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Vaccination saved billions of lives, key to fight infections: Doctors

IANS Apr 30, 2024

Vaccination has saved billions of lives globally and helped boost the immune system to fight infections, said doctors on 29 April, as part of World Immunisation Week.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), immunisation efforts have saved at least 154 million lives over the past 50 years worldwide.

“On the occasion of World Immunisation Week, we all should take a pledge that everyone should get proper immunisation as needed. Vaccination has saved billions of lives,” said Dr Ravindra Gupta, Head of Department, Internal Medicine, Gurugram.

“Our immune system fights against pathogens and protects us from infectious diseases. Vaccination helps our immune system fight against these infections and protects ageing adults and children from severe infections,” added Dr Agam Vora, General Secretary of the Association of Physicians of India.

The progress achieved on immunisation suffered a severe setback with some 20 million children missing out on one or more of their vaccines during the recent global COVID-19 pandemic. Further, growing conflicts, economic downturns, and a rise in vaccine hesitancy are some of the threats to efforts to reach these children.

“As a result, the world is seeing sudden outbreaks of diphtheria and measles diseases that, until now, we’d had nearly in hand,” as per the WHO.

Immunisation eradicated smallpox and almost eliminated polio. Despite childhood immunisation being highly successful, adult immunisation for pneumonia, various kinds of flu viruses, COVID, cervical cancer, and now herpes zoster are lagging.

Dr Agam said that vaccination can be key to protecting ageing adults from serious infections and their complications such as shingles, pneumonia, and influenza. It is because the immune system also undergoes ageing and does not function as well.

Similarly, children below the age of five also need vaccination because their immune system is not fully developed. This makes them susceptible to multiple infections that can interfere with their growth and development, the doctor said.

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