Today, April 24 marks the beginning of a whole immunization week all over world aimed to raise awareness and to promote the use of vaccines meant to protect human beings against diseases. This is especially for children who are born every single day who according to World Health Organization (WHO), they are estimated at 20 million unvaccinated and under-vaccinated children.
In 2019, the theme is Protected Together: Vaccines Work! and this year’s campaign hopes to celebrate Vaccine Heroes from across the globe including community members and health workers whose work is to help in making sure citizens are protected against various diseases through issuing vaccines and educating them on the importance.
From birth to age 2 a child should be vaccinated on time and as per the dates indicated on the immunization card by a doctor. A child is prone to contaminating viruses or diseases from people and the surrounding and parents have to be careful to who and what the baby comes into contact with at this crucial age of growth.
In Kenya, children get BCG, OPV and Hep B to prevent Tuberculosis, Polio and Hepatitis B respectively at least 24 hours after birth. Hepatitis B vaccine is given at birth, after 6 weeks and after 9 months. Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pneumonia, Rota virus and Haemophilus Influenza Type B(HIB) is given at 6 weeks, second dose at 10 weeks followed by another at 14 weeks.
Polio is administered at birth, 6 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks. On the 6 month, vitamin A deficiency antigen is administered and finally measles and yellow fever is vaccinated on the 9 month while the Measles Mumps and Rubella is administered between age 15-18 months. Other vaccines include Flu Vaccine ( 6 & 7 Months ), Chicken Pox I & II – 9 & 11 Months, Menactra 1 (Meningitis) – 9 Months and Typhoid – 2 Years according to Motherhood 101.
But why is immunization important?
Immunization saves your child from certain preventable diseases by triggering the immune system to fight against certain diseases, such that if a vaccinated person comes in contact with any of these diseases, their body immune system automatically responds.
For example polio vaccination prevents irreversible paralysis and the effects are of course long term as there is no cure. There are no symptoms for polio, meanwhile the virus multiples in the intestines and very infectious.
Vaccination for children is a path to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3 of good health and well being. This is because only a small portion of educated women are aware of the prenatal shots and those a new born should have, unlike the situation of an uninformed woman.
Vaccination is one of the reasons as to why pregnant mothers are advised to give birth in health facilities so that their newborns can access free immunization doses among other things. Therefore during this period, look deep within your family, neighbors or friends and ask if the children they have are immunized or not. If not, advice them to go to any public hospital and seek help. Remember these vaccines work.
As part of the 2019 campaign, WHO and its partners aims to:
- Exhibit the value of vaccines for the health of children, communities and the world.
- Highlight the need to build on immunization progress while addressing gaps.
- Demonstrate how routine immunization is the foundation for strong, resilient health systems and universal health coverage.
- By Ann Wambui
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