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The history of the fight against infectious diseases is as old as our civilization. And vaccines, which we are still cautious about, were known and valued even in ancient times. Why are we afraid of the most brilliant and natural medicine invented by mankind?

Currently, thanks to various vaccines, we can effectively protect ourselves against 25 infectious diseases. It was mass vaccination that helped contain epidemics of infectious diseases caused by bacteria and viruses. In some diseases, such as polio, smallpox or plague, there is even talk of eradication, i.e. complete freedom from the disease.

Effective prevention

Vaccinations are preventive measures. The primary resistance we receive from the mother when we come into the world is only enough for six months. After this time, the body must learn to recognize enemies on its own, which is what vaccines help to do. They provoke the immune system to produce antibodies. Thanks to this, the body recognizes the germs that are attacking it faster and it will send antibodies against them faster. These in turn will either protect the child or adult from the infection, or at least significantly alleviate its course.

Artificial panic

According to the data of the Chief Sanitary Inspector, the number of unvaccinated children in Poland has doubled in the last few years. Doctors fear the return of diseases that have already been de alt with, and vaccinations (both compulsory and recommended) have generated heated discussions between supporters and opponents. Many parents avoid vaccinating their children, regardless of the fact that they may be fined. Some people are afraid of vaccinations, believing that they are the cause of serious complications. Others are asking why vaccinate, since many infectious diseases are no longer present. The worldwide hysteria and aversion to vaccines began with the 1998 publication in The Lancet of an article linking the measles, mumps and mumps vaccine. rubella with autism. The author of the publication was Andrew Wakefield. Years later, it turned out that he had provided false information that was supposed to help parents of sick children to obtain damages from pharmaceutical companies. No reliable clinical trial in the world has found a link between the vaccine and autism. The author was almost cursed inthe scientific world, the journal apologized, explained, but the fear remained.

Group and individual immunity

The effectiveness of vaccinations depends on many factors, including from the selection of vaccine antigens, auxiliary substances, from the method of vaccine production, but also from the age of the person to whom the preparation is administered and the efficiency of the immune system. It is also important what percentage of the population has been vaccinated against a particular disease. Different infectious diseases require different levels of immunization for the safety of the entire population. Much depends on the way the infection is transmitted and the aggressiveness of the virus or bacteria. If it is a very contagious disease, such as measles, there is a very high risk of an epidemic when the vaccination rate in the population is below 90%. For other diseases, vaccination of 80% of the population is sufficient. Our individual characteristics are also important - we get sick as our body allows it. If two people of the same age become infected with an infectious disease without any additional he alth burden, then the disease will be mild for one of them, and it may be life-threatening for the other. It is also important whether the vaccine is for live or dead viruses. This is important in the case of immunocompromised or chronically ill people who should not be vaccinated temporarily or completely with live vaccines.

Let's give each other a chance

People who avoid immunization believe that if they care for their baby and themselves, nothing bad will happen. But it doesn't work that way. The belief that living in good conditions protects us from disease is a myth. Firstly, because in various places and situations we come into contact with random people whom we know nothing about. Second, the picture of infected patients has changed. In the past, for example, people infected with HIV were mainly drug addicts and people from the margins of society - today they are quite often educated, we althy, but engaging in risky sexual behavior. It is similar with tuberculosis. Indeed, in Poland it is rare, but there is a risk of infection from people who come from areas where the disease becomes an epidemiological problem. Influenza is also one of the infectious diseases we disregard. In the 2014/2015 epidemic season, over 3.7 million people fell ill with influenza. There were over 12 thousand. hospitalization and 11 deaths. This is 37% more cases and 50% more hospitalizations than in the previous season. The numbers show that the fashion for not vaccinating is becoming permanent. But in this case, being trendy is a very risky game.

More in the December issue of Zdrowiaw on sale from November 20

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