Written by guest blogger, Sydney Beason
What would a world without vaccines look like? As a young child, I grew up going to the doctor every year for a checkup and receiving a few shots followed by a sticker because I was brave. At the time, I was so focused on the sticker and the ice cream my mom used to bribe me that I did not even recognize the importance of the shots I was receiving. What would my life and childhood have looked like had I not had access to those vaccinations?
The answer is a lot different. The reality is 19.5 million children in developing countries still do not have access to the most basic vaccines(1) . What is the impact of vaccines? Vaccines save two to three million lives every single year(1). Receiving a single vaccine is a one-time decision or opportunity that has benefits that accumulate over one’s lifetime. The benefits that I continue to receive because of my vaccines long outlast the cone of ice cream and sticker that captivated my childhood mind. Because I received vaccinations, I avoided higher healthcare costs as I was practicing preventative medicine and creating a shield against targeted diseases. Moreover, because I was vaccinated, I can contribute to society and the economy in a more productive way. I am able to be at school more and not at home sick because I am protected from diseases that could have kept me at home. Because I am in the classroom, I am learning and growing, allowing me to be ready to contribute to society and the economy. My education has helped and will help me continue to find jobs and contribute to the economy. Another benefit is the concept referred to as Heard Immunity. Because I receive vaccinations, I utilized the power of Heard Immunity, which helps protect other people from diseases who are not vaccinated or can not be vaccinated because of reasons such as auto-immune disorders because I am no longer a carrier of the disease.
Now I contribute to immunization through my work with Greater Gift. Greater Gift has donated over 100,000 vaccinations with a goal of donating 500,000 by 2020, while thanking clinical trial participants and professionals. No matter where one falls on the earth, he or she can benefit from the economic and societal benefits of vaccinations. As National Immunization Month comes to an end, let’s not forget the race towards global immunization is a moving target given the ongoing discovery of disease, but we must be aggressive and relentless to do our part today.