WHO further adds that for the past few years, under the global vaccine coverage initiative, the number of children who received vaccines, has remained steady.
2. According to the WHO, in 2015, about 116 million (about 86%) of infants all over the world received three doses of the DTP3 (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis) vaccine. These infectious diseases cause serious illness and disability in children and also leads to death. By 2015, about 126 countries worldwide reached about 90% coverage of the DTP3 vaccine.
3. In the same year, about 19.4 million infants worldwide didn't receive the routine immunization services such as a DTP3 vaccine. About 60% of these children were from countries such as Angola, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, India, Indonesia, Ukraine, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Pakistan.
4. There is another method to receive immunization, i.e, through Active immunization. It occurs naturally. In active immunization, a person is affected by the microbe, and as a result, the immune system of that person will create antibodies to fight against the disease. The person becomes automatically immune to the disease as his/her body has now recognized it and can fight further attacks. Many times, active immunization can be administered artificially by injecting the pre-treated microbes into a person's body.
5. You can also receive immunization through Passive immunization. This refers to a temporary immunity where pre-synthesised elements of antibodies, developed by someone else, are transferred to a person so that his/her body doesn't need to produce it. This is usually done by administering immune globulin (for instance, rabies immune globulin and gamma globulin) or by the process of natural transfer across the placenta of antibodies developed by the mother. It protects the newborn baby from diseases. However, passive immunity usually lasts only a few weeks or months. It can be artificially induced through an injection in case there has been an outbreak or for emergency treatment of any toxicity such as tetanus.
6. The substances that are used for active immunization include toxoids and vaccines. Toxoids are developed from toxins excreted by a microorganism. It is then inactivated either physically or chemically. The most commonly used toxoids include Diphtheria and Tetanus. On the other hand, vaccines might contain living or weakened organisms. A few portions of the organisms, kills whole organisms, and then purified components of an organism forms or may be artificially manufactured. Both vaccines and toxoids also contain certain substances that improve the immune response of the body along with the preservatives.
7. There are many vaccines (especially the live and attenuated vaccines) that provide long-term (in some cases, lifelong) protection with only a single dose. Another type of vaccines (especially the inactivated vaccines and toxoids) requires more than one dose for attaining lasting immunity. There are some vaccines like tetanus and diphtheria that requires periodic booster doses for maintaining immunity against the disease. Many vaccines get inactivated due to factors such as sudden changes in temperature (especially extreme heat). Such vaccines are kept refrigerated or frozen from its day of manufacture until the time it's being administered. This often makes it difficult to carry out immunization programmes in developing countries, especially in rural areas, where freezers and refrigeration systems are often not available.
8. Delaying vaccines makes the children vulnerable to diseases. Vaccines help in improving the immunity of the child. You can combine vaccines to reduce the number of injections the baby has to take in his or her growing years.
9. There is a popular myth that immunization might cause certain disorders such as autism and diabetes and might also cause death. On the contrary, the reactions of immunization are mild. It might include soreness at the injection site or a mild fever. These reactions resolve by themselves and usually do not need any medical treatment.
10. The newborn baby usually receives immunity transferred from the placenta. Breastmilk also provides protection against diseases. However, these protections last only for a few months. The immune system of the infant is still at a developmental stage and thus, needs support. That's why immunization is essential for infants.
11. It was due to a massive immunization drive that the deadly disease smallpox was declared "eradicated" in 1980 by the World Health Assembly. It's the only infectious disease to achieve this status.
The need of immunization depends on your health, age, lifestyle, and occupation. These factors are often referred as HALO. If you need immunization against a particular disease, you can either visit your nearest diagnostic centre or talk to your doctor. If you are unable to locate the best diagnostic lab in Kolkata, then we can help. Visit www.trustmedi.com and let us help you to find the best diagnostic centre in Kolkata.