Founder and Director of the London Vaccination Clinic, Katy is a fresh, balanced and experienced voice in the vaccination and travel health industry advocating and encouraging those who can, to vaccinate. Her mission is to calm down the vaccination conversation so people can make an informed decision with access to the facts.
Having worked for Aid organisations in Africa and India and the private and public sector in the UK, Katy believes that globally everyone has a right to vaccination but more so, everyone has the right to clear and impartial information and choice. ‘There is a huge gap developing between clear factual information and scaremongering, emotive and exaggerated reports from both sides. People must have their questions answered without the excess noise. They must be allowed to listen, understand and supported in their decision making. We have the right to choose.
Katy is a recognised expert in the health travel industry known for her big hearted, engaging and fun speaking style. She is Chairman of the British Global Travel Health Association and founder of the upcoming Global Vaccination Summit where parents and health professionals can get unemotional information on vaccinations right now.
Below is Katy’s vital guest post on the importance of vaccinations.
The topic of vaccinations has become an absolute minefield for parents. We are constantly bombarded with differing opinions from experts, super nannies, parenting forums, the media, and our peers.
Scaremongering from the press and social media has resulted in a wave of distrust in vaccinations. A direct result of this is that we are now seeing a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases that were once on the way out.
In fact, in the first three months of 2019, the number of measles cases around the world, quadrupled in comparison to the same period in 2018.
If that’s not reason enough to vaccinate, here are 10 more:
1. Vaccines are Safe
Much of the fear surrounding vaccines stems from the idea that they are unsafe. Yet, vaccines undergo rigorous and extensive testing conducted by multiple bodies of scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals.
The testing process often lasts several years, with each stage monitored to ensure it meets regulations set by various authoritative bodies. Once the vaccine is passed for approval it will still be continuously monitored for any rare side effects.
Since vaccines are administered to healthy people and children, the standards for testing is much higher than it is for other medicines.
2. Vaccines are Effective
Let’s take the example of one of the most scrutinised vaccines in recent years, the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine was introduced in 1988 and gives protection against three serious diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. These diseases can cause long-term effects, including serious disabilities, fatal pneumonia, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), deafness, meningitis, birth defects, and even death.
By receiving the two recommended doses of MMR vaccine, 99% are protected against measles, 88% against mumps, and almost 100% of people will be protected against rubella.
This infographic clearly shows how vaccination drastically reduces the presence of infectious diseases:
3. The Best Protection for Your Children
As our children develop, one of the greatest risks they’re exposed to is infections. While most will be mild illnesses from which they will recover without complications, there are those infections that can cause long-term and dramatic effects on their health. They can also be fatal.
As parents, we want what’s best for our children, to keep them safe from harm. Vaccinations are the best way to do that. Immunising our children protects them from transmitting 17 different serious diseases, including diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.
While these diseases have either been completely or almost eradicated, they do still exist and remain a threat. Vaccines are the best way to protect your child now and as they continue to grow and develop. It will also protect them late life, should they become immunosuppressed.
4. Protecting Future Generations
As mentioned, thanks to vaccinations, many serious diseases have been dramatically reduced and some have been completely wiped out. For example, smallpox was officially declared eradicated in 1980, meaning children no longer need to receive the smallpox vaccine.
Parents today don’t have to worry about their kids getting smallpox because past generations vaccinated. Wouldn’t it be great if parents of the future could enjoy the same peace of mind when it comes to those diseases which currently severely disable or kill today?
5. Gives Wider Community Immunity
Vaccinating our children is not only protecting them, but also protects family and friends, and contributes to community immunity. Some people are unable to receive vaccinations, due to illness or weakened immune systems. Vaccinating reduces the health risk of spreading serious diseases to the most vulnerable in our community.
6. Protects in a Changing and Unpredictable Climate
One effect of Global Warming has been the melting of permafrost exposing us to all sorts of serious issues. In 2016, exposed reindeer carcasses in the Russian Arctic released anthrax spores causing 72 reindeer herders to be hospitalised.
It’s not just Anthrax that we have to worry about, as cemeteries located in permafrost zones contain the bodies of those who died of smallpox, plague and influenza. Without vaccines, we leave ourselves wide open to future epidemics of once deadly diseases.
7. Side Effects from the Vaccines Are Less of a Concern
The majority of side effects experienced after a vaccination are mild and temporary. It’s quite normal for the vaccine area to be a little red and swollen afterwards, and young kids may feel under the weather for 1-2 days.
This is simply the immune system’s reaction to the vaccine as it begins to create the antibodies which enable their bodies to fight off the real disease.
There are those who still believe that vaccines cause Autism, even though this has been categorically and scientifically disproven. It’s simply a myth that ‘anti-vaxxers’ are refusing to let go of.
8. To Avoid Serious Disease Outbreaks
Unfortunately, we are starting to see the rise in vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2018, there were 991 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales, compared to just 284 cases the year before.
Such outbreaks are completely avoidable but only when enough people are vaccinated. For example, if 95% of children are given the MMR vaccine, it can eliminate measles. However, if that number drops below 90%, then the disease can spread, and quickly.
9. Protects While Travelling to Non-Vaccine Countries
While vaccines have dramatically reduced the number of severe illnesses in the UK, they still exist and are prevalent in other countries. If your child isn’t vaccinated and travels to, or even encounters someone from another country which doesn’t vaccinate, then they are at serious risk.
10. You Are Privileged to Be Able to Do So
It is heartbreaking to witness what happens in low income countries where vaccines are not available. Millions of parents across the world, lose their children simply because they don’t have access to or have the means to obtain vaccines.
It’s maddening to think how simple and accessible it is in other parts of the world, yet, because of false reports and scare tactics, people are choosing to ignore preventative health care, putting themselves, their children, and the wider community at risk. When you consider the dangers these serious diseases present, the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the minimal side effects.
You can read more guest posts HERE.