One of the most contentious issues that arose during the pandemic is whether or not people should get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. While the drive for getting vaccines has been relentless in countries worldwide, many people remain hesitant about getting one. People are divided when it comes to the benefits and issues associated with immunizations.
Ahead, you’ll understand how vaccines work and discover the advantages and potential risks involved in getting a jab.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines aim to boost your immune system by using an inactive or weakened part of the virus or bacteria responsible for the disease it intends to prevent. When this weakened part of the microorganism enters the body, it triggers an immune response, thus producing antibodies to combat the disease. This process aims to enhance the body’s identification of and response to a particular illness.
4 Benefits Of Vaccinations
There’s a good reason vaccination is considered humanity’s first line of defense against many preventable diseases. With immunizations, individuals can enjoy the following benefits:
Between 1994 and 2018, vaccinations have prevented an estimated 936,000 deaths and a total of USD$1.9 trillion in medical costs, according to estimates by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Moreover, the World Health Organization has reported that measles vaccines have prevented at least 20 million deaths since 2000. In total, up to 37 million fatalities have been avoided through immunizations programs implemented in developing countries in the last two decades. The majority of those whose lives have been saved are children under five.
In addition, polio vaccines have almost been eradicated in most parts of the world. At its peak, polio was infecting an average of 50,000 children in the United States. The disease, medically known as poliomyelitis, leads to full or partial paralysis among those infected. It attacks mostly children under five years, which makes it more challenging to treat because they don’t feel the major symptoms of the disease apart from fever and weakness.
In the same vein, smallpox—a deadly viral disease—was said to have been eradicated in the 1980s, thanks to a strong global inoculation drive. The illness was considered one of the most dreaded and life-threatening diseases among the young and adults in the 20th century.
Promotes Herd Immunity
Herd immunity is a medical term that has been around for many years; it became a buzzword recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In simple terms, this phenomenon occurs when the community becomes immune from a certain disease because of the high number of persons who’ve been vaccinated. Because of inoculations, the community or herd will develop antibodies that prevent or slow down the spread of infections. This is an important concept, especially with the discovery of the more infectious COVID-19 Delta variant.
Many people may not realize it, but getting sick will cost you a lot of time and energy. Parents who have to take care of their children will have to file for a leave of absence, which can potentially stretch from days to weeks. Sometimes, recovery may even take months the disease gets worse and it requires rehabilitation.
Apart from reduced work productivity, the cost of having a sick family member entails out-of-pocket expenses for medications, hospital bills, and other recovery costs. During this ongoing pandemic, it’s best to avoid being hospitalized as much as possible.
Potential Side Effects Of Vaccines
Throughout the history of vaccine development, there have always been individuals who are averse to getting immunizations. As with any other pharmaceutical product, vaccines might cause adverse reactions to a few people.
In mild cases, someone who’s been inoculated may have a low-grade fever or feel sore around the injection area. Small children may feel discomfort, but the sensation usually goes away on its own after a few days.
In rare cases, immunizations are said to cause serious health issues including seizures and the neurologic condition Guillain-Barre Syndrome. This disorder affects the immune system, where it attacks the peripheral nerves and causes overall weakness.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only reported that about 100 cases were reported out of the 12.5 million people who’ve been administered a specific brand of COVID-19 vaccine.
Mild To Severe Allergies
Some people are allergic to vaccine components. Symptoms for less severe cases include hives, swelling, and wheezing. In more severe cases, an inoculation may trigger anaphylaxis, which can cause breathing difficulties and coughing, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
Despite the potential risks, vaccines are mostly considered safe. And the threats always outweigh the benefits. Inoculations are less resource-draining than treatments—given that prevention is always better than cure. While immunizations don’t mean full prevention, it does significantly prevent the disease or minimize its impact on the human body.
As such, experts recommend individuals to get their vaccinations. This is not only to protect themselves and their family members but also the community.