By Adam King and Annabel Grainger
This week is World Immunisation Week, one of eight campaigns to improve general health observed by the World Healthcare Organisation.
The annual global health campaign aims to raise awareness and prevent vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunisation can protect everyone, from infants to the elderly, against 25 infectious diseases.
Although vaccinations are a controversial topic, according to the WHO website the immunisations avert between two and three million deaths a year. They believe they could also save an additional 1.5 million deaths by improving vaccinations. Although global vaccination coverage has been reported as holding steady, an estimated 22.6million children are missing out on basic vaccinations worldwide.
Vaccination rates falling
According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the childhood vaccination rates for one and two-year-olds have fallen slightly for the past two years consecutively.
Gill Coulson, NHS worker from The Medical Centre on Holloway Road says, “I do think they’re quite important. Travel vaccinations are also extremely vital. It costs more to be treated if you fall ill abroad and haven’t been vaccinated.” The Medical Centre offers most children’s and travel vaccinations.
Rachel Corbett, 23, a nurse from Liverpool University Hospital, says that vaccinations “save so much money in the long-term, especially for the health professionals who come into contact with TB and hepatitis. It’s important we protect ourselves.”
Protecting children and vulnerable adults
As well as benefitting children, vaccinations also “are beneficial as well for vulnerable adults such as the elderly and those with long-term chronic conditions. For vulnerable people the flu could be fatal. I have asthma and every year I get a letter reminding me to get the flu jab,” said Corbett.
The MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, was first introduced in 1988 and in England MMR coverage is still below the World Health Organisation’s target of 95%.
GSK, the global science-led healthcare company tweeted, “a vaccine’s quality must be confirmed at every stage of the manufacturing process, which can take between six and 26 months. This means running between 100 and 500 tests.”
Despite information about the benefits of vaccinations, some people are against them. “Sarah”, a blogger at The Healthy Home Economist, wrote that “all vaccinations are loaded with chemicals and other poisons. To inject them into the body’s tissues where the toxins are absorbed directly into the blood is the most damaging and lethal approach imaginable.”
The importance of immunisation for children is a controversial topic amongst parents, with lots of contrasting advice and methods. Mum of three Melissa Menton says: “I have had all my children vaccinated, but my sister has not and her son has been absolutely fine. All of my boys have been fine after their vaccinations so it doesn’t really bother me.”
Menton says her sister is against having her children vaccinated because “the things children are being vaccinated against are no longer common”. But in her opinion this is due to the fact that children have been immunised.
In some extreme cases, immunisations can cause more harm than good. Jabs is a support group for parents who believe their children have suffered harm or death following vaccinations. The group was launched to give parents access to information, enabling them to make an informed decision in regards to vaccinations.
“JABS is trying to support free choice and full information on the real risks of vaccination and childhood diseases,” its website states.
The government has recently introduced meningitis jabs for secondary school-age children. Students in their first year of university are the most at risk, it says.
Take our survey
Below are results from a recent survey taken by the Holloway Express; asking whether people are for or against vaccinations. 80% of respondents said they are in favour of vaccinations.