The COVID-19 pandemic created apprehensions toward visiting hospitals or healthcare centers. People are afraid to do regular check-ups because they might get the disease from healthcare facilities. Aside form this, some are also missing their routine vaccinations for fear of contracting the virus. This can have detrimental effects if an individual does not get their immunization against vaccine-preventable diseases.
The UP College of Medicine cited the 10 facts on the benefits of vaccines:
- Vaccines can protect against related diseases. Measles vaccination protects against multiple complications such as dysentery, bacterial pneumonia, and malnutrition.
- Vaccines extend life expectancy. In the USA, elderly individuals given influenza vaccine had 20% less chance of suffering heart disease and stroke, and 50% lower risk of dying from other causes.
- Countries save costs through vaccination programs. Prevention of sickness and deaths translates into long-term cost savings, estimated globally to be of tens billions of US dollars.
- Some vaccines prevent cancer. In Taiwan, Hepatitis B immunization reduced new cases of liver cancer to 25 to 30%, compared to figures before introduction of the vaccine in the national immunization program.
- Vaccines enhance equity. A study in Bangladesh showed that in the absence of measles vaccination, children from poorest class were more than twice as likely to die compared to children from the higher socioeconomic groups.
- Vaccines prevent the development of antibiotic resistance. Introduction of conjugate pneumococcal vaccine for infants in the USA in 2000 saw a 57% decline in invasive disease caused by penicillin-resistant strains.
- Vaccines promote safe travel and mobility. In the Muslim Hajj, local authorities require that pilgrims receive miniggococcal vaccination and recommended other vaccinations such as influenza and hepatitis B. This measure prevents the possible spread of diseases in the largest annual human gathering in the world.
- Vaccines empower women. With improvements in infant and child mortality, women tend to opt for fewer children as the need to have many children to ensure that some will reach adulthood is reduced.
- Vaccines promote peace. There were at least seven vaccine-mediated ceasefires during civil conflicts in diverse parts of the world.
- Vaccination contributes to economic growth. The annual return on investment in vaccination has been calculated to be in the range of 12% to 18%, but the economic benefits of improved health continue to be largely underestimated.
At uncertain times like this and in the midst of everyone’s panic, one thing is for sure – having access to immunization is still one of the most important things to keep in mind as this decreases the risk of outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable diseases.
In celebration of its foundation month, Mu Sigma Phi Sorority is culminating the series on August 25 with “How Immunization Will Keep Us Safe In This Time of COVID-19!,” a webinar moderated by Dr. Virginia S. Abalos and featuring Dr. Lulu C. Bravo, Professor Emeritus at the UP College of Medicine and Executive Director of Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV), and Dr. Wilda T. Silva, National Immunization Program Manager of the Department of Health (DOH) as speakers.
“Immunization in the Time of Pandemia” was organized by UPCM – Mu Sigma Phi Medical Sorority in partnership with the City of Manila, UP College of Medicine, UP – Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, the Mu Sigma Phi Foundation, and health care company MSD in the Philippines. Keeping its commitment to promote vaccine confidence and to continuously work with partners, MSD actively engages in multi-stakeholder collaborations, such as the advocacy partnership with UPCM – Mu Sigma Phi Medical Sorority, to address the challenges on vaccine hesitancy and emphasize the importance of a life-course vaccination to advocate for public health. MSD supports campaigns that aim to restore vaccine confidence by communicating the value of immunization in saving lives and preventing vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks.