Inoculation of infected individuals’ skin material was a common procedure before the 1700s. Edward Jenner was one of the pioneers for smallpox vaccine, and Jenner is considered as the Grandfather of Immunology. In simple terms, we should learn that vaccination procedure was not invented by pharmaceutical companies. The main objective of vaccination is to save lives. From a simple inoculation procedure to an in-depth understanding of acquired immunity¢, vaccination is considered as the most important medical discovery.
From the advancement in biotechnology, we may have understood some portions of the triple-code codon (TAG, GAT, TTT, AAA, etc.), protein syntheses, and identified the double helix structure. However, it is vaccination that has saved the most number of lives over the last fifty years, and the fine tuning of antibodies and vaccines for medicine are credited to novel technology discoveries. A predominant reason on why life-expectancy has doubled since the 1930s. We are living longer because preventative medicine has altered the stringency for deaths from infectious diseases.
The foremost interest in public health is, ‘Do No Harm’, and when the assurance to use the vaccine for public health purposes is granted, health professionals proceed to saving lives. Despite ample evidence reported in scientific peer-review studies in Google Scholar and NCBI, it is still a challenge to vaccinate children in developed and developing nations.
For instance, the measles vaccine or more commonly given as a cocktail vaccine Mumps-Measles-Rubella (MMR) is readily available in developed nations. The measles vaccine costs approximately one US dollar, which is almost as equivalent to 17% of the population in the developing world living on mere daily consumption and expenses. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated 16% of the children are not vaccinated against measles. The affordability to vaccinate a child can be simply represented as: your daily expenses (E); E. is the minimum daily expenses in your country; and the cost of measles vaccination (C) in your country.
H = (E – E. )/C; H>2
When the ratio H>2, you are living in a privilege situation where the costings to vaccinate your child is not a hurdle. Hence, when the costings and access for medical care are not a problem, vaccinating a child is then considered a parental choice. Under such circumstances, it is a red alarm that has been placed in the wrong department. The members of the public are still concern on the side-effects of vaccination; a longstanding debate since the 1600s when inoculation was first introduced to New England. The reported concerns include, e.g. onset for autism, hypersensitivity, or an increased risk for adulthood chronic illnesses, etc. But, such claims are not supported by any evidence-based medicine; not a single report suggest MMR or other vaccinations as the aetiology for autism or the aforementioned conditions in vaccinated children. Though MMR may potentially cause encephalitis, a non-vaccinated child for MMR has a higher risk to experiencing encephalitis than a vaccinated child. You may question on the probability of MMR-induced encephalitis for a child, and it is much lower than meeting a road traffic accident or being drown in a river. Reports on vaccination-induced disorders in children are prone to huge recall bias. In the analysis, many variables have to be accounted, and the finalized results are often viewed in much speculation because the variables were recalled, not observed. Retrospective case studies are filled with huge uncertainties.
Scientists, and mostly, immunologists have little doubts that the environment you are living in determines the sensitivity of your immune system. Comparative studies between hunter-gatherers and members of the population residing in a modern society reveal good information on acquired immunity, and on how the ratio of T-lymphocytes subsets changes among individuals’ living and growing up in an environment with different stress provokes. While growing-up, it is recommended to be ‘not too clean’ and to strengthen the immune system, but this does not illustrate a non-vaccination programme for your child and to trade the susceptibilities in catching the common life-threatening infectious diseases. The decision to place your child’s immune system in a less favorable position does not sound sensible and intelligent.
Without vaccination, eradication of Smallpox and
elimination of Polio will not have been achieved, and many newborns are likely to be infected with Rubella during fetal development and suffer from congenital defects. Seasonal flu viruses are likely to infect the frail and elderly population much faster, and life expectancy will remain at age 40. Perhaps on a greener side, we would not be investing research resources to saving cancer patients, but on infectious diseases. We only die once, and if we are able to act sensibly, death shall be an age-related disease rather than an infectious disease.
It is no mojo that vaccination saves lives, so why not stop behaving like a Clown and vaccinate your child.
By Editor: Yuhui Lin
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